NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Bagpipers, African drummers and jazz musicians led a rousing procession as the casket bearing activist poet-playwright Amiri Baraka was carried into his funeral service.
The 79-year-old author of blues-based poems, plays and criticisms died Jan. 9 of an undisclosed illness. Actor Danny Glover was expected to officiate Saturday’s service at Newark Symphony Hall.
Baraka’s supporters considered him a genius and a prophet. He helped found the Black Arts Movement in 1965 and left a legacy of community activism in his native Newark and elsewhere.
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.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at his wake Friday.