The fall of 2007 was when I rediscovered fiction. It was the first fall in my entire life that I wasn’t in school, as a student or teacher. One of the ways I celebrated was by reading fiction. 

I started with The Color Purple, which I read in 6 hours, 4 of those hours sitting on a bench on Bleecker Street. While perusing at a Barnes & Noble on the Upper East Side I bought Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone, my very first Baldwin. I was reborn as a writer with that book. 

I started writing as a way to keep from going crazy. Everything I wrote before discovering Baldwin was me searching for the language to articulate what I was experiencing. The hope was that if I could find the language I could find my way. James Baldwin gave me the language. 

James Baldwin told me I wasn’t crazy, he told me I deserve love, he told me my rage was not only warranted but it was a sign that I was alive. James Baldwin gave me permission to fully experience the full spectrum of my humanity as a Black woman. 

Today would have been his 92 birthday. So today in honor of the greatest writer to ever write in the history of the English language; live free, stay woke, and love fiercely.