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Mission Statement for the International James Baldwin Society


Novelist, essayist, playwright and civil rights activist James Arthur Baldwin proclaimed in his 1963 essay "Down at the Cross" that many people live in communities which dismiss their inherent humanity. As a result, these individuals end up lying or dying in "wine and urine-stained hallways" never knowing that they "are very beautiful."

Baldwin predicted that if humanity does not work to stop this loss of beauty there will come a day of "cosmic vengeance." This vengeance will not be executed by any single individual or organization, nor will it be preventable by military power. It will rise from the activation of an ethical principle embedded within the universe. A principle that warns every community, every society, every country that whatever it sows, it shall also reap. If it sows violent ideologies that strip individuals of their humanity, it will reap violence that threatens humane living.

According to Baldwin, this day of reckoning may be staved off if people of all racial backgrounds begin to acknowledge the intrinsic human worth of all peoples, ushering in an age of ideal human equality:

"If we, and not I mean the relatively concious whites and the relatively concious blacks, who must, like lovers insist on or create the conciousness of the others - do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve(the goals of) our country and change the history of the world. If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the first next time!"    - James Baldwin

In heeding this admonition, the International James Baldwin Society (IJBS) seeks to embrace James Baldwin's ideals of human equality by focusing on two general goals.

First, IJBS will open itself up to a diverse membership, seeking the inclusion of those from both academic and professional fields.

Secondly, IJBS members will be required to follow the following five key guidelines:

  • Members will continue in a faithful study of Baldwin's life and works in order to deepen their understanding of Baldwin and of his vision for human equality.
  • Members will develop and participate in programs that promote the study of Baldwin across the curriculum.
  • Members will participate in collaborative research and scholastic projects that increase critical thinking about Baldwin and his ideals.
  • Members will use their identification with the IJBS to develop and participate in community-based service projects throughout the world that promote human equality in social and political arenas.
  • Members will seek assistance and approval from the IJBS body for any service projects that they do in the name of the IJBS.




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