James baldwin granger

James Baldwin

  • Fleeing the South in the Great Migration

    Fleeing the South in the Great Migration
    • Starting in 1910, Blacks grew tired of mass racial discrimination occurring in the South.
    • Mass lynching, Jim Crow Segregation Laws, and general racial bullying were a few of the things blacks had to account for
    • And so, they left. From 9110 to 1940, an estimated 1.9 million African Americans left the rural south for greener pastures.
    • Emma Berdis Jones (Balwin's mom) was one of those people
    • Death Island, Maryland --> NYC
  • Baldwin for Born!

    Baldwin for Born!
    On August 2, 1924, James Baldwin was born and introduced to his family of... 1 in NYC's Harlem Hospital
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    Baldwin's (really) Early Family Life

    • Baldwin was originally born into a family of two-- himself and his single mom, Emma Berdis Jones.
    • While no one knows for sure, many speculate that Baldwin's biological father left due to either drug-related reasons or death
  • A New Lover

    A New Lover
    In 1827, Jame's mom married someone named "David Baldwin." He...
    - Was a laborer and priest
    - Most likely met through a mutual friend (David's sister)
    - Went on to have 8 children with Emma (AHHHHHHH!!!). They were (in no order) Wilmer, Barbara, David Jr., Gloria, Paula, Elizabeth, George, and Ruth
    - Brought along 2 children from his previous marriage who also lived there: David (who died in jail) and Sam
    - James' name went from James Authur Jones to the James Baldwin we all know and love
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    A New Lover II

    James wholeheartedly loved his mother, but his father? Not so much...
    - Fought a lot because James liked movies, read books, and had white friends. David HATED white people and thought that those things would ruin his chances at "salvation."
    - Got laid off from his laborer job (a soda-bottling factory) and couldn't find priesting gigs, so obviously he did the only sane thing and started to take it out on his family
    - Grew increasingly paranoid as the years went by
  • Started Schooling

    Started Schooling
    James started schooling at, I kid you not, "Public School 24." PS24 was infamous for being home to the first black principal in the city: Gertrude E. Ayer. He later acknowledged just that he had a brilliant mind, and he sure wasn't wrong! BTW I can’t find a photo of the elementary school he went to so this is just a random one
  • Teacher Inflences

    Teacher Inflences
    • By the time he was 10, he'd read a lot of books. Some of which, (like Uncle Tom's Cabin and A Tale of Two Cities) were impressive reads for his age.
    • His teachers took note of this, and recommended that he check out the NY Public Library's 135th branch... and he grew to love the place
    • Another influential teacher (Orilla Miller) took him to see a black rendition of Macbeth, which inspired him to be a playwright. It was thanks to her he "never really managed to hate white people."
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    (Junior) High School!

    After PS24, he got into Frederick Douglass Junior High School. Here's he's had 2
    1. Herman W. Porter, a Harvard grad & HS newspaper chief. Employed him as an editor and helped him write his first-ever published essay: "Harlem—Then and Now," which got in the famous newspaper, Douglass Pilot!
    1. Countee Cullen, a renowned poet and French teacher. Baldwin really liked their essays and it made him also want to live in France
    He ended up graduating in 1938
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    A Pretty boring HS

    For High School, he decided he wanted to go to De Witt Clinton High School, a predominantly white and Jewish school. At Clinton HS, not many notable things happened besides the fact that he found out he was gay. Frightened by the sudden turn of events, he turned to religion/church to try to "purify" himself. Needless to say, it didn't work. Anyway, he graduated and left said church in 1941, so that was the end of that.
  • Baldwin’s Best Friend

    Baldwin’s Best Friend
    While he was attending high school, Baldwin met Beauford Delaney, a modest painter and 40+ year friend through a mutual friend (Emile Capouya). He ends up helping Baldwin out of a depressive episode and inspires him to later make the move to Greenwich Village (where Deleany lives)
  • David went Crazy and Died with Very Bad Timing

    David went Crazy and Died with Very Bad Timing
    In 1941, James Baldwin's dad (David Baldwin) went crazy and had to be taken to a mental hospital. He didn't stay for long, though, as he died of tuberculosis that very July! However, the timing couldn't be worse. The day he died, the last kid (Paula) was born, and David's funeral happened on his birthday. Yikes...
  • The US Joined World War II

