Author. James Arthur Baldwin spent much of his time as a young man in libraries, and there he discovered his passion for writing. His first published work, a review of the writer Maxim Gorky, appeared in The Nation in 1947. He left the United States in 1948 and lived in Paris, and contributed to literary anthologies. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, was published in 1953. His first collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son, the beginning of which portrayed the Harlem riot of 1943, appeared two years later. His second novel, Giovanni's Room, caused controversy when it was published in 1956 due to homoerotic content. His next novels, Another Country and Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone, dealt with characters of varying racial and sexual identities. He returned to the United States in the summer of 1957 while civil rights legislation was being debated in Congress. His observations of the social changes in progress led to two essays, "The Hard Kind of Courage" and "Nobody Knows My Name." He wrote articles on civil rights which appeared in numerous major American magazines, such as in 1962 when he published the essay called "Letter from a Region of My Mind" in the New Yorker. His next book-length essay, “No Name in the Street”, discussed his own experience of the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1963 he went on a lecture tour of the South for the Congress of Racial Equality, traveling to North Carolina and Louisiana. He spoke about his racial ideology, a position between the aggressive approach of Malcolm X and the nonviolent program of Martin Luther King, Jr. He made an appearance at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. After a bombing of a Birmingham church three weeks later killed four black girls, he called for a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience. In March 1965, he joined marchers who walked from Selma, Alabama, to the capitol in Montgomery under the protection of federal troops. He moved to France in 1970, and there he wrote his famous "Open Letter to My Sister, Angela Y. Davis". Two of his novels written in the 1970s, If Beale Street Could Talk and Just Above My Head, emphasized the importance of Black American families. In the 1980s he became a leading figure of the emerging gay rights movement, writing essays and doing interviews that discussed homosexuality and homophobia. He concluded his career by publishing a volume of poetry, Jimmy's Blues, as well as another book-length essay, The Evidence of Things Not Seen, which was inspired by the Atlanta Child Murders of the early 1980s.
Bio by: Pete Mohney