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Chapter 4 - 1963: Baldwin’s Annus Mirabilis

from Part 1 - Life and Afterlife

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 July 2019

D. Quentin Miller
Affiliation:
Suffolk University, Massachusetts
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Summary

James Baldwin welcomed 1963 at a New Year’s Eve party held at the New York City apartment of June Shagaloff, a secular Jew and NAACP official with close ties to Thurgood Marshall and Roy Wilkins. But Baldwin was the star that night. The party was held in his honor, something of an early book release party for his forthcoming (later that month) The Fire Next Time. “Down at the Cross,” the more substantial of the two essays that constituted The Fire Next Time, had just appeared in November’s New Yorker, to widespread acclaim and, it must be said, to some level of astonishment. The writing was so powerful, the insights so dangerously profound, the challenge so formidable. The New Yorker had in fact devoted almost all of one issue’s pages to publish the piece at one time, something it had hardly ever done before. Baldwin was clearly the man of the moment, one of the most articulate spokesmen for the civil rights movement then exploding into the consciousness of the nation. The year 1963 was going to be a pivotal one for James Baldwin.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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