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New Ark: Galleys for an Unpublished Work by Amiri Baraka ([ca. 1973?])
RepositoryYale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Collection IDJWJ MSS 359 (oversize)
Size1 item (112 pages)
Collection Description
This item consists of galleys for an unpublished work on the political context of the 1967 Newark riots/rebellion by Amiri Baraka (1934-2014). The book was to have been published by Howard University Press, after an earlier deal with Morrow and Co. Publishers fell through. It is the "setting copy," with printer's and editorial notes. Apparently written ca. 1973 (see p. 101), the manuscript reflects the author's raw emotions in the wake of the 1967 violence and the political upheavals that resulted in the election of Mayor Kenneth Gibson. But, as the editor's marginal notes indicate, Baraka's views on the international and multi-racial nature of the struggle against capitalism and racism, changed over time; and the manuscript was not revised to reflect his new Marxist-Leninist ideology.
Collection Contents
In this manuscript Baraka writes in fervent support of the Black Power movement. He derides Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as "corny and weak" and speaks of the "jive" of the Black church. Revolution, he writes, "is about bloodshed"; Malcolm X burned down the "crackers and their jigaboo tap dancers." In debate with Malcolm, Baraka says, sociologist Kenneth Clark "got burned down like an old house-n....r garage." He pens dark descriptions of pre-1967 Newark and its "pseudo revolutionaries," while stressing the need to "break out of the web of white definition" in favor of a new PanAfrikanism.

Chapter 2 deals with the founding of Spirit House and other art initiatives in Newark, ca. 1966; the building on Stirling St.; projects at first fueled by people from Black Arts in New York City; and the project's feeble first arts festival. There was a need to get close to the community; it was not enough just to be hip. There were inevitable clashes with old-style political types and mistaken efforts to cooperate with white revolutionaries. [Against this passage the editor has written, "in conflict with new position?"]

Baraka goes on to denounce Hollywood Black films and stars, sometimes using homophobic language. He speculates that perhaps a small change on one street in Newark will fuel other changes, and art will spread outside the art houses.

Chapter 3 goes into more detail about conflict in Newark between Spirit House types and local hipsters, and the hostility of the police to the project from the beginning. He heaps more scorn on middle-class Blacks, local Mafia-connected political bosses: "pig [Mayor] Addonizio and his storm troopers under the direction of [Police Director] Dominick Spina, reputed to be an official in both the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan." Newark was like a war zone, Baraka says, even before the riots.

A chapter entitled "Turning: The 66 Election" deals with Kenneth Gibson's first, unsuccessful run for mayor (1966); pro-Addonizio Councilman Irvine Turner; and George Richardson, called a "renegade" who is basically integrationist and backed by white labor types. Baraka denounces Black Addonizio allies Larrie Stalks and her brother Calvin West [here the editor writes "libel? legal?"]. Baraka claims that Stalks dominated her younger brother and forced his endorsement of Addonizio. Baraka also notes the refusal of the white press to carry Gibson publicity.

In a passage accusing radical lawyer William Kunstler of "using" Black revolutionaries, Baraka speaks of Jewish users of Blacks, equating them with the "exploitative" shopkeepers of South Orange Avenue. Baraka further claims that Kunstler offered his parents money to assign him the legal case when Baraka was arrested in 1967 [Ed. "libel?"] and ridicules anti-war radical Abbie Hoffman "with his girl-like screech," going on to mention the "fag who works for A. Philip Randolph [Bayard Rustin]."

Later chapters summarize Baraka's travels and his relationships (and conflicts) with Ron Karenga and the Black Panthers. Chapter 8 contains a long account of the 1967 riots/rebellion, the Medical School controversy in Newark, the United Community Corporation and other anti-poverty programs (white-run, he says, offering "chump change" and aimed to pit Blacks against each other), his 1967 arrest and trial, the Black Power and Black and Puerto Rican conferences, the post-riots Committee for a Unified Newark, his respect for Islam and ultimate rejection of it in favor of Afrikanism, and Newark politics in 1968.

A final chapter discusses the Gibson mayoral victory in 1970, with praise for and criticism of advisor Junius Williams (p. 106); Baraka's break with Gibson (p. 108); criticism of "white coordinators" in the Gibson campaign, including a "tall skinny white boy" [Derek Winans?], who brought in "Boston [types]...." and of an inner core of advisors -- Robert Curvin, Gus Heningburg, etc., who, though Black themselves, threw out "even the Black bourgeoisie." Whites, Baraka says, still set policy. There are frequent references to the teachings of Ron Karenga and a respectful acknowledgement of him at the end of the manuscript.
FormatTextual materials
SubjectsAfrican-American History / Civil Rights; Literature / Authors; Police / Crime / Law Enforcement; Politics and Government
Time Period20th Century
Access policyOpen for research
Catalog URL