Thursday, February 3, 2011

Black History Month-James Baldwin

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

James Baldwin

Poet, novelist, playwright, writer, and civil right activist James Baldwin. His work consisted primarily of being black and dealing with racial and sexual issues during the mid-20th century. He was the first to center his stories around personal conflict including homosexuality and psychological issues way before anyone else tackled these issues. Something that black people still tend to struggle with accepting today although it has improved drastically.

Baldwin attended and studied at The New School in Greenwich Village in New York. There is where he discovered his homosexuality and began using it as a means to fuel his novels. But back then, being black and gay was frowned upon by the black community so he left the United States and moved to Paris. His reasoning for moving was because he wanted to be looked at more than a "gay Negro writer, but just a writer."

While living overseas, he was able to publish his literary works "Go Tell It On The Mountain", "Notes Of A Native Son", and the highly controversial "Giovanni's Room" due to its homoerotic content. He received more controversy with his next two novels due to the interracial dating as well as bisexual nature of the stories, especially since they were published in the 1960s during the civil rights movement. When he moved back to the States in the early 1960s is when his stand on Civil Rights took place, aligning himself with the CORE (Congress of Racial Equality). With them, he traveled the south giving speeches to anyone who would listen about his racial ideology.

Before his death in 1987, Baldwin was able to create a total of 20 to 25 literary works and theater playwrights. He also was responsible for gathering a handful of others to join the Civil Rights Movement with names such as Nina Simone, Marlon Brando, and Harry Belafonte and helped to inspire other famous writers such as Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, who she credits Baldwin in being the inspiration behind her autobiography "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings".

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