Portrait of American writer Amiri Baraka, USA, 17th March 2013. (Photo: Mick Gold/Redferns)

Amiri Baraka

Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, Amiri Baraka was one of the nation's most revered Black poets and esteemed writers. His collections of plays, poems, novels, musical critiques, and essays have been met with both veneration and condemnation for their emphasis on Black oppression, racism and gender, sex and class issues. He was respected for his fearless activism and impassioned fight to spread Black history, culture and art and worked closely with empowerment groups such as the Black Panthers and founded others like the Black Arts Movement and the Congress of African People. The former US Air Force sergeant turned Pan-African leader received a plethora of accolades and honors, including induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Before Columbus Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He briefly served as the second Poet Laureate of New Jersey before the position was abolished in July 2003. On January 9, 2014, 79-year-old Amiri Baraka died at Newark's Beth Israel Medical Center.  (Photo: Mick Gold/Redferns)