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Marie-Claude Banville

Marie-Claude Banville

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Born to a single mother in Harlem, New York in 1924, James Baldwin did not have an easy upbringing. His adoptive father was an abusive preacher who couldn't tolerate a young well-spoken gay black man. At the age of 10 he was harassed by a pair of New York City police officers, a formative experience for the young activist. When Baldwin was 15 years old, he met painter Beauford Delaney, who made him realize that a black person could be an artist. He had his first work published in the magazine, The Nation in 1947. At age 24, Baldwin moved to Paris, France. His first novel, the autobiographical Go Tell It On the Mountain was published in 1953 and his first collection of essays, entitled Notes of a Native Son was published in 1955. The works eloquently detailed the systemic racism that Baldwin encountered in the United States and have since become required reading for African-American activists who followed him. In 1957, Baldwin returned to the United States to become an active participant in the newly forming civil rights movement. As an emissary of the movement, Baldwin met with Attorney General Robert Kennedy a number of times in an effort to bring attention to the plight of African-Americans in the...

Born to a single mother in Harlem, New York in 1924, James Baldwin did not have an easy upbringing. His adoptive father was an abusive preacher who couldn't tolerate a young well-spoken gay black man. At the age of 10 he was harassed by a pair of New York City police officers, a formative experience for the young activist. When Baldwin was 15 years old, he met painter Beauford Delaney, who made him realize that a black person could be an artist. He had his first work published in the magazine, The Nation in 1947. At age 24, Baldwin moved to Paris, France. His first novel, the autobiographical Go Tell It On the Mountain was published in 1953 and his first collection of essays, entitled Notes of a Native Son was published in 1955. The works eloquently detailed the systemic racism that Baldwin encountered in the United States and have since become required reading for African-American activists who followed him. In 1957, Baldwin returned to the United States to become an active participant in the newly forming civil rights movement. As an emissary of the movement, Baldwin met with Attorney General Robert Kennedy a number of times in an effort to bring attention to the plight of African-Americans in the United States. He continued to write and stayed active in the fight for civil rights until his death in 1987. In 2016, the documentary "I Am Not Your Negro" (2016), based on an unfinished manuscript by Baldwin and featuring interviews with the writer, was released to near universal acclaim and was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2017 Academy Awards.

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