The icon would’ve turned 89 today. The image above is of James Baldwin on the cover of Time in 1963 … a black, gay man on the cover of Time in 1963. Let that soak in…
Baldwin was openly gay from the beginning. He knew there was no other option if he wanted to speak the truth. I find it a bit comical when we talk about celebrities who are paranoid to “come out.” Baldwin used his differences to his advantage and became an icon.
Like many black artists such as Paul Robeson and Nina Simone, once an artist is too conscious they are threatening. Baldwin was not only threatening to whites, but also threatening to blacks due to being openly gay and his views on religion. Baldwin believed African-Americans should worry less about their beliefs in Christ and worry more about their socio-economic status. Telling African-Americans to take their faith away from God and Christianity, which was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, was beyond radical.
Baldwin was a prophet, or as he would say, a witness. His writings changed the world and are still relevant today where race, sexuality and religion remain at the forefront of American politics. One cannot help but wonder what Baldwin would articulate on same-sex marriage, pop culture obsession, Trayvon Martin, President Barack Obama and more? I have a feeling he would shut down all the pundits — including myself. So all of you journalists, pundits, writers, aspiring writers, people who use words as a weapon—pay homage to the icon who paved the way…James Baldwin!
Baldwin on Christianity: “Because I was raised in a Christian culture I never considered myself to be a totally free human being.”
Baldwin on his father: “He was defeated long before he died because, at the bottom of his heart, he really believed what white people said about him.”
Baldwin on race: “That is part of the dilemma of being an American Negro, one is a little bit colored and a little bit white.”
Baldwin on life: “You have to go the way your blood beats.”