Black and White photo of a Black man in a shearling coat and a black furry hat
James Baldwin, smiling in headshot

Steve Schapiro, 1963, Harlem, NY

Novelist, essayist, intellectual, and activist James Baldwin (1924 - 1987) is renowned as one of the world’s most influential and prophetic voices of our time. His death in 1987 sent waves of grief around the world. Amiri Baraka’s eulogy, titled “Jimmy!”, spoke of James "Jimmy" Baldwin as “not only a writer, international literary figure” but as a “man, spirit, voice”. Baraka called Baldwin “God’s black revolutionary mouth” which speaks to Baldwin’s enduring legacy of radical truth-telling. 

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is home to Baldwin’s archive of personal papers. In celebration of his 100th birthday, on public display for the first time, we proudly present selections from the James Baldwin Papers that highlight his literary career and legacy from childhood to death, along with items from other research collections that illuminate the passion, brilliance, and courageous spirit of James “Jimmy” Baldwin.

Organized by Barrye Brown, Curator, Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division at the Schomburg Center.

Exhibition Opening Reception & Program

Multiculor text on a white background that reads Jimmy! God's Black Revolutionary Mouth
Friday, August 2 | 12 Noon–3 PM | Schomburg Center

Join us on James Baldwin’s 100th birthday for the opening reception for our newest exhibition JIMMY! God's Black Revolutionary Mouth. Stay for our public program featuring Yahdon Israel, Senior editor at Simon & Schuster and two-time Grammy Award-winning recording hip-hop artist and humanitarian, Che “Rhymefest” Smith, in a conversation about the critical voice of James Baldwin and the use of popular culture to further elevate important figures and ideas. Rhymefest's latest project, James & Nikki: A Conversation, is inspired by and includes clips from the historic 1971 conversation between literary icons. 


From Manuscript to Publication

Looking for book recommendations? Read a selection of titles by James Baldwin that are also featured in the exhibition as first editions, manuscript drafts, preparatory notes, and production proofs.

Celebrating 100 Years of James Baldwin

Join The New York Public Library to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of writer and activist James Baldwin with special exhibitions, free programs for all ages, book giveaways, and more. Learn more here.


The James Baldwin Papers were acquired through the generosity of the Ford Foundation, Katharine J. Rayner, James and Morag Anderson, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and New York Life. Support for processing has been provided by the Arcus Foundation.

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