Lauryn Hill Is Executive Producing a Documentary on Amiri Baraka and His Family

Image: Samir Hussein/WireImage.

Iconic singer and songwriter Lauryn Hill has partnered with screenwriter Oren Moverman to executive produce a new documentary that will explore the legacy of the Baraka family of Newark. NJ.

Directed by Udi Aloni, Why Is We Americans? examines Newark’s ongoing “struggle with oppression through the lens of the Baraka family’s decades-long involvement within social activism, poetry, music, and politics.”

Amiri Baraka was a renowned poet, playwright and was one of the leading figures of the Black Arts Movement that began in the 1960s through the 70s. With art meshed with activism, the Black Arts Movement created a revolutionary ethos that left an indelible mark on Black culture. 

Amina Baraka, Amiri’s wife, was an acclaimed writer, dancer, writer, community organizer and also was a major component of the Black Arts Movement.

Ras Baraka, son of Amiri and Amina, is currently the mayor of the city of Newark.

In an interview with NJ.com, Hill lauded the importance of the Baraka family and their contributions to the freedom of Black people.

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“Amiri Baraka was a space maker, Ras Baraka is making space. … I consider myself a space maker, Hill said. “We’re creating space, we’re creating dimension … to help the world get along in such a way and see connections beyond how we’ve been told to divide ourselves and how to specialize and separate. And yet remain true to ourselves.”

Quoting Amiri Baraka, Aloni added, “You try to be Black in a land controlled by white folks. … You try to be Black and the ghost tells you to be a ghost. Do you ask what’s gonna happen? The land gonna change hands.”

The documentary will debut at the IFC Center in New York City on Jan. 14 and will also be screened at the Pan African Film Festival in February in Los Angeles.

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