Video: A Conversation with Amiri Baraka

by Sampsonia Way    /  September 19, 2011  / No comments

Amiri Baraka

During the Civil Rights Movement these two men were fighting to put an end to the practices of discrimination. While Amiri Baraka did it from New York, Sala Udin did it from Holmes County, Mississippi and Pittsburgh.

Baraka founded the Black Arts Movement, which advocated independent black writing, publishing, and artistic institutions. In 1966 he set up the Spirit House Players, which produced, among other works, two of his plays against police brutality. Then Sala Udin—a man who, among other things, fought for starting Black Studies at the University of Pittsburgh—used to take young people to those performances. Many of these people went back to change their cities, inspired by the work of “the father of the Black Arts Movement,” as Baraka is known.

Almost fives decades later, in June 2011, it was Baraka who came to Pittsburgh to read at the poetry event that Cave Canem and City of Asylum/Pittsburgh hosted on the North Side. Sala Udin, a former Pittsburgh City Councilman, sat down with him to discuss politics, the future of black art, and the consequences of making political art in America. Their lively conversation is sprinkled with personal memories, sharp political commentary, and humor.

Because it is a unique opportunity to have two figures of the Civil Rights Movement in the same room to talk about that period and their lives afterward, Sampsonia Way presents this interview unedited and uncut.

Read the interview, A Conversation with Amiri Baraka, in the current issue of Sampsonia Way.

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

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