James Baldwin (1924-1987) was an American writer and social critic perhaps best known for his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain. Many of Baldwin's works meditated on themes related to race, class, and sexuality in 20th-century America. A leading figure in the civil rights movement, Baldwin was also a key figure in the early gay rights movement. He died of esophageal cancer at the age of 63.

"The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated."

-James Baldwin, "A Talk to Teachers" speech, 1963