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Raz Baaba Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts:

The Portraits of a Revolutionary Pan-Afrikanist Activist, Spiritual Artist, Poet, and Videographer


ibn photo2It is important and necessary to document the significant life and the extensive multi-faceted body of works created by Raz Baaba Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts. Ibn Pori, born September 17, 1941 in Detroit, is one of America’s greatest revolutionary artist-activists. He was at the forefront of the Black Cultural Arts and Black Labor Movement in the 1960s. He worked for the U.S. Post Office and was a member and plant leader of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Ibn was a founding member, former President, and Membership Chair of the Michigan chapter of the National Conference of Artists (NCA). He was Artist-in-Residence for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and voted MetroTimes Artist of the Year. He was a publisher of Black Graphics International, and a founding member of PitchBlack Poetry (now PitchBlack Arts Institute). Ibn's world-class art installations are inspired by Ogun, the Yoruba deity who presides over iron, war, hunting, and politics. The Ogun inspiration undergirds many of Ibn's works, especially the exhibits in which the automobile functions as an art object, transformed by the power of music, poetry and revolutionary commentary.

3Ibn’s art is unique and immediately recognizable. He uses a collage style filled African symbols, the bold movement of colors, Black revolutionaries, jazz musicians, singers, Detroit historical locations, and motifs of family, especially his beloved mother, Zenolia. Ibn was also an international videographer. He videoed the Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) and videoed President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso and Assata Shakur, exiled in Cuba. As a recorded scripted and improvisational poet, Ibn toured the Midwest in 2005, as a Special Guest of the Henry Grimes Trio. As M. Saffell Gardner, his longtime art collaborator stated, “Ibn is much more than these titles. He cared for many people and families, providing them food and resources and finally, he is deeply spiritual.” On April 12, 2008, Ibn suffered a massive stroke while delivering a eulogy for Donald Walden, a Detroit jazz saxophone master. Fortunately, he is now recovering steadily. In fact, world class artist Allie McGhee is amazed that Ibn is now creating colorful and dynamic paintings with his left hand.

2Nehemiah Pitts, Dr. Gloria Pitts, Cornelius Pitts, Esq., Erma Pitts Shepherd, Dr. Nubia Kai, M. Saffell Gardner, Walter Morgan, Allie McGhee, Owusu Millard, Shirley Woodson, Richard Bennett, Njia Kai, Piper Carter, Bill Harris, Dr. Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House), Lester Lashley, General Baker, Jr., Malik Yakini, Herb Boyd, Amiri Baraka, Cleddie Taylor, George N. N'Namdi, Dr. Melba Joyce Boyd, Titilayo Akanke, Olayami Dabls, Carole Morisseau, Elliott Hall, Esq., David Tillman, Esq., Rebecca Mazzei, John Bolden, Hubert Massey, Gilda Snowden, Henry Grimes, George Hicks, Vera Smith, Carey Loren, and Nick Ohler are working with Charles Ezra Ferrell, the founder and Director of the Liberation Film Series - www.thewright.org/liberation - at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Patrina Chatman, the Museum's Curator of Exhibitions. Collectively, we seek to bring the vision of creating a documentary of Ibn's life/art/work/collaborators; a speaker panel presentation; a four month museum exhibition; an opening Museum reception; and associated educational outreach programs into reality.*

Our immediate goal is to obtain funding to create a documentary of Ibn's life/art/work to be shown at the Museum's Liberation Film Series on Saturday, September 13th, 2014. In addition, the Museum seeks to establish, at minimum, a digital repository of Ibn's works.

Your immediate assistance is requested in three vital areas:

1. Identification (who/where/what/condition) and contributions of existing relevant videos that Ibn shot or is a participant.

2. Identification (who/where/what/condition) and contributions of existing relevant art that Ibn created or was a collaborator.

3. To "The Friends of Ibn" - those who know and love him: Please contribute a minimum of $100.00 (Bronze) to support the "Honoring Ibn Project" (HIP) no later than January 31, 2014. $250 (Silver) contributors will receive a signed Museum exhibition catalogue. $500 (Gold) contributors will receive a signed Museum catalogue and a signed print of Ibn's work. $1,000 (Platinum) contributors will receive a signed Museum exhibition catalogue, a signed and framed print of Ibn's work, and a copy of the DVD. All contributors will be listed in the credits of the DVD and the Museum exhibition catalogue. Gallery and Institutional Sponsorships begin at $300.00.

A special account specifically for this project will be maintained by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African History.

Contributions are for this special project (HIP), not to support the Museum.

Click here to donate to the Honoring Ibn Project online

Please make checks payable to: Honoring Ibn Project (HIP) c/o Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201. Please specify “Honoring Ibn Project” on checks for proper accounting.



* Those cited here are members of the initial working core committee. For additional information, please contact: Nehemiah Pitts (248.321.2533), Charles Ferrell (248.229.6619), or Patrina Chatman (248.484.5810). Thank you on behalf of Raz Baaba Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts.