This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 civil rights act and the Obie Award Winning The Dutchman. This year also marked the passing of the plays author Amiri Baraka. No man better represented the shifts in thinking and passions of an era. He went from beatnik poet, to radical, to Marxist revolutionary to impassioned social crusader. His legacy is filled with controversy and contradiction. His work straddled a line between beauty and savagery, intellectual rigor with emotional excess. An influence that still lives with us today. He contributed to poetry, drama, criticism, and social justice. But that’s not why we must remember him. Amiri Baraka changed but the destructive forces he wrestled with his entire life did as well. Racism and oppression, cultivates anger and resentment and he wrote about both. Our society must always be ready to face these truths. The struggle for civil rights is not a part of our history it’s a part of our society and leaves its mark. And honesty even when uncomfortable must be a part of any healing or celebration.