Amiri Baraka: The Politics and Art of a Black Intellectual

ISBN13: 9780814793732
Release Date: August 1st 2001
Published by: New York University Press
Pages: 577

Amiri Baraka, formerly known as LeRoi Jones, became known as one of the most militant, anti-white black nationalists of the 1960s Black Power movement. An advocate of Black Cultural Nationalism, Baraka supported the rejection of all things white and western. He helped found and direct the influential Black Arts movement which sought to move black writers away from western aesthetic sensibilities and toward a more complete embrace of the black world. Except perhaps for James Baldwin, no single figure has had more of an impact on black intellectual and artistic life during the last forty years.

In this groundbreaking and comprehensive study, the first to interweave Baraka's art and political activities, Jerry Watts takes us from his early immersion in the New York scene through the most dynamic period in the life and work of this controversial figure. Watts situates Baraka within the various worlds through which he travelled including Beat Bohemia, Marxist-Leninism, and Black Nationalism. In the process, he convincingly demonstrates how the 25 years between Baraka's emergence in 1960 and his continued influence in the mid-1980s can also be read as a general commentary on the condition of black intellectuals during the same time. Continually using Baraka as the focal point for a broader analysis, Watts illustrates the link between Baraka's life and the lives of other black writers trying to realize their artistic ambitions, and contrasts him with other key political intellectuals of the time. In a chapter sure to prove controversial, Watts links Baraka's famous misogyny to an attempt to bury his own homosexual past.

A work of extraordinary breadth, Amira Baraka is a powerful portrait of one man's lifework and the pivotal time it represents in African-American history. Informed by a wealth of original research, it fills a crucial gap in the lively literature on black thought and history and will continue to be a touchstone work for some time to come.

More work like this

Political Activism and Expression in Today's NBA
Adam Silver, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Craig Robinson, Steve Mills
The Souls of Black Folk (Audio and ePub)
W.E.B. Du Bois
Mike Brown’s Body: Meditations on War, Race and Democracy
Robin D.G. Kelley
'The Future of Race' Discussion on Charlie Rose
Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Upcoming Events

Hold: A Meditation on Black Aesthetics
Nov 4, 2017 @ 9:00 am - Feb 11, 2018 @ 7:00 pm
Screening of 'Rosenwald' (2015)
Nov 27, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
The Half-Life of Freedom: Jelani Cobb
Nov 28, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
Cinema Today — Film Blackness: Screening of various films by Frances Bodomo and Ja’Tovia Gary
Nov 29, 2017 @ 7:30 pm
Making History Visible: Faculty Roundtable on Art and Visualizing the American Nation
Dec 1, 2017 @ 2:00 pm
Morgan Parker, poetry reading
Dec 14, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
p: (609) 258-4270 | f: (609) 258-3484

African American Studies for the 21st Century

© 2017 The Trustees of Princeton University
  1. 'Rethinking Empire and Democracy' Reena N. Goldthree, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. 44:49
  2. 'The Formation of Religio-Racial Identity' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Judith Weisenfeld 47:32
  3. 'What Was African American Marriage?' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Tera Hunter 44:59
  4. 'Before Cornel West, After Cornel West' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Cornel West 52:46
  5. 'An Insistence on Not Being Discouraged' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Chika Okeke-Agulu 55:19
  6. 'A Through Line for African American Studies' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Imani Perry 44:07
  7. 'Activism and Risk in the Face of Trump' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Asanni York, Destiny Crockett 43:02
  8. 'Langston Hughes, Religious Thinker' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Wallace Best 45:50
  9. 'Convergences and Dissonance' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Keeanga-Yamahatta Taylor, Naomi Murakawa, & Imani Perry 60:08