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James Baldwin

            James Arthur Baldwin Life James Arthur Baldwin was born the first of nine children during 1924 in Harlem. His father, David, was a clergyman and a factory worker, and was the source of all of James Baldwin's fears. Baldwin's mother, Berdis, was a homemaker. Baldwin first started writing around age fourteen as a way of seeking the love which he was missing from his family life. During this time Baldwin attended Frederick Douglas Junior High School and DeWitt Clinton High School. During his school years, Baldwin won several awards for his writings. The joy that he felt from having others praise his work was overshadowed, however, by his father's disapproval of his non-Christian-oriented writing. James Baldwin's father was a very religious Christian who forced the church on young James. For a few years (from ages fourteen through seventeen), Baldwin was even a preacher. It was the bittersweet beauty of the church which Baldwin said turned him into a writer. Those few years of lost herding opened James Baldwins' eyes to the fact that he was in need of soul searching. Those years would not be in vain; the cadences of black religious rituals sound throughout his writings. Baldwin was also known to credit his years at the pulpit for morphing him into the writer he was to become. In 1942 James Baldwin was fed up with his father, fed up with the church, and (at that point) fed up with his life. The brassy, young Baldwin went into a restaurant, which he knew was designated for whites only, and demanded that he be served. When the waitress informed him that they did not serve his "kind" in that restaurant Baldwin picked up a glass and hurled it at her with all his pent up spite for the world. (That was the last straw for James Baldwin, he knew that he needed to leave his home since childhood for new experiences, and did so that very same day.

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