Amiri Baraka

God has been replaced, as he has all over the West, with respectability and air conditioning.
Amiri Baraka

The artist’s role is to raise the consciousness of the people. To make them understand life, the world and themselves more completely. That’s how I see it. Otherwise, I don’t know why you do it.
Amiri Baraka

This is said to us, even as this counterfeit president has legalized the Confederate Flag in Mississippi.
Amiri Baraka

There is other disturbing facts surround the hideous 911 attacks, which my family and I could see from the third floor bathroom window of our homes!
Amiri Baraka

A man is either free or he is not. There cannot be any apprenticeship for freedom.
Amiri Baraka
Freedom, Man, Free
The black artist’s role in America is to aid in the destruction of America as he knows it.
Amiri Baraka

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.
Amiri Baraka

I changed my name when we became aware of the African revolution and the whole question of our African roots.
Amiri Baraka

Thought is more important than art. To revere art and have no understanding of the process that forces it into existence, is finally not even to understand what art is.
Amiri Baraka

You can’t be an American without being related to other Americans.
Amiri Baraka

To name something is to wait for it in the place you think it will pass.
Amiri Baraka

If the flag of an armed enemy of the U.S. is allowed to fly over government buildings, then it implies that slavery, or at least the threat of slavery, is sanctioned by that government and can still legally exist.
Amiri Baraka

I always liked jazz. And my people liked the old blues, race records and the doo-wop and all that.
Amiri Baraka

A rich man told me recently that a liberal is a man who tells other people what to do with their money.
Amiri Baraka

I guess I was the most unbohemian of all bohemians. My bohemianism consisted of not wanting to get involved with the stupid stuff that I thought people wanted you to get involved with – … namely America… Dwight Eisenhower, McCarthyism and all those great things.
Amiri Baraka

Howard University shocked me into realizing how desperately sick the Negro could be, how he could be led into self-destruction, and how he would not realize that it was the society that had forced him into a great sickness.
Amiri Baraka

You have to start with slavery because those abuses have never been eradicated. You know, people are not living in slums because they voted to. You know, their children are not in jail because they wanted them to. You know, these are the results of a people who have been oppressed and suffer national oppression, you know.
Amiri Baraka

My bohemianism consisted of not wanting to get involved with the stupid stuff that I thought people wanted you to get involved with… namely America… Dwight Eisenhower, McCarthyism and all those great things.
Amiri Baraka

I met Malcolm the month before he was killed. He deeply changed my mind about America.
Amiri Baraka

The man who buried Malcolm X – my Muslim imam, priest – he, after I got beat up by police… came to me, and he said, ‘You don’t need this American name.’ And I was susceptible to it at the time because, God knows, I had just gotten whipped near to death. So he gave me an Arab name; he gave me the name Amir Barakat.
Amiri Baraka

I had just been in some repressive situations – the black middle-class college scene and the crazy United States Air Force – and so I just felt like getting out of that. I thought, now, that I wanted to be a writer. I had something that I wanted to do, that I was interested in doing, so I wanted to pursue that.
Amiri Baraka

The poet is someone, I think, who’s interested in registering experience immediately or giving you the sense of immediacy and directness.
Amiri Baraka

It seems natural to me that as a writer, you should have some kind of, you know, there should be some kind of projection that you actually have influenced people who are closest to you.
Amiri Baraka

‘Griot’ is a French word which means, you know, really, literally, ‘cry.’ You know, like the town crier. You know, they come in and say, you know, ‘It’s nine o’clock; everything is cool.’ You know, ‘President Bush is a fool.’ I mean, stuff like that just to tell you. But for the kind of, the African thing is called djali.
Amiri Baraka

I had a little portable typewriter. I call it my Harlem Literary Fellowship.
Amiri Baraka

The major poets of New Jersey have all suffered, whether it’s Whitman, who lost his job for ‘Leaves of Grass,’ or William Carlos Williams, who was called a communist, or Ginsberg, whose ‘Howl’ was prosecuted, or myself. If you practise poetry the way I think it needs to be done, you’re going to put yourself in jeopardy.
Amiri Baraka

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