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12 Quotes From The Late Amiri Baraka

The controversial activist and writer died at the age of 79 today.

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Amiri Baraka, the poet, novelist, and activist once known as LeRoi Jones, has died at the age of 79.

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Baraka was a native of Newark, N.J., and was poet laureate of New Jersey from 2002–2003. (The position was eliminated by the state after Baraka published a controversial poem about the Sept. 11, terror attacks that suggesting Jews had advance notice of the terror attacks. ) But despite his controversial views, he was unquestionably integral to the black arts movement in America.

Here are some quotes from Baraka's career.


8. "Thought is more important than art. To revere art and have no understanding of the process that forces it into existence, is finally not even to understand what art is."

10. "If the flag of an armed enemy of the U.S. is allowed to fly over government buildings, then it implies that slavery, or at least the threat of slavery, is sanctioned by that government and can still legally exist."

12. "The attempt to divide art and politics is a bourgeois which says good poetry, art, cannot be political, but since everything is ... political, even an artist or work that claims not to have any politics is making a political statement by that act."

Watch Baraka perform one of his best known pieces, "The Way Of Things (In Town)."

View this video on YouTube

Tracy Clayton is an audio producer for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tracy Clayton at

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