Amiri Baraka Table

Amiri Baraka Table


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Amiri Baraka Table



Books by Amiri Baraka

Tales of the Out & the Gone  / The Essence of Reparations / Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems  / Blues People

 Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka / Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones / Black Music

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Amiri Baraka, born in 1934, in Newark, New Jersey, USA, is the author of over 40 books of essays, poems, drama, and music history and criticism, a poet icon and revolutionary political activist who has recited poetry and lectured on cultural and political issues extensively in the USA, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. Amiri Baraka Bio  / Amiri Baraka’s Website

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We always knew the crazy tales our people told about the vicious madness of White Supremacy, enforced by Uncle Sam Gestapo Good Old Boy Cracker Nazis, Spawn of the “Soul Thieves” (Fred said) who bought our bodies to work for them free, forever, so they could be rich and rule the world.  Sunday School and one people and friends and brains had told us clearly to recognize:  Heathens, jealous Crackers the old folks called them.  Racists.  Lynchers.  The spiritual KKK in America’s soul.

We are its Blood, ourselves.  Sucked out of our homes by our African selves as captors, then sold to vampire-like European and American slaves traders.  They are the meaning of Halloween.  The Skull and Crossbones is their only flag.

From Parks to Marxism

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The Amiri Baraka Discography Project—This site is dedicated to the jazz-related work of Amiri Baraka, writer, essayist and activist par excellence who brings words and jazz together like no other person. In the liner notes to his India Navigation LP, Baraka called the style “poetrymusic.” 

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I was Everett LeRoi Jones. My grandfather’s name was Everett. He was a politician in that town. My family came to Newark in the ’20s. We’ve been there a long, long time. My father’s name was LeRoi, the French-ified aspect of it, because his first name was Coyette, you see. They come from South Carolina. I changed my name when we became aware of the African revolution and the whole question of our African roots. I was named by the man who buried Malcolm X, Hesham Jabbar, who died last week. He named me Amir Barakat. But that’s Arabic. I brought it down into Swahililand, into Tanzania, which is an accent.

So it’s Amiri, instead of Amir, and, you know, Baraka, rather than Barakat, you know, which is interesting. If it was Amir Barakat, I would probably have more difficulty flying these days.DemocracyNow

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Amiri Baraka: Biography and Historical Context—In 1934 Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) was born in the industrial city of Newark, New Jersey. After attending Howard University in Washington, D. C., he served in the United States Air Force. In the late fifties he settled in New York’s Greenwich Village where he was a central figure of that bohemian scene. He became nationally prominent in 1964, with the New York production of his Obie Award-winning play, Dutchman. After the death of Malcolm X he became a Black Nationalist, moving first to Harlem and then back home to Newark. In the mid-1970s, abandoning Cultural Nationalist, he became a Third World Marxist-Leninist. In 1999, after teaching for twenty years in the Department of Africana Studies at SUNY-Stony Brook, he retired. However, in retirement he is as active and productive as an artist and intellectual as he has ever been in his career. Currently he lives with his wife, the poet Amina Baraka, in Newark. . . . The Beat Period (1957-1962) . . . The Black Nationalist Period (1965-1974) . . . The Third World Marxist Period (1974- )— William J. Harris—English Illinois

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Lunch Poems—Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka Reading Poems Online  / Ode to Obama: Amiri Baraka

Resistance and The Arts   /  Obama’s Mojo Ain’t Working Like It Used To

Amiri Baraka: The African American Literature Book Club (

Amiri Baraka: Evolution of a Revolutionary Poet

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Essays & Poems


Amiri Baraka Bio

A BAM Roll Call  (essay)

Baraka: Act Like We Know

Battle Is On

Black Art  (poem)

Black Dada Nihilimus   (poem)

Black Studies Forty Years Later (conference call)

Digging Max (poem)

Forward Is Where We Have to Go

From Parks to Marxism A Political Evolution  (essay)

Manning Marable’s Malcolm X Book

New Work by Baraka (Black World, 1973)