    The US Joined World War II
    In December 1941 (which might as well be 1942), the US joined the World War efforts after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour. Luckily, we were able to bomb them back, but that's beside the point. Thanks to the war efforts, many places' atmospheres (NYC included) started to degrade. And Baldwin feels that too
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    Getting Fired Montage

    Now that his father died, he had to take care of his 8 other siblings and mom. And so, he started working multiple jobs instead of pursuing a higher education like college. He got fired from ALL of them. Here's the rundown:
    • 1941: US depot building (New Jersey) Not fired, but relocated
    • 1942: US track building (New Jersey) After being the target of a ton of racism, he eventually got fired
    • 1943: US meat packing (Harlem) Got fired from here too due to sleeping on the job
  • Baldwin Leaves NYC for Good

    Baldwin Leaves NYC for Good
    Thanks to the war efforts, NYC's atmosphere was rapidly degrading to the point that Baldwin morally and economically couldn't live there anymore. So, he moved to Greenwich Village-- the same place his friend lived. As such, he also lived with Delaney while he was there
  • Depression Seeps In

    Depression Seeps In
    Baldwin gets super overwhelmed. The pressure of taking care of such a large family. The uncontempt of not being able to do what he wants to do. The shame of being fired so many times and currently unemployed. The fear of following in the steps of his father. The oppressiveness he feels for being gay AND black. All of this and more come into play as he has his first nervous breakdown. He begins to drink a lot, and a lot worse might of happened if Deleany (his mentor) wasn't there to help him out.
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    Bald times in Greenwich (win)

    While at Greenwich...
    - Got another job at a restaurant called the Calypso Restaurant
    - Baldwin started to explore his sexuality a lot more than he did back in NYC. After many male one-night stands, he eventually landed on a partner: Eugene Worth. He died from suicide a couple of years later because of Baldwin's lack of attention to him
    - Started a literacy magazine called The Generation
    - Finished an early prototype of "Crying Holy," a novel that soon will become Go Tell It On The Mountain
  • Quiz Time!

    Quiz Time!
  • Movin' to France!

    Movin' to France!
    After winning $1,500 ($18,270 in today's money) from a scholarship called the Rosenwald Fellowship, Baldwin decided to use the money to achieve his dream of living in France. After leaving them with most of the scholarship money and explaining to his family as to why he wanted to leave (escaping discrimination, Religious reasons (Calvinism), and... "sex" (sorry)), James Baldwin departed for Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Provence with 40 bucks to his name on November 11, 1948.
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    Baldwin's new "beloved"

    While in France, he met a 17-year-old boy, and they uh... yeah... His name was Lucien Happersberger, and he came to France "in search of excitement." He sure did find what he came for! They broke off a bit from 1964 because Lucien married the actress Diana Sands, but they quickly came back together a mere 2 years later.
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    Everybody's Protest Wright

    In 1949 and 1951, Baldwin wrote "Everybody Protest Novel" and "Many Thousands Gone". These writings were critiques on Richard Wright (a popular novelist and Baldwin's mentor) and his works. In case you didn't know Richard Wright was. The reason why this is important is that this is the first piece to catapult him into the public eye. The public reception to this was great, and thanks to this, he's now (ironically) called "the most promising young Negro writer since Richard Wright."
  • Baldwin's BFF Boldly Books it to France

    Baldwin's BFF Boldly Books it to France
    In 1953, Baldwin's Best Friend Beauford Delaney gets to France! He called this the "most important personal thing that happened to him" this year; yep, this even took precedence over his book! Another thing to quickly note here is that Baldwin's friend groups starts shifting. Before, it was primarily white guys. But NOW, he's friends with many more black people than he was before! Dancer Bernard Hassell, Gordon Heath's club, in Paris Bobby Short, and more!
  • Baldwin Publishes One of his most popular books of all time

    Baldwin Publishes One of his most popular books of all time
    Also in 1953 came the publication of Go Tell It To The Mountain, a semi-autobiographical novel he worked on since 18 that features events from his life. The novel follows John Grimes, (a 14 y/o in 1930s Harlem), who is expected to be a preacher like his father. However, he eventually rejects the church due to changes in his sexuality and stressful home life. This book was widely popular and is considered a classic today, getting on Times and the Modern Library's top 100 books of the 1900s list
  • Baldwin's very first play (Yeah, it took me THIS long to get to it :p)

