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Maya Angelou remembers Amiri Baraka as one of America's greatest living poets

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Poet Dr. Maya Angelou was awarded the 2010 Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama and is one of America's greatest living poets. Angelou said that Amiri Baraka was America’s finest living poet before his death on January 9, 2014. Today the final poet laureate for the state of New Jersey is being remembered in the grand symphony hall of the city and state where he was born and lived his entire life.

Having known the poet as a professor of literature at Howard University and as one of his son’s literature professors, the funeral today represents a reflection of his life. Today Amiri Baraka is being laid to rest in New Jersey. While a debate exists over his political and social beliefs it must be noted that in a free society different beliefs are part of democracy. The present writer will always remember Baraka as a concerned father who showed an interest in his son's education as one of the present writer’s students at Howard University 20 years ago.

The concerned father was a family man and there was no discussion of politics. A democracy allows different views and every American is free to express their opinion.

Thus, as final words are said today about the life and legacy of Amiri Baraka respect should be shown to his wife and children. Politics has no place or business on this day.

It is ironic that the state of his birth and where he lived his entire life is embroiled in a bitter scandal where children were caught up in a political retaliation against the Mayor of Ft. Lee, New Jersey. Children do not vote. They are apolitical. Any time adults bring children into a political battle the children will suffer.

Amiri Baraka never discussed politics with the present writer when checking on his son's progress in college. He was just a father showing concern for his child. And that is the way this retired professor and current journalist will remember him. And as Amiri Baraka walked away from the present writer for the final time he heard the voice of Bob Marley sing his Redemption Song:

Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships--
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong
By the 'hand of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly.
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom? --
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fulfill the book.

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

Webster’s Dictionary defines redeem and redemption as follows:

Redemption-the act of redeeming or state of being redeemed;

Redeem. 1. To pay off, as a mortgage. 2. To recover (something pawned or mortgaged). 3. To make up for. 4. To set free or save, as a sinner.

Amiri Baraka, Sr., will be buried today in New Jersey. May his soul rest in peace.

Professor Metze was honored as Professor of the Year by the Undergraduate Student Assembly in 1998 and as the Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year by the Howard University Student Association in 2000. He retired from Howard University and was later appointed Chancellor of a university program in Africa.

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