The Parade of Anti Obama Rascals    

A Plea for Ras Baraka 

The Revolutionary Theatre   (essay)

Slo Dance Introduction

Somebody Blew Up America  (poem)  Audio

Something in the Way of Things (In Town) (poem)

Streets of Despair, Street of Protest (essays)

Why You Need to Send Some Money

Will Not Apologize, Will Not Resign (letter)



Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka  (Review, Lewis)

Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing  (Review)

Black Music

Blues People

The Essence of Reparations  (Review)

Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones

Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems (Review) 

Tales of the Out & the Gone  (Review)

About  & For Baraka


Baraka’s Daughter Killed  

Black Man as Victim (Review of Dutchman and Toilet

Climbing Malcolm’s Ladder   

For Baraka  (Jamie Walker)

Home Going Celebration

LeRoi Jones: Pursued by  Furies (Review of Home on the Range)

Let Loose on the World

Praise & Support of Baraka  (Jamie Walker)

Remembering Shani Baraka    

Review of Essence of Reparations


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   The Holloway Series in Poetry – Amiri Baraka (video)  / Penn Sound—Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)


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The Masquerade is Over

Hitler is alive

& Well

Now he lives

In Israel.

The Master Race

Has changed

Its place

The new Nazism

Is called


The old oppressed Jews

Are dead

Call them Palestinians


Amiri Baraka 12/08

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We had already lost a great innovator, Lorraine Hansberry, who flexed the breath we did not even know we had. And she, for all the ink about Raisin, is still no t fully know n for the power that followed. “The Drinking Gourd.”  Whites in Harlem do Genet’s “The Blacks” but no one seems willing to do Lorraine’s power answer “Les Blancs.” How many years before all of her is known?

And Jimmy Baldwin too, the other explosive paradigm, who helped set the tone, the direction of The Black Arts Cultural Revolution with all of his searching works evaluating sorry America. Blues for Mr Charlie presented the choice, the gun or the bible he said, one of them gonna work! And so he was removed from the pantheon of the Colored, OK to read. No Name In the Street, “Evidence” makes it all abundantly clear of our protracted struggle as well as the wooden Negroes barb wiring our path!

A BAM Roll Call

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We know directions. They are wide and bright for the faintly visionary. They are roads, clearly marked, if you looking. Like shouted ideologies. Fast and loose, if you say eat, we have at least, some movement you know? But then the general directions becomes itself a randomness, if steps are not firmly placed and some focus is not brought to bear upon some singular particular place.

To do is too general. To go is also. To be is saying nothing. We want to know we must know just what you are going to do when you get to that exact place you must get to for that action to have meaning. We need facts figures precision and skill. It is work and study that will change the world. The rest is clearly bullshit. New Work by Imamu Amiri Baraka

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Clay, in Dutchman, Ray, in The Toilet, Walker in The Slave are all victims. In the Western sense they could be heroes. But the Revolutionary Theatre, even if it is Western, must be anti-Western. It must show horrible coming attractions of The Crumbling of The West. Even as Artaud designed The Conquest of Mexico, so we must design The Conquest of White Eye, and show the missionaries and wiggly Liberals dying under blasts of concrete. For sound effects, wild screams of joy, from all the peoples of the world. The Revolutionary Theatre must take dreams and give them a reality. It must isolate the ritual and historical cycles of reality. But it must be food for all these who need food, and daring propaganda for the beauty of the Human Mind. But it is a political theatre, a weapon to help in the slaughter of these dimwitted fat-bellied white guys who somehow believe that the rest of the world is here for them to slobber on. The Revolutionary Theatre

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Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music

Cover Image

For almost half a century, Amiri Baraka has ranked among the most important commentators on African American music and culture. In this brilliant assemblage of his writings on music, the first such collection in nearly twenty years, Baraka blends autobiography, history, musical analysis, and political commentary to recall the sounds, people, times, and places he’s encountered. As in his earlier classics, Blues People and Black Music, Baraka offers essays on the famous–Max Roach, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane–and on those whose names are known mainly by jazz aficionados–Alan Shorter, Jon Jang, and Malachi Thompson. Baraka’s literary style, with its deep roots in poetry, makes palpable his love and respect for his jazz musician friends. His energy and enthusiasm show us again how much Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and the others he lovingly considers mattered. He brings home to us how music itself matters, and how musicians carry and extend that knowledge from generation to generation, providing us, their listeners, with a sense of meaning and belonging.

