"Go Tell It on the Mountain" is a 1953 novel by James Baldwin. The novel was ranked 39th on the Modern Library list of 100 Best English-Language Novels of the 20th century and was included in Time Magazines 100 Best English-Language novels from 1923 to 2005. The novel deals heavily with the Pentecostal churches role … [Read more...] about Go Tell It on the Mountain
James Baldwin was born on August 2nd, 1924 in Harlem, New York. James' mother left his father shortly before he was born because of the man's drug addiction. She moved to Harlem and married a preacher named David Baldwin.
Growing up, James spent most of his time caring for his younger siblings. His adoptive father treated him very badly, and the man later died of tuberculosis around James' 19th birthday. He was heavily influenced by the legendary Harlem Renaissance movement and got into writing as a small child when he wrote his elementary school a song that they used until closing down years later.
During middle school, he served as the editor of the school paper and worked on his High school's school magazine. It was during his teenage years that Baldwin began to realize that he was gay and due to the prejudices against blacks and gays, became disillusioned with America and moved to France at the age of 24. He felt that leaving the U.S. was not only necessary to escape this prejudice but also to see his writing outside of the context of his race.
Baldwin's first published work was a review of the writer Maxim Gorky in the magazine The Nation in 1947. His first novel, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" was published in 1953 and was quickly followed by his first collection of essays "Notes of a Native Son." In 1956, Baldwin published his second novel, "Giovanni's Room" which faced massive controversy because of it's explicit homoerotic content.
In 1957, Baldwin returned to the U.S. to report on the then burgeoning Civil Rights Movement for the Partisan Review. During this trip, Baldwin met with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and later published two essays on the interviews he did there.
During the next decade, Baldwin became a proponent of the Civil Rights Movement and began a lecture tour of the South where he taught racial ideology and the differences between the positions of Dr. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1963, Baldwin was put on Time magazines cover about the Movement. Baldwin was present at the Civil Rights March on Washington DC in 1963 however, pressure on the leaders of the movement to distance themselves from Baldwin because of his homosexuality later resulted in him being uninvited to the ending of the event. Baldwin continued with the movement on his own and later joined marchers who walked 50 miles from Selma, Alabama to the capitol in Montgomery. However, Baldwin later asserted that he rejected the title of "activist" and felt that he only fought for his rights as a citizen.
Baldwin continued to published novels into the 1970's and 1980's although he began to receive less attention for his work. Many of his essays in the 1980's are notable for their unflinching discussions of homosexuality and homophobia.
On December 1st, 1987, Baldwin died from stomach cancer in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France. He was buried in New York City.