James Baldwin (1924-1987)
Considered to be one of the 20th Centuries greatest writers, Baldwin explored race, racism in America, and identity, often through powerful and personal essays. In 1958, Langston Hughes wrote in the New York Times: " I think that one definition of the great artist might be the creator who projects the biggest dream in terms of the least person. There is something in Cervantes or Shakespeare, Beethoven or Rembrandt or Louis Armstrong that millions can understand. . . James Baldwin writes down to nobody, and he is trying very hard to write up to himself. As an essayist he is thought-provoking, tantalizing, irritating, abusing and amusing. And he uses words as the sea uses waves, to flow and beat, advance and retreat, rise and take a bow in disappearing."