Celebrating Black History Month

James Baldwin is our spiritual hero this week.

James Baldwin (1924-1987)

James Baldwin was an African-American writer whose novels and essays captured the conflicted spirit of late 20th century America. James Baldwin, to whom many doors were closed by virtue of his poverty, his race, and his sexuality, was a prophet and truth-teller whose writing searingly delineates the soul and image of 20th century America. In 1953, the publication of “Go Tell it on the Mountain” heralded the debut of a major literary voice.

As a gay African-American, Baldwin struggled with his identity in a racist and homophobic society. His disgust with the racial climate in the post-World War II United States impelled him to move to Europe, where he wrote Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953) and his other early major works. His second novel, “Giovanni’s Room” (1956), was published at a time when few other writers dared to publish gay-themed works. “In The Fire Next Time” (1963), Baldwin declared that blacks and whites must find ways to come to terms with the past and make a future together or face destruction. You can read more about him here.

He wrote A Letter to My Nephew for The Progressive in 1962. It served as one inspiration for Ta-Nehisi CoatesBetween the World and Me, which Coates wrote as a letter to his own son.

A new documentary film has just been released about Baldwin. Filmmaker Raoul Peck worked for over ten years on it. It has been nominated for an Oscar.