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Haki R. Madhubuti -- Poet, Essayist, Editor, Publisher
Page Index:

Biographical Essays

Autobiographical/Biographical Data
Books by Haki Madhubuti
Black Arts Movement & Madhubuti
Awards, Recognitions, etc
Other Awards
Scrapbook of Community Activities


Prepared on the Occasion of the Tenth Heart's Day Celebration

"You will recognize your brothers by the way they move through the world...   you will recognize these brothers and they will not betray you."
                                                                   Haki R. Madhubuti aka Don L. Lee

Don L. Lee
Dr.Haki Madhubuti


"They who humble themselves before knowledge of any kind generally end up the wiser and as voices with something meaningful to say."      -- Haki R. Madhubuti

"To measure your needs by that which is projected via mass media is a mistake that has no mercy. The average person views a minimum of one thousand advertisements a day. To say "no" to the most outrageous commercials is an act of responsibility that needs to be taught early and often."   -- Haki R. Madhubuti 

"People find a sense of being, a sense of worth and substance being associated with land. Association with final roots gives us not only a history but proclaims us heirs to a future."   -- Haki R. Madhubuti

"Learning to take hold of one's life is very difficult in a culture that values property over life."   -- Haki R. Madhubuti 

Biographical Essays:  Don L. Lee / Haki Madhubuti

Haki R. Madhubuti, formerly known as Don Lee, a major poet, essayist, editor and publisher throughout the Black Arts Movement was born in 1942 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Madhubuti was raised in Detroit with his mother until the age of sixteen when she died from a drug overdose. Madhubuti claims that his mother, Maxine, is the prime force behind his creativity and interest in the Black Arts. After her death, Madhubuti finished high school and joined the Army and his experiences there cemented his interest and commitment in the Black Arts.

Madhubuti has published several collections of poetry, including Think Black, Black Pride, We Walk the Way of the World, Direction score: Selected and New Poems, Book of Life and Don't Cry, Scream. In addition to his poetry collections, Madhubuti also published a collection of critical essays entitled, Dynamite Voices: Black poets of the 1960s.

Madhubuti's work is particularly acute about charting the growth of Blackness within the individual conciousness. Madhubuti's work is especially characteristic of trying to chart a way out of whiteness that allows for strength and self-determination for Black Americans. His poetry is strongly affected by Gwendolyn Brooks and other writers of the time.

Madhubuti participated in the political aspects of the BAM by working as a "foot soldier" for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Community (SNCC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In addition to working for political organizations, Madhubuti invested time in writing political essays, hoping to wake the eyes of the public to the events and attitudes of the world around them. His most notorious political collection of essays is entitled Enemies: The Clash of Races.

As a main part of the BAM, Madhubuti joined with Larry Neal to create a forum for book reviews for the work of African-American writers of the time. The Black Books Bulletin, was published quarterly for eight years and gave the public this information on the new and important works of the BAM authors.

Madhubuti contributed in almost every aspect of the political and cultural happenings of the BAM. He continues to write and is the Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center at Chicago State University where he resides with his wife Safisha.

Specific facts taken from The Oxford Companion for African American Lit. Please see bibliography for more information.

Biography: Haki R. Madhubuti (1942- )

Haki R. Madhubuti was born as Donald Luther Lee in Little Rock, Arkansas, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He attended Wilson Junior College, Roosevelt University, the University of Illinois, and received an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1984. He served in the military from 1960 to 1963. Along with other early employment, he worked as an apprentice curator at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, Illinois (1963-1967). He was a writer-in-residence at Cornell University (1968-1969), poet-in-residence at Northwestern Illinois State College (1969-1970), and a writer-in-residence at Howard University (1970-1978). From 1967 onward he has served as editor and publisher of the Third World Press. He became a professor of English at Chicago State University in 1984.

Through his work as a poet, an essayist, and a publisher, Madhubuti has become a major influence on African-American writers and a leading political voice for black awareness and pride. His unconventional style includes the invention of words and a staccato, explosive rhythm. In his poems and political writings, Madhubuti has stressed the creation of an independent black identity, a separatist philosophy that has angered some mainstream critics. His emphasis on self-reliance and social protest have gained him prominence as a lecturer and speaker for more than 30 years, and his influence as a publisher of new writing talent from the African-American literary community cannot be underestimated.

