Atop a cabinet, leaning against a wall of Dagmawi Woubshet’s office, is an enlarged framed cover of the May 17, 1963, issue of TIME magazine. Its portrait of writer James Baldwin stares into the room. Woubshet, associate professor of English, gestures to it several times as he talks about his research.
In that TIME cover story, the magazine heralds Baldwin as a leading voice of the Civil Rights Movement. “In the U.S. today there is not another writer—white or black—who expresses with such poignancy and abrasiveness the dark realities of the racial ferment in North and South,” it reads. It’s not surprising then that Baldwin is best known for his 1950s and 1960s essays on race and the black experience in America.
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