James Baldwin with actors Marlon Brando and Charlton Heston at the 1963 March on Washington.


Part 1
Part 1
Part 2
Part 2


Photo of Baldwin:  Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection.

Baldwin with Brando and Heston:  Still Pictures Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division, National Archives at College Park.

Audio Note: Tape 1 cuts off early, but transcripts are complete.

Audio courtesy of the University of Kentucky.

James Baldwin

Apr. 27, 1964
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James Baldwin
James Baldwin Bio

James Baldwin (1924-1987) was an American writer and civil rights advocate. After briefly working as a minister and as a railroad employee, Baldwin moved to Greenwich Village. There, he began working as a freelance writer, during which time The Nation and Partisan Review published his reviews. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, published in 1953, depicts a poor boy’s coming of age in 1930s Harlem. Many of his nonfiction works, particularly The Fire Next Time, which explored issues of black identity and the struggle for racial equality, dealt with concerns that were central to the civil rights movement. Baldwin, who spent much of his life in France, also broached the then-taboo themes of homosexuality and interracial romance in his novels and works of nonfiction.


Baldwin discusses the nature and goals of the civil rights movement, comparing it to other political revolutions. He concludes that including African Americans in the body politic will require state and national governments, as well as political parties, to change. Baldwin comments on African Americans' embrace of African and black identities and appearances, and he considers the continuing validity of Du Bois' theory of double consciousness. Baldwin expresses some doubt as to whether poor white southerners and black southerners can cooperate politically and socially, and he also discusses then-recent shifts in the leadership and tactics of civil rights activists. Baldwin also discusses activists' focus on integration as a means of gaining civil rights for African Americans.


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