The author published under the name Donald L. Lee until 1972. His first book of poems, Think Black was published by Broadside in 1967. Collections that followed include Don't Cry, Scream (Broadside, 1969), We Walk the Way of the New World (Broadside, 1970), and Directionscore: Selected and New Poems (Broadside, 1971). Under the Swahili name of Haki R. Madhubuti his poetry volumes have included Book of Life (Broadside, 1973), Earthquakes and Sunrise Missions: Poetry and Essays of Black Renewal, 1973-1983 (Third World, 1978), Killing Memory, Seeking Ancestors (Lotus, 1987), GroundWork: Selected Poems of Haki R. Madhubuti (Third World, 1996), and Heartlove (Third World, 1998). He has authored and edited a number of books on the African-American experience, including most recently Million Man March/Day of Absence: A Commemorative Anthology. Speeches, Commentary, Photography, Poetry, Illustrations, Documents (Third World, 1996). He has contributed to numerous anthologies and published poetry and political essays in a wide range of journals and magazines. His awards and honors include National Endowment for the Arts fellowships (1969, 1982), the Kuumba Workshop Black Liberation Award (1973), and the Broadside Press Outstanding Poet's Award (1975). Under his direction the Third World Press has received numerous honors and awards.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Third World Press.
Copyright © 2000 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved

Autobiographical / Biographical / Data

Poet, essayist, and entrepreneur
Poet, essayist, and entrepreneur, Haki Madhubuti embodies the true spirit of a renaissance man as he moves seamlessly through the worlds of literature, business and education.

Also Known As: Don L. Lee
Madhubuti's first volume of poetry appeared in 1966 with the publication of Think Black. Although he had not yet changed his name from Don L. Lee, the poems in this slim volume signaled the direction that this future prolific poet and essayist would take.

Haki Madhubuti


   will define herself. naturally. will
   talk/walk/live/&love her images. her
   beauty will be. the only way to be is
   to be. blackman take her. u don't need
   music to move; yr/movement toward her
   is music. & she'll do more than dance.
                                                                    -- Haki Madhubuti

Born Donald Luther Lee in Little Rock
Mudhubuti is the founder and editor of Third World Press and Black Books Bulletin, and he directs the Institute of Positive Education.

When Don Lee was an infant
At a time when major U.S. publishers displayed little interest in young African American writers — especially those of a political bent — Madhubuti used the Third World Press to promote a vibrant artistic tradition, especially in Detroit and Chicago. Like other works of the Black Arts Movement, Madhubuti's poetry reflects the cadences of street talk and is often militantly anti-racist.

"Book of Life"

You will recognize your brothers
by the way they act and move through the world.
there will be a strange force about them,
there will be an unspoken answer in them.
this will be evident not only to you but to many,
the confidence they have in themselves and in
their people will be evident in their quiet saneness.
the way they relate to women will be
clean, complimentary, responsible & with honesty...
they will be the examples,
they will be the workers,
they will be the scholars,
they will be the providers,
they will be the historians,
they will be the doctors, lawyers, farmers, priests
and all that is needed for the development and growth.
you will recognize these brothers
and they will not betray you.                                        -- Haki Madhubuti

Biography: Haki R. Madhubuti (1942- )
Along with other early employment, he worked as an apprentice curator at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, Illinois (1963-1967). He was a writer-in-residence at Cornell University (1968-1969), poet-in-residence at Northwestern Illinois State College (1969-1970), and a writer-in-residence at Howard University (1970-1978).

An Advocate of Independent Black Institutions

A Call to Men...
...At all times, Black men need to think and reevaluate where they are as men, co-workers, lovers, husbands, fathers and brothers in a healthy and developmental manner.  This requires work, serious study and a profound commitment to quality relationships at all levels of human interaction.

Haki Madhubuti Pages
His work is characterized both by anger at social and economic injustice and by rejoicing in African-American culture.

Poets and Writers
Copyright 2003.  Poets and Writers is a new magazine coming out of New York. Featuring among others Haki Madhubuti

Black Literary Hall Of Fame Founded
The Hall officially inducted 14 living writers -- 10 of whom attended the ceremony -- and 19 posthumous honorees at a ceremony held during the Eighth Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Writers' Conference on Black Literature and Creative Writing


if it is truth that binds

why are there
so many lies between

if it is truth that is liberating
are people told:
they look good when they don't
they are loved when they aren't
everything is fine when it ain't
glad you're back when you're not.

