[Blackstudies-l] In memory, with respect: Jayne Cortez and Amiri Baraka

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Mon May 18 15:51:50 EDT 2020

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From: Alkalimat, Abdul <mcworter at illinois.edu>
Date: Fri, May 15, 2020 at 10:43 AM
Subject: In memory, with respect: Jayne Cortez and Amiri Baraka
To: <abdulslist at lists.illinois.edu>

*New York University Evening for Jayne Cortez and Amiri Baraka (2014) *


*Sandra Maria Esteves*

*Linton Kwesi Johnson*

*Marvin X*

*Askia Muhammad Toure*

*Ted Wilson*


*Jayne Cortez (1934 - 2012)*
Jayne Cortez, poet, activist, independent publisher, and performing and
visual artist, was born in Huachuca, Arizona in 1934. She is the author of
ten books, and her works has been translated into twenty-eight languages.
Some of her major titles include On the Imperial Highway: New and Selected
Poems (2008), The Beautiful Book (2007), Jazz Fan Looks Back (2002),
Somewhere in Advance of Nowhere (1997), Coagulations: New and Selected
Poems (1982). Not only was she a skilled technician of language, but one of
the world’s major Afro-Jazz and political visionaries, surrealist poets,
whose dynamic charisma and explosive delivery of her work thrilled
audiences worldwide.

Jayne Cortez was a committed Pan Africanist, a Women’s / Human Rights
activist, and was a member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC) in Mississippi, registering Black voters, in 1963 and
1964, during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Sister Jayne Cortez was major
Djali/Griot of the modern African post-colonial experience, and a major
writer in the U.S. and African world. Historically she is a “Sister” to the
great Negritude poets, such as Aimé Césaire and colleagues. We must
remember her as one of the major voices and visionaries of our time.


*Amiri Baraka (1934 - 2014)*
Amiri Baraka started out as a beat poet in Greenwich Village in New York
City. His 1960 trip to Cuba after Fidel Castro came to power had a radical
impact on his life. As poet, author, and, playwright, Amiri Baraka built a
national and international reputation as artist. After the assassination
Malcolm X’s in 1965 he moved to Harlem where he founded the Black Arts
Repertory Theatre/School. As one of the major figures along with Larry
Neal, Sonia Sanchez, and, Askia Toure, they are regarded as the architects
of the Black Arts Movement that worked in tandem with the emerging Black
Power Movement. He became a leading force in the African Liberation Support
Committee. Amiri eventually moved back to Newark, NJ, where he and his wife
Amina founded the Committee for Unified Newark and the Congress of African
People. He published several journals and the newspaper Unity and Struggle
that used Marxism-Leninism to inform the Black Liberation Movement.

We should remember Amiri for his contributions to not only the Black
Liberation Movement, but for his struggle to connect the national question
of Black self-determination to the international class question of
capitalist and imperialist exploitation of working people. Amiri was not
born a revolutionary. It was his engagement as an artist who grew more
conscious of how oppressive a capitalism society functions. Instead of
buying into the privilege of a celebrated artist, Amiri embraced the black
masses bringing his artistic and intellectual skills into his community
giving voice and advocating for democratic Black power. Throughout the
various phases of his life, Amiri continued to grow politically grappling
with how to fuse the struggle for Black liberation and struggle for
socialism in America. By struggling to take up different questions and
changing his outlook and his own practice made him a transformational
revolutionary, someone who was self-critical and reflective about building
a new society.

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