Ras Baraka took the baton from his father, Amiri Baraka, in the most eloquent eulogy ever!
Actor Danny Glover was co-MC. Danny began his career in Marvin X's Black Arts West Theatre, San Francisco, 1966. In 1967 he performed in Baraka's Communication Project at San Francisco State University.
Marvin X speaks at the funeral of AB, his partner in rhymes and other crimes
Today I participated in one of the most beautiful final rites ever, the home going ceremony for my friend, the legendary poet/playwright/organizer/music critic/historian, father/husband Amiri Baraka, aka LeRoi Jones, chief architect of the Black Arts Movement or BAM. I told the audience I was changing my name to Marvin X Baraka in honor of my friend of fifty years.
It was a poetic myth/ritual in the best of the African tradition, strong on longevity and short of brevity, but after all, it was the funeral of a poet, and they are known to be loquacious, sometimes redundant and repetitious, but such is the nature of poets and poetry.
If not for the astounding finale by the son of Amiri, Ras Baraka, it could be said the evening was long winded to the point of exhaustion. And yet what would one expect at the last rites of an African griot?
We know the griot is defined as a person who has absorbed his tribe's mythology and history. Such was the personality known as Amiri Baraka, dear friend, brother, fellow worker in the Black Arts Movement that altered the consciousness of North American Africans and Americans, from the academy to the streets.
It was the consensus of those who spoke that Amiri Baraka was a revolutionary, not some Miller Lite civil rites reformer, but a full blown revolutionary who wrote, fought and organized for radical change in America and throughout the world. Those who spoke or participated included Danny Glover, Sonia Sanchez, Cornel West, Woody King, Jessica Care Moore, Michael Eric Dyson, Askia Toure, Glen Thurman, Tony Medina, Chokwe Lumumba's daughter, Sister Souljah, Haki Mahdhubuti, Marvin X and Ras Baraka.
Poet Sonia Sanchez read a poem from Maya Angelou and herself, ending with Resist, Resist, Resist!
Why don't we cut to the chase to say Ras Baraka stole the show which was only proper since it was his father's funeral and the ceremony was not only the last rites, but a rites of passage for the son to take the reins of his father as poet and political operative, i.e., we fully expect Ras to be the next Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, especially after the eloquent reading/speech he delivered to conclude this myth/ritual, including his own poem Black Fire that ended his eulogy.
Some persons may find it hard to believe AB's son delivered his father's poetry better than the father, but know for a surety the son accomplished this task and went beyond into the region of his own mind and destiny: to shape the world in his own making and likeness, yet he never stopped honoring his father at every turn. He gave full honor to his father as Sister Souljah had done when she introduced Ras Baraka.
Sista Souljah said she met Ras Baraka when she was 19 years old, or was he 19, we forget! When she went to his house, she thought he was rich because he had a father! He had a mother, a house, so she thought Ras was rich. She grew up in the projects, food stamps, Section 8, cheese, yes, she thought Ras and the Barakas were rich. They had a house full of books and music albums. They discussed serious topics whether personal or political, and you needn't agree yet there was respect for all. Yes, she thought the Baraka's were rich! Not rich with money but soul, she said! Long live the spirit of Amiri Baraka. We shall complete the national liberation of North American Africans! Free the land!
The art piece above by Elizabeth Catlett Mora demonstrates the union of the Black Arts Movement and Black Power. In my remarks, we spoke on the need to understand Amiri Baraka and the Black Arts Movement were revolutionary, not art for art's sake in the Western tradition. The Black Arts Movement cannot be separated from the Black Power Movement, both were about the National Liberation of North American Africans. Larry Neal said BAM was the sister of the Black Power Movement, I say BAM was the Mother!
--Marvin X (Baraka)
Newark, New Jersey