Black people in america
may not be made for the truth
we wrap our lives in disco
and sunday sermons
selling false dreams to our children.

are refundable,
can be bought on our revolving
charge cards as
we all catch truth
on the next go round
it doesn't hurt               -- Haki R. Madhubuti


"Learning to take hold of one's life is very difficult in a culture that values property over life." --- Haki R. Madhubuti                                                                                         

African American Writers: Poets and Poetry
A wonderful resourse for researcher, teachers and students: see Madhubuti, Haki

The University of Chicago Library
Twentieth-Century African-American Poetry Bibliography

African American Poetry, 1960-1995
Haki Madhubuti and Sonia Sanchez stay closely involved with their community and continue to influence a new generation of poets

African American Chicago Writers
A Selection of African American Chicago Writers and a Sampling of Their Work:  see Madhubuti

Toward the New Millennium
Celebrating the African American Family:  See Madhubuti

Selected Bibliography of African-American Writers and Their Writings
R.I.T. Library:  See:  Madhubuti, Haki

EN209: Radical Decade
A fine bibliography  on African American writers with references for lectures and recommendations for further Study :  See Madhubuti.

Dean / Stokes Collection
The Dean/Stokes Collection Bibliography is in alphabetical order by author. This African American collection  includes is housed at Wilberforce University.  See: Madhubuti, Haki

The Darker Muse and Black Chicago
Creative Suggestion : A Series of Lectures, Conversations, and Performances at the Block Museum. See Madhubuti

Books by the Author

  • Don't Cry, Scream! 1969
  • Think Black 1967
  • We Walk the Way of the New World 1970
  • The directionscore: Selected and new Poems 1971
  • Book of Life 1973
  • Poetry
  • Earthquakes and sunrise Missions: Poetry and Essays of Black Renewal 1973 - 1983
  • Killing Memories 1987
  • Seeking Ancestors 1987
  • Kwanzaa
  • Confusion by any Other Name
  • Why L.A. Happened
  • Million Man March / Day of Absence: A Commemorative Anthology. Speeches, Commentary, Photography, Poetry, Illustrations, Documents
  • Releasing the Spirit: Gallery 37,  1998
  • Describe the Moment, Gallery 37, 2000
  • Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? 1990
  • Claiming Earth: Race, Rage, Rape, Redemption 1994
  • Ground Work: New and Selected Poems from 1966-1996
  • Heart love: Wedding and love Poems 1998
  • Tough Notes, A Healing Call: Affirmations, Meditations, Readings and Developmental Strategies for Creating Exceptional young Black Men, 2002
  • Colored on Arrival: Don L. Lee to Haki Madhubuti (memoirs) 2002 


Madhubuti began writing poetry in the early 1960s
News and activities for the organization Us

Haki Madhubuti and Sonia Sanchez provided the basis for the false expectations
State of The Black World Conference: Our Generation's Niagara Movement

An Interview with Haki Madhubuti
The Reason Poets Are Not Legislators: an Interview with Haki Madhubuti—part I

Historical Background of the Black Arts Movement (BAM) - Part II
Don L. Lee interviews Stokely Carmichael in The Journal of Black Poetry. Volume l. Number 14.
Don L. Lee, guest editor.  San Francisco:  The Journal of Black Poetry. 1971

Haki Madhubuti // my malepractice & maleabsense   
"I am, of course, slightly confused in this title . . . what do men have to do with birth? If this is 'unexplainable', how can a poem be written on it? Yet, that is what poetry often is, trying to put to language that which is beyond language. This is the eternal flaw of poetry that makes it truly live. I am reminded of the Muslim carpetmakers who always intentionally place a flaw in their beautiful rugs, because nothing is perfect except for Allah."

Black Arts Movement and Haki Madhubuti

"To maintain the ability to admit and grow from our mistakes rather than let them defeat us represents best the inner strength of a people."     -- Haki Madhubuti

Historical Background of the Black Arts Movement (BAM) Part II
Works cited and researched by Kamamu ya Salaam.  Contributing editor

Professor Eleanor Traylor: an Interview
A professor of English and chairman of the Department of English at Howard University, Dr. Eleanor W. Traylor is nationally and internationally recognized as a scholar of extraordinary vision.

