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Abiodun Oyewole

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Information about Abiodun Oyewole

Profile image of Abiodun Oyewole

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Poet
Spoken Word Artist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Chicken, Fish
Favorite Time of Year:
Birthday
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Islands
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
2/25/1948
Birth Location:
Cincinnati, Ohio

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Poet
Spoken Word Artist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Chicken, Fish
Favorite Time of Year:
Birthday
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Islands
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
2/25/1948
Birth Location:
Cincinnati
See how Abiodun Oyewole is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Abiodun Oyewole was born Charles Davis on February 25, 1948 in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the age of three, he moved to Queens, New York, with his maternal aunt and her new husband. He was greatly influenced by the jazz and gospel music they played and by poets like Langston Hughes. At fifteen, he and a friend attended a Yoruba Temple in Harlem, New York. There, a Yoruba priest performed a ceremony, giving him the name Abiodun Oyewole, by which he is best known. Oyewole began learning about the Yoruba gods and developed a spiritual connection to the religion, which stressed the significance of praying to one’s ancestors for guidance and strength.

Oyewole is a founding member of the American musical spieling group, The Last Poets. On May 19, 1968, the anniversary of Malcolm X’s birthday, Oyewole and two others David Nelson and Gylan Kain read poetry in tribute to Malcolm X at a memorial for him, and the group was born. The group’s message, deeply rooted in Black Nationalism, quickly became recognized within the African American community. The Last Poets along with the artist Gil Scott-Heron are credited as having had a profound effect on the development of hip-hop music. In 1970, the Last Poets were signed by jazz producer Alan Douglas and released their first album. This album includes their classic poem Niggers are Scared of Revolution. The Last Poets' spoken word albums preceded politically laced Rhythm and Blues projects, such as Marvin Gaye’s What's Going On, and foreshadowed the work of hard-hitting rap groups like Public Enemy and Dead Prez.

After being sentenced to four years in a North Carolina prison for larceny, Oyewole was forced to leave The Last Poets. He served two and half years of his sentence and during that time attended a nearby college where he earned his B.A. degree. He went on to earn his Ph.D. from Columbia University in New York City, where he has served as a faculty member. Oyewole rejoined The Last Poets, during its 1990s resurgence. The Last Poets took part in Lollapalooza in 1994 and released a new album entitled Holy Terror in 1995 and a book called On a Mission: Selected Poetry and a History of the Last Poets in 1996. Oyewole continues to tour various venues giving lectures on poetry and politics.

Oyewole lives in New York City.

See how Abiodun Oyewole is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Abiodun Oyewole's interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his favorite color and food
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyeole describes his favorite time of the year
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyeole describes his travels
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyeole describes his favorite sayings, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyeole describes his favorite sayings, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyeole talks about parenting, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyeole talks about parenting, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his mother's childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his infancy
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls choosing to move to New York City with his aunt
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his mother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about Tulsa, Oklahoma's black Wall Street
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his aunt who raised him
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his uncle who raised him
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls attending P.S. 48
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls music from his childhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers celebrating Christmas as a child
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls barbecues at his home in Queens, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls lessons about work ethic from his maternal uncle
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole describes lessons about race from his maternal aunt and uncle
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his childhood impression of New York City's Harlem
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his baptism at Southern Baptist Church
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers seeing the Gospel Caravan at the Apollo Theater
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls how he was affected by his baptism
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about sexuality
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his relationship to women
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his childhood aspiration to become a doctor
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls reciting the Lord's Prayer at Southern Baptist Church
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his relationship with his maternal uncle
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls fighting at Woodycrest boarding school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers an encounter with his school counselor
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his experiences at Haaren High School
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his reputation for fighting at Haaren High School
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his high school English teachers
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls becoming interested in poetry
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers his first encounter with African religion
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers adopting his name
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his poetry
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Slating of Abiodun Oyewole's interview, session 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about the universal nature of struggle and poetry
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls founding The Last Poets with David Nelson
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his talent for poetry
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his desire for self-expression
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole reflects upon being a voice for others
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers preparing for his first poetry performance
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls the first performance of The Last Poets
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his decision not to pursue medicine
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls attending Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his maternal aunt's lessons about self-esteem
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole describes the early performances of The Last Poets
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls hosting workshops and parties at the East Wind, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls hosting workshops and parties at the East Wind, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole describes The Last Poets' finances
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls The Last Poets' changing lineup
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers becoming the sole member of The Last Poets
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers recruiting Umar Bin Hassan to The Last Poets
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls Jalal Mansur Nuriddin joining The Last Poets
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers recording the album 'The Last Poets'
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole describes being a member of The Last Poets
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers his decision to leave The Last Poets
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls protesting the Harlem State Office Building's construction, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls protesting the Harlem State Office Building's construction, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers the police search and seizure of his car
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls fleeing New York City
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole reflects upon being a revolutionary activist
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls attending Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his radio programs at Shaw University
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls organizing the robbery of two gun stores in Raleigh
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls being pursued after robbing the Ku Klux Klan, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls being pursued after robbing the Ku Klux Klan, pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole recounts the details of his robbery of the Ku Klux Klan
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole narrates his photographs
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Slating of Abiodun Oyewole's interview, session 3
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about Gylan Kain
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers the tension within The Last Poets
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole describes the East Wind Associates
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls recording 'The Last Poets'
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about the tracks on 'The Last Poets'
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about Frankie Crocker
  • Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls the release of 'The Last Poets'
  • Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls founding African societies in North Carolina, pt. 1
  • Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls founding African societies in North Carolina, pt. 2
  • Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about polygamy
  • Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls being sentenced to twelve to twenty years in prison
  • Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his experience in Raleigh's Central Prison, pt. 1
  • Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his first wife
  • Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his experience in Raleigh's Central Prison, pt. 2
  • Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his experience in jail before his trial, pt. 1
  • Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his experience in jail before his trial, pt. 2
  • Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls applying for Central Prison's school release program
  • Tape: 12 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls attending Shaw University while incarcerated
  • Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his radio shows at Shaw University
  • Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his play, 'Comments'
  • Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about reading Doris Kemp's poetry on his radio show
  • Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his return to Shaw University after receiving parole
  • Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers a fellow student at Shaw University
  • Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about founding the African Revolutionary Ensemble
  • Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls meeting Angela Davis and Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
  • Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers recording with African Revolutionary Ensemble
  • Tape: 13 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his company's cancelled show with Stevie Wonder
  • Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about a girlfriend
  • Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his connection to the Black Panther Party
  • Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls working at Columbia University's Community Education Exchange Program
  • Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers receiving the Charles H. Revson Fellowship, pt. 1
  • Tape: 14 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers receiving the Charles H. Revson Fellowship, pt. 2
  • Tape: 14 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls Columbia University's Science Technology Entry Program
  • Tape: 14 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole describes The Last Poets' reunion
  • Tape: 14 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about reuniting with Umar Bin Hassan
  • Tape: 14 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his son's music lessons with Babatunde Olatunji
  • Tape: 14 Story: 10 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his return to The Last Poets