James Baldwin (1924 – 1987) was an American novelist, essayist, playwright and poet who frequently explored themes of racial and class divisions in American society. In works like Notes of a Native Son, The Devil Finds Work, and The Fire Next Time, Baldwin critiqued the mores of mid-twentieth century America. His novel Giovanni’s Room is a seminal work that explores the complexities of love and relationships within the context of a love affair between two men. Despite the fact that his publisher told him to burn the manuscript, Baldwin persevered and Giovanni’s Room was published in 1956. Well before the gay rights movement gained a foothold in the United States, Baldwin was an outspoken advocate for self-acceptance, universal love and brotherhood.
James Baldwin was prescient in many ways, and his quotes have as much relevance today as they did 50 or 60 years ago. Below is a sampling of a few of this visionary writer’s quotes.