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Related Files: 

African Renaissance  (Nkrumah)

African Renaissance (Journal)

The African World

Amistad 2  

Anthologies: New Negro Poets U.S.A.   Black Fire The Black Poets  

Drumvoices   Black Nationalism in America  360° A Revolution of Black Poets 

Ashanti Chronology   

Ashanti Empire 

Askia Muhammad Touré 

Baraka’s Daughter Killed  

Black Arts and Black Power Figures  

Black Arts Movement (Kalamu) 

Black Arts Movement  (Larry Neal)

Black Nationalism in America

Blackness and the Adventure of Western Culture

Black Poetry 1965-2000 

Black World and Fanon

Charlie Rangel Begat Ed Towns

Claude McKay–Romare Bearden 

Climbing Malcolm’s Ladder

Communism as Russian Imperialism 

Control, Conflict, and Change (James Forman)

The Defection of Eldridge Cleaver (Huey P. Newton)

Demythologizing Huey Newton

Dingane Joe Goncalves

“Don’t Say Goodbye to the Pork Pie Hat 

Dramatic Vision of August Wilson

DrumVoices Revue

Ed Bullins Chronology 

Election Day Returns

Escaping the Black-Bible Belt

The Fact of Blackness (1952) 

Fanon and the Concept of Colonial Violence

Fifty Influential Figures 

For Kwame Nkrumah 

God Save His Majesty’s Blacks

The Ground on Which I Stand

Haki Madhubuti 

Hard Truths (Haki)

Hip Hop Table

Home-Going Celebration

I Am We  (Huey P. Newton)

Interview with Ed Bullins 

Interview with Yambo Ouologuem   (Yambo)  

Journal of Black Poetry Festival 

Kwame Nkrumah, Kenyatta, and the Old Order   

Larry Neal Bio 

Larry Neal Conference 

Larry Neal Chronology

Larry Neal Interview in Omowe     

The Legend of the Saifs  (Yambo) 

Literature & Arts

Marvin X Table 

Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance 

New Negro Poets U.S.A.

Night of the Giants (Yambo)

Nonwhite Manhood in America

Notes on “An Open Letter to Oprah Winfrey”

The Omni-Americans 

a poem for kwame nkrumah

Poems of Remembrance  

The Poetry of Don L. Lee

The Political Thought of James Forman  

Ras Baraka   



     Black Girls Learn Love Hard

     There Are Some Black Men 

Report: BAM Conference (Marvin X)   

Responsibility of a Pan-African Socialist 

Sandra Shannon on August Wilson

Situating August Wilson  

Slo Dance Table

Speak the Truth to the People

Transitional Writings on Africa   

Way Of Liberation Manifesto  (Huey P. Newton)

What Is Black Poetry

Yambo  Bio & Review      (Yambo) 

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Amiri Baraka & Kellie Jones

Curator Kellie Jones and her father—renowned poet, playwright, and activist Amiri Baraka—discuss their collaboration on Jones’s book EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art, which investigates various perspectives on art making throughout different generations. Jones is associate professor in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. Her writings have appeared in NKA, Artforum, Flash Art, Atlantica, Third Text, and numerous catalogues. Baraka is the author of more than 40 books of essays, poems, drama, and music history and criticism. The former Poet Laureate of New Jersey, he has received numerous honors including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and an Obie Award for his play Dutchman (1963).

