James Baldwin’s Legacy
James Baldwin was one of the most significant figures of the 20th century. In this moment of racial reckoning, his life and work are being discovered and rediscovered. He was born in 1924 and died in 1987. He graduated from high school in New York but was otherwise self-taught. He said, “I love America more than any other country in the world.” That’s why I reserve “the right to perpetually criticize her.” And criticize he did. In his classic essays such as The Fire Next Time and Notes of a Native Son and his novels Go Tell it on the Mountain and Another Country, he wrote about the white power structure, systemic racism, police brutality, sexism, homophobia, inequality and predatory capitalism.
Eddie Glaude Jr. is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton, where he is also the Chair of the Center for African American Studies and the Chair of the Department of African American Studies. He is the author of Democracy in Black and Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own.
Cornel West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard. He has been called “the preeminent African American intellectual of his generation.” With his preacher-like cadences and passionate delivery, he is much in demand as a speaker. Among his many books are Race Matters, The Rich and the Rest of Us and Black Prophetic Fire.