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James Baldwin with Nina Simone

Wise Words to Live By: 10 Quotes from James Baldwin

James Arthur Baldwin of Harlem, New York was an amazing novelist and intellectual. He was a friend of many influential literary figures including Allen Ginsberg and Maya Angelou. James Baldwin spent his final years in France, dying of stomach cancer in 1985. The words in his work speak volumes for the both racially and sexually oppressed. Here is a list of ten quotes by James Baldwin that are wise words for us all to live by.

“You think your pain and heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”

“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.”

“Be careful what you set your heart upon – for it will surely be yours.”

“People can cry much easier than they can change.”

Portrait Of James Baldwin Getty Images
Portrait Of James Baldwin Getty Images Portrait of American author James Baldwin (1924 – 1987), New York, New York, 1975. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)

“Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.”

“We should certainly know by now that it is one thing to overthrow a dictator or repel an invader and quite another thing really to achieve a revolution. Time and time and time again, the people discover that they have merely betrayed themselves into the hands of yet another Pharaoh, who, since he was necessary to put the broken country together, will not let them go.”

“Artists are here to disturb peace.”

“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.”

“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”

“People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned.”

 James Baldwin with Nina Simone

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