In Motion: Amiri Baraka

Directed by St. Clair Bourne

60 minutes / Color
Release: 1983
Copyright: 1983

IN MOTION: AMIRI BARAKA profiles the outspoken representative - formerly LeRoi Jones - of the Black consciousness movement who has been a major figure on the American literary and political landscape for three decades. Set in Newark, Greenwich Village, and Harlem, this documentary follows Baraka from before his trial for "resisting arrest" and ends with his conviction despite allegations of police harassment.

The film visits Baraka at home preparing for the American Writers Congress, teaching a college class, hosting a jazz and commentary radio show, reading poetry, and speaking at an anti-apartheid rally. Interviews with writers Allen Ginsberg, Joel Oppenheimer, and A.B. Spellman, and activists Ted Wilson and Askia Toure provide insight into the modern day revolutionary, and the period which fostered him.

Accessible and informative, IN MOTION: AMIRI BARAKA takes a provocative look at an important chapter in modern American political history.

"A brilliantly executed documentary... In no time at all the documentary has established Mr. Baraka's prominence, his equanimity, and his problems... Why was Mr. Baraka arrested? The answer, explicit and implicit, is that it was because he was a black radical."—John Corry, New York Times

"A fascinating look at a man who is indeed in motion, on a lifelong quest for artistic beauty and social justice that has led him to change his view of the function of the artist, to change his ideas about how best to bring about a fair society, to change his own name... [IN MOTION] contains striking cinematic touches."—Cineaste

Other Ways to Watch


Available online from:

Colleges, Universities, Government Agencies, Hospitals, and Corporations

Purchase DVD for $298.00

Available for educational streaming from:

Select Accolades

  • 2001 African Literature Association Conference Film Festival


An engaging and searing examination of the hitherto unexplored relationships between Pan-African culture, science fiction, intergalactic travel, and rapidly progressing computer technology. (from the Jan., 1998 Catalog Supplement)

John Akomfrah | 1997 | 45 minutes | Color | English