JAMES BALDWIN 1924–1987
American writer and activist, known for novels such as Go Tell It on the Mountain and essays such as Notes of a Native Son. His fiction is admired for its complex views on racial, sexual, and religious identities, informed by his own homosexuality and his childhood in Harlem. He also wrote a number of articles about turmoil in the south, putting him at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. But although he often wrote about African American experiences, he refused to be labeled as just a black author. His 1956 novel, Giovanni’s Room, surprised readers with its white protagonists as well as its frank depictions of homosexuality. And his subsequent novels often featured a mix of characters who were black, white, straight, and queer.