    Baldwin's very first play (Yeah, it took me THIS long to get to it :p)
    By 1954, Baldwin dropped his first-ever play, "The Amen Corner." At the beginning of the play, Margaret's missing (and now sickly) husband, Luke, suddenly comes back and confronts her while she pastored for her church. It turns out that she left him in favor of religion and lied to everyone about it! As the plot develops, Margaret loses everyone around her. Luke, her son, and even her congression all leave her because of this, and only when no one's left does she realize how badly she screwed up
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    Brown vs. the Board of Education among other Important Civil Rights Movements

    Lots of advances in Civil Rights happened while James was Baldwinnin' it in France. Keep these in mind as we continue with the timeline:
    1954: Brown Vs. the Board of Education -- segregation officially ends in the U.S
    1955: Emmett Till-- 14-year-old boy tortured, lynched, and killed by racists. Led Baldwin to make "Blues for Mr. Charlie"
    1955: Rosa Parks-- arrested for not giving up a bus seat

    1956: Autherine Lucy-- got into UoAlabama & got expelled due to white riots of her admission
  • Giovanni's Room

    Giovanni's Room
    In 1956, Baldwin released his second-ever published novel-- Giovanni's Room. While it didn't take nearly as long as his first, it was by FAR the most controversial thing he's ever published. Heavy in LGBTQ+ themes, Giovanni's Room was about a man named David cheating on his fianceé with a man he met in a bar named Giovanni. David doesn't want to belive he's gay and does it with a girl to prove himself he's not. Giovanni sees this and kills said girl, only to be hung later for his crimes
  • That one time he cheated and tried to kill himself

    That one time he cheated and tried to kill himself
    Baldwin was in an emotional bind in 1956. After all, he just released the most controversial book he's ever made! Because of this and other factors, Baldwin decided to cheat on Happersberger with a black musician named Arnold. But something happened and it fell through
    This was Balwin's breaking point. It drove him to want to kill himself, and he attempted suicide via sleeping pill overdose. He regretted it, though, and called a friend to help him regurgitate the pills before they killed him
  • Dorothy and the Wizard of Bald (win) I (background)

    Dorothy and the Wizard of Bald (win) I (background)
    As part of a South Carolina integration program, Dorothy was chosen to attend Harry Harding High School, an all-white school. While there, she endured constant bullying until the students smashed her parents' rear car windows on her 4th day there. The police refused to protect Dorothy's family, so her father pulled her out of the school. During her time there Douglas Martin, a photographer, took a picture of Dorothy getting harassed by a mob of whites, and it went the 1950s equivalent to viral.
  • Baldwin's Grand Return to America (plus an emotionally distraught friend who becomes a alcoholic when he leaves)

    Baldwin's Grand Return to America (plus an emotionally distraught friend who becomes a alcoholic when he leaves)
    After seeing all of the Black Rights progress unfurling in America, he decided that it was time to go back to NYC. At first, he wanted to leave after finishing a novel he was working on, but he left sooner because he was struggling to write it.
    Meanwhile, remember Delaney? Well, he was particularly upset with Baldwin going back to the U.S, and begged him not to go. He still went (lol), and Delaney went into a depressive drinking spiral that ended with him going into an insane asylum (not so lol)
  • Dorothy and the Wizard of Bald (win) II (featuring MLK Jr)

    Dorothy and the Wizard of Bald (win) II (featuring MLK Jr)
    Dorothy's photo eventually made its way to Baldwin, where it served as one of the inspirations for him to move to the Americas. As such, one of the first things Baldwin did was to go to Charlotte, NC, and interview the people there to eventually publish the works "The Hard Kind of Courage" and "Nobody Knows My Name." Both essays went to the Harper's Magazine and Partisan Review respectively. While there, he accidentally bumped into Martin Luther King Jr., and they both become quick friends
  • Quiz x2!

