Born Donald Luther Lee in Little Rock, Arkansas, the poet adopted the Swahili name Haki R. Madhubuti after traveling to Africa in 1974. As he shared in a 2006 interview, he sensed that “a new African name would help me in arriving at a final definition of self.” Haki means “justice” and Madhubuti means “precise, accurate, and dependable.”
Madhubuti received an MFA from the University of Iowa and served in the army from 1960 to 1963. A member of the Black Arts Movement, Madhubuti has published more than 20 books of poetry, nonfiction, and critical essays, and his work has been widely anthologized. Influenced by Gwendolyn Brooks, Madhubuti writes experimental, free-verse, politically charged poetry with a staccato rhythm. Over the span of his career, his poetry has shifted its focus from the personal to the political. Early work with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) informs his activist poetics. Said Madhubuti in a 2006 interview, “If an artist, or any person, actually understands the condition of the Black world, it will be a dereliction of duty to not write about that world and expose the injustices that exist in it—injustices imposed upon the weak by white, Black and other cultures.”
His collections of poetry include Don’t Cry, Scream (1969) and Groundwork: Selected Poems of Haki R. Madhubuti / Don L. Lee (1996). He has also published Dynamite Voices I: Black Poets of the 1960s (1971) and Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? (1990), and edited Million Man March/Day of Absence: A Commemorative Anthology (1996).
Recognizing the lack of resources and forums for black writers, Madhubuti has founded and led numerous institutions and organizations dedicated to serving that need. In 1967, Johari Amini, Carolyn Rodgers, and Madhubuti founded Third World Press, with the mission of “provid[ing] quality literature that primarily focuses on issues, themes, and critique related to an African American public.” Madhubuti co-founded the quarterly Black Books Bulletin with Larry Neal, the Institute of Positive Education (1969), the New Concept School (1972), the Betty Shabazz International Charter School (Chicago, 1998), the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, and the National Black Writers Retreat.
Madhubuti has won an American Book Award, the Kuumba Workshop Black Liberation Award, the Broadside Press Outstanding Poet’s Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (in both 1969 and 1982) and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
An activist at Tarkio College, Jamala Rogers was a leader of the black student organization. She tried to join the Kansas City chapter of the Black Panther Party, during the time that its leader, Pete O'Neal, was leaving the country. After earning her B.S. degree in education in 1972, Rogers taught elementary school in her old Kansas neighborhood.
Rogers married ACTION member Percy Green and both became members of Congress of African People under the leadership of Amiri Baraka in the 1970s. There, along with Haki Madhubuti, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Jitu Weusi and others, Rogers practiced a version of Maulana Karenga's black nationalist Kawaida Theory. She was also involved in the African Liberation Support Committee and the National Black Political Assembly. .
Evening with Sister Helen Prejean
The event was endorsed by: Timuel Black, Jane Bohman, Locke Bowman, Thomas Breen, Rep. Danny Davis, Tony Fitzpatrick, Aviva Futorian, Bernard Harcourt, Jeffrey Howard, Rabbi Peter S. Knobel, Elizabeth Kooy, Peter Kuttner (IATSE Local 600), Barbara Lannan and John Lannan, Haki Madhubuti, Martin Marty, Lisel Mueller, Sara Paretsky, Father Arturo Perez, Mary Powers, Dick Simpson, Elizabeth Solomon, Thomas Sullivan, Studs Terkel, Scott Turow, Standish E. Willis ; All Saints' Episcopal Church, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Black Radical Congress, Center on Wrongful Convictions, 8th Day Center for Justice, Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, The Lannan Foundation, the MacArthur Justice Center, Midwest Center for Justice, Murder Victims Families for Human Rights, National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression
"Support Bill Ayers"
In October 2008, several thousand college professors, students and academic staff signed a statement ”Support Bill Ayers” in solidarity with former Weather Underground Organization terrorist Bill Ayers.
In the run up to the U.S. presidential elections, Ayers had come under considerable media scrutiny, sparked by his relationship to presidential candidate Barack Obama.
- "We write to support our colleague Professor William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is currently under determined and sustained political attack...
- We, the undersigned, stand on the side of education as an enterprise devoted to human inquiry, enlightenment, and liberation. We oppose the demonization of Professor William Ayers."