Mental Health Strike at Kaiser Oakland - 01/01/2024 at 7pm - Learn More >>

James Baldwin

Known for his direct yet poetic approach to debate, writer James Baldwin (1924-1987) became a prominent voice in the civil rights and gay liberation movements in the 1950s and 1960s through his novels, essays, and public debates.

Raised in Harlem, in his twenties Baldwin moved to Paris and discovered a new and empowering social environment that fueled works like Giovanni’s Room, in which Baldwin openly explored homosexuality.

He soon became involved with the civil rights movement in the United States, working with leaders like Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers. Following the assassinations of those three friends, Baldwin became an even more vocal critic of the times with works like If Beale Street Could Talk and The Evidence of Things Not Seen.

Baldwin, who saw his personal mission as bearing “witness to the truth,” was often characterized by his opponents as being un-American, to which he replied: “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.”

More from NUHW


Change-makers wanted!
Join our team