It was the height of World War II. James Baldwin was a teenager in New York City when, in 1943, riots broke out in Detroit and in Harlem, Baldwin’s neighborhood. The lack of adequate housing, lack of jobs and hostility of the city’s police had precipitated the unrest in Detroit. In Harlem, a Black soldier had been shot in the back by a white police officer. Simmering anger over ongoing racism and its accompanying urban poverty exploded.
Read more in the Sept. 16-22, 2020 issue.