Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 July 2019
I first encountered the writings of James Baldwin in the fall of 1967, in the aftermath of the Detroit Rebellion, when I entered Western Michigan University as a freshman. Because I was only seventeen years old and conflicted by the eruption of civil unrest in my hometown, it was a difficult and contentious period. James Baldwin’s book The Fire Next Time (1963) answered unspoken questions and thoughts that I had about reaching adulthood as a black person pursuing writing. In many ways, Baldwin is responsible for my becoming a writer during a volatile political period that resulted in a rich literary movement that nurtured and challenged me as a writer. Hence, it was affirming to present a paper at “‘A Language to Dwell In’: James Baldwin, Paris and International Visions,” a commemorative conference held at the American University of Paris in 2016.