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Words to Live By: James Baldwin

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Take a note from the most iconic stars of yesterday-quite literally. Words to Live By is a compilation of the most memorable quotes from Old Hollywood on love, style, life, and more.

James Baldwin has long been remembered for his reflections on race, spirituality, and humanity. Born on this day in 1924, the Harlem-native became one of the 20th century’s greatest writers. An activist of the Civil Rights movement, his novels, essays, plays, and poems introduced a deeper exploration on race, sexuality, and social issues. The African American author’s best-known works include Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time, two collections of essays that examine the Black experience in America, as well as Go Tell it on the Mountain, his first novel. Baldwin lived as an expat in Paris for much of his adult life and his observations there informed his groundbreaking novel Giovanni’s Room, which tackles themes of homosexuality and masculinity with complexity and empathy. The author returned to the U.S. in the heat of the Civil Rights movement, and he was sent to North Carolina to report on what was happening in the South. There, he met Martin Luther King Jr. He also became close to other creative figures in the movement, such as Nina Simone, Langston Hughes, and Jean Genet. Baldwin began writing about his recollections of civil rights leaders like King, Malcom X, and Medgar Evers for Remember This House, a manuscript which he never finished before his passing in 1987 and that was adapted into the 2016 film I am Not Your Negro. On Baldwin’s birthday, look back on some of his most memorable words, which still ring true today.

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