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Eyeminded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art

By Kellie Jones

A daughter of the poets Hettie Jones and Amiri Baraka, Kellie Jones grew up immersed in a world of artists, musicians, and writers in Manhattan’s East Village and absorbed in black nationalist ideas about art, politics, and social justice across the river in Newark. The activist vision of art and culture that she learned in those two communities, and especially from her family, has shaped her life and work as an art critic and curator. Featuring selections of her writings from the past twenty years, EyeMinded reveals Jones’s role in bringing attention to the work of African American, African, Latin American, and women artists who have challenged established art practices. Interviews that she conducted with the painter Howardena Pindell, the installation and performance artist David Hammons, and the Cuban sculptor Kcho appear along with pieces on the photographers Dawoud Bey, Lorna Simpson, and Pat Ward Williams; the sculptor Martin Puryear; the assemblage artist Betye Saar; and the painters Jean-Michel Basquiat, Norman Lewis, and Al Loving. Reflecting Jones’s curatorial sensibility, this collection is structured as a dialogue between her writings and works by her parents, her sister Lisa Jones, and her husband Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr. EyeMinded offers a glimpse into the family conversation that has shaped and sustained Jones, insight into the development of her critical and curatorial vision, and a survey of some of the most important figures in contemporary art.

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Ishmael Reed, Amiri Baraka and the Black Radical Dilemma

Amiri Baraka on Malcolm’s “united front” with civil rights organizations (video)

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Everett LeRoi Jones was born on 7th October 1934 in Newark, New Jersey. His father, Coyt LeRoy Jones, was a postman, and his mother Anna Lois Jones was a social worker. He studied for two years at the local Rutgers University then moved to Howard University, where he took his BA in English in 1954. He then did three years of obligatory army service in the air force before moving to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1957.

In 1958 he married his first wife, Hettie Cohen, descended from a wealthy Jewish family, in a Buddhist ceremony and published his first play A Good Girl is Hard to Find. His collection of poems ´Spring and Soforth´ followed. In 1960 he visited Cuba for the first time and made no secret of his sympathies for the revolutionaries surrounding Fidel Castro—he recorded his impressions of this trip in the book Cuba Libre (1961).

His second collection of poems Preface to a Twenty-Volume Suicide Note (1961) made him instantly famous. These poems plainly belonged to the Beat movement. At this time he also became co-publisher of the literary magazine The Floating Bear (till 1963) with Diane di Prima. . . .

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Things have come to that—Alexander Knaak—In 1957 he joined the group of artists in the New York borough Greenwich Village and together with his wife Hetti Cohen published the avant-garde magazine YUGEN. They were also founding members of the publishing company Totem Press, publishing the first works by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and other Beat authors.His artistic breakthrough came in 1964 with the premiere of his provocative play ´Dutchman´, which won the prestigious Obie Award. The murder of Malcom X (1965) led to the first radical change in his life. He got divorced from his white Jewish wife, converted to Islam, dropped his ´slave name´ LeRoi Jones and called himself Imam Amiri Baraka. . . .—CultureBase

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Penn Sound Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)

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Black Mass is based on the Muslim myth of Yacub. According to this myth, Yacub, a Black scientist, developed the means of grafting different colors of the Original Black Nation until a White Devil was created. In Black Mass, Yacub’s experiments produce a raving White Beast who is condemned to the coldest regions of the North. The other magicians implore Yacub to cease his experiments. But he insists on claiming the primacy of scientific knowledge over spiritual knowledge. The sensibility of the White Devil is alien, informed by lust and sensuality. The Beast is the consumable embodiment of evil, the beginning of the historical subjugation of the spiritual world. 

Black Mass takes place in some pre-historical time. In fact, the concept of time, we learn, is the creation of an alien sensibility, that of the Beast. This is a deeply weighted play, a colloquy on the nature of man, and the relationship between legitimate spiritual and scientific knowledge. It is LeRoi Jones’ most important play mainly because it is informed by a mythology that is wholly the creation of the Afro-American sensibility.

Further, Yacub’s creation is not merely a scientific exercise. More fundamentally, it is the aesthetic impulse gone astray. The Beast is created merely for the sake of creation. Some artists assert a similar claim about the nature of art. They argue that art need not have a function. It is against this decadent attitude toward art—that the play militates. Yacub’s real crime, therefore, is the introduction of a meaningless evil into a harmonious universe.

