James Baldwin Sayings and Quotes

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old james baldwin quotes, james baldwin sayings, and james baldwin proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.


If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected--those, precisely, who need the law's protection most!--and listens to their testimony.     

James Baldwin

An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience.      

James Baldwin

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.     

James Baldwin

Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.     

James Baldwin

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.     

James Baldwin

You don't have a home until you leave it and then, when you have left it, you never can go back.     

James Baldwin

Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew, or dreamed that one possessed. Yet, it is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long possessed that he is set free - he has set himself free - for higher dreams, for greater privileges.     

James Baldwin

Words like freedom, justice, democracy are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.     

James Baldwin

Words like freedom, justice, democracy are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.     

James Baldwin

Fathers and sons arrive at that relationship only by claiming that relationship: that is by paying for it. If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons.     

James Baldwin

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.     

James Baldwin

Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.     

James Baldwin

You know, fathers just have a way of putting everything together.     

James Baldwin

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.     

James Baldwin

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.     

James Baldwin

Everybody's journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.     

James Baldwin

Everybody's journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.     

James Baldwin

Know from whence you came because if you know from whence you came, there is no limit to where you can go.     

James Baldwin

There is a sanctity involved with bringing a child into this world, it is better than bombing one out of it.     

James Baldwin

A liberal: someone who thinks he knows more about your experience than you do.     

James Baldwin

Confusion is a luxury which only the very, very young can possibly afford and you are not that young anymore.     

James Baldwin

The vision people hold of the world to come is but a reflection, with predictable wishful distortions, of the world in which they live.     

James Baldwin

People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.     

James Baldwin

You cannot fix what you will not face.     

James Baldwin

Terrifying, that the loss of intimacy with one person results in the freezing over of the world, and the loss of oneself.     

James Baldwin

It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless.     

James Baldwin

It is really quite impossible to be affirmative about anything which one refuses to question; one is doomed to remain inarticulate about anything which one hasn't, by an act of the imagination, made one's own.     

James Baldwin

The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.     

James Baldwin

Terrifying, that the loss of intimacy with one person results in the freezing over of the world, and the loss of oneself.     

James Baldwin

The questions which one asks oneself begin, at least, to illuminate the world, and become one's key to the experience of others.     

James Baldwin