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Fri, 10.06.1933

Yusef Iman, Poet, and Singer born

Yusef Iman

*This date in 1933 marks the birth of Yusef Iman.  He was a Black poet, singer, actor, playwright, and director.

Born Joseph Washington Jr. he was one of five children from Savannah, GA.  His journey into adulthood included membership in the Nation of Islam, through Malcolm X of Muslim Mosque Inc., and the O.A.A.U. (Organization of Afro-American Unity). It was in the Muslim Mosque Inc. that Malcolm X bestowed the name "Yusef Iman" on him.  Malcolm X always marveled at how faithful he was, so he changed his name from Joseph, which is Yusef in Arabic and Iman means faith. 

Early in his writing career he gained theatrical experience as a member of Amiri Baraka's Spirit House in Newark, NJ, and with Roger Furman's New Heritage [Repertory] Theatre in New York City. For several years Iman was director of the Weusi Kuumba Troupe in Brooklyn, NY. He performed in the New Federal Theatre production of What the Wine-Sellers Buy (1973), and recorded poetry on the Jihad Productions recording Black and Beautiful.  

As a writer his volumes of poetry include Something Black (1967) and Poetry for Beautiful Black Women (1969). Iman contributed poetry to The Journal of Black Poetry and to numerous anthologies. Some of his poetry was used as a grand finale for the cultural exhibit "Harlem on My Mind."  Yusef Iman died on to June 23, 1987.

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