Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka, born LeRoi Jones in 1934, is the author of over 40 books of essays, poems, drama, and music history and criticism, of which Blues People, 1963, is his best known work on jazz. For many years he has been at the forefront of the arts and political engagement, most notably as the founder of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem in the 1960s. He has also taught at Yale, Columbia, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Baraka’s awards and honors include an Obie, the American Academy of Arts & Letters award, the James Weldon Johnson Medal for contributions to the arts, Rockefeller Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts grants, and the Poet Laureate of New Jersey. Baraka lives in Newark with his wife and author Amina Baraka, where they head up the word-music ensemble, Blue Ark: The Word Ship, and co-direct Kimako’s Blues People, the artspace housed in their theater basement.