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Thursday, July 3, 2014

James Baldwin



It is Summer 1963 in Moss Point, Mississippi.  My mother and I are sitting on the front porch of my grandfather’s house at 1010 Barnett Street.  Although we owned it, in my mind, the house always belonged to John Henry Ward.  He bought the two acres of land on which it sat. He built the house. He died in the house. His son, my father, was born and died in the house. It was their house.

I am reading The Fire Next Time.  Aloud. My mother is listening intensely as I dramatize Baldwin’s prose.  My mother thinks James Baldwin is a man who has “good sense.” I agree. I do not recall exactly why I am reading the book aloud.  Perhaps I want to prove to my mother that she made a wise investment of the hard-earned pennies and dollars she earned to get me through Tougaloo College. Baldwin is full of moral authority.  He has more authority than the priest at St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Pascagoula.  Protestants say some things better than Catholics do.


It is summer in New Orleans, a season for local, national, and international confusion and  warfare.  After 51 years, I still grow stronger for listening to James Baldwin’s uniquely voiced authority. I was much pleased to discover the following CFP for the James Baldwin Review:


 The James Baldwin Review (JBR), an annual peer-reviewed journal, is seeking submissions for its inaugural issue. An Open Access online publication, The James Baldwin Review will bring together a wide array of peer-reviewed critical and creative work on the life, writings, and legacy of James Baldwin. JBR publishes essays that invigorate scholarship on James Baldwin, catalyze explorations of the literary, political, and cultural influence of Baldwin’ writing and political activism, and deepen our understanding and appreciation of this complex and luminary figure.

Deadline for submissions: Sept 30th, 2014. Submissions must be accompanied by a 250-word abstract. Detailed submission instructions can be found on our website:

It is the aim of the James Baldwin Review to provide a vibrant and multidisciplinary forum for the international community of Baldwin scholars, students, and enthusiasts.


Next year I will read JBR with James Brown’s “Say It Loud” in the background. “Yes, Mother. I am still reading aloud. But I have my own house now.”


Jerry W. Ward, Jr.            July 3, 2014

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