Welcome to Between The Lines Book Club! This month’s selection is Go Tell It On The Mountain, by James Baldwin. We will meet to discuss the book at Arden Dimick Library, at 10:30AM, on March 24, 2018.
James Baldwin was an African-American gay man whose essays and novels tackled race, class, religion, and sexuality. He grew up in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance and became a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as a deeply influential author.
Baldwin grew up the oldest of eight children. His stepfather was abusive and Baldwin felt that he had to take care of his younger siblings. At 14, Baldwin became a junior minister in the Pentecostal Church. Bible speech and the rhythm of language from the King James Bible influenced his later work. A few years later, he renounced religion entirely.
At 24, Baldwin lift the US for France, where he spent most of the rest of his life. He was part of the Left Bank group, a radical group of artists who questioned cultural norms. In this environment, Baldwin was free to be openly gay and he was free from the systemic, institutionalized racism found in the US. He returned to the US to be a spokesperson for the Civil Rights Movement. He and Bayard Rustin faced discrimination within the Civil Rights Movement for being known as gay men. However, Baldwin continued to be part of the Movement
Baldwin’s books include Go Tell It On the Mountain, Fire Next Time, and Giovanni’s Room. He was a friend and mentor to countless artists and activists. His influence on literature cannot be overstated.