• Born in New York City, James Baldwin turned to writing after an early career as a boy preacher in Harlems storefront churches.
• He attended Frederick Douglass Junior High School in Harlem and later graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School, where he was editor of the school magazine
SPECIAL EVENTS IN HIS LIFE• He eventually became one of the most prominent intellectuals of the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.• His initial stance was that blacks should work for equality peacefully, but as time progressed his views became more MILITANT. He warned in The Fire Next Time that American race relations were in danger of reaching violent conclusions.
• Baldwins first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, was published in 1953, and received critical acclaim. Two years later, his first collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son, again won favorable critical acclaim. This was followed, in 1956, by the publication of his second novel, Giovannis Room. His second collection of essays, Nobody Knows My Names, brought him into the literary spotlight and established him as a major voice in American literature.
• As a child, Baldwin found reading an avenue of escape from poverty and insecurity• His first story was published in a church newspaper at the age of 12.• Celebrated black writer Richard Wright became a mentor and father figure to him• Becoming increasingly frustrated with racism in America, he moved to Paris in 1948 with $40 in his pocket• He refused to be categorized as a "Negro author" or "Gay author" but rather an American author
• The writer James Baldwin once made a scathing comment about his fellow Americans: "It is astonishing that in a country so devoted to the individual, so many people should be afraid to speak." – As an openly gay, African-American writer living through the battle for civil rights, Baldwin had reason to be afraid — and yet, he wasnt. A television interviewer once asked Baldwin to describe the challenges he faced starting his career as "a black, impoverished homosexual," to which Baldwin laughed and replied: "I thought Id hit the jackpot."