Newark, N.J. poet and social activist Imamu Amear Baraka speaks during the Black Political Convention in Gary, Ind., March 12, 1972. (AP Photo/Julian C. Wilson)

Amiri Baraka, former poet laureate of New Jersey and an icon in American literature, has died, according to The Star-Ledger. He was 79-years-old.

The literary legend was hospitalized at Beth Israel Medical Center last month for an undisclosed illness. And while Baraka has a history of battling diabetes, the cause of his death was not disclosed.

Newark Mayor Luis Quintana said Baraka expressed his condolences.

“I went to visit him at the hospital about two weeks ago,” Quintana said by phone. “He was more than poet he was a leader in his own right. He’s going to be missed and our condolences go out to his family today.”

Mildred Crump, Newark City Council President and a longtime friend of the Baraka family, said the world lost a literary giant.

“Not only has New Jersey, but the United States of America, has lost a great human being. He was a legend in his own lifetime,” Crump told The Ledger. “It is such a loss, such a great loss.”

To get more background on Baraka, please go to NewsOne’s write up on his career here.

Amiri Baraka Dead At 79 was originally published on

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