James Baldwin On Malcolm ,Martin and America


James Arthur Baldwin was born in Harlem, New York, August 2, 1924 and grew up in a household headed by a loving mother and an abusive stepfather. At an early age, Baldwin began reading voraciously, devouring entire book catalogs of several local libraries. By the age of 14, he had become a fiery, young minister at the Fireside Pentecostal Church in Harlem and wrote articles for his church and high school magazines. After graduating from high school, he worked as a journalist writing book reviews and essays for the The New Leader, The Nation, Commentary, and Partisan Review.

In 1948, he won a grant from the Rosenwald Fellowship, which enabled him to move to Paris, France that same year.

In 1953, he published his first novel, Go Tell It On The Mountain, partially based on his experiences as a teenage minister in Harlem. His second novel, Giovanni’s Room, centered around a love triangle between two men and a woman living in Paris.

In 1957, he returned to the United States and became a firebrand in the struggle for desegregating Southern schools. He joined forces with Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers and others who spearheaded the civil rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

In 1962, he wrote a scathing and critically acclaimed and prophetic essay entitled, The Fire Next Time about the Black condition and predicted riots and violence in the streets of America. During the JFK Administration, Baldwin organized a historic meeting between Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and various African American notables, including Lorraine Hansberry and Dr. Kenneth Clark, designed to inform the Attorney General of the Black scene in America.

In 1970, he bought a house in the south of France, which became his primary residence. In 1983, Baldwin began teaching Afro-American Studies at Five Colleges of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He taught and lectured at many universities and colleges up until he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus in 1987, from which he died on November 30, of that year.


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