Amiri Baraka, former N.J. poet laureate and prolific author, dead at 79
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on January 09, 2014 at 3:14 PM, updated January 09, 2014 at 3:48 PM
Baraka was placed in intensive care at Beth Israel Medical Center last month for an unknown reason, but a spokesman for his son's mayoral campaign said his condition was improving late in December.
Baraka had long struggled with diabetes, but it was not immediately clear what the cause of death was.
A Newark native and resident formerly known as Leroi Jones, Amiri Baraka has published dozens of poems, essays and works of non-fiction. In 1963 Amiri Baraka wrote "Blues People," an in-depth history of music from the time of slavery throughout the various incarnations of blues and jazz, with integrated social commentary. The book's 50th anniversary was recently celebrated during an event at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
“Not only has New Jersey, but the United States of America, has lost a great human being. He was a legend in his own lifetime," Crump said. "It is such a loss, such a great loss."
Crump said Baraka's condition had been improving, and he was breathing on his own when she last visited him on Sunday. The Baraka family has been lining Beth Israel Medical Center for weeks, according to Crump.
“He fought a good fight. I was there the first night he went into the hospital," Crump said. "I was there when he was breathing on his own, I was there Sunday."