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A Black History Month Special
The Homecoming Tribute for The Action Figure, The Instrumentalist
of Words, The Writer, The Master Teacher Amiri Baraka
The Homecoming tribute of writer and revolutionary icon Amiri Baraka
shut down a section of one of downtown Newark’s main streets, dignitary
style. African drummers flanked the entry to Newark Symphony Hall,
greeting each attendee with ancestral rhythms and setting the tone for what
would be a service filled with music, poetry, remembrance and fire; the fire
you light when a world-changing, shape-shifting native son has left us.
Inside, every seat was taken by those who came from around the corner
and around the world for Amiri Baraka, beat poet, Black Nationalist,
Marxist, Griot, Shaman, Lighter of Fires; a man whose intellectual and
spiritual breadth was reflected in his perpetual search for his truest place
in the world and to free others to realize theirs.
Poet Saul Williams intoned “This is a stick up. Amiri get out of the coffin”–
and with that he conjured up Amiri Baraka’s spirit and lifted ours as did
Woody King Jr. and Danny Glover, Asha Bandele, Michael Eric Dyson,
Jessica Care Moore and Tony Medina. And Sonia Sanchez was there
with an offering from Maya Angelou. And Sister Souljah was there. And
Haki Madhubuti was there. And Cornel West was there. And Larry
Hamm was there. Oliver Lake, Kevin Maynard and Avery Brooks were
there. And Glynn Turman was there. And Ras Baraka was there; the son.
The chosen son, the next Mayor of Newark, rhapsodizing, channeling the
spirit of his father in an epoch offering - Amiri announcing from the grave
the power of a father to shape his son into a reflection of himself and into his
This was a revelatory moment for those present at the tribute for Amiri
Baraka, The Action Figure, The Instrumentalist of Words, The Writer, The
Master Teacher who was forever seared on my cerebellum and soloing in
my nervous system. The entire experience was evidence of our collective
genius. The People were there…because they could not imagine not being
there” and now you’ll be there to. We’ll take you there and you’ll be imbued
with the passion of the beloved community, socially engaged people
working for empowerment. And amongst the brilliant tributes and
encouraging instruction for activism to continue, we’ll weave the poetry,
the speeches of Amiri Baraka beckoning us to fan the embers and
reignite the struggle for justice.
Tune in next week for Ras Baraka, Next Mayor of Newark, part 2 of
Building Bridges Amiri Baraka Homecoming Special.
produced by Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash
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