    Quiz x2!
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    Baldwin realigns with his CORE beliefs (for the first time) and more

    While Baldwin wrote about the Civil Rights Movement, Baldwin joined 2 organizations: the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
    CORE in particular made a lot more use of Baldwin than SNCC. In 1963, CORE made Baldwin travel across the southern states to lecture on his views on social inequality.
    As for SNCC, Baldwin attended an SNCC-organized voter registration drive in retaliation for the 1963 Baptist Church Bombing that happened weeks prior.
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    Baldwin's Winning Publications in the 1960s

    Because I don't have much to add to the writings found here, I'm just going to glass over them here:
    '62/'68: Another Country and TMHLtTBG were made, and they were Baldwin's more experimental works. It had the whole shebang: blacks, whites, gays, bi's, heteros, you name it!
    '63: The Fire Next Time housed "Down at the Cross," a famous essay about hating the 1960s. Got him the cover page of an issue of TIME Magazine, and was considered controversial thanks to his "conciliatory attitude."
  • The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

    The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing
    On September 15, 1963, a terrorist attack was done on the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Later found out to be orchestrated by the KKK, 4 people planted 19 sticks of dynamite in the church. The following explosion killed 4 girls and a building, with somewhere between 19 and 22 people harmed when the thing played out. Allegedly, the FBI found the culprits in the following 2 years but didn't do anything with this information until they jailed 3/4 of the bombers for life in 2002
  • Jame's "Meeting" with the President (He was NOT Sugar-Coating it)

    Jame's "Meeting" with the President (He was NOT Sugar-Coating it)
    Enraged by the Baptist Church Bombing, James Baldwin telegramed the Attorney General during the Birmingham riot of 1963, blaming the violence in Birmingham on the FBI, Edgar Hoover, the Mississippi Senator, and President Kennedy for failing to use
    the great prestige of his office as the moral forum which it can be.
    As such, the Attorney General called Baldwin over for a "breakfast meeting," which escalated into an argument with the president. Most of the attendees left the meeting "devastated"
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    Fun Fact :)

    Following this meeting, the FBI made Baldwin's file 1,884 pages long, spanning a decade's worth of documents collected from 1960 to the 1970s. For reference, Richard Wright's (James's old publisher and Ex-BFF) FBI file was 276 pages, Trueman Capote's (a famous screenwriter) was 110 pages, and Henrey Miller's (a famous novelist/essay writer) was nine pages. If you combined their FBI files and times it by four, Baldwin's file would still be bigger! The FBI did NOT take kindly to Baldwin!
  • Blues for Mister Charlie

    Blues for Mister Charlie
    This is the last play Baldwin will ever write. Dedicated to the memory of Medgar Evers' family (Evers included), and all the dead children of Birmingham, the play is based on the events of the murder in Money, Mississippi, that happened before the Civil Rights Movement started. The play itself is mainly about the events of how Lyle Britten, a white store owner, got away scot-free with the unjust murder of the black man Richard Henry, who essentially just embarrassed him in front of his wife
  • I present to thee... THE DUMBEST DEBATE OF ALL TIME! In the left corner... James Baldwin! And in the right corner... William F. Buckley!

    I present to thee... THE DUMBEST DEBATE OF ALL TIME! In the left corner... James Baldwin! And in the right corner...  William F. Buckley!
    I mean it when I say this was a stupid debate. On February 18th, Baldwin and "leading conservative intellectual" William F. Buckley disputed whether or not African Americans ruined the American Dream (???). The debate was held at the UK's Cambridge Union, and the debate was packed-- 700 were in the Union hall voting on the debate, and over 500 more watched live outside. In the end, the vote says it all-- Buckley lost 164 to 544. It wasn't even close! Apparently it was pretty important, though...
  • Everyone dies in very quick succession

    Everyone dies in very quick succession
    As a reward for Baldwin winning the debate, Baldwin got a bunch of special surprises!
    3 days after the debate, famous Civil Rights Activist Malcolm X was assassinated. 7 days after the debate, Jimmie Lee Jackson (another famous activist who also happened to be a very close friend of Baldwin's) was assassinated A few weeks after the debate, 'Bloody Sunday' (a protest made in the name of Jimmie that ended with 600 people getting assaulted by the police with batons and tear gas) happens
  • Martin Luther King Jr. gets assassinated

    Martin Luther King Jr. gets assassinated
    On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated by James Earl Ray while talking with someone on the balcony. He was shot in the cheek by a .30-06 cal bullet, which broke his jaw and sent him tumbling down the balcony. He was then rushed to the Memphis St. Jones Hospital, where he eventually died. Doctors also remarked that his heart acting like it was 60 years old. Ironically, the assassination happened the day after he gave a speech about how happy he was to have not been assassinated
  • Homophobia in the Civil Rights Place

    Even though Baldwin was vocal and supportive of the Civil Rights Movement, most never took him seriously due his relations with LGBTQ+. The reason why Baldwin and MLK Jr weren't close friends was that King treated being gay as some kind of mental illness, and King's close friend/advisor is on record saying that he was "better qualified to lead a homo-sexual movement than a civil rights movement"! As such, Baldwin was purposely excluded from speaking at King's events like the March on Washington.
  • Back to Paris

