Throughout the month of February, Family Equality Council is celebrating Black History Month by honoring the accomplishments, contributions, and lives of LGBT Black Americans, past and present.
James Baldwin (8/2/24-12/1/87)—Novelist and professor. Growing up in Harlem, New York, James Baldwin was strongly influenced by religion and racial prejudice. He was a poet and playwright, but is best known for his novels and essays, including Go Tell it on the Mountain. Beginning in 1948, Baldwin spent many years as an expatriate in Paris and Istanbul. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Baldwin returned to the US and continued writing fiction and essays that vividly portrayed race, sexuality, and social injustice. He knew many civil rights leaders, including Malcom X, Medgar Evers, Nina Simone, and Martin Luther King Jr., and appeared at the 1963 March on Washington. In 1987, Baldwin became a professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and also taught at Hampshire College. He was eulogized by his friend Toni Morrison. For more on his life and work, see J. Campbell’s 1991 biography Talking at the Gates: a life of James Baldwin.