I would like to honor and pay tribute to James Baldwin. Baldwin was an amazing and courageous writer, civil rights activist, and novelist. Not only did Baldwin work for social justice as an activist, but he was a pioneer writer who grappled with issues of race and homosexuality. Is it any wonder he became an expatriate and moved to Paris, France? America was not a safe place for blacks or gays.
While most people have read one of my favorites, Go Tell It on the Mountain (his autobiographical coming of age novel), and Notes of a Native Son, it was Giovanni’s Room, that spoke to me. Imagine the courage it must have taken to have written a novel about homoerotic love, I only wish the characters in the novel could have been black, for there is still such a need for positive gay black role models.
I would strongly encourage everyone to read his essay: No Name in the Street, which addresses the assassination of three of his closest friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Here is part of an interview with Baldwin and his reflections on Malcolm X; very complex interview and one really should listen to all three parts of it. I’m not sure enough people know how much of his time was spent as a civil rights activist and how grateful we all should be to Baldwin! Baldwin has an amazing understanding of the intersections of oppression and system oppression–if only more people would learn about and read Baldwin’s works.