The suit, with its travels and meanings—an object imbued with memories of love and trauma, a symbol of rupture and connection between self and other, self and personal past, self and national history—represents a fitting way to frame a group of essays about Baldwin and democracy.


With the possible exception of Walt Whitman, no other writer has given the foundational matter of love and democratic life in America such probing attention.

On Her Behalf

Baldwin’s closeness to his nephew, and the hope and great sadness housed within that bond, reminded me of my connection to my youngest niece. Both bookish. Both black. Both broke.


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