James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket


  • A Writer in the Making | American Masters

    Renowned novelist and activist James Baldwin laid the foundation for his lifetime of achievement during his childhood in 1930s Harlem. Baldwin spent countless hours in the 135th Street Public Library, soaking up as much knowledge as he could from books. He constantly wrote stories, poems and plays, often scribbling first drafts on paper bags. By the time he was 14, Baldwin knew he was destined to be a writer. Though this initially frightened his parents, Baldwin’s mother explained that even though she hadn’t predicted the success her son would have, she always knew he “had to write.”

     

    Grades: 9-12
  • Preaching the Gospel of the Revolution | American Masters

    James Baldwin was living in France in 1957 when he heard about Dorothy Counts, a black American teenager who was spat on after enrolling at an all-white North Carolina high school. He immediately vowed to return to the United States to support the burgeoning Civil Rights movement. This video segment chronicles Baldwin’s travels across the nation as he spoke to black Americans about the harsh realities they faced. Through his speeches and in his polemical essay The Fire Next Time, Baldwin became known as an articulate spokesman for the pain of black Americans while also preaching the gospel of equality to both whites and blacks.

    Grades: 9-12
  • All Men are Brothers | American Masters

    This video segment from American Masters’ James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket illustrates the activist’s intolerance for violence or racial hatred expressed by anyone, black or white. In the mid-1960s, Baldwin’s principles put him in conflict with Eldridge Cleaver and a new black militant faction, who advocated a reciprocal response to the violence they often experienced.  Baldwin struggled with the paradox of acknowledging the violent conditions facing many black Americans and his advocacy for the brotherhood of man. Baldwin could never truly join the black militants as he strongly believed that "the world is held together by the love and the passion of a very few people."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Take This Hammer | American Masters

    In this video segment from Take this Hammer, a 1963 film from THIRTEEN’s archive, activist and author James Baldwin seeks to raise morale among a group of African American adolescents in San Francisco in the early 1960s. Baldwin predicts that the United States will transform and that there will be a black president one day. He explains that black Americans can do anything anyone else can do and if they don’t believe this, they are on the same side as those who claim African Americans are inferior.

     

    Grades: 9-12

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