James Baldwin

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Alex Hall
8th period
Mr. Keller
3/14/12
James Baldwin: An American Critic during a National Controversy
During the mid-60’s, in a time where the nation was separated and segregated by race, an author named James Baldwin stood up for his thoughts and opinions. While the people of the United States waged war against each other, James Baldwin reached out to those who were unaware of the hardships of his people and showed them what it was like being an African American during the 1960’s.

Born in Harlem, New York, in August 2, 1924, Baldwin was one of the 1960’s best writers. James Baldwin made himself known with the study of racial and social issues in his many works. He was especially well known for his essays on black life in America. Baldwin was born to a young single mother, Emma Jones, at Harlem Hospital. She never told him the name of his real father. Jones married a Baptist minister named David Baldwin when James was about 3 years old. Even with their stressed relationship, he followed in his stepfather's footsteps, who he always called his father. During his early teen years he served as a youth minister in a Harlem Pentecostal church. 2(ablongman.com)

Baldwin developed a love for reading at an early age, and showed a gift for writing while still in high school. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, where he worked on the school's magazine with future photographer Richard Avedon. He published a bunch of poems, short stories, and plays in the magazine. After graduating from high school in 1942, he had to put his plans for college on hold to help support his family. He took whatever work he could find, including laying railroad tracks for the U.S. Army in New Jersey. During this time, Baldwin was always being discriminated because of his race. After being fired from his job in New Jersey, he found it very hard to find work.

His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, was published in 1953. The story focused on the...
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