Walsh Library has acquired signed first editions of books by some of the biggest names in African American literature: James Baldwin and Gwendolyn Brooks.
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) was one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century, the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize and the first Black woman to serve as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. She was also the Poet Laureate of the State of Illinois, where she lived for most of her life in Chicago. Her poetry documents her experience and community even while being in conversation with the roots of the Western tradition, mobilizing forms such as the sonnet and reinterpreting classics such as the Aeneid to buttress her own powerful authorial voice.
The Library also acquired a signed first edition of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. This powerful work which recounts Baldwin’s personal experience of racism in America as well as his critique of Christianity, is part of the Core Curriculum at Seton Hall. It is a key cultural touchstone.
Seton Hall’s edition is inscribed by Baldwin to a person named Reliana and says “Keep the faith.” This inspiring message is an especially appropriate one for Seton Hall, given that this work plays a role in the conversations about life’s purpose and meaning that take place in the Core Curriculum’s classes.