Say what you wish about Amiri Baraka. He was (and always will be) a controversial lightning rod. At times brilliant, then later controversial or unclear as to motive; always defiant, and always being true to himself and his voice…always standing up for what he believed in regardless of whomever followed along.
Who else but Amiri Baraka would have had the testicular fortitude to write poetry about 9/11 (within hours of the events), calling it immediately, pointing fingers boldly at who stood to profit the most?
I was fortunate enough to have met Amiri Baraka (along with Nikki Giovanni) a long time ago while in college, and was struck by Baraka’s delivery and passion. We shook hands and his gaze met my own equally, proudly. He didn’t condescend and he didn’t play a role. He was, good or bad, the real deal at all times and always worth listening to.
So, it’s with a heavy heart that I learned of his passing. I don’t know if he was glad to go or not, but he certainly did what he could while here.