Out and About: Harlem Talks: James Baldwin & Pauli Murray

Categories: Fall 2018, Featured, Graduate Fellows, and Out and About.

Harlem Talks: James Baldwin & Pauli Murray

by Noni Carter, 2018-19 IRWGS Graduate Fellow

New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is hosting two upcoming events of interest that should quicken your step as you head over to Harlem’s historical center! Both talks focus on two influential voices in American history, James Baldwin and Pauli Murray, and seek to shed light on the re-publication of their work.

Home of the James Baldwin papers, The Schomburg Center invites those curious about lesser-known works by Baldwin to join the conversation about his 1976 publication and only children’s book, Little Man, Little Man at Home to Harlem Talks: Little Man, Little Man by James Baldwin on September 13th, 6:30 – 8:30 pm. This black coming of age story of “little man” TJ shares snapshots of Harlem with readers through his eyes, tumbling through adventures fit for adults, navigating the challenges and thrills of childhood on the streets of New York City.

The publication of this new edition accompanies a recent resurgence of interest in Baldwin’s legacy and work. Baldwin has had a powerful influence on intellectuals today. In 2015, for instance, as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ eloquent Between the World and Me borrowed Baldwin’s epistolary form and agenda from his 1963 The Fire Next Time. 2017 saw the release of Raoul Peck’s documentary film I Am Not Your Negro based on Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House as well as the publication of Jesmyn Ward’s edited collection of powerful essays and poems, The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race.

The release of a new edition of Little Man, Little Man this past August illustrates Baldwin’s continuing relevance. To consider that relevance and celebrate his work, the event will feature readings and commentary from national book award-winning Jacqueline Woodson, author and playwright Kia Corthron, Baldwin’s family members Aisha Karefa-Smart and Tejan “TJ” Karefa-Smart, and co-editors Jennifer DeVere Brody and Nicholas Boggs.

The Schomburg Center also presents The Startling Life of Pauli Murray on September 18that 6:30 pm. The talk will explore the legendary and powerful work of Pauli Murray, a woman of color who used her range of diverse skills as a poet, attorney, priest, historian, and staunch activist, to educate and to combat economic and racial injustice. As the first African American woman to be ordained in an episcopal church, Murray was involved with a range of work coinciding with the Civil Rights Movement and was central to the development of NOW – the National Organization for Women.

Murray published many works that inspired the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt and Thurgood Marshall, including poetry, landmark essays, and a biography of her grandparents Proud Shoes. The talk at the Schomburg will feature her memoir Song in a Weary Throat as well as Murray’s poetry collection Dark Testament with two poets Kevin Young and Patricia Spears in dialogue with the feminist scholars Dr. Patricia Bell-Scott and Dr. Brittney Cooper.

Arrive 15 – 30 minutes early to the Schomburg to ensure seating for these two events. I hope to see you there!


Out & About is a blog Dedicated to Queer and Feminist Happenings in and around New York City, in which IRWGS and CU students, staff and faculty write about events, performances, shows and lectures that we know will be of interest to our many communities on campus. This series will consist of reviews, recommendations and summaries of just a few of the many things to do in New York City. If you would like to propose a blog post along these lines or submit a review or recommendation, please contact Blog Editor/IRWGS Grad Fellow Daniel da Silva (dd2646@columbia.edu) or IRWGS Program Coordinator Khadija Belly (kb2854@columbia.edu).