--Trudier Harris, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned. "
Listen up. Today, this Sunday, The Daddy is feeling James Baldwin, black American novelist, essayist, and playwright. Today is his birthday. Baldwin was unusually gifted in explaining the African American condition and the psyche of white America which developed and maintained those conditions. He said America would not significantly improve until it confronted its history, learned its lessons, and began anew.
The first of nine children, Baldwin was born in Harlem in 1924 to father David, a clergyman and factory worker, and to mother Berdis Jones Baldwin. After high school, he worked a series of odd jobs until he won a fellowship that allowed him to live and write in Paris. There, he finished "Go Tell It on the Mountain" (1953), his first novel. which immediately established him as one of the new and leading commentators on America. His later collection of essays-- "Notes of a Native Son" (1955) and "Nobody Knows My Name" (1961), respectively-- only elevated his stature as one of America's leading social critics.
Baldwin wrote very good novels-- "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone" (1968), "Just Above My Head" (1979)-- and two very good plays: "Amen Corner" (1950) and "Blues for Mr. Charlie" (1964). But Baldwin was known chiefly for his unique and passionate writing about the black condition in the United States. He believed that the suffering of blacks in the United States symbolizes the suffering of oppressed people in other lands. And he believed that no one came out of this suffering unscathed. Whites, too, suffered for the deeds they and their parents had done through generations.
Baldwin was also an activist. During the turbulent period of the civil rights movement, Baldwin came back to the United States to assist his friend Dr. Martin Luther King to raise funds to keep his (Dr. King's) organization (The Southern Christian Leadership Conference) going and to pay to get arrested protesters out of jail.
Have you read James Baldwin?
- GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN, 1953 - Mene ja kerro se vuorille (suom. Reijo Tuomi, 1964) - TV drama 1985, prod. Learning in Focus, dir. Stan Lathan, starring Paul Winfield, Rosalind Cash, James Bond III, Roderick Wimberly, Olivia Cole
- NOTES OF A NATIVE SON, 1955
- GIOVANNI'S ROOM, 1956 - Huone Pariisissa (suom. Reijo Tuomi ja Matti Salo, 1964)
- NOBODY KNOWS MY NAME, 1962 - Kukaan ei tiedä nimeäni (suom. Juhani Pietiläinen, 1965)
- ANOTHER COUNTRY, 1962 - Toinen maa (suom. Erkki Haglund, 1970)
- THE FIRE NEXT TIME, 1963 - Ensi kerralla tulta (suom. Kristiina Kivivuori, 1964)
- BLUES FOR MISTER CHARLIE, (a play, produced in 1964)
- GOING TO MEET THE MAN, 1965 - Musta blues (suom. Liisa Salosaari, 1967)
- TELL ME HOW LONG THE TRAIN'S BEEN GONE, 1968 - Sano minulle, milloin juna lähti (suom. Irmeli Sallamo, 1970)
- A RAP ON RACE, 1971 (with Margaret Mead)
- IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, 1974 - Jos tämä katu osaisi puhua (suom. Eero Huhtala, 1975) - film A la place du coeur (1998), prod. Agat Films & Cie (France), dir. by Robert Guédiguian, starring Laure Raoust, Alexandre Agou, Ariane Ascaride
- THE DEVIL FINDS WORK, 1976
- JUST ABOVE MY HEAD, 1979
- THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, 1985
- THE PRICE OF THE TICKET: COLLECTED NON-FICTION 1948-1985, 1985
- PERSPECTIVES: ANGLES ON AFRICAN ART, 1987
- CONVERSATIONS WITH JAMES BALDWIN, 1989
- EARLY NOVELS AND STORIES, 1998
- COLLECTED ESSAYS, 1998 (ed. by Toni Morrison)