Baraka also was deeply involved with the African-American community. He founded Harlem's Black Arts Repertory Theatre and a related school in 1965. After they closed in the late 1960s he moved back to Newark, converted to Islam, and changed his name to Amiri Baraka. In 1968 he established the Black Community Development and Defense Organization, and started the Black National Political Convention in 1972. He also taught at a number of colleges and universities, and was named New Jersey's third poet laureate in 2002. After one of his poems suggested that Israel had foreknowledge of the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center , the resulting controversy led to unsuccessful demands for his resignation or firing in 2003 the state legislature eliminated the poet laureateship to remove him.
See W. J. Harris, ed., The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader (1999) and Baraka's The Autobiography of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1984, rev. ed. 1997) C. Reilly, ed., Conversations with Amiri Baraka (1994) studies by K. W. Benston, ed. (1978), T. R. Hudson (1973), W. Sollors (1978), W. J. Harris (1987), K. Woodard (1999), and J. G. Watts (2001).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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