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Politically charged author and activist Amiri Baraka dies at Age 79

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Noted as one of America's most influential and controversial figures, U.S. playwright, poet and activist Amiri Baraka has died according to a report by Reuters on Jan. 9.

Baraka was just 79 years old when he died on Thursday due to complications from a long illness but what he leaves behind is an expression that will live on. At times controversial, Amiri Baraka was the co-found of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. It was a period when he also gained fame as he authored "Blues People: Negro Music in White America," as well as the Obie Award-winning play "Dutchman."

His activism and political awareness made him a powerful figure both through his actions and in his words as he never held back expressing his mind in the midst of political conflict. One of his recent poems titled "Somebody Blew Up America," because an infamous poem as it was inspired by the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

In the poem, Baraka referenced different periods of oppression in American history. The poem did not gain him fans however as he lost his post as the official state poet laureate of New Jersey as a result.

Amiri Baraka still didn't back down from what he believed to be true in the poem. In an interview with NPR he responded to whether or not he had any regrets. He said:

"No - I have regrets that they didn't pay me my money - cheap criminals. I have regrets about that. But I don't have regrets about writing the poem. Because the poem was true."

Ironically, it was his strong minded nature to explore truth in dealing with themes of race and politics that made him a literary figure who will be remembered and his words, like so many literary artists in American history, will have more meaning and resonance now that he is gone.


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