By Rashod Ollison: When I first read James Baldwin at about age sixteen, I didn’t quite understand everything in Notes of a Native Son. But I knew the powerful prose was important and that I would return to it. Baldwin at that point had been dead for close to a decade. I’d come across a dog-eared paperback of Notes of a Native Son in the public library, where I worked after school. I imagined Baldwin a robust man whose presence was as commanding as his work. When I saw pictures of him as I began to explore more of his writing in college, his pronounced features—his intense globular eyes, his ingratiating gap-toothed grin—clarified something about his work for me. He always saw well beyond the surface unlike any other writer of his generation or any other writer since.
Graduation is a rite of passage that takes us either to the next step in education or our first step in a career. As a stage of new beginnings, it can be a time of uncertainty, but it’s also full of potential for growth. Graduation this season, though, seems particularly marked by uncertainty because of our charged political climate. And graduates are pondering what their own future holds in store for them. That got us thinking about what guidance our authors can give for those moving on to the next chapter of their lives.
2016 is a year that speaks for itself. It’s been a rough and tumultuous one, culminating in a divisive presidential election that has many people afraid of what’s in store for the country once the new administration takes office on January 20. When we’re in need of wisdom and guidance during troubling and unpredictable times ahead, we turn to our authors, who continue to offer their time and insights to give us perspective and commentary on the condition of our world. Our blog, the Broadside, wouldn’t be what it is without them. As always, we’re so grateful to them. We’ll need their thought-provoking essays as we head into 2017. Before the year comes to a close, we would like to share a collection of some of the Broadside’s most-read posts. Happy New Year!
A Q&A with Rich Blint | Baldwin’s consistent and insistent interrogation of how the mythology of race, class, and power operates in America to blind and divide us is singular in its analytical depth, sweep, and emotional power. His work reads as a kind of prophecy simply because he was clear about how profoundly dangerous it has always been for Americans not to confront the truth about the violent racial history of the country. His work must be read as testimony, as, yes, a secular witnessing to the serious perils of indulging in the American fiction of “whiteness” and its purported superiority.
For the 90th anniversary of his birth, we remember the miracle and the conundrum of James Baldwin: the teen preacher turned humanist; the resolutely American expatriate; the voice of rationality for a generation on the edge of revolt; a probing intelligence, unsatisfied by facile or convenient truths. Baldwin was never easy to place in a box, which is exactly why he remains so important to us today.
A young Mexican immigrant discovers a new and profound sense of self, identity, and understanding in James Baldwin's classic text 'Notes of a Native Son.'
Eboo Patel writes about a James Baldwin essay that helped guide him as an activist and writer.
James Baldwin (1924-1987) was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic, and one of America's foremost writers. His essays, such as "Notes of a Native Son" (1955), explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in...
Fifty-Five Years Ago Today... Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin Yes, this publicity hit is from February 26, 1958, but we didn't have a blog (much less the not-to-be-missed Beacon Buzz report) back then ... The New York...
Browse our African American titles: General Interest | African American History | Fiction and Poetry | Black Women Writers All month long, Beacon Press is offering 20% off and free shipping on all African American Studies titles purchased at Beacon.org....
The authors of Gather at the Table embark on their West Coast tour.
A roundup of suggestions for your new (or old) e-book reader.
The latest media hits and mentions for Beacon books and authors.