Happy Birthday, James Baldwin


James Baldwin was born on this day, August 2, 1924. Nearly one hundred years later, we are of course still dealing with racial injustice in America. (The mural above was created this summer, on a boarded-up window of a store front after the protests, where I live in Madison, Wisconsin.)  I first read Baldwin as a teenager, when I checked out NOTES OF A NATIVE SON from the library; the book was an excellent lesson in empathy, and Baldwin was an excellent teacher. Today, in honor of his birthday, I'm posting some of my favorite quotes from the great American author, many of which seem more relevant today than they have ever before in my lifetime:

"We can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exit."

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read."

"There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one's head spin. But the way to be really despicable it so be contemptuous of other people's pain."

"Ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."

Happy birthday, James Baldwin.

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