Perhaps I did not succumb to ideology, as you put it, because I have never seen myself as a spokesman. I am a witness. In the church in which I was raised you were supposed to bear witness to the truth. Now, later on, you wonder what in the world the truth is, but you do know what a lie is.
Selector: Clayton Hayes
James Baldwin, born in New York City in August of 1924, was one of the most prominent and eloquent speakers, essayists, and novelists of the American Civil Rights Movement. His visionary works attacked American race relations from a psychological perspective, and demonstrated the harm that racial inequality had on both the oppressed and the oppressor. He also struggled with his own sexuality, a theme that was reflected in his fiction and later essays. He has left an indelible mark on the culture of the United States and, indeed, the world, and is cited as a strong influence by many contemporary authors, one of the most prominent of which is Ta-Nehisi Coates. You can read more on Baldwin's life in this short biography, and on his influence on Coates in this article appearing in The Atlantic.
First published in 1955. A collection of ten essays, several of which are revised versions of previously-published magazine articles.
First published in 1961. A collection of more of Baldwin's essays, again a combination of previously-published articles and new material.
First published in 1976. A reflection on civil rights-era events and people of historical significance, described from Baldwin's point of view.
First published in 1976. A reflection on his experiences viewing films and a critique of the racism and racial politics found in American cinema.
First published in 1985. A discussion inspired by the Atlanta Child Murders of the late 70s and early 80s.
First published in 1985. A collection of Baldwin's nonfiction writings, spanning from 1948 to 1985.
First Published in 1953. Baldwin's semi-autobiographical first novel about race, family, and religion. Hailed as one of the best novels of the 20th century.
First Published in 1968. Baldwin tells the story of three friends living in Greenwich Village, discussing interracial relationships, bisexuality, and religion, specifically Christianity.
First Published in 1974. The story of a young Harlem couple and their families thrown in to turmoil because of the actions of a racist police officer.
First Published in 1976. A juvenile fiction book illustrated by Yoran Cazac.
First Published in 1976. Stories of the lives of a group of friends first based in Harlem, touching on topics such as war, sexuality, and religion.
Originally published in 1964. Baldwin's second play explores how religion, specifically Christianity, has contributed to the disenfranchisement of black America.
Originally published in 1971. Transcriptions of a conversation between Baldwin and Dr. Margaret Mead, a prominent cultural anthropologist.
Originally published in 1972. A short screenplay based on Alex Haley's The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Originally published in 1973. A conversation between Baldwin and Dr. Nikki Giovanni, transcribed from their interview on the television program Soul!
Originally published in 1983. The only collection of Baldwin's poetry that he published during his lifetime.
Originally published in 1989. A collection of interviews with James Baldwin, covering the period of 1961 to 1987.
Originally published in 2004. Correspondences between James Baldwin and Sol Stein, a fellow author and high school friend of Baldwin's.
Originally published in 2004. A collection of prominent works by Baldwin, featuring short stories, essays, and excerpts.
Originally published in 1978. Provides contemporary commentary and criticism of Baldwin during the author's lifetime.
Originally published in 1986. Provides commentary on both Baldwin and his works from contemporary scholars and critics.
Originally published in 1989. An analysis of Baldwin's work pre-1963 and his transformation into an activist.
Originally published in 1999. A group of scholars considers Baldwin's relevance to social and political discourse at the close of the 20th century.
Originally published in 2009. This book explores themes related to Jazz improvisation in the writing of Baldwin and contemporaries Henry Ellison and Amiri Baraka.
Originally published in 2011. This work explores the lives of three prominent black queer 20th Century artists: Baldwin, painter and writer Richard Bruce Nugent, and filmmaker Marlon Riggs.
Originally published in 2011. This work is an interdisciplinary examination of the many facets of Baldwin by leading writers in various fields.
Originally published in 2014. The central figure in black gay literary history, James Baldwin has become a familiar touchstone for queer scholarship, and this book critically engages with and complicates the project of queering Baldwin and his work.
Originally published in 2014. Written on the twentieth anniversary of Baldwin's death, this work is African writer Alain Mabanckou's attempt to contextualize Baldwin's work from an African viewpoint.
A documentary that uses archival footage to explore Baldwin's life from the Harlem of the 30s, his father's fundamentalist church and the emigre demimonde of postwar Paris to his running commentary on the drama of the Civil Rights movement.
Following a screening of the above documentary, James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket, the filmmaker Karen Thorsen; Tufts professor Peniel Joseph; poets Nikky Finney and Rose Styron; and James Baldwin's niece, Aisha Karefa-Smart, discussed his call for equality and its relevance today. Kim McLarin moderates.
Part of Henry Morgenthau III's program "The Negro and the American Promise," which also featured Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, was described by the New York Times as "a television experience that seared the conscience."
James Baldwin debated against William Buckley in a historical debate at the Cambridge Union on the motion "Has the American Dream Been Achieved at the Expense of the American Negro". The house voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion.