AMIRI BARAKA’S FIRST FAMILY Black Arts Movement in 1965

Amiri Baraka, Outspoken Poet Imamu Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), died this week at the age of seventy-nine, as a famous poet who initiated the powerful Black Arts Movement in 1965, or as the man whose groundbreaking plays, ranging from 1964’s “Dutchman,” to 1969’s “Four Black Revolutionary Plays,” changed what was possible on the American stage; we just knew him as Kellie and Lisa’s father, and Hettie’s former husband. I remember the thrill of climbing the steps to their apartment in the East Village with my friend Kathy. It was a warren of rooms tidily kept and filled with books and papers and welcoming love—just the kind of haven burgeoning artists such as Kathy and my teen-aged self were learning to seek out in a universe, which, we could already feel, had few safe harbors for people like us. AMIRI BARAKA’S FIRST FAMILY

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