What was behind those/
Beautiful, luminous eyes/
Was all written down.
James Baldwin, photographed in 1963 by his
DeWitt Clinton High School friend, Richard Avedon.
American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.--Baldwin
On this day in 1924, one of the greatest writers and intellectuals of the 20th century was born. To get a sense of his brilliant beginnings, I think that those of you who have not read Baldwin should start with his essay collection, Notes of a Native Son...first. Then...read everything else. Baldwin's insistent conscience speaks to us today--it is amazing how prescient he was, and maybe a little terrifying.