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Amiri Baraka Collection of Playscripts (1964 - 1986)
RepositoryNew York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture - Manuscripts Division
Collection IDSc MG 279
Size1.6 linear feet
Collection Description
Amiri Baraka, born Everett LeRoi Jones in Newark in 1934, is the author of over 40 books of poetry, essays, drama, and music history and criticism. In 1958, he founded and co-edited the avant-garde literature magazine Yugen, with Hettie Jones, his first wife; in the same year he founded Totem Press, which first published works by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and others.

Baraka married Sylvia Robinson (later Amina Baraka) in 1966.

In 1968, his play "Home on the Range" was performed as a benefit for the Black Panther Party, and he became a Muslim, changing his name to Imamu Amiri Baraka. From 1968 to 1975, Baraka was chairman of the Committee for Unified Newark, a black united front organization. In 1974 Baraka adopted a Marxist-Leninist philosophy and dropped the spiritual title "Imamu." Baraka published an autobiography in 1984, and that same year he and Amina Baraka founded Kimako's Blues People, a multimedia arts space located in their basement in Newark.

In 1990 Baraka became active in a campaign to achieve major curricular reform in the Newark public schools. In the same year he was denied tenure at Rutgers University-Newark, an occurrence that became a major rallying point for anti-racism campus activism.

Baraka died on January 9, 2014, in Newark; his funeral was held at Newark's Symphony Hall on January 18, 2014.
Collection Contents
The Amiri Baraka Collection of play-scripts includes more than thirty plays and screenplays including such early works as "The Toilet" (1964) in addition to "Jello," "Slave Ship," and "S-1." Some of the scripts have been produced and published, but the collection also includes a number of un-produced and unpublished works. The collection consists of holographs scripts, some with the author's annotations and changes; typescripts; rehearsal scripts, some with changes; production files; and a photocopy of a galley.
FormatTextual materials
SubjectsAfrican-American History / Civil Rights; Literature / Authors; Media / Broadcasting; Theater / Performing Arts
Time Period20th Century
Access policyOpen for research, with restrictions
Finding AidYes
Finging Aid URL