Remembering and Learning from James Baldwin, American Writer and Civil Rights Activist

The American writer and civil rights activist, James Baldwin, wrote: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

June is Pride Month. It’s a time when we celebrate LGBTI diversity and encourage equal protections under the law for all people. At the same time, we cannot ignore the ongoing civil unrest in the United States. The time for much needed dialogue, education, and discussion is now.

The past few days have filled us all with more questions than answers. For our part, when we try to look for answers, one of the first places we go is to the wisdom of Baldwin. By connecting his personal experiences to broader issues of national and international significance, Baldwin lifted the shroud obscuring the history and complexities of America’s racial consciousness. His timeless insights continue to shape America’s public discourse on all manner of human rights issues, including homophobia, misogyny, and colorism.

Education is a small first step. We hope you’ll join us in this journey.

Learn more about the life and work of James Baldwin, including his experiences living in Istanbul (note, resources are in English):

  • The Negro and the American Promise
    James Baldwin appears in Boston public television producer Henry Morgenthau III’s “The Negro and the American Promise.”  (Video 19m 57s)
  • Chez Baldwin
    An Exploration of James Baldwin’s Life and Works Through the Powerful Lens of His House “Chez Baldwin” in St. Paul de Vence, France
  • Transatlantic Commuter
    Although he spent the bulk of his life in Europe, Baldwin always considered himself an American writer living as a “transatlantic commuter.” Explore more on the life and legacy of James Baldwin.

Learn more about race, protest, and the struggle for civil rights at:

This 1966 photograph shows James Baldwin standing on the Galata Bridge. Behind him are a mosque and some birds in flight. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Sedat Pakay © 1966