The Best James Baldwin quotes

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James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924 in New York City. He was a novelist, essayist, playwright, and poet who became one of the most celebrated writers of the 20th century. His novels and essays explored topics such as race, sexuality, and social justice. Baldwin’s unique voice and incisive writing style earned him critical acclaim and helped to change the course of American literature. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at his life and work.

Here are the strongest White, Love, Time, Life, World, History Identity, Love America, Love, Oppression, Education, History, America, Justice quotes from James Baldwin, and much more.


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About James Baldwin

birth of the author

August 2, 1924

death of the author

December 1, 1987

occupation of the author

Novelist, Playwright, Activist

education of the author

Dewitt Clinton High School

genre of the author

Urban Fiction, African-American Literature, Gay Literature

award of the author

Notable Works:
Go Tell It On The Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, Notes Of A Native Son

date of the author

Years Active:


It’s a miracle to realize that somebody loves you. — James Baldwin

Don’t think I don’t know you love me. You believe we going to make it? — James Baldwin

It seemed, then, that a lifetime would not be long enough for me to act with Joey the act of love. — James Baldwin

Love was a country he knew nothing about. — James Baldwin

it s a miracle to realize that somebody loves you James Baldwin quote

I really mean that there was no love in the church. It was a mask for hatred and self–hatred and despair. — James Baldwin

Love him,’ said Jacques, with vehemence, ‘love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters? — James Baldwin

Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. — James Baldwin

Love brought you here. If you trusted love this far, don’t panic now. — James Baldwin

We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist. — James Baldwin

don t think i don t know you love me you believe we going to make it James Baldwin quote

I hope that nobody has ever had to look at anybody they love through glass. — James Baldwin

The first love disappears, but never goes. That ache becomes reconciliation. — James Baldwin

The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see. — James Baldwin

People are not, for example, terribly anxious to be equal (equal, after all, to what and to whom?) but they love the idea of being superior. — James Baldwin

The noblest spirit is most strongly attracted by the love of glory. — James A. Baldwin

love was a country he knew nothing about James Baldwin quote

I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. — James Baldwin


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I love a few people and they love me and some of them are white, and isn’t love more important than color? — James Baldwin

With this fearful intimation there opened in me a hatred for Giovanni which was as powerful as my love and which was nourished by the same roots. — James Baldwin

What is James Baldwin known for?

James Baldwin wrote eloquently, thoughtfully, and passionately on the subject of race in America in novels, essays, and plays.
He is perhaps best known for his books of essays, in particular Notes of a Native Son, Nobody Knows My Name, and The Fire Next Time .

Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, Love is a war Love is a growing up. — James Baldwin

All that hatred down there,’ he said, ‘all that hatred and misery and love. It’s a wonder it doesn’t blow the avenue apart. — James Baldwin

love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within James Baldwin quote

I was guilty and irritated and full of love and pain. I wanted to kick him and I wanted to take him in my arms. — James A. Baldwin


The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in. — James Baldwin

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

And what in the world was I by now but an aging, lonely, sexually dubious, politically outrageous, unspeakably erratic freak? — James Baldwin

The hope of the world lies in what one demands, not of others, but of oneself. — James Baldwin

the world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in 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 A. Baldwin

The world is mostly divided between madmen who remember and madmen who forget. Heroes are rare. — James Baldwin

I often wonder what I’d do if there weren’t any books in the world. — James A. Baldwin

And I was yet aware that this was only a moment, that the world waited outside, as hungry as a tiger, and that trouble stretched above us, longer than the sky. — James A. Baldwin

Terrifying, that the loss of intimacy with one person results in the freezing over of the world, and the loss of oneself. — James Baldwin

the hope of the world lies in what one demands not of others but of oneself James Baldwin quote

A man is not a man until he’s able and willing to accept his own vision of the world, no matter how radically this vision departs from that of others. — James Baldwin

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. — James Baldwin

The betrayal of a belief is not the same thing as ceasing to believe. If this were not so there would be no moral standards in the world at all. — James A. Baldwin

Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent. — James A. Baldwin

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 A. Baldwin

If the world wasn’t so full of dead folks maybe those of us that’s trying to live wouldn’t have to suffer so bad. — James Baldwin

It is only because the world looks on his talent with such a frightening indifference that the artist is compelled to make his talent important. — James A. Baldwin

You don’t need numbers; you need passion, and this is proven by the history of the world! — James A. Baldwin

For all policemen were bright enough to know who they were working for, and they were not working, anywhere in the world, for the powerless. — James Baldwin

There are people in the world for whom ‘coming along’ is a perpetual process, people who are destined never to arrive. — James A. Baldwin

The questions which one asks oneself begin, at least, to illuminate the world, and become one’s key to the experience of others. — James A. Baldwin


Everything was as it had been between us, and at the same time everything was different. — James Baldwin

Tell me,’ he said, ‘what is this thing about time? Why is it better to be late than early? People are always saying, we must wait. What are they waiting for? — James Baldwin

I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much more than that. So are we all. — James Baldwin

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. — James A. Baldwin

everything was as it had been between us and at the same time everything was different James Baldwin quote

It seems to be typical of life in America … that the second generation has no time to talk to the first. — James A. Baldwin

If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him. — James Baldwin

No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time. — James A. Baldwin

The writer’s greed is appalling. He wants, or seems to want, everything and practically everybody, in another sense, and at the same time, he needs no one at all. — James A. Baldwin

You’re getting to be a big boy,’ I said desperately, ‘it’s time you started thinking about your future.’ ‘I’m thinking about my future,’ said Sonny, grimly. ‘I think about it all the time. — James A. Baldwin

time could not be bought the only coin time accepted was life James Baldwin quote

Time could not be bought. The only coin time accepted was life. — James Baldwin

For he was one of those poets who escaped the terrors of writing by writing all the time. — James Baldwin

What was James Baldwin’s education?

