Regarding The Uncollected Writings of James Baldwin

“Some of us, white and black, know how great a price has already been paid to bring into existence a new consciousness, a new people, an unprecendented nation. If we know, and do nothing, we are worse than the murderers hired in our know.

If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own – which it is – and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.” – James Baldwin

The other day I mentioned to a friend how excited I was to have finally received my copy of The Cross of Redemption by James Baldwin in the mail. My friend – an incredibly intelligent, compassionate, and astute person – calmly confessed that he didn’t know who James Baldwin was. I mentioned a few titles hoping to jog my friend’s memory and he replied, “Oh. Well, I don’t read many poems.” This was a valuable moment for me.

We can never take James Baldwin’s contributions for granted. We cannot afford to assume that everyone knows what he did (and continues to do) for us. Fortunately, Randall Kenan (a brilliant novelist & essayist in his own right) has brought us The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings of James Baldwin. This is our opportunity to re-learn & re-read Baldwin’s intellectual contributions to our continued struggle.. this is our chance to introduce those contributions to people around us.

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3 responses to “Regarding The Uncollected Writings of James Baldwin

  1. I came to James Baldwin by way of Maya Angleou in my early teen years. I loved and respected the moments of friendship between the two presented in Angelou’s autobiographies and essays. If Maya Angelou is my spiritual god-mama, as I’m find of saying, and Walt Whitman is my spiritual god-daddy, then Mr. Baldwin is my spiritual big brother. On so many fronts he was a trailblazer, and, as with the best and brightest writers, I can always go back to his works in times of trouble and let his words lead the way.

  2. Yes! Thank you so much for this post. We really can’t afford to take James Baldwin’s work for granted. I haven’t gotten my hands on Kenan’s book yet, but I’m so glad it’s out there. I can’t tell people enough how much they should read Baldwin.

  3. j.a.washington

    i must chime in and thank you for writing this.
    i
    like the other commenters
    can express the importance of exposing people to uncle jimmy’s
    brilliance.
    he truly was a revolutionary and pioneer who believed in his purpose and shared it with vulnerability
    and conviction.

    so again,
    thank you.

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