Day of Remembering James Baldwin and Scholars Who Carry On His Legacy

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"To Illuminate the World," a full day of events celebrating the life of literary legend James Baldwin, will be held at Hampshire College on Saturday, Oct. 13. Baldwin spent several years as a visiting scholar at Hampshire before his death in 1987. A program established in the spirit of his ideals, the James Baldwin Scholars Program, is an integral part of the day, which ends with a dinner kicking off a drive to endow the program.

"The questions which one asks oneself begin, at least, to illuminate the world, and become one's key to the experience of others," wrote Baldwin, whose pithy, heart-wrenching novels, short stories, plays, and essays drove right to the heart of the American race conflict as well as hetero-homosexual relations. They include "Go Tell It on the Mountain," "Giovanni's Room," "The Fire Next Time" and "Sonny's Blues."

A panel of writers and historians who knew Baldwin and his work will convene in Franklin Patterson Hall from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Facilitated by Baldwin biographer David Leeming, the panel includes New Yorker critic Hilton Als, professor James H. Cone of Union Theological Seminary, and Mae G. Henderson, who has written extensively on black expatriates artists. Locals who worked, debated and socialized with Baldwin will also be on hand to share recollections. The panel is free and open to the public.

Immediately following the panel, at 3:30 p.m., a reception will be held in the college's Main Gallery of the Johnson Library building.

Throughout the day, an art exhibit in the Main Gallery puts on display the photographs, letters and other writings, and various memorabilia from Baldwin's time in western Massachusetts. (The art exhibit is free and open to the public from October 1-24, Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays 2-5 p.m.)

The Baldwin Scholars Program endowment campaign kickoff dinner starts at 7 p.m. in the Robert Crown Center. The evening will feature music and speakers, as well as good food, and testimonials by Baldwin program alumni and Scholars who are at Hampshire now. The program has helped around 100 ambitious, promising young men and women from educationally under-served communities seek a college education, preparing for further study during a year at Hampshire. Tickets to the dinner are $30 and can be obtained by phoning Event Coordinator Sarah Hart at 413-559-5845.

Throughout the day, movies with a Baldwin theme will be shown continuously in the auditorium of Adele Simmons Hall. "The Price of the Ticket" and "Go Tell It on the Mountain" will screen from noon until 8 p.m.

Hampshire College is an innovative liberal arts college of 1,350 students and a member of the Five College consortium in western Massachusetts (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst). Each Hampshire student pursues an individualized, interdisciplinary program of study working in close collaboration with faculty mentors and culminating in a yearlong project of original work.

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