Archive for poetry

Amiri Baraka

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE with tags , on February 23, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Amiri Baraka, born Everett LeRoi Jones, has been a voice of revolutionary poems, plays, music history, criticism and over 40 books of essays since the early 60’s. Baraka is a political and cultural activist who has lectured in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. Known as the founder of the Black Arts Movement of Harlem in the 60’s, Baraka was one of the earliest influences in Black Nationalism.

In 1968, he became a Muslim, changed his name to Imanu Amiri Baraka, and founded Kawaida, a Black Muslim organization. In that same year he gave benefits for the Black Panther Party. From 1968 to 1975, he was chairman of the Committee for United Newark, a Black united front organization. And in 1974, Baraka dropped Imamu, meaning “spiritual leader” when he embraced Marxist Leninism.

Baraka’s influences include John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Malcolm X, Sun Ra to the Cuban Revolution, and revolutionary movements around the world. His works explored topics such as reparations, racism, national oppression, colonialism, neo-colonialism, self determination, and national & human liberation.

His unique and poetic way of connecting words has been honored by documentaries such as Mario Van Peeple’s Poetic License and St. Clair Bourne’s In Motion: Amiri Baraka. He has appeared in films such as M.K. Asante, Jr.’s The Black Candle. His awards include:

Pen/Faulkner Award

Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama

The City College of New York’s Langston Hughes Award

Before Columbus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award

The Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts fellowships

He has taught at the New School for Social Research in New York, the University of Buffalo, Columbia University, San Francisco State University, Yale University, and George Washington University. Since 1985, he has been a professor at State University of New York. He and his wife Amina are co-directors of Kimako’s Blues People, a community arts space.

Harlem Renaissance

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, North America with tags , , , , on February 20, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

From 1919 to 1926, a large number of African Americans moved from the rural South to northern cities such as Chicago, New York City, and Washington, DC. Many of these African Americans were leaving poverty-stricken living conditions of dirt floors, news papered-walls, and one room shacks. Upon arrival in the urban cities, they found a difference in life-style. With new opportunities came a spirit of celebration. This spirit was encouraged and artist of all media blossomed.

In 1925, Alain LeRoy Locke coined the term The New Negro after a book of the same name, to describe cultural celebration that was occurring. Later the term changed to Harlem Renaissance. Poetry, art, jazz, blues, and literature went into new directions that expressed the feelings of the time.

Artist of the time include Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway and Josephine Baker. These were the days of the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater.  America was influenced by the expressions of African American culture. The legacy of these and other artist influenced artist of the forties, fifties, and sixties.

You can find collections from this period in the Library of Congress as well as their website.

Exhibits include:

• African-American Odyssey: World War I and Postwar Society: The Harlem Renaissance and the Flowering of American Creativity

Harlem Renaissance and the Flowering of Creativity

This exhibits resources about the Harlem Renaissance.

• William P. Gottlieb: Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz

Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz

This exhibits photographer Gottlieb’s photos of jazz musicians and singers such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie.

• American Treasures of the Library of Congress-William  H. Johnson. “Street Musicians”

“Street Musicians”

This exhibits paintings by Harlem Renaissance artist William H. Johnson.