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The Blues People Fifty Years Later

  • Broadcast in Politics



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I always liked jazz,” Baraka says. “And my people liked the old blues, race records and the doo-wop and all that. But when I went to Howard, the great Sterling Brown was a great influence on many of us. A.B. Spellman and I, Toni Morrison … a lot of us sat up under Brown. And so, you can always tell that influence.

“We thought we knew so much about jazz. [Brown] said, ‘Why don’t you come on by my house, I’ll show you some things.’ We went by there, and he had the whole wall full of records, by chronology and genre, and he said to me, ‘That’s your history.’ So it took me a decade to find that those records told a story: Every voice, every title is telling you the story of Afro-American history. I really latched on to that idea. And I went back and started listening to the blues.” Amiri Baraka 

We talk with L A Bill Graham from Rutgers University on the life and works of  Newark's own and author of :Blues People    Professor Amiri Baraka.