James Baldwin grew up in New York City’s Harlem neighbourhood in an atmosphere of poverty and strict religious observance.

People make you pay for the way you look, which is also the way you think you look, and what time writes is a record of that collision. — James Baldwin

Redundant Thematics

In James Baldwin Statements


There is never a time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment, the time is always now. — James Baldwin

The very time I thought I was lost, my dungeon shook and my chains fell off. — James Baldwin


People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. — James A. Baldwin

Joyce is right about history being a nightmare–but it may be the nightmare from which no one can awaken. People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. — James Baldwin

History is not a procession of illustrious people. It’s about what happens to a people. Millions of anonymous people is what history is about. — James A. Baldwin

American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it. — James A. Baldwin

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


I think you’ve got to be truthful about the life you have. Otherwise, there’s no possibility of achieving the life you want. — James Baldwin

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 A. Baldwin

One of the most terrible, most mysterious things about a life is that a warning can be heeded only in retrospect: too late. — James Baldwin

We cannot discuss the state of our minorities until we first have a sense of what we are, who we are, what our goals are, and what we take life to be. — James A. Baldwin

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

the life you think you should want said eric is always the life that looks safest James Baldwin quote

The life you think you should want,’ said Eric, ‘is always the life that looks safest. — James Baldwin

People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead. — James Baldwin

The trouble with a secret life is that it is very frequently a secret from the person who lives it and not at all a secret for the people he encounters. — James Baldwin

Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know. — James Baldwin

What novels and plays did James Baldwin write?

James Baldwin’s novels included Go Tell It on the Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, Another Country, and If Beale Street Could Talk .

But our humanity is our burden, our life; we need not battle for it; we need only to do what is infinitely more difficult–that is, accept it. — James Baldwin

trust life and it will teach you in joy and sorrow 
all you need to know James Baldwin quote

Everything in life depends on how that life accepts its limits. — James A. Baldwin

For the horrors of the American Negro’s life there has been almost no language. — James Baldwin

I am not trying to be méchant when I talk about women. I respect women–very much–for their inside life, which is not like the life of a man. — James Baldwin

The interior life is a real life, and the intangible dreams of people have a tangible effect on the world. — James A. Baldwin

Though we do not wholly believe it yet, the interior life is a real life, and the intangible dreams of people have a tangible effect on the world. — James Baldwin

The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. — James Baldwin

You have to go the way your blood beats. If you don’t live the only life you have, you won’t live some other life, you won’t live any life at all. — James Baldwin

I think Americans are terrified of feeling anything. I never met a people more infantile in my life. — James A. Baldwin

Life is more important than art; that’s what makes art important. — James A. Baldwin

True rebels after all, are as rare as true lovers,and in both cases, to mistake a fever for passion can destroy one’s life — James A. Baldwin


Therefore, whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves. — James Baldwin

The people who think of themselves as White have the choice of becoming human or irrelevant. — James Baldwin

I don’t believe there’s a white man in this country, baby, who can get his dick hard, without he hear some nigger moan. — James Baldwin

The reason people think it’s important to be white is that they think it’s important not to be black. — James Baldwin

And have brought humanity to the edge of oblivion: because they think they are white. — James Baldwin

and have brought humanity to the edge of oblivion because they think they are white James Baldwin quote

Education is indoctrination if you’re white–subjugation if you’re black. — James A. Baldwin

Where did James Baldwin live?

James Baldwin lived in New York City until 1948, when he moved to Paris.

He returned to the United States in 1957, and from 1969 he lived alternately in the south of France and in New York and New England in the U. S.

The real victim of bigotry is the white man who hides his weakness under his myth of superiority. — James A. Baldwin

White people are trapped in a history they don’t understand’ and ‘Ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have — James Baldwin

To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case, the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of their identity. — James Baldwin

But the Negro’s experience of the white world cannot possibly create in him any respect for the standards by which the white world claims to live. — James Baldwin

No curtain under heaven is heavier than that curtain of guilt and lies behind which white Americans hide. — James Baldwin

The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions. — James Baldwin

It was another fear, a fear that the child, in challenging the white world’s assumptions, was putting himself in the path of destruction. — James Baldwin

The brutality with which Negroes are treated in this country simply cannot be overstated, however unwilling white men may be to hear it. In — James Baldwin

The root of the black man’s hatred is rage, and he does not so much hate white men as simply wants them out of his way, and, more than that, out of his children’s way. — James Baldwin

The price of the liberation of the white people is the liberation of the blacks–the total liberation, in the cities, in the towns, before the law, and in the mind. — James Baldwin

The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power–and no one holds power forever. — James A. Baldwin

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