Famous Quotes By James A. Baldwin


  1. American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.
  2. Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
  3. Education is indoctrination if you're white - subjugation if you're black.
  4. Every legend, moreover, contains its residuum of truth, and the root function of language is to control the universe by describing it.
  5. Fires can't be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men. Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns even labor into pleasant tasks.
  6. I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.
  7. I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
  8. If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons.
  9. It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.
  10. I've always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.
  11. Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war love is a growing up.
  12. Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?
  13. Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
  14. Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn't have it and thought of other things if you did.
  15. No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time.
  16. People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.
  17. People can cry much easier than they can change.
  18. Pessimists are the people who have no hope for themselves or for others. Pessimists are also people who think the human race is beneath their notice, that they're better than other human beings.
  19. The future is like heaven, everyone exalts it, but no one wants to go there now.
  20. The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.
  21. The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power-and no one holds power forever.
  22. The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.
  23. The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world's definitions.
  24. The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.
  25. The questions which one asks oneself begin, at least, to illuminate the world, and become one's key to the experience of others.
  26. The young think that failure is the Siberian end of the line, banishment from all the living, and tend to do what I then did - which was to hide.
  27. There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment the time is always now.
  28. To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.
  29. To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the making of bread.



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