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Poet and Playwright Amiri Baraka Dies at 79

January 10, 2014 (3:21 am) GMT
Baraka, who is known as one of the major forces in the Black Arts movement in the 1960s, passes away at a hospital in Newark.
Poet and Playwright Amiri Baraka Dies at 79

Influential poet and playwright Amiri Baraka has passed away. The poet, who was one of the major forces in the Black Arts movement in the 1960s, died on Thursday, January 9. He was 79. His son Ras Baraka, a member of the Newark Municipal Council, confirmed the passing to The New York Times.

Baraka died at Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark. His son did not elaborate on the cause of death, but he said that his father had been receiving treatment at the hospital since December 21.

Baraka, born Everett Leroy Jones, was a son of a postal supervisor and a social worker. Born on October 7, 1934 in Newark, the young boy who went by Leroy learned to play some instruments such as piano, drum and trumpet. He also studied drawing and painting. When he was at Howard University, he changed his name's spelling to LeRoi.

LeRoi Jones started writing in 1950s. The poet, who is closely associated with the black nationalist movement of the 1960s, then changed his name to Amiri Baraka. He is popular for his works such as poetry collection "The Dead Lecturer" and "Transbluesency: The Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, 1961-1995", the play "Dutchman" which received Obie Awards as the best American play of 1964, and "Blues People: Negro Music in White America" which was published in 1963.

In addition to his son Ras, Baraka is survived by his wife of 47 years Sylvia Robinson who later changed her name to Amina Baraka. He is also survived by three sons, four daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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