Top 100

Top 500 James Baldwin Quotes (2024 Update)
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James Baldwin Quote: “She, who had descended with such joy and pain, had begun her upward climb – upward, with her baby, on the steep, steep side of the mountain.”
James Baldwin Quote: “We live in a nation of pigs and murderers.”
James Baldwin Quote: “You don’t realize that you’re intelligent until it gets you into trouble.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Everyone wishes to be loved, but in the event, nearly no one can bear it. Everyone desires love but also finds it impossible to believe that he deserves it.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The world sees what it wishes to see, or, when the chips are down, what you tell it to see: it does not wish to see who, or what, or why you are.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The innocent brightness of a new-born day Is lovely yet: The clouds that gather round the setting sun 19 Do take a sober coloring from an eye That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality; Another race hath been, and other palms are won.”
James Baldwin Quote: “His body, which I had come to know so well, glowed in the light and charged and thickened the air between us. Then something opened in my brain, a secret, noiseless door swung open, frightening me: it had not occurred to me until that instant that, in fleeing from his body, I confirmed and perpetuated his body’s power over me.”
James Baldwin Quote: “People are full of surprise, even for themselves, if they have been stirred enough.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Don’t let it make you bitter. Try to understand. Try to understand. The world’s already bitter enough, we got to try to be better than the world.”
James Baldwin Quote: “For a woman,” she said, “I think a man is always a stranger. And there’s something awful about being at the mercy of a stranger.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Then the door is before him. There is darkness all around him, there is silence in him. Then the door opens and he stands alone, the whole world falling away from him. And the brief corner of the sky seems to be shrieking, though he does not hear a sound. Then the earth tilts, he is thrown forward on his face in darkness, and his journey begins.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Much has been written of love turning to hatred, of the heart growing cold with the death of love. It is a remarkable process. It is far more terrible than anything I have ever read about it, more terrible than anything I will ever be able to say. I.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Somebody,” said Jacques, “your father or mine, should have told us that not many people have ever died of love. But multitudes have perished, and are perishing every hour – and in the oddest places! – for the lack of it.”
James Baldwin Quote: “No curtain under heaven is heavier than that curtain of guilt and lies behind which white Americans hide.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Most people are not naturally reflective any more than they are naturally malicious, and the white man prefers to keep the black man at a certain human remove because it is easier for him thus to preserve his simplicity and avoid being called to account for crimes committed by his forefathers, or his neighbors.”
James Baldwin Quote: “He wanted to go home and lock his door and sleep. He was tired of the troubles of real people. He wanted to get back to the people he was inventing, whose troubles he could bear.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Every society is really governed by hidden laws, by unspoken but profound assumptions on the part of the people, and ours is no exception.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It takes strength to remember, it takes another kind of strength to forget, it takes a hero to do both. People who remember court madness through pain, the pain of the perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence; and the world is mostly divided between madmen who remember and madmen who forget. Heroes are rare.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The American ideal is, after all, that everyone should be as much alike as possible.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I had to get out of there for my face showed too much, the war in my body was dragging me down. My feet refused to carry me over to him again. The wind of my life was blowing me away.”
James Baldwin Quote: “In Africa, he said, there was none whatever. Africans do not, in fact, believe that Christianity is any longer real for Europeans, due to the immense scaffolding with which they have covered it, and the fact that this religion has no effect whatever on their conduct.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The mind is like an object that picks up dust. The object doesn’t know, any more than the mind does, why what clings to it clings.”
James Baldwin Quote: “All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it. And even then, on the rare occasions when something opens within, and the music enters, what we mainly hear, or hear corroborated, are personal, private, vanishing evocations. But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him, then, is of another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant, too, for that same reason. And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Love forces, at last, this humility: you cannot love if you cannot be loved, you cannot see if you cannot be seen.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The woman on the bed was old, her life was fading as the mist rose. She thought of her mother as already in the grave; and she would not let herself be strangled by the hands of the dead. “I’m going, Ma,” she said. “I got to go.”
James Baldwin Quote: “And then, again, I was undergoing with my father what the very young inevitability undergo with their elders: I was beginning to judge him. And the very harshness of this judgement, which broke my heart, revealed, though I could not have said it then, how much I had loved him, how that love, along with my innocence, was dying.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Voyagers discover that the world can never be larger than the person that is in the world; but it is impossible to foresee this, it is impossible to be warned.”
James Baldwin Quote: “But it is part of the business of the writer – as I see it – to examine attitudes, to go beneath the surface, to tap the source.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Other people cannot see what I see whenever I look into your father’s face, for behind your father’s face as it is today are all those other faces which were his.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I am speaking very seriously, and this is not an overstatement: I picked cotton, I carried it to the market, I built the railroads under someone else’s whip for nothing. For nothing!”
James Baldwin Quote: “The face of a lover is an unknown, precisely because it is invested with so much of oneself. It is a mystery, containing, like all mysteries, the possibility of torment.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear.”
James Baldwin Quote: “You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discover that it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone. This is why art is important.”
James Baldwin Quote: “We had our arms round each other. It was like holding in my hand some rare, exhausted, nearly doomed bird which I had miraculously happened to find.”
James Baldwin Quote: “If you really want to know something about solitude, become famous.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I must believe, I must believe, that the heavy grace of God, which has brought me to this point, is all that can carry me out of it.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The question of identity is a question involving the most profound panic – a terror as primary as the nightmare of the mortal fall.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. I think all theories are suspect, that the finest principles may have to be modified, or may even be pulverized by the demands of life, and that one must find, therefore, one’s own moral center and move through the world hoping that this center will guide one aright.”
James Baldwin Quote: “We held each other so close that we might indeed have been one body.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Sometimes, when he was not near me, I thought, I will never let him ‘Touch’ me again. Then, when he ‘Touched’ me, I thought, it doesn’t matter, it is only the body, it will soon be over. When it was over, I lay in the dark and listened to his breathing and dreamed of the ‘Touch’ of hands, of Giovanni’s hands, or anybody’s hands, hands which would have the power to crush me and make me whole again.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The greatest significance of the present student generation is that it is through them that the point of view of the subjugated is finally and inexorably being expressed.”
James Baldwin Quote: “A mob is not autonomous: it executes the real will of the people who rule the State.”
James Baldwin Quote: “People who cling to their illusions find it difficult, if not impossible, to learn anything worth learning: a people under the necessity of creating themselves must examine everything, and soak up learning the way the roots of a tree soak up water.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Every man in the chapel hoped that when his hour came he, too, would be eulogized, which is to say forgiven, and that all of his lapses, greeds, errors, and strayings from the truth would be invested with coherence and looked upon with charity. This was perhaps the last thing humans could give each other and it was what they demanded, after all, of the Lord.”
James Baldwin Quote: “But art and ideas come out of the passion and torment of experience: it is impossible to have a real relationship to the first if one’s aim is to be protected from the second.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Books taught me that things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me to everyone who is alive and who had ever been alive.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I think Americans are terrified of feeling anything. I never met a people more infantile in my life.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It is cruel to have made me want to live only to make my death more bloody.”
James Baldwin Quote: “She fitted in my arms, she always had, and the shock of holding her caused me to feel that my arms had been empty since she had been away.”
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