He knew how to electrify readers, his insights about what it meant to be black in America were both intimate and accessible.
He preached brotherhood, not violence, with searing honesty; his truth was laced with pain and anger. Being abroad gave Baldwin a perspective on the life he’d left behind and a solitary freedom to pursue his craft.
Traveling throughout the South, he began work on an explosive work about black identity and the state of racial struggle, – became an early and essential voice in the civil rights movement.
Though at times criticized for his pacifist stance, Baldwin remained an important figure in that struggle throughout the 1960s.
The assassinations of three of his associates, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr.
and Malcolm X, shattered his remaining hopes for racial reconciliation across the U. At the time of his death from cancer late in 1987, Baldwin was still working on two projects—a play, , and a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.Baldwin’s writing career began in the last years of legislated segregation; his fame as a social observer grew in tandem with the civil rights movement as he mirrored African American aspirations, disappointments and coping strategies in a hostile society. Words -- both written and spoken -- were James Baldwin's greatest gift to America and to people of all races all over the world.The experiences in New Jersey were closely followed by his stepfather’s death, after which Baldwin determined to make writing his sole profession.Baldwin moved to Greenwich Village and began to write a novel, supporting himself by performing a variety of odd jobs.In 1944 he met author Richard Wright, who helped him to land the 1945 Eugene F. Despite the financial freedom the fellowship provided, Baldwin was unable to complete his novel that year.He found the social tenor of the United States increasingly stifling even though such prestigious periodicals as the began to accept his essays and short stories for publication.“Once I found myself on the other side of the ocean,” Baldwin told the , “I could see where I came from very clearly, and I could see that I carried myself, which is my home, with me. Baldwin’s move led to a burst of creativity that included and other works.He also wrote a series of essays probing the psychic history of the United States along with his inner self.He was an excellent student who sought escape from his environment through literature, movies and theater.During the summer of his 14th birthday he underwent a dramatic religious conversion, partly in response to his nascent sexuality and partly as a further buffer against the ever-present temptations of drugs and crime.