The Year of James Baldwin Lands at Columbia


[applause] James Baldwin gave us our messy humanity in all of its vulnerability, fragility destructive fearfulness
and imaginative creativity. the folks at Harlem Stage and Columbia and New York live arts somehow felt that James Baldwin’s voice was somehow occluded
from our national public and social discourse and our discourse around
artists and we felt it wise to revisit him and think about what that brave
courageous voice might mean for us now James Baldwin was an American essayist
novelist playwright activist he’s a son of Harlan you know who was writing
reviews for commentary the new leader on all those big questions the Jewish
Question the Negro problem he got tired of writing those things and went away
left the country to Paris and we we have this amazing writer who was so bold to
write a plays poems you know everything and also played a
huge part in civil rights movement so there’s a whole range of
multidisciplinary citywide engagement about Baldwin’s life and work and in
fact his legacy I came to Baldwin pretty early on I came to Baldwin as someone
who was an honor student at John Kenney High School in the Bronx where I was
reading all these big books and some not somehow not feeling connected but
somehow James Baldwin stuck with me for all kinds of reasons and so I’ve been
reading him now for a long time and have been involved with the resurgent of all
which Baldwin scholarship that began in 2007 in London when we celebrated the
20th anniversary of his death and since then there’s been this urgency to keep
talking about him among a group of scholars and writers in the essays it was clear that Baldwin has an agenda. And that that agenda was to save the stained soul of his country and he set about doing so with immense eloquence and care. So we’re celebrating Baldwin in a variety of ways Jake Gyllenhaal and column toy
Ben they’re gonna be in conversation one of the reasons that came about it’s
important that we get people outside the gospel outside the regular chorus so
what does it mean that these two artists readers are in conversation about James
Baldwin and so that’s what really interesting to us and we keep talking to
ourselves so one of the things we like about Harlem stage partnership and also
working with Bill T Jones in New York live arts is that we get performers it’s
a multidisciplinary conversation so one of the main features of the entire
year-long festivals that were crossing disciplines and seeing what’s Baldwin
mean to a dancer like Diane McIntyre Charles Anderson – to a writer you know like column and then to an actor like Jake Gyllenhaal

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