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Death of Author James Baldwin

December 12, 1987

Thanks for reprinting that magnificent passage from Baldwin's "The Fire Next Time." It remains as timely as when it was published 25 years ago--today in reference not only to the revival of racial prejudice in the U.S., but to American ethnocentrism in our relations with South Africa, Central America and the Middle East.

For many years I have been teaching "The Fire Next Time" in my American literature classes; each time around I find more profound insights in it, and each time a new group of students experiences it as a humbling yet liberating revelation of the illusions of superiority that pervade the white, Christian, American culture.

In the richness of his style, the prophetic eloquence of his rhetoric, the incisiveness of his moral and political vision, Baldwin surely ranks among the classic American writers.

DONALD LAZERE

San Luis Obispo

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