Amiri Baraka

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Amiri Baraka (born Everett LeRoi Jones; 1934-2014) was an anti-Semitic, black nationalist poet. He was Poet Laureate of New Jersey from 2002 to 2004. He described himself as a "Third World Marxist-Leninist."

Baraka's poetry contains many anti-Semitic and anti-white rantings. It is also laden with profanity, misspellings, incorrect punctuation and improper diction. Overall, his poetry looks more like gangsta rap than traditional poems. Baraka states he is anti-Zionist (i.e., he denounces the nation of Israel and its policies) and not anti-Semitic.

Baraka was at the center of a controversy during his Poet Laureate tenure in 2003 over his poem "Somebody Blew Up America." In this poem, Baraka blames Israel under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the 9/11 attacks. He also maligns Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, Ward Connerly and Condoleezza Rice in this same poem. Then-governor Jim McGreevey criticized Baraka's poem and attempted to remove him from the post, but found there was no legal way to do so. In 2003, legislation was passed allowing the governor to abolish the title of New Jersey Poet Laureate, which he then did. Baraka sued to reclaim the title but the court ruled that state officials were immune from such suits.

His son Ras Baraka is mayor of Newark, New Jersey.

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