Written by Staff Writer-Blog Events Now
The movie, “Why Is We Americans?”, was executive produced by singer and songwriter, Lauryn Hill. The singer and songwriter have over time been addressed as the woman who made magic with her debut Miseducation of Lauryn Hill when she was 22. Before then, she made debuts in the mainstream media when she was 13 taking on movie roles. The very movie that brought her immense fame was Sister Act 2: Back in habit.
Inspiringly, this film chronicles the Baraka family’s history of reform in Newark, New Jersey, and the current mayor, Ras Baraka. Audible sponsored the event intending to inspire attendees to become agents of change in their communities and to push themselves to think creatively about how to promote more equitable urban development.
“Howard University shocked me into realizing how desperately sick the Negro could be, how he could be led into self-destruction, and how he would not realize that it was the society that had forced him into a great sickness.”- Amira Baraka. The renowned poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, and music critic, Amiri Baraka, attended Howard University after transferring there in 1952. He is known for his numerous poetry books. Later on, his son, Ras Baraka, a fellow alumnus, would go on to become the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey in the present day.
This documentary captures and explores the moving backstory of the Baraka family’s transformation of Newark. Amiri Baraka and his son, Ras Baraka (the current mayor of Newark, NJ), have made Newark an example for cities around the country when it comes to urban growth and development.
This kaleidoscopic family saga is bookended by on-camera interviews with Ms. Lauryn Hill, rare archival footage, and revealing personal testimonials, and spans decades of social activism, poetry, music, art, and politics. By getting to know the controversial poet Amiri Baraka, his wife Amina, and their son Ras, we are given an image of a city that serves as a stirring rallying cry for people of all backgrounds to join the struggle for social and racial equality.
Starting with the Newark Rebellion of 1967 and continuing to the present day, the city’s story has been one of revolution, with each new generation carrying on the fight. From Amiri’s civil rights leadership and ultimate artistic marginalization to the horrific murder of his sister, Kimako, the homicide of daughter Shani (one of the first openly gay black activists), and the historic election of Ras Baraka as mayor of Newark, NJ, the Baraka family’s triumphs and tragedies shed light on Newark’s struggle against oppression in “Why Is We Americans? The story’s star and moral compass are revealed to be the matriarch, Amina Baraka.
Screened on September 30, 2022 in Washington, D.C. at Planet World Museum. There’s a lot of lessons in the documentary for us as a community ranging from the sacrifices made by the family to their raise to the helm of Newark.