The evil of the Beast is pervasive, corrupting everything and everyone it touches. What was beautiful is twisted into an ugly screaming thing. The play ends with destruction of the holy place of the Black Magicians. Now the Beast and his descendants roam the earth. An offstage voice chants a call for the Jihad to begin. It is then that myth merges into legitimate history, and we, the audience, come to understand that all history is merely someone’s version of mythology.—

The Black Arts Movement  (Larry Neal)

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Amiri Baraka (center) is pictured at the entrance to Spirit House, Newark, with musicians and actors of the black arts movement, 1966. Yusef Iman (second from left) had played the role of the rogue magician, Jacoub, in a production of Baraka’s play A Black Mass. Courtesy Prints and Photographs Department, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.

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Amiri Baraka enters Essex County courthouse, New Jersey, in January 1968 to receive a sentence of three years imprisonment and a $1,000 fine following his conviction for unlawful possession of firearms on the first night of the 1967 Newark riot. Accompanying him are his wife, Amina Baraka, and their seven-month-old son, Obalaji. The conviction was overturned in a successful appeal later in 1968. Courtesy Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.

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A Conference Call

Black Studies Forty Years Later, 1969-2009

100 Day Assessment of the Barack Obama Presidency

From an African American Perspective

Friday, May 1, through Sunday May 3, 2009 at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

Contact Dr. Muhammad Ahmad at 215-204-1995 or, Amiri Baraka at 973-242-1346, Mack Jones at 404-699-0631, Ron Walters at 301-421-5919, Dr. Nathaniel Norment, Jr. at 215-204-5073 or, LaFrance Howard at 215-204-3159.

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Amiri Baraka/Le Roi Jones: The Quest for a “Populist Modernism”

By Werner Sollors

In Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones: The Quest for a ‘Populist Modernism’ (1978), Sollors portrays Baraka as an artistic and political hero of the Beat generation who evolved into a unique array of aesthetic and social identities.

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Werner Sollors—One of Baraka’s most typical nationalist poems, “Black Art” . . . is an expression of his Black Aesthetic, but is striking for its venomous language and for its rhetorical violence. The poem characteristically casts the “negro-leader,” the “Liberal,” the “jew-lady,” or the Eliotic “owner-jews” as the enemies. The “abstract” and arbitrary sounds “rrrrrrrrrrrr . . . tuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuh tuhtuhtuh” are now the volley-shot sounds of “poems that kill” these enemies.

The poem itself is to commit the violence that Baraka considers the prerequisite for the establishment of a Black world. By becoming an “assassin” the poem becomes political; and art merges with life by leaving its artfulness behind. Only this process makes an art that is as organic as a “tree.” Admittedly, the poem must abandon poetry in order to perform this function. “Black Art” implies that poetry must die so that the poem can kill.

But why does Baraka’s poem kill Jews—who had once been his metaphor for Blacks? Precisely for this reason. In Baraka’s nationalist world view, Jews remain images of assimilated Negroes (who are not spared Baraka’s poetic violence, either). Baraka now regrets and renounces his own anti-Semitic phase and sees it as a “reactionary thing,” an aberration suggested by bourgeois Black nationalism. (The Nation of Islam, e.g., distributed revised versions of Czarist anti-Semitic propaganda.) As a reaction to the success of the Black-Jewish alliance in the civil movement, anti-Semitism became, perhaps, even a matter of radical chic among Black nationalists of the late 1960s.