    Back to Paris
    After doing what he could in the US, Baldwin flew to Saint-Paul-de-Vence (A place in southeastern France), where he would spend the rest of his life. Specifically, he owned a Provençal house beneath the ramparts (I think it's a type of fortification?) of Saint-Paul. This is where he lived for the rest of his life (besides the occasional visit to Switzerland, Turkey, and his family in the US). While he could already speak some French, he took the time to become fluent in it around this time
  • No Name (left) in the Street

    No Name (left) in the Street
    After multiple of his close friends died around him in close succession, it understandably ruined the '60s for him. So, Baldwin took a few years in 1972, to vented by writing No Name In the Street, a novel-length essay detailing his experiences in 1960. And yes, that included the assassinations of Malcolm X, Jimmie Lee Jackson Martin Luther Kinm ll, and 'Bloody Sunday'
  • Baldwin Meets (and inspires) Susane Lorie Parks

    Baldwin Meets (and inspires) Susane Lorie Parks
    While teaching at Amherst University, he eventually taught a short-story writing class for the fall '83 semester. In that class was a young Susane Lorie Parks, who apparently was very good at writing for his class. So good, that Baldwin asked her if she was interested in being a playwright! Another thing he did for Susane in his class was how to "conduct [herself] in the presence of the spirit" Also HAHAHA, BEAT IT MICHELLE! IMAGINE ME GETTING A PLAYWRIGHT (subjectively) BETTER THAN YOURS!!!
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    Teaching at Amherst

    After agreeing to it in 1978, from 1983 to 1986, James Baldwin taught creative and short-story writing classes at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities at the University of Massachusettes Amherst. Many people were shocked by this, as at the time this was the last thing people expected him to do. In today's terms, it was comparable to seeing LeBron James coaching at a High School Boy's Basketball team! He stopped teaching there presumably because he realized that he was about to die
  • Bald(win) lost at Life

    Bald(win) lost at Life
    On the first of December, 1983, Baldwin died of Stomach Cancer. At the time, he was working on Remember This House, a memoir of his personal recollections of civil rights leaders that would eventually lead to the bases of 2016's I am not your Negro, a best-documentary-nominee critiquing and providing background for it.
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    The Fight For Baldwin's House -- McGraw's Rage

    It turns out that, before Baldwin died, he never completed the transaction for his house. And so, many things happened from it:
    1987: Shortly before Baldwin died, McGraw Hill (yes THAT McGraw Hill) paid Baldwin 200k for Remember This House, and he died before finishing it. So, they sued his estate in an attempt to recover their losses. After the obvious backlash that came from it, they dropped the case in 1990
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    The Fight for Baldwin's House-- community edition I

    As the years went by, many people have tried to immortalize Baldwin's house:
    - The National Museum of African American History and Culture makes Baldwin's house (nicknamed Chez Baldwin) available as a virtual tour
    - Le Monde, an opinion piece by the contemporary black writer Thomas Chatterton Williams, spurred many to protest for Chez Baldwin to become an artist residency
    - Activist Shannon Cain squatted at Chez Baldwin for ten days in attempt to support making Chez an artist residency
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    The Fight for Baldwin's House-- Community Edition II

    • Les Amis de la Maison Baldwin, a French organization created to try to purchase the house to preserve it for others, launched a capital campaign marketed for the U.S. philanthropic sector. But, it ended in failure
    • To spread awareness, writer/photographer Magdalena J. Zaborowska made Me and My House: James Baldwin's Last Decade in France, a book that used photos of Chez Baldwin as well as Baldwin's collections to talk about Baldwin's stance on politics, race, queerness, and domesticity
  • The Fight for Baldwin's House-- City Edition

    The Fight for Baldwin's House-- City Edition
    As a final ditch effort to buy the house, Les Amis de la Maison Baldwin tried to initiate talks with the French government to buy Chez Baldwin. But the mayor of Saint-Paul-de-Vence (the city where Chez Baldwin resides), Joseph Le Chapelain, was having NONE of that. According to him,
    <nobody's ever heard of James Baldwin
    And then, with the help of a cooperation run by Henri Chambon, he razored his home and replaced it with an apartment complex that finished construction in 2019. The end!