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Services Saturday for Poet-Activist Amiri Baraka

One of Newark’s most famous sons is being laid to rest this weekend.

Funeral services are planned for activist poet-playwright Amiri Baraka at Newark Symphony Hall on Saturday.

The 79-year-old author of blues-based poems, plays and criticisms died last Thursday.

Baraka’s supporters considered him a genius and a prophet. He helped found the Black Arts Movement in 1965, helped organize the 1972 National Black Political Convention and founded the Congress of African People. He also founded community groups in Harlem and Newark, where one of his sons is running for mayor.

Critics have denounced him as homophobic and anti-Semitic.

He was named New Jersey’s poet laureate in 2002, but the position was eliminated following criticism of Baraka’s Sept. 11 poem “Somebody Blew up America.”

A wake was held for Baraka Friday night.

Amiri Baraka
American poet Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones), 1970s. (Hulton Archive, Getty Images)

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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