  Student: "we often peeked into your office and been inspired by that photo of you and Haki Madhubuti up there (enlarged black & white print, looks like plotting revolution) .  Was that from some play you did in the early 70’s? "

  Dr. Eleanor Traylor: "No, it was a conference.  That was a panel Haki (formerly Don L. Lee) was on it.  I was on it.  Ntozake Shange was on it, and Tom Dent was on the panel.  It was sponsored by what was then at Howard, the Institution for the Humanities." 

Major Themes of Black Arts Movement
Cultural revolution, Cultural pride, Redefining American Mainstream, Black Feminism, Crossover: Vocabulary: aesthetics, representation, cultural pride, mainstream, black feminism.

“In the 1960s, when people said simply black was not beautiful, we said: ‘Oh, on the contrary. Black is indeed beautiful. Let me show you this beauty in poem and song and chant; on stage, in music, and in art.
Sonia Sanchez, poet/scholar

W. E. B.  Du Bois:  Race, and the New Mellennium:
A  Symposium Celebrating the Centennial Anniversary of the Publication of  The Souls of Black Folk.

Journal of Black Poetry
Up through the summer of 1975, the Journal published nineteen issues and grew to over one hundred pages. Publishing a broad range of more than five hundred poets, its editorial policy was eclectic. Special issues were given to guest editors who included Ahmed Alhamisi, Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Clarence Major, Larry Neal, Dudley Randall, Ed Spriggs, and Askia Touré. In addition to African Americans, African, Caribbean, Asian, and other international revolutionary poets were presented.

Haki R. Madhubuti
Third World Press emerged from Chicago’s late-sixties renaissance of art and politics, and is now one of the leading independent African-American publishers in the country.

African American Writers
A Gift of Story and Song: An Encyclopedia on Twentieth Century African American Writers, Featuring among others Haki Madhubuti.

The Magic of Juju
An appreciation of the Black Arts Movement

Furious Flowers
African American Poetry, 1960-1995: Featuring, significant people involved in the Black Arts Movement;  key institutions active during the Black Arts Movement; study guides; bibliography of indvidual authors, etc.

Six Acclaimed Poets
"If proof is needed that a ‘second Black literary renaissance’ is at hand, as poet Melhem asserts, then this rich anthology of six distinguished black poets should convince.”

Melhem’s clear introductions and frank interviews provide insight into the contemporary social and political consciousness of six acclaimed poets: Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jayne Cortez, Haki R. Madhubuti, Dudley Randall, and Sonia Sanchez.

Founder and Director-Emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center
He is professor of English and the founder and Director-Emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center at Chicago State University (CSU).

Haki R. Madhubuti:  poet, educator, editor and publisher.
He is the recipient of many awards for his poetry and cultural works.

Black Arts Movement
Sometimes referred to as the sister of the Black Power Movement, the Black Arts Movement is the single most controversial moment in the history of African American literature - possibly in American literature as a whole.

Haki Madhubuti: Awards, Recognitions, etc.

"u feel that way sometimes/ wondering:/ wondering, how did we survive?"
                                                                                             -- Haki R. Madhubuti 

Models of Achievement
Us presented awards to several Black community organizations, institutions and individuals for excellence in their fields and committed service to African people Included among the honorees were Dr Evans, Mr. Madhubuti, Dr. Sanchez and Dr. Roy Garrott who received the Alain Locke Award for Excellence in Literature.

Founder and Publisher of Third World Press
Madhubuti is the founder and publisher of Third World Press and the co-founder of the Institute of Positive Education/New Concept School and the Betty Shabazz International Charter School. Madhubuti is also director-emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center at Chicago State University. Madhubuti discussed the problems of intellectual thinking in today’s society.

Haki R. Madhubuti

Madhubuti Honored as Studs Terkel Humanities Heroes
Haki R. Madhubuti, poet and founder of Third World Press, is a 2002 recipients of the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. This local  "humanities heroes" was nominated by Mayor Daley for his outstanding efforts on behalf of the humanities in the community.

List of Writers
Haki Madhubuti is prominent among the list of Black Writers in the African Diaspora.

