Research paper: James Baldwin

Essay by SkolstedtCollege, UndergraduateA, December 2011

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Stephen Kolstedt

Prof Tree Bernstein

Eng. V01B

23 November 2011

James Baldwin

The author James Arthur Baldwin (1924-1987) achieved recognition for his courageous expressions of African American life in the United States. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, was an autobiography about growing up in the harsh conditions of the black district known as Harlem, New York. Blacks were treated unfairly, from being slaves to not getting the same privileges as whites. He wanted to fight for equality so that blacks could live simpler lives. After following his stepfather's footsteps in becoming a Baptist minister, Baldwin developed a passion for writing at an early age when he joined his school newspaper. He began writing about the racism and segregation between whites and blacks. In 1948, after writing many controversial articles, he decided to move to Paris, where he could escape the racism and come to terms with his sexuality.

After returning to the United States, Baldwin joined the civil rights movement where he voiced his opinion as a moral issue not just a political issue. "But the relationship of morality and power is a very subtle one. Because ultimately power without morality is no longer power." He helped African Americans get through the struggles he had faced in his life. James Baldwin was an African American writer who, through his own experiences and life, addressed issues such as race, sexuality, and the American character.

Baldwin considered race the pill that poisoned America. "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." (Baldwin, Stanley, Pratt 23) He felt abused by the FBI on many occasions, and wanted people to understand the...