History & Celebrations Today – August 2

Celebrations Today – August 2

Holidays and observances

Celebrations Today – USA: August 2

National Coloring Book Day
National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
National Dinosaurs Day

Today in US History: August 2

James Baldwin

James Baldwin
James Baldwin,
Carl Van Vechten, photographer,
September 13, 1955.
Creative Americans: Portraits by Carl Van Vechten, 1932-1964

The conundrum of color is the inheritance of every American…James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son, 1955.

Novelist, essayist, and playwright James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, in New York City. The eldest of nine children, Baldwin grew up in poverty-stricken Harlem, where his stepfather was a preacher. Between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, Baldwin himself preached at a small revivalist church, the Fireside Pentecostal. His first and most critically acclaimed novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), was inspired by his experiences there.

Baldwin was heavily influenced by his Harlem middle school-French teacher, famed poet Countee Cullen. Cullen, who obtained his master’s degree from Harvard University, was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance (also known as the New Negro Movement), a flourishing of artistic expression that emerged from the community of Harlem in New York City in the 1920s. Cullen devoted himself to the education of children in the last period of his life, and concentrated on teaching and writing children’s books. He opened up a new world of literary and artistic possibilities for black youth in Harlem, including James Baldwin.

Harlem’s millionairess, Alelia Walker, whose mother made her fortune with kink-no-more preparations, about this time became imbued with the desire to aid struggling artists. She set aside a floor of her town house at 208 West One Hundred and Thirty-sixth Street to be used as a studio for art exhibits, poetry recitals and musicales. Countee Cullen suggested Dark Tower as the name for this shrine of Harlem art and both he and Langston Hughes had poems inscribed on the walls.”The Whites Invade Harlem,”
Levi C. Hubert, writer,
December 12, 1938.
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940

Countee Cullen
Countee Cullen in Central Park,
New York, New York,
Carl Van Vechten, photographer,
June 20, 1941.
Creative Americans: Portraits by Carl Van Vechten, 1932-1964

Baldwin moved to Paris in 1948, where he spent the majority of the next eight years. During this time he created some of his most famous work, including the essay collection Notes of a Native Son (1955) and the novel Giovanni’s Room (1956), where he explores the broad issues of race, sexuality, and identity. Baldwin’s work Nobody Knows My Name (1961) deals more explicitly with the subject of race relations in the United States.

An active participant in the civil rights movement in the 1950s, in his later years Baldwin lived in both the U.S. and France, where he died in 1987.

Today in History – August 2-External Links

Today’s Weather in History
Today in Earthquake History
This Day in Naval History
Today’s Document from the National Archives
Today’s Events, Births & Deaths –Wikipedia
Today in History by AP
On this Day -1950 to 2005 – Today’s Story–BBC
On This Day: The New York Times
This Day in History –History.com
Today in Canadian History – Canada Channel
History of Britain that took place On This Day
Russia in History –Russiapedia