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James Baldwin was born on this date in 1924. He was a Black Gay and Bisexual novelist and essayist.
James Arthur Baldwin was born in Harlem NY, the first of nine children of a clergyman and a factory worker, David, and Berdis Jones Baldwin. After high school, young Baldwin worked at various jobs until he won a fellowship that enabled him to live in Paris.
His first novel, written in Paris, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" (1953), established him as a leading Black commentator on the condition of Black people in the United States. This was followed by "Giovanni's Room" (1956), a story of homosexual love, Notes of a Native Son (1955), and "Nobody Knows My Name" (1961) a collection of essays and reminiscences based on his youth.
These and other works, such as "The Fire Next Time" (1963) and "No Name in the Street" (1972) reflect Baldwin's belief that the American Black person as an object of suffering and abuse symbolizes universal conflicts and problems. Baldwin stated his position in a powerful and frank style. In 1965, he debated William F. Buckley; the topic was The American Dream: Is it at the expense of the American Negro? His novels, "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone" (1968) and "Just Above My Head" (1979) were concerned with Black identity. His plays include "The Amen Corner" (1950) and "Blues for Mister Charlie" (1964).
A collection of Baldwin's nonfiction, "The Price of the Ticket," was published in 1985. James Baldwin was personally involved and active in the LGBT community all of his life. He died in 1987.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Twenty-fourth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.