Wednesday, February 1, 2012
February is Black History Month - JAMES BALDWIN
James Baldwin (Aug. 2, 1924-Dec. 1, 1987) was a very important American author who wrote about the struggle of being black in America. James was the oldest of nine children and was born into poverty in Harlem, New York. He spent much of his youth reading. James' mother was a domestic worker (a maid) and his strict, cruel stepfather was a factory worker and preacher (who died in a mental hospital in 1943). James was a preacher himself for three years when he was a teenager. The author Richard Wright was James' early writing mentor. Baldwin's first book, the semi-autobiographical Go Tell It On the Mountain, was published in 1953 and is considered to be a classic American novel. Baldwin lived in France for many years, distancing himself from American life in order to examine it; Baldwin wrote, "Once you find yourself in another civilization, you're forced to examine your own." A pacifist, Baldwin participated in the Southern school desegregation struggle of the 1960s and marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. Baldwin wrote extensively about the Civil Rights Movement, including The Fire Next Time andNotes of a Native Son. Throughout his life, Baldwin used his enormous writing talent to work for racial equality. Baldwin wrote, "I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually." and "Artists are here to disturb the peace." Baldwin died at the age of 63 at home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France.