James Baldwin’s 1962 Letter to His Nephew

A Letter to My Nephew

By James Baldwin

James Baldwin’s thoughts on his nephew’s future—in a country with a terrible history of racism— first appeared in The Progressive magazine in 1962. Over 50 years later his words are, sadly, more relevant than ever.

January 1, 1962

Dear James:

I have begun this letter five times and torn it up five times. I keep seeing your face, which is also the face of your father and my brother. I have known both of you all your lives and have carried your daddy in my arms and on my shoulders, kissed him and spanked him and watched him learn to walk. I don’t know if you have known anybody from that far back, if you have loved anybody that long, first as an infant, then as a child, then as a man. You gain a strange perspective on time and human pain and effort… Read more at The Progressive.

Our Regional Writers Series will be reading James Baldwin’s work in November. For more information on the series, visit our event page.

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