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Sean Bonney: "The Destruction of America: Amiri Baraka in the 1960s"

Dec 04, 2017 | 10:00 AM c.t. - 12:00 PM
Bonney Baraka

Bonney Baraka
Image Credit: John-F.-Kennedy-Institute

Principle founder of the Black Arts Movement, Amiri Baraka is widely considered to be among the most significant American poets of the twentieth century. From the 1950s until his death in 2014, Baraka produced work that was unflinching in its account of the realities of African-American life, unforgiving in its confrontational and at times vengeful attitude toward the perpetrators of white supremacism in the US, and in which political militancy and artistic radicalism were inseparable. He wrote in 1965 that the "Black Artist's role in America is to aid in the destruction of America as he knows it". In this talk we will examine key poems and essays written by Baraka in the 1960s, to show how such an attitude is both relevant and necessary today.