Arlington Reads Celebrates James Baldwin
In 2024, Arlington Public Library’s long-running signature author talk program Arlington Reads will celebrate the work and legacy of acclaimed author, poet, screenwriter and civil rights activist James Baldwin (1924-1987). Baldwin’s work had a profound impact on contemporary American identity, as his contributions challenged America on its promises of equality and justice.
In numerous essays, novels, plays and public speeches, Baldwin’s eloquent voice echoed the pain and struggle of Black Americans, portraying the saving power of brotherhood while addressing race, politics, and sexuality to create distinct narratives alongside the civil rights movement.
"Baldwin was not afraid to write about or say aloud what he experienced as a black gay man in a racially divided America," said Library Director Diane Kresh. "If your reading journey has missed Baldwin, you are in for a treat."
The 2024 Arlington Reads spring series will include four award-winning authors— Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr. (Mar. 7), Anna Malaika Tubbs (Mar. 28), Jesmyn Ward (May 14) and George M. Johnson (Jun. 13)—whose works are about or were influenced by James Baldwin.
For those who are unfamiliar or who would like a refresher on Baldwin’s work, join the library on Thursday, February 29 for a community discussion of one of his best-known works - "The Fire Next Time." The eAudiobook of this title, along with a selection of Baldwin’s other notable works, will be available in the Library’s collection with no waiting period from January through March.
Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr. – Thursday, March 7, 6:30-8 p.m.
Library Division Chief LeoNard Thompson will lead a conversation with Dr. Glaude, author of "Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for our Own.” Glaude, Jr. will share his exploration of race, trauma, and memory, and what we must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a new America.
Anna Malaika Tubbs – Thursday, March 28, 6:30-8 p.m.
Join us for a conversation between author Anna Malaika Tubbs and Library Director Diane Kresh about Tubbs' work, "The Three Mothers." In her groundbreaking and essential debut, scholar Anna Malaika Tubbs celebrates Black motherhood by telling the story of the three women who raised and shaped some of America's most pivotal heroes: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin.
Jesmyn Ward – Tuesday, May 14, 6:30-8 p.m.
Authors Jesmyn Ward and Ralph Eubanks will have a conversation about Ward's newest novel, "Let Us Descend," a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation. While Ward leads readers through the descent, this, her fourth novel, is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation.
George M. Johnson – Thursday, June 13, 6:30-8 p.m.
George M. Johnson has said, “As someone who is now a part of the next generation of Black queer writing, I pull a lot from what James Baldwin stood for.” In the tradition of Baldwin’s memoir-manifesto style, George M. Johnson’s "All Boys Aren't Blue" contains a series of personal essays that explores their childhood, adolescence and college years in New Jersey and Virginia as a Black queer boy.
For all programs, books will be available for purchase during the event, courtesy of One More Page Books. The conversation will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing. Check event details for livestream and recording options.
Since its inception in 2006, Arlington Reads has featured both national and international fiction and nonfiction authors and cultural icons, such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Wendell Berry, Katherine Boo, Matthew Desmond, Anthony Doerr, Richard Ford, Roxane Gay, Colum McCann, Tim O’Brien, Ann Patchett, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Elizabeth Strout, Zadie Smith and Colson Whitehead.
Arlington Reads is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Friends of the Arlington Public Library.