James Baldwin Quotes

The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.

James Baldwin

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

If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.

James Baldwin

Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.

James Baldwin

I conceive of God, in fact, as a means of liberation and not a means to control others.

James Baldwin

People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become, and they pay for it, very simply, by the lives they lead.

James Baldwin

Words like "freedom," "justice," "democracy" are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.

James Baldwin

People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.

James Baldwin

If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons.

James Baldwin

People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.

James Baldwin

The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.

James Baldwin

It is true that two wrongs don't make a right, as we love to point out to the people we have wronged. But one wrong doesn't make a right, either. People who have been wronged will attempt to right the wrong; they would not be people if they didn't. They can rarely afford to be scrupulous about the means they will use. They will use such means as come to hand. Neither, in the main, will they distinguish one oppressor from another, nor see through to the root principle of their oppression.

James Baldwin

It will be a great day for America, incidentally, when we begin to eat bread again, instead of the blasphemous and tasteless foam rubber that we have substituted for it. And I am not being frivolous here, either. Something very sinister happens to the people of a country when they begin to distrust their own reactions as deeply as they do here, and become as joyless as they have become.

James Baldwin

When the South has trouble with its Negroes when the Negroes refuse to remain in their "place" it blames "outside agitators" and "Northern interference." When the nation has trouble with the Northern Negro, it blames the Kremlin.

James Baldwin

You don't realize that you're intelligent until it gets you into trouble.

James Baldwin

I have never seen myself as a spokesman. I am a witness. In the church in which I was raised you were supposed to bear witness to the truth. Now, later on, you wonder what in the world the truth is, but you do know what a lie is.

James Baldwin
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