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The Last Poets

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Harlem, New York City, New York, United States (1968 – present)

The Last Poets are a spoken word/poetry group which formed in 1968 in Harlem, New York City, New York, United States.

The Last Poets is a group of poets and musicians who arose from the late 1960s African American civil rights movement’s black nationalist thread. Their name is taken from a poem by the South African revolutionary poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, who believed he was in the last era of poetry before guns would take over.

The original Last Poets formed on May 19, 1968 (Malcolm X’s birthday), at Marcus Garvey Park (formerly Mount Morris Park, at 124th Street and Fifth Avenue) in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City. The original members were Felipe Luciano, Gylan Kain, and David Nelson.

The group continued to evolve via a 1969 Harlem writers’ workshop known as “East Wind.” Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, Umar Bin Hassan, and Abiodun Oyewole, along with percussionist Nilaja, are generally considered the primary and core members of the group, as they appeared on the group’s 1970 self-titled debut (contracted by noted Jimi Hendrix producer Alan Douglas) and, in various combinations, on subsequent releases. Other early East Wind alumni, however — Luciano, Kain, and Nelson — recorded separately as “The Original Last Poets,” gaining some renown as the soundtrack artists for the 1971 film “Right On!”.

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