Top 100

Top 500 James Baldwin Quotes (2024 Update)
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James Baldwin Quote: “One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I remembered my mother’s insistence that I always wear clean underwear because I might get knocked down by a car on the way to or from school and I and the family would be disgraced even beyond the grave, presumably, if my underwear was dirty. And I began to worry, in fact, as the doctor sniffed and prodded, about the state of the shorts I was wearing. This made me want to laugh. But I could not breathe.”
James Baldwin Quote: “There are too many things we do not wish to know about ourselves.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Perhaps the best way to sum all this up is to say that the people I knew felt, mainly, a peculiar kind of relief when they knew that their boys were being shipped out of the south, to do battle overseas. It was, perhaps, like feeling that the most dangerous part of a dangerous journey had been passed and that now, even if death should come, it would come with honor and without the complicity of their countrymen. Such a death would be, in short, a fact with which one could hope to live.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Swifter far than summer’s flight, Swifter far than youth’s delight, Swifter far than happy night, Art thou come and gone: As the earth when leaves are dead, As the night when sleep is sped, As the heart when joy is fled, I am left alone, alone.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Great art can only be created out of love.”
James Baldwin Quote: “You smiled at me the way you smiled at everyone, you told me what you told everyone – and you tell nothing but lies. What are you always hiding? And do you think I did not know when you made love to me, you were making love to no one? No one! Or everyone – but not me, certainly. I am nothing to you, nothing, and you bring me fever but no delight.”
James Baldwin Quote: “His mind was like the sea itself: troubled, and too deep for the bravest man’s descent, throwing up now and again, for the naked eye to wonder at, treasure and debris long forgotten on the bottom – bones and jewels, fantastic shells, jelly that had once been flesh, pearls that had once been eyes. And he was at the mercy of this sea, hanging there with darkness all around him.”
James Baldwin Quote: “She did not know why he so adored things that were so long dead; what sustenance they gave him, what secrets he hoped to wrest from them. But she understood, at least, that they did give him a kind of bitter nourishment, and that the secrets they held for him were a matter of his life and death. It frightened her because she felt that he was reaching for the moon and that he would, therefore, be dashed down against the rocks; but she did not say any of this.”
James Baldwin Quote: “For nothing is more unbearable, once one has it, than freedom.”
James Baldwin Quote: “In America, though, life seems to move faster than anywhere else on the globe and each generation is promised more than it will get: which creates, in each generation, a furious, bewildered rage, the rage of people who cannot find solid ground beneath their feet. Just.”
James Baldwin Quote: “You don’t know what’s happening on the other side of the wall, because you don’t want to know.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Yet, hope – the hope that we, human beings, can be better than we are – dies hard; perhaps one can no longer live if one allows that hope to die. But it is also hard to see what one sees. One sees that most human beings are wretched, and, in one way or another, become wicked: because they are so wretched.”
James Baldwin Quote: “No matter how it seems now, I must confess: I loved him. I do not think that I will ever love anyone like that again. And this might be a great relief if I did not also know that, when the knife has fallen, Giovanni, if he feels anything will feel relief.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; Where but to think is to be full of sorrow And leaden-eyed despairs;.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Yet one must also recognize that morality is based on ideas and that all ideas are dangerous – dangerous because ideas can only lead to action and where the action leads no man can say.”
James Baldwin Quote: “If all you want to do is make money, the very last thing you need is imagination.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It is said that the camera cannot lie, but rarely do we allow it to do anything else, since the camera sees what you point it at: the camera sees what you want it to see.”
James Baldwin Quote: “These captive men are the hidden price for a hiden lie: the righteous must be able to locate the damned.”
James Baldwin Quote: “To accept one’s past – one’s history – is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Drive to the heart of every answer and expose the question the answer hides.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I simply wondered about the dead because their days had ended and I did not know how I would get through mine.”
James Baldwin Quote: “He laughed. ‘Baby. Baby. Baby. I love you. And I’m going to build us a table and a whole lot of folks are going to be eating off it for a long, long time to come.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, then, is activated by what might be called a theological terror, the terror of damnation; and the spirit that breathes in this book, hot, self-righteous, fearful, is not different from that spirit of medieval times which sought to exorcize evil by burning witches; and is not different from that terror which activates a lynch mob.”
James Baldwin Quote: “And the reason for this ignorance is that a knowledge of the role these people played – and play – in American life would reveal more about America to Americans than Americans wish to know. The.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I can’t be a pessimist because I’m alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The question of sexual dominance can exist only in the nightmare of that soul which has armed itself, totally, against the possibility of the changing motion of conquest and surrender, which is love.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The world should listen then, as I am listening now.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Time could not be bought. The only coin time accepted was life.”
James Baldwin Quote: “There is often something beautiful, there is always something awful, in the spectacle of a a person who has lost one of his faculties, a faculty he never questioned until it was gone, and who struggles to recover it. Yet people remain people, on crutches or indeed on deathbeds...”
James Baldwin Quote: “They say the kids are dumb and so they’re teaching them to work with their hands. Those kids aren’t dumb. But the people who run these schools want to make sure that they don’t get smart: they are really teaching the kids to be slaves.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Some moments in a life, and they needn’t be very long or seem very important, can make up for so much in that life; can redeem, justify, that pain, that bewilderment, with which one lives, and invest one with the courage not only to endure it, but to profit from it; some moments teach one the price of human connection: if one can live with one’s own pain, then one respects the pain of others, and so, briefly, but transcendentally, we can release each other from pain.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The determination to outwit one’s situation means that one has no models, only object lessons.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others in order to end the racial nightmare and acheive our country.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Any society inevitably produces its criminals, but a society at once rigid and unstable can do nothing whatever to alleviate the poverty of its lowest members, cannot present to the hypothetical young man at the crucial moment that so-well-advertised right path.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It is a great shock at the age of five or six to find that in a world of Gary Coopers you are the Indian.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It’s a great city, Paris, a beautiful city––and––it was very good for me.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The noblest spirit is most strongly attracted by the love of glory.”
James Baldwin Quote: “People always seem to band together in accordance to a principle that has nothing to do with love, a principle that releases them from personal responsibility.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I had decided to allow no room in the universe for something which shamed and frightened me.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The artistic image is not intended to represent the thing itself, but, rather, the reality of the force the thing contains.”
James Baldwin Quote: “A child cannot, thank Heaven, know how vast and how merciless is the nature of power, with what unbelievable cruelty people treat each other. He reacts to the fear in his parents’ voices because his parents hold up the world for him and he has no protection without them.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I doesn’t do any good to fight with Sonny. Sonny just moves back, inside himself, where he can’t be reached.”
James Baldwin Quote: “You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discovered it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky.”
James Baldwin Quote: “All of Africa will be free before we can get a lousy cup of coffee.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I want to be an honest man and a good writer.”
James Baldwin Quote: “What it comes to is that if we, who can scarcely be considered a white nation, persist in thinking of ourselves as one, we condemn ourselves, with the truly white nations, to sterility and decay, whereas if we could accept ourselves as we are, we might bring new life to the Western achievements, and transform them.”
James Baldwin Quote: “There are few things more dreadful than dealing with a man who knows he is going under, in his own eyes, and in the eyes of others. Nothing can help that man. What is left of that man flees from what is left of human attention.”
James Baldwin Quote: “When he was dead I realized that I had hardly ever spoken to him. When he had been dead a long time I began to wish I had. It seems to be typical of life in America, where opportunities, real and fancied, are thicker than anywhere else on the globe, that the second generation has no time to talk to the first.”
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