Furthermore, if we follow the paradigms of Bohemianism and avant-gardism for an understanding of Baraka’s development, we may see the period of anti-Semitism as a reactionary swing on the antibourgeois pendulum. . . . .But more than the result of abstract Black nationalist influence, or a version of the reactionary side of Bohemianism, Baraka’s anti-Semitism was also an intensely personal exorcism of his own past; and his anti-Semitic references included his former wife and literary milieu in New York.—From Amiri Baraka / LeRoi Jones: The Quest for a “Populist Modernism.” (1978, Columbia University Press)—English.Illinois

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Books by Amiri Baraka

Tales of the Out & the Gone 

Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems

The Essence of Reparations

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“American Poem” Ras Baraka (Def Poetry) /  Lauryn Hill and Ras Baraka—Hot Beverage In Winter

It Aint My Fault by Mos Def & Lenny Kravitz

Bill Moyers and James Cone (Interview)  / A Conversation with James Cone

John Coltrane, “Alabama”  /  Kalamu ya Salaam, “Alabama”  / A Love Supreme

A Blues for the Birmingham Four  /  Eulogy for the Young Victims   / Six Dead After Church Bombing 

Mockingbirds at Jerusalem (poetry manuscript)

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America

By Peter Edelman

If the nation’s gross national income—over $14 trillion—were divided evenly across the entire U.S. population, every household could call itself middle class. Yet the income-level disparity in this country is now wider than at any point since the Great Depression. In 2010 the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 million—climbing to over $11 million when all forms of compensation are accounted for—while the current median household income for African Americans is just over $32,000. How can some be so rich, while others are so poor? In this provocative book, Peter Edelman, a former top aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a lifelong antipoverty advocate, offers an informed analysis of how this country can be so wealthy yet have a steadily growing number of unemployed and working poor. According to Edelman, we have taken important positive steps without which 25 to 30 million more people would be poor, but poverty fluctuates with the business cycle.

The structure of today’s economy has stultified wage growth for half of America’s workers—with even worse results at the bottom and for people of color—while bestowing billions on those at the top. So Rich, So Poor delves into what is happening to the people behind the statistics and takes a particular look at the continuing crisis of young people of color, whose possibility of a productive life too often is lost on their way to adulthood


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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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A Nation within a Nation

Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics

By Komozi Woodard

Woodard examines the role of poet Amiri Baraka’s “cultural politics” on Black Power and black nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s. After a brief overview of the evolution of black nationalism since slavery, he focuses on activities in Northeastern urban centers (Baraka’s milieus were Newark, N.J., and, to a lesser extent, New York City). Taking issue with scholars who see cultural nationalism as self-destructive, Woodard finds it “fundamental to the endurance of the Black Revolt from the 1960s into the 1970s.” The 1965 assassination of Malcolm X catalyzed LeRoi Jones’s metamorphosis into Amiri Baraka and his later “ideological enchantment” with Castro’s revolution. After attracting national attention following the 1966 Detroit Black Arts Convention, Baraka shifted his emphasis to electoral politics. He galvanized black support for Kenneth Gibson, who was elected mayor of Newark in 1970. Woodard pays scant attention, however, to the fact that “Baraka’s models for political organization had nothing revolutionary to contribute in terms of women’s leadership” or the roots of “Baraka’s insistence on psychological separation” from whites.

Woodard’s conclusion descends into rhetoric as he urges support for a school system to “develop oppressed groups into self-conscious agents of their own liberation,” while offering no specific, practical suggestions. Woodard’s need to be both scholar and prophet are in conflict, and the prophet’s voice undermines the scholar’s.—Publishers Weekly

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A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story

By Elaine Brown

Brown here relates the dramatic story of her youth, her political awakening and her role in the Black Panther Party when she succeeded her lover Huey Newton to become the group’s first female leader. Though smoothly written, the book contains much reconstructed dialogue that may daunt readers. Brown’s memoir takes her from a Philadelphia ghetto to California, from college to cocktail waitressing, from wanting to be white to joining the black power movement. She meets Eldridge Cleaver, George Jackson and Bobby Seale, goes to jail, visits North Korea and North Vietnam, debates Marxism and gets involved in Oakland, Calif., politics. When other Black Panthers seemed to lose sight of the revolution and seek power for its own sake, Brown, with a growing feminist consciousness, left the group.

She now lives in France and expresses ambivalent feelings about the party she once loved. Having made her acquaintance, the reader wonders about her present life.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update  23 February 2012




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Related files: Streets of Despair, Street of Protest

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