National Black Book Festival

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Friday, July 9, 2010

James Baldwin - Proud to be Black and Gay



Number 8

As I have stated before, maybe not as well as I should have, my grandmother, whom we called, “Muh,” her name was Virginia Hawkins. She started this love of books and reading in me. Two or three times a week, she and I would walk to the library a few blocks from our one bedroom apartment in the housing community of Lincoln Heights in North East, DC.

The first time I saw this huge library, at least to my 7 years of age eyes, my heart and head switch places. I could not believe that there was a place so beautiful, smelled so good and filled with shelves and more shelves of books. I shook my hand from my grandmother’s hard grip and ran to the first shelf. I took my hand and rubbed over the books of each shelf and pulled closer to make sure they were real books and not fake paper covers I have seen at other places. These were real books. Books I could borrow. I continued to touch and feel every shelf I could. Took a few down from the shelf and sat on the floor to open and smell them. To hold so really close to my heart. To read the first page and rub my hands inside the book. I was more than amazed; it was the beginning of my life. Books would consume me for the rest of my life. One of these I borrowed and have read and re-read over and over again was:

JAMES BALDWIN
IF BEAL STREET COULD TALK
Paperback Used - $3.50 or $10.04


Tish and Fonny, young, African Americans are trying so very hard to get a decent job, marry and get a home. They are young and in love in the 1970s New York, which was extremely hard for a black man accused of rape. I will always believe to this day that he did not do it, but this book takes you thru the hell both families go thru to get him out of jail. You've heard it before, her family is supportive and his family is sort of supportive, but his black father had his own hard time. This book, which was written in 1974, should still be read today by young African American boys/men to, hopefully, finally, help them realize that no matter what decade it is, being black is still hard without family, but with support, we can pull through any hell. I know I did.

Did you have a book that still moves your heart and soul?