Amiri Baraka, a riveting force armed with words that scurried the battle fields of life and pierced the curtains of falsehoods with hard-hitting truth, died on Jan. 9 at Beth Israel Medical Center, confirmed his son Ras Baraka, a member of the Newark Municipal Council. He was 79.

Amiri Baraka leaves behind a legacy in the literature and political activist communities that will endure the test of time, as he leaves an abundance of written and recorded pearls to keep his many fans focused while inspiring generations to come.

Baraka made a profound statement on America and the world as a college student at Howard University, during the beatnik era of change in Greenwich Village, as a leader of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem, as a playwright for the Obie-winning play “Dutchman,” and as a poet, author, critic, bandleader and activist.

“Spoken word” was only Baraka sharing his wisdom while asking the hard questions that became controversial only because no one wanted to deal with the real answers. He was the prerequisite to the Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, hip-hop and Russell Simmons’ “Def Poetry Jam.”

Despite his iconic status, Baraka, born Everett LeRoi Jones on Oct. 7 , 1934, remained a Newark homeboy at heart who never left the neighborhood once he returned after his days in Greenwich Village and Harlem. It was through his community activism that he kept a watchful eye on the politics of Newark and its political officials.

While Baraka never sought public office, his son Ras Baraka, inspired by his father’s activism, entered the political arena and recently announced his candidacy in the next mayoral election.

Speaking from the Black Power Movement to Marxism and world liberation movements, Baraka’s words were for the folks struggling to get to the top or someplace where equality is a reality. The words are battling for justice for all.

Baraka was the house jazz poet from Newark to Africa; he was the consummate sideman-poet. Onstage, his words soared in the moment with spirited improvisations that instigated foot tapping. He was the first jazz poet, and his fiery words swung fast and hip like bebop—just wanting to get out and be heard. He performed at last year’s Vision Festival with the avant-garde genius drummer-percussionist Milford Graves. Baraka once noted that he listened to Thelonious Monk albums every night for a year just to get the music right.

He often collaborated and performed with trombonist-composer Craig S. Harris, and “Tongues of Fire” was one of their jazz-poetry pieces. Sharing his thoughts on jazz panels and lecture circuits around the world was one of Harris’ many contributions to the world of universal thought.

One of his last performances was Nov. 22, a benefit for saxophonist Arthur Blythe at the Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn, where both Baraka and his wife, Amina, performed.

Baraka described jazz as “the emotional history, culture and aesthetic of a people.” He wasn’t just a jazz critic; he led his own ensemble, the New Arkestra, performing often in Newark, where jazz was booming during the 1950s through 1970s.

As a historian, Baraka kept that spirit alive with annual performances at the Lincoln Park Music Festival and at Kimako’s Blues People, one of Newark’s former jazz clubs, with a 15-year run. As a jazz writer, his 1963 book “Blues People: Negro Music in White America” remains one of the most influential pieces of jazz criticism. The Columbia University Jazz Studies Program celebrated the book’s 50th anniversary last October. His second book, “Black Music,” included a collection of his previously published articles in his “Apple Cores” column from Down Beat magazine (1968).

On his most current book, “Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music” (University of California Press), Baraka noted, “These essays are just those I collected in the last few years, I even left a few significant ones out. But one thing I’ve got is books needing to be published. “Digging” reflects Baraka’s thoughts on the music and how it relates to its sole creators—the musicians. He includes a wealth of information on Newark’s once fertile jazz landscape.

In “Low Coup” (the Afro-American syncretic form of the Japanese haiku), Baraka wrote, “IN THE FUNK WORLD if Elvis Presley is King, Who is James Brown … GOD?”

Through his poems, plays, dramas, short stories, essays and criticisms, controversy often followed, but it often led to constructive and heated discussions in many circles, as was the case with his play “Dutchman.” But his 2002 poem “Somebody Blew Up America,” written as a result of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, eventually cost Baraka his post as New Jersey poet laureate. The post was later eliminated.

Despite being followed by controversy, Baraka nurtured young minds at Columbia and Yale universities, among others. At his death, he was emeritus professor of Africana studies at Stony Brook University on Long Island, where he had taught since 1979. Baraka’s many honors include the Langston Hughes Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, the Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Jazz Journalists Lifetime Achievement in jazz journalism.

Baraka’s words have a rhythmic, lyrical flow, swinging hard like Miles Davis’ trumpet on his album “Jack Johnson.” His “Digging” journey is as deep as Langston Hughes’ poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” sailing on the beat of the African drum, blues, jazz, bebop and hard bop from the outside, inside out and back again. He stated, “Afro-American music is internationally celebrated; it employs millions of people worldwide; certainly it could support its creators!”

Music is Baraka’s soulful revolution, poetry his improvised words. His stride was like an old bopper in the hipper now. Shhh! The wordsmith has left the stage, but he leaves behind lessons to be learned, music to be explored, conflicts to be examined and musical warriors to be praised for carrying the torch of their African ancestors from slavery to now.

In addition to his wife and his son Ras Baraka, survivors include three other sons, Obalaji, Amiri Jr. and Ahi; four daughters, Dominique DiPrima, Lisa Jones Brown, Kellie Jones and Maria Jones; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

His wake will be held on Friday, Jan. 17 at Metropolitan Baptist Church, 4 p.m.-9 p.m., at 149 Springfield Ave. in Newark, N.J. The funeral will be held on Saturday, Jan. 18 at Newark Symphony Hall at 10 a.m., 1020 Broad St., Newark, N.J.