James Baldwin

By Spocko

(Instagram: kirk_aint)

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924 in Harlem, New work to a young single mother, Emma Jones. She reportedly never revealed the name of his biological father but later married a Baptist minister named David Baldwin.

Baldwin broke literary grounds with his haunted words, often with autobiographical touch and was famous for putting forth the struggles of African American before the civil rights movement through his books.

In 1954, after gaining the Guggenheim Fellowship, he published his second book “Giovanni’s room.” —which was essentially a very complex tale about homosexuality. The subject was a taboo back in the day and the fact that James, being a black sexually fluid person,  had written about gay love in such times talked about his braveness. The spectrum of sexuality in men was often explored by Baldwin in his other novels, especially in *just above my head*(1978). He was also known for writing about interracial  relationships (another forbidden topic).

Baldwin was open about his homosexuality and relationships with both men and women. He believed that the American views on sexuality was too rigid and often placed in binaries, when it was often fluid.

However, his essays were the thing that helped his establish his name.  Baldwin’s *Nobody Knows My Name*(where he provided a gut wrenching look into the black experience in America) hit the bestsellers list, selling more than a million copies. While not a marching or sit-in style activist, Baldwin emerged as one of the leading voices in the Civil Rights Movement for his compelling work on race.

By the early 1970s, Baldwin seemed to despair over the racial situation. He had witnessed so much violence in the previous decade—the tone in his narrative and books changed. Baldwin died on December 1, 1987, at his home in St. Paul de Vence, France. He may have never wanted to be a preacher, a leader or a spokesperson. He just wanted to convey the truth through his strident works of fiction and non fiction. His mission was successful, through his long lived literary legacy.