Amiri Baraka and the Obligation of Artists

 

Portrait of Amiri Baraka by former Black Panther Party Revolutionary Artist Emory Douglas.

Portrait of Amiri Baraka by former Black Panther Party Revolutionary Artist Emory Douglas.

Are artists obligated to be activists? To Amiri Baraka, born Everett LeRoi Jones in 1934, the answer was “Yes!”. Baraka first became known for establishing the Black Arts Movement in the mid 1960s and described the movement as an attempt to be Black in form, accessible to Black people, and so effective it could be used as a weapon against racism. In further support of this movement he set up the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School (BARTS) in Harlem with an aim at advancing the Cultural Revolution. (more…)