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Go Tell It On the Mountain: James Baldwin in Words and Music

September 24 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm EDT

James Baldwin photo by Allan Warren

Almost 40 years after his death, the words of James Baldwin are ever more resonant, speaking powerfully to us about culture, faith, race, justice, and identity. This celebration of Baldwin’s centennial honors his remarkable legacy with readings directed by actor and playwright Daniel Carlton, plus performances of the jazz, blues and gospel Baldwin listened to as he wrote, as well as new music by Julian Hornik and Nehemiah Luckett inspired by the novels Giovanni’s Room and Another Country.

Born into the Jazz Age, just five years before Martin Luther King, Jr, Baldwin was a preacher and a prophet, whose writings – in essays, novels, poetry and plays – explored the hypocrisies and core contradictions at the heart of American society. Like George Orwell, he is both timely and timeless, and always prescient: “A civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless,” he observed in “The Fire Next Time.” Baldwin was writing in 1963 yet his words stand as a commentary on Trump’s America.

In 1965, the year of the Selma to Montgomery marches, which Baldwin joined, and the Voting Rights Act, William F. Buckley debated with him the proposition that “The American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.” Two great public intellectuals sparring at Britain’s Cambridge University Society! Buckley lost by 380 votes, later calling Baldwin an “eloquent menace.” Malcolm X called him “the poet of the revolution.”

Baldwin spoke with searing honesty as a Black man, and he spoke with the same honesty and bravery as a gay man. His whole life was one of “bearing witness” and he lived it with unflinching honesty. In his last interview, as he lay dying in his long-time home in Saint-Paul de Vence, France, Baldwin told his friend the poet Quincy Troupe: “You know I was trying to tell the truth … It’s been said, and it’s been said, and it’s been said. It’s been heard and not heard. You are a broken motor.”


  • $25


September 24
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm EDT
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Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South
New York, NY New York 10012 United States
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