Through his fiction, essays, poems, and plays, Amiri Baraka (born Everett Leroy/LeRoi Jones) has produced works condemning racial injustice and the oppression of African Americans in the United States.
Baraka earned his BA from Howard University in 1954, garnering notoriety in 1964 when four of his plays were produced off Broadway in New York City. Dutchman won the Village Voice OBIE Award for Best American Off-Broadway Play that year.
As the acknowledged leader of the Black Arts and Black Theatre movements of the 1960s, Baraka founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre and School in Harlem in 1965. In addition to becoming professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Baraka has taught at Yale, Columbia and at SUNY-Stony Brook.
Through his work and words, Baraka has promoted drama by African American playwrights, about African American issues, and performed for African American audiences. He received the James Johnson Medal for contributions to the arts as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters award. In 2002, New Jersey named Baraka, their native son, Poet Laureate.
Amiri Baraka died on January 9, 2014.