The lynching of Emmett Till, Rosa Parks’s resistance, Dr. King and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (the peoples’ resistance), the bombing of Dr. King’s home in Montgomery. The sit-ins, sclc, the Civil Rights Movement. The emergence of Robert F. Williams and his direct attack on the Klan. The emergence of Malcolm X. I went to Cuba on the first anniversary of the Cuban revolution. The rise and murder of Patrice Lumumba, the African Liberation Movement. I met poets like Askia M. Touré and Larry Neal in front of the un screaming our condemnation of the us, the un, Belgium, Rockefeller for murdering Lumumba and our support for Maya Angelou, Louise Meriwether, Rosa Guy, Abbey Lincoln (all great artists), running up into the un to defy Ralph Bunche. The March on Washington, the bombing 0f 16th St. Baptist Church and the murder of four little girls. JFK’s assassination, Watts, Malcolm’s assassination, Dr. King’s assassination, rebellions across America! All those major events we lived through. If we responded to them as conscious Black intellectuals, we had to try to become soldiers ourselves. That is why we wrote the way we did, because we wanted to. We wanted to get away from the faux English academic straitjackets passed down to us by the Anglo-American literary world.
more from Amiri Baraka at Poetry here.