James Baldwin, a Harlem native who died in 1987, would have turned 90 on Saturday. Among the many tributes in a year in which his legacy as a major writer is being celebrated, one on Saturday is close to home: a portion of East 128th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue, will be renamed James Baldwin Way.
Baldwin, whose classic works include the novel “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and the essay collections “The Fire Next Time” and “Notes of a Native Son” attended Public School 24 (now the Harlem Renaissance School) on that block. Nearby, the marquee of the Apollo Theater, at 253 West 125th Street, is scheduled to read “Happy 90th Birthday James Baldwin.”
“We’re reclaiming him as a son of Harlem,” said Rich Blint, a Baldwin scholar and associate director in the Office of Community Outreach and Education at the Columbia University School of the Arts. The university, along with Harlem Stage and New York Live Arts, is participating in a citywide consideration of Baldwin.
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