Amiri Baraka, the highly influential Beat poet, playwright, critic and publisher, has died. He had been suffering from a weeks-long illness. He was 79.

Baraka was an important member of the Beat generation, alongside Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, before he split with them to help launch Black Arts Movement. He influenced generations of writers, espeically black writers who became empowered by his call to create art in the service of struggle and liberation.

Baraka's 1964 play, "Dutchman," is considered a classic. A withering psychosexual work about race, class and privilege, it has been produced nationwide, including at Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis where it starred founder Ralph Remington alongside Jennifer Blagen. 

"Thanks for all that you contributed to the wonderful world of American theater," Remington, former head of theater and musical theater at the National Endowment for the Arts, posted on Facebook.

The Los Angeles Times has a comprehensive obituary of Baraka. 

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