Feb. 15, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 10

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    Baraka will speak at Kent Lecture

    Every year the Organization of Black Students and the University jointly celebrate Black History Month with the annual George E. Kent Lecture. This year, the OBS, along with other sponsors, including the Coordinating Council for Minority Issues, the Center for the Study of Race and Politics and the Division of the Humanities, has invited Amiri Baraka, a highly acclaimed African-American writer, teacher and political activist as the Kent Lecture guest speaker.
    Amiri Baraka
    Amiri Baraka

    The annual lecture, which will honor Kent and his contributions to the University’s Humanities Division, will take place at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 21, in Room 109 at the Biological Sciences Learning Center.

    Baraka, who was educated at Rutgers and Howard universities, also holds an Honorary Ph.D. from Malcolm X University. His teaching in areas of poetry, drama, literature and African studies has extended to universities around the nation. Baraka’s other activities also have included a commission by the Paris Opera to write a jazz opera, being editor of The Black Nation and the founder of Totem Press, the first press to publish the works of those who defined the beatnik generation.

    Ryan Morehouse, Recognized Student Organization Resource Coordinator and adviser to the Organization of Black Students, helped organize the visit. “We are very excited to have Mr. Baraka speak at the George E. Kent Lecture. He is one of the most notable African-American authors of this century. By drawing from his interesting experiences, I think he will bring a unique perspective to the University community,” said Morehouse.

    The editor of numerous literary and politically centered publications, Baraka is particularly known for his own writing, documenting and exploring of the African-American experience. As a playwright, novelist and essayist, he has had a number of published works detailing his talent for writing in all areas of the literary field. His works include The System of Dante’s Hell, a play titled Dutchman, for which he won an Obie Award for Best American Play, and a poem titled Hard Facts. Baraka also has been acknowledged for his accomplishments in writing with numerous awards and fellowships, including his 1964 Obie Award, a National Endowment for the Arts for Poetry award, a Whitney Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

    Baraka’s influence also has extended to the world of African-American politics, where he was active in the election of Kenneth Gibson, the first black mayor elected in a major Northeastern city––Newark, N.J.

    “Amiri Baraka is not only special to the African-American community but also to the non-black community. He will help create social awareness,” said Tanya Burrell, treasurer of the Organization of Black Students.