News 12 New Jersey

As the casket bearing activist, poet and playwright Amiri Baraka was carried into his funeral service Saturday in Newark, N.J., bagpipers, African drummers and jazz musicians led a moving procession, the Associated Press reports.

Baraka, 79, died Jan. 9 of an undisclosed illness. Actor Danny Glover was slated to officiate Saturday's service at Newark Symphony Hall.

Proponents regarded Baraka as a genius and a prophet. He was a founder of the Black Arts Movement in 1965 and left a long list of accomplishments in community activism in his native Newark and elsewhere.

In 2002, he was named New Jersey's poet laureate, but the position was eliminated following criticism of Baraka's Sept. 11 poem "Somebody Blew up America." Opponents denounced him as homophobic and anti-Semitic, the AP reports.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at his wake Friday at Metropolitan Baptist Church. Other dignitaries who attended the wake included Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey, according to News 12 New Jersey.


Read more at the Associated Press and News 12 New Jersey.