Celebrate Black History Month By Remembering James Baldwin

Celebrate Black History Month By Remembering James Baldwin

There are many Black historical figures who help changed the social and the political landscape in the U.S., and many new people today working to do the same. In February, we honor the legacy of Black lives in America, and one of the most influential Black queer figures in the literary and social justice realm was James Baldwin. Today, he continues to be one of the most revered literary talents of the 20th century. 

In 1924, Baldwin was born in Harlem, New York where he was raised by a single mother, who later married a man called David Baldwin. Throughout adolescence, Baldwin had various jobs before he accepted a fellowship for writing in Paris. 

In his adulthood, Baldwin became a civil rights activist writing about social justice issues, race, sexuality and sexual oppression. He moved back to the U.S. in the late 1950s and befriended prominent figures in the civil rights movement like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, according to Pink News. 

Some of his most famous works include Giovanni’s Room a 1956 novel exploring the life of an American man living in Paris and dealing with his romantic relationships with other men. Other of his famous novels include If Beale Street Could Talk, Go Tell it on the Mountain, and The Fire Next Time.

According to Pink News, “Baldwin resisted labels about his sexuality, but had relationships with both women and men. In his works, he wrote extensively about homosexuality and relationships between two men, as well as advocating for trans and non-binary identities.” 

The National Museum of African American History and Culture indicates that Baldwin had been seeking a man with whom he could settle down and marry, before he passed away from stomach cancer in 1987 at his home in St. Paul de Vence, France. 

Baldwin’s literary works are must-reads for those looking to inform themselves on the Black experience in America. Today they still fly off the shelves of bookstores across the country and around the world.

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