Other Awards

  • Honored with "Haki R. Madhubuti Day" by birth city Little Rock, AK, 1999. Honored on the same day as President Clinton was... both men share the same birth city.
  • Henry Blakely Poetry Award from Gwendolyn Brooks, 2000
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • National Council of Teachers of English Black Caucus Award
  • American book Award
  • Alain Locke award for excellence in Literature
  • Gwendolyn Brooks Distinguished Poets Award
  • An Illinois Art Council Award, 2001
  • Distinguished University Professor,  CSU 2001
  • Henry Blakely Poetry Award from Gwendolyn Brooks, 2000
  • Gwendolyn Brooks/Alain Lock Literary Excellence Award from the U.S. Organization of Los Angeles.1995
  • Community Service Award, African Heritage Studies Association. 1994
  • Paul Robeson Award, African American Arts Alliance. 1993
  • Lifetime Visionary Award, African Poetry Theater. Inc. 1993
  • Gwendolyn Brooks Significant Poets Award. 1992
  • ETA Creative Arts Foundation's "Epic Men of the 20th Century" Award. 1992
  • American Book Award. 1991
  • Author of the Year, Illinois Association of Teachers of English. 1991
  • Sidney R. Yates ART Advocacy Award, Illinois Arts Alliance Foundation Award. 1988
  • Robert and Hazel Ferguson Memorial Award for Poetry

Scrapbook of Community Activities

"Studies that bring clarity and direction to the black male situation as an integral part of the black family/community are unpopular, not easy to get published and very dangerous."                                 -- Haki R. Madhubuti

Healing Through the Arts & the Media: Ending Domestic Violence in the African American Community
Dr. Madhubuti has given keynote addresses, lectures and poetry readings at thousands of colleges, universities and community institutions worldwide. In August 2001, he was appointed Director of Chicago State University’s newly created Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program.

The Indi Outlook : Black Press USA.com
Online news Covering the Black Experience in America  in Africa and the entire diaspora.

Chicago State University Writer's Conference put together by Haki Madhubuti
Dr. B.J. Bolden & staff.

Poet Delivers Tough Love To Black America
Last week, before a crowd gathered at Harlem’s Hue-Man Bookstore, the largest Black-owned book merchant in the country, the seasoned poet, essayist, and publisher delivered some tough love with the warmth and scolding of a beloved grandfather or a best friend.

Pilgrim, Madhubuti to speak
Indiana University South Bend, the University of Notre Dame and the African American Foundation are co-sponsoring the inaugural meeting of the Midwest Black Man’s Think Tank Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8, on the IU South Bend campus.

Madhubuti, Haki
In 2001 he was named Chicago State University's Distinguished University Professor, and in 1996 he received an honorary doctoral degree from DePaul University. The State of Maryland House of Delegates, the State of Alabama House of Representatives the Detroit City Council have all honored him with testimonial resolutions, and his birth city, Little Rock, Ark., honored him the "Haki R. Madhubuti Day" on April 9, 1999.

Spanning the period from the Mid 1960's to the Mid 1970's
"Black Arts Movement as the aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept." (Larry Neil)

Future of Creativity Symposium
An interdisciplinary experimental "performance town meeting" on the subject of the communities of the future, and the future of creativity.  A performative format for public dialogue that challenges traditional presentational (and often authoritarian) academic and political models.  See Madhubuti Haki Online Poetry Classroom
A program of the academy of American Poets.  See: Madhubuti, Haki

Tracking our Own Souls
Men in nature and the nature of Men: 14th Annual Minnesota Men’s Conference.  See Haki Madhubuti

Stressing Cultural Diversity

Founder and Editor of Third World Press

Co-Founder of the Institute of Positive Education 1969

Co-Founder, New Concept School 1972

Co-Founder, the Betty Shabazz International Charter School in 1998

Director-Emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center , Chicago State University

Co Founder and Chairman of The Board of the National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of  African Descent.

Co Founder of the Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Conference at CSU

Director, MFA in Creative Writing.  Chicago State University  

Founder: Black Literary Hall Of Fame

New Orleans Men's Conference

From Prison to Community: The Inter-Religious Challenge Conference, Chicago

Youth Workshop on Poetry: Seventh Annual Etheridge Knight Festival of the Arts, and interaction with LOC students.
Memphis, TN.

Researched and prepared by:

Celia C. Daniel, English Bibliographer


February 2003


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