A Nation within a Nation

Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics

By Komozi Woodard

400 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 25 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4761-9
    Published: February 1999
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7617-6
    Published: October 2005
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6794-0
    Published: October 2005

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Poet and playwright Amiri Baraka is best known as one of the African American writers who helped ignite the Black Arts Movement. This book examines Baraka's cultural approach to Black Power politics and explores his role in the phenomenal spread of black nationalism in the urban centers of late-twentieth-century America, including his part in the election of black public officials, his leadership in the Modern Black Convention Movement, and his work in housing and community development.

Komozi Woodard traces Baraka's transformation from poet to political activist, as the rise of the Black Arts Movement pulled him from political obscurity in the Beat circles of Greenwich Village, swept him into the center of the Black Power Movement, and ultimately propelled him into the ranks of black national political leadership. Moving outward from Baraka's personal story, Woodard illuminates the dynamics and remarkable rise of black cultural nationalism with an eye toward the movement's broader context, including the impact of black migrations on urban ethos, the importance of increasing population concentrations of African Americans in the cities, and the effect of the 1965 Voting Rights Act on the nature of black political mobilization.

About the Author

Komozi Woodard is professor of American history at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. He has also worked extensively as an activist and journalist.
For more information about Komozi Woodard, visit the Author Page.


"In giving us much to discuss and debate in its richly informative and insightful pages, [this book] deserves the widest possible audience."--American Quarterly

"A well-researched, decidedly worthwhile study that enhances our understanding of Black Power stratagems."--American Historical Review

"The best published work on the black power movement to date. . . . A seminal discussion of the black power movement based in both the ideological and the practical activities of a local organization led by one of the most important political and cultural figures in the post-World War II United States. Woodard’s more local approach is a departure from most previous scholarship and opens a new and productive area of inquiry."--Journal of American History

"A fascinating story on the life and work of writer and activist, Amiri Baraka. . . . A well researched book . . . the author does an excellent job of exploring the complexities of the modern black struggle for freedom in America."--American Studies

"The most important book to be written about the Black Power Movement. . . . More than a simple historical narrative, Woodard’s work represents the partial recovery of discourses too often silenced within conventional African-American historiography."--The Gaither Reporter

"Illuminates the dynamics and remarkable rise of black cultural nationalism with an eye toward the movement’s broader context."--[Charlottesville, VA]Tribune