New street name honors the celebrated Harlem writer by Sagine Morency
Over the summer, Harlem presented author James Baldwin with his own street. While the sign has yet to be installed, the celebration aimed to coincide with Baldwin’s birthday, August 2. The writer’s alma mater, Harlem Renaissance High School, now occupies 22 East James Baldwin Place between 5th and Madison Avenue.
James Baldwin gained prominence in the mid-19th century for lending a voice to the unheard experiences within the African American, LGBT, and impoverished communities. Examples of his work include novels Giovanni’s Room and Go Tell it on the Mountain, and collection of essays Notes of a Native Son.
The renaming ceremony on Baldwin’s 90th birthday started at the Apollo Theater then moved to the front of his former high school with family, friends, and city officials in attendance. Harlem Renaissance’s principal Nadar Zeimer called the ceremony, “great.”
Some question why the city waited 27 years after Baldwin’s death to immortalize him. His nephew Trevor Baldwin told Afro.com. “[The renaming effort] was actually inspired by someone else who reminded me there’s no landmarks in Harlem with his name on it.” He went on to explain that the two-year renaming process would mean the world to his uncle.
It also means the world to Harlem Renaissance faculty member Jasmine Davis. “It’s amazing that the kids can now feel even more connected to [Baldwin],” says Davis. “They’ll be reminded that there are no limits to what they can achieve.”
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