Payne Pays Tribute to Amiri Baraka

Jan 10, 2014 Issues: Local Issues

Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. paid tribute to the late poet, Amiri Baraka. Rep. Payne, Jr. said the following:

“Today, I come to the floor to honor the life and legacy of an icon – poet, Amiri Baraka, who died yesterday in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey at the age of 79. 

“Born during the Depression, at a time when racial tensions were at their peak, Amiri Baraka used poetry to empower and enlighten. 

“He eventually founded the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 70s, and received countless awards for his contributions to the arts.

“My father and he attended school together, and I’ll never forget as a youngster, hearing Amiri Baraka’s poetry, and recognizing the power his written words had over a person – regardless of age, gender, or race.

“Amiri Baraka was not only a poet; he was an activist. In 1969, he organized the Black Puerto Rican Convention which brought those communities together at a bleak time. He was also one of the main organizers and the keynote speaker at the 1972 Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana.

“His profound words were influential as many searched for meaning in some of the most troubling struggles of our time – like civil rights, war, oppression, and poverty.

“My heartfelt condolences go out to the entire Baraka Family, including my former colleague, Newark City Council Member Ras Baraka and his brother Amiri Baraka. To their mother, who has brought me in as almost a son as well, my deepest sympathies.

“Today the nation is in deep mourning at Amiri Baraka’s passing.”