James Baldwin’s Eulogy

“This man traveled the earth like its history and its biographer. He reported, criticized, made beautiful, analyzed, cajoled, lyricized, attacked, sang made us think, made us better.” –Amiri Baraka

The last time I saw Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Amiri Baraka was at the funeral of James Baldwin. The greatest black writers in New York City were in attendance. Artist of every ilk had come out to pay their respect to James Arthur Baldwin. It was a cold, misty day December morning and we all stood aside allowing Jimmy Baldwin’s family to enter the magnificent cathedral first. Slowly we walked into the great hall and at the stroke of noon, organ music swelled through the great space. The whole experience put me in the mind of a great movie set; so many lights, and the highest ceiling I have ever been under. So many stars of Hollywood, Broadway and the Literary world were crammed together. Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Stokely Carmichael, Sonia Sanchez and the famed photographer and dear friend Gordon Parks. No one was dressed in an ostentatious manner; there was not one person being dramatic or over the top in that space and time. The great poet and activist -writer, Amiri Baraka spoke first. I knew him casually and I never saw him so delicate and warm; he displayed the kindness of a child, he spoke beautifully about Jimmy Baldwin.

“Jimmy, this glorious, elegant griot, not only a writer, an international literary figure, he was man, spirit, voice-old black and terrible as the first ancestor.” -Amiri Barka

Next the great novelist Toni Morrison spoke eloquently about her dear friend Jimmy.

“Jimmy guided us through treacherous paths and gave blacks the courage to face an all-white geography…this world could never be all white again.” -Toni Morrison

I knew Maya Angelou was going to put it on us like we never had it put on us before, and she did! I hung on her every word, she was really the master orator. I knew it was James Baldwin who was responsible for her career as a writer. It was James Baldwin who helped her get her first book published. I would love to recite her full eulogy but I do not remember word for word all of her text. I do remember the key theme in her talk, she talked about the need for a brother.

“Brothers Are Hard to Come By.

He knew brothers are hard to come by. He knew that black women need brothers. And don’t keep that good news to yourself, “Go tell it on the mountain!” –Maya Angelou

Charles Micheaux


To my Native American Sisters and Brothers…

Wanna Tokata Iyaya…Oahe!

Author: Charles Micheaux

Charles Micheaux is an orator & philosopher. Charles has been a professional speaker since September 9th 1997. His highest honor is receiving a personal letter from Rosa Parks for his work in Baltimore, Maryland. Charles was a contributor at Yahoo for three-years.

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