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Amiri Baraka, the militant man of letters and tireless agitator whose blues-based, fist-shaking poems, plays and criticism made him a provocative and groundbreaking force in U.S. culture, has died.One of the few blacks to join the Beat caravan of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, Baraka transformed to leader of the Black Arts Movement, an ally of the Black Power movement that rejected the liberal optimism of the early '60s and intensified a divide over how and whether the black artist should take on social issues.Baraka was still called LeRoi Jones when he wrote "Dutchman".The Black Arts Movement was essentially over by the mid-1970s, and Baraka distanced himself from some of his harsher comments – about King, about gays and about whites.In the early 1990s, as Spike Lee was filming a biography of Malcolm X, Baraka ridiculed the director as "a petit bourgeois Negro" unworthy of his subject. Baraka refused, denying that "Somebody Blew Up" was anti-Semitic (the poem also attacks Hitler and the Holocaust) and condemning the "dishonest, consciously distorted and insulting non-interpretation of my poem".
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