No Name in the Street by James Baldwin

By James Baldwin

This stunningly own rfile and remarkable historical past of the turbulent sixties and early seventies monitors James Baldwin's fury and depression extra deeply than any of his different works.  In bright aspect he recollects the Harlem early life that formed his early conciousness, the later occasions that scored his middle with pain--the murders of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, his sojourns in Europe and in Hollywood, and his retum to the yank South to confront a violent the United States face-to-face.

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Then he went away again, and I didn’t see him until I had to go to California on a Civil Rights gig, and he met me at the airport. By then, I was thirty-nine and he was nearly fifty, I had made his disowned father’s name famous, and I had left home in exactly the same way he did, for more or less the same reasons, and when I was seventeen. Since Martin’s death, in Memphis, and that tremendous day in Atlanta, something has altered in me, something has gone away. Perhaps even more than the death itself, the manner of his death has forced me into a judgment concerning human life and human beings which I have always been reluctant to make—indeed, I can see that a great deal of what the knowledgeable would call my life-style is dictated by this reluctance.

My friend’s stepdaughter is young, considers herself a militant, and we had a brief argument concerning Bill Styron’s Nat Turner, which I suggested that she read before condemning. This rather shocked the child, whose militancy, like that of many, tends to be a matter of indigestible fury and slogans and quotations. It rather checked the company, which had not imagined that I and a black militant could possibly disagree about anything. But what was most striking about our brief exchange was that it obliquely revealed how little the girl respected her stepfather.

But I called him, of course. I thought that he probably needed money, because that was the only thing, by now, that I could possibly hope to give him. But, no. He, or his wife, or a relative, had read the Leonard Lyons column and knew that I had a suit I wasn’t wearing, and—as he remembered in one way and I in quite another—he was just my size. Now, for me, that suit was drenched in the blood of all the crimes of my country. If I had said to Leonard, somewhat melodramatically, no doubt, that I could never wear it again, I was, just the same, being honest.

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