James Baldwin lived a life full of words and boldness in his dark skin and beliefs. Born in Harlem, New York on August 2, 1924, Baldwin spent a large part of his 63 years blessing the world with words, books and a strong belief in who he was with no apologies. He started writing about his experiences throughout his life while he faced constant racism and abuse both in school and on the streets just because he was Black.
Baldwin’s passion for writing started in public libraries where he stayed to avoid his stepfather David Baldwin, a preacher who married his mother after she left Baldwin’s biological father due to drug issues. David was stern with Baldwin. But Baldwin’s mother Emma Berdis Jones was different. She was a tolerant parent who gave Baldwin all the support he needed to pursue his creative ambitions. In fact, she was also a fantastic writer in her community and often shielded her son Baldwin from his abusive stepfather while reminding Baldwin and his eight siblings about the importance of love, forgiveness and freedom. Those themes would be highlighted in much of Baldwin’s writing.