James Baldwin Quotes That Are Powerful Enough to Stand True Today


Celebrate Baldwin’s birthday with quotes that are still relatable in today’s society.

Ni'Kesia Pannell Aug, 02, 2017

Today marks what would have been the 93rd birthday of writer and social critic, James Baldwin. Known for addressing the intricacies of African Americans, White America and gay men through his writing, Baldwin has become a staple in contemporary literature. Though he passed away in 1987, his words and mindset —that was far beyond the moment he dwelled in— continue to be relevant in today’s hard reality of injustice, complex social issues and racial dilemmas. Remember his fight with some of his wisest words, below.

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“Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

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"By deciding that they were white. By opting for safety instead of life. By persuading themselves that a Black child's life meant nothing compared with a white child's life... In this debasement of and definition of Black people, they debased and defined themselves."

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“I’m not interested in anybody’s guilt. Guilt is a luxury that we can no longer afford. I know you didn’t do it, and I didn’t do it either, but I am responsible for it because I am a man and a citizen of this country and you are responsible for it, for the very same reason.”

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“To be a negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

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"The fact that we are still here —even in suffering, darkness, danger, endlessly defined by those who dare not define, or even confront themselves— is the key to the crisis in white leadership."

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“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; Love is growing up.”

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“We are very cruelly trapped between what we would like to be and what we actually are. And we cannot possibly become what we would like to be until we are willing to ask ourselves just why the lives we lead on this continent are mainly so empty, so tame, and so ugly.”

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“American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.”

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“Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience you must find yourself at war with your society.”


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