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James Baldwin and his towering legacy have long been cemented, yet there are layers to the writer and activist that have yet to be discovered by even his most studious devotees.

The personal archives of Baldwin are now on display at New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the center’s director, Kevin Young, joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to explain what many can expect by taking this rare glance into Baldwin’s creative process and private life.

Baldwin’s gripping Oscar-nominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” ignited renewed interest in the writer’s past works and bold social commentary. As noted in the segment opener, a range of material stretching from Baldwin’s first novel to his last written pieces, including his final unfinished work, “The Welcome Table,” will be among the available items at Schomburg.

“I think you can see the whole person. You get to see their private thoughts, their jottings,” said Young about what observers can glean from reading the archived material. “You get to see his life up close. You get to see what interested him in terms of writing. You get to see how he wrote, how meticulous he is.”

Young added that Baldwin was prophetic in his observations of race and America, using his platform to dissect the juxtaposition of being Black in a nation that still grapples with that tense reality.

Watch Roland Martin and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture director Kevin Young discuss the personal archives of James Baldwin and the return of the writer’s legacy to Harlem.

Watch NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.


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James Baldwin’s Personal Archives Add Heft To Writer’s Towering Legacy  was originally published on