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The Homecoming Tribute for The Action Figure, The Instrumentalist of Words, The Writer, The Master Teacher Amiri Baraka

The Homecoming tribute of writer and revolutionary icon Amiri Baraka shut down a section of one of downtown Newark’s main streets, dignitary style. African drummers flanked the entry to Newark Symphony Hall, greeting each attendee with ancestral rhythms and setting the tone for what would be a service filled with music, poetry, remembrance and fire; the fire you light when a world-changing, shape-shifting native son has left us.  

Inside, every seat was taken by those who came from around the corner and around  the world for Amiri Baraka, beat poet, Black Nationalist, Marxist, Griot, Shaman, Lighter of Fires; a man whose intellectual and spiritual breadth was reflected in his perpetual search for his truest place in the world and to free others to realize theirs.

Poet Saul Williams intoned “This is a stick up. Amiri get out of the coffin”– and with that  he conjured up Amiri Baraka’s spirit and lifted ours as did Woody King Jr. and Danny Glover, Asha Bandele, Michael Eric Dyson, Jessica Care Moore and Tony Medina.  And Sonia Sanchez was there with an offering from Maya Angelou. And Sister Souljah was there. And Haki  Madhubuti was there. And Cornel West was there. And Larry  Hamm was there.  Oliver Lake, Kevin Maynard and Avery Brooks were there. And Glynn Turman was there. And Ras Baraka was there; the son. The chosen son, the next Mayor of Newark, rhapsodizing, channeling the spirit of his father in an epoch offering - Amiri announcing from the grave the power of a father to shape his son into a reflection of himself and into his own man.

This was a revelatory moment for those present at the tribute for Amiri Baraka, The Action Figure, The Instrumentalist of Words, The Writer, The Master Teacher who was forever seared on my cerebellum and soloing in my nervous system. The entire experience was evidence of our collective genius. The People were there…because they could not imagine not being there” and now you’ll be there to.  We’ll take you there and you’ll be imbued with the passion of the beloved community,  socially engaged people working for empowerment.  And amongst the brilliant tributes and
encouraging instruction for activism to continue, we’ll weave the poetry, the speeches of Amiri Baraka beckoning us to fan the embers and reignite the struggle for justice.

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