August Holidays: James Baldwin's Birthday, International Day of the World's Indigenous People, and International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Welcome to our digital exhibit celebrating holidays in August. This page is a companion to the physical display in the Harvard Kennedy School Library, last available in July 2022. Many of the resources listed here are also available online, accessible to Harvard Key holders. Harvard affiliates can request print materials to pick up at the Harvard library of your choice via HOLLIS.

James Baldwin's Birthday - August 2

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924 in Harlem, New York. Widely considered to be one of the most influential American authors and thinkers of the 20th century, Baldwin began his writing career during the final years of legalized segregation in the U.S. Disillusioned with the racism he faced at home and seeking clarity around his own sexuality, Baldwin moved to Paris where he wrote the semi-autobiographical work Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) and his seminal Notes of a Native Son (1955). After nearly a decade in Paris, Baldwin returned to New York upon receiving word of the nascent civil rights movement back home. Baldwin's fame grew alongside the movement, thanks to works like The Fire Next Time (1963) which confronted readers with the bitter, urgent realities of Black people in the U.S. Shaken by the assassinations of his three friends - Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X - Baldwin resettled in France. His later works explored homosexuality and homophobia with a familiar intensity, spurring his significance in the early gay rights movement. Baldwin continued writing until his death in 1987.

The books in this display represent some of Baldwin's landmark works during three distinct periods of his life.

Learn more about Baldwin's life and work:

International Day of the World's Indigenous People - August 9

First proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1994, International Day of the World's Indigenous People celebrates the vibrant societies and cultures of the 476 million indigenous people around the world. Indigenous peoples are Inheritors and practitioners of modes of relating to the world distinct from the societies that have become dominant worldwide. Throughout history, indigenous peoples have fought to defend their identities, ways of life, and right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources from the now-dominant societies responsible for their subjugation, manufactured poverty, and forced assimilation. As such, International Day of the World's Indigenous People also raises awareness and encourages advocacy around the struggles in which indigenous people have long been embroiled around the world.

The 2022 theme is "The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge." The theme centers the indigenous women who for centuries have cared for natural community resources, preserved and transmitted ancestral knowledge, and taken the lead in defending their lands, territories, and ways of life. It also calls attention to the injustices indigenous women face in addition to those impacting their communities as a whole, including limitations to healthcare, employment, political participation, and bodily autonomy.

The books in this display highlight the stories, oppression, and resistance of indigenous people - particularly women - in North America.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition - August 23

First celebrated in Haiti (1998) and Gorée Island in Senegal (1999), International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition "is intended to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples." The day for this commemoration was chosen because on the nights of August 22 and 23 in 1791, a group of enslaved people on the former French colony of Saint-Domingue launched the uprising we now know as the Haitian Revolution. Led by Toussaint Louverture, the successful revolution would in just over a decade create Haiti - the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, the first country in the Americas to abolish slavery, and the only state in history established by self-liberated enslaved people. The Haitian Revolution is considered to be a crucial event in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is observed in part through UNSECO's "Routes of Enslaved Peoples: Resistance, Liberty and Heritage" Project.

The resources in this display recount the Haitian Revolution, and highlight the ways that slavery is closely entangled with U.S. institutions to this day.

James Baldwin's Birthday

Notes of a Native Son

Read ebook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]

"Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in Notes of a Native Son capture a view of black life and black thought at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement and as the movement slowly gained strength through the words of one of the most captivating essayists and foremost intellectuals of that era. Writing as an artist, activist, and social critic, Baldwin probes the complex condition of being black in America. Notes of a Native Son inaugurated Baldwin as one of the leading interpreters of the dramatic social changes erupting in the United States in the twentieth century, and many of his observations have proven almost prophetic."

The Fire Next Time

Read ebook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]

"At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two 'letters,' written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Described by The New York Times Book Review as 'sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle...all presented in searing, brilliant prose,' The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of literature."

James Baldwin: Later Novels

James Baldwin established himself as the indispensable voice of the Civil Rights era, a figure whose prophetic exploration of the racial and sexual fissures in American society raised the consciousness of American readers. This new Library of America volume see's three of Baldwin's later novels collected for the first time; Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone (1968), If Beale Street Could Talk (1974) and Just Above My Head (1979).

International Day of the World's Indigenous People

Our History Is the Future

Read ebook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]

"In 2016, a small protest encampment at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, initially established to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, grew to be the largest Indigenous protest movement in the twenty-first century. Water Protectors knew this battle for native sovereignty had already been fought many times before, and that, even after the encampment was gone, their anticolonial struggle would continue. In Our History Is the Future, Nick Estes traces traditions of Indigenous resistance that led to the #NoDAPL movement. Our History Is the Future is at once a work of history, a manifesto, and an intergenerational story of resistance."

Sabrina and Corina

Read ebook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]

"A haunting debut story collection on friendship, mothers and daughters, and the deep-rooted truths of our homelands, centered on Latinas of indigenous descent that shines a new light on the American West. Kali Fajardo-Anstine's magnetic story collection breathes life into her Indigenous Latina characters and the land they inhabit. Set against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado-a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite-these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives- with caution, grace, and quiet force."

An Act of Genocide: Colonialism and the Sterilization of Aboriginal Women

"During the 1900s eugenics gained favor as a means of controlling the birth rate among 'undesirable' populations in Canada. Though many people were targeted, the coercive sterilization of one group has gone largely unnoticed. An Act of Genocide unpacks long-buried archival evidence to begin documenting the forced sterilization of Aboriginal women in Canada. Grounding this evidence within the context of colonialism, the oppression of women and the denial of Indigenous sovereignty, Karen Stote argues that this coercive sterilization must be considered in relation to the larger goals of Indian policy -- to gain access to Indigenous lands and resources while reducing the numbers of those to whom the federal government has obligations."

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

The Black Jacobins

"This powerful, intensely dramatic book is the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803, a revolution that began in the wake of the Bastille. It is the story of the French colony of San Domingo, a place where the brutality of master toward slave was legendary. And it is the story of a barely literate slave named Toussaint L'Ouverture, who led the black people of San Domingo in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces and in the process helped form the first independent nation in the Caribbean."

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

Read ebook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]

"Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution -- the nation's original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America's later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward E. Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States. In the span of a single lifetime, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out tobacco plantations to a continental cotton empire, and the United States grew into a modern, industrial, and capitalist economy. Told through intimate slave narratives, plantation records, newspapers, and the words of politicians, entrepreneurs, and escaped slaves, The Half Has Never Been Told offers a radical new interpretation of American history."

Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery

"Harvard’s motto, Veritas, inscribed on gates, doorways, and sculptures all over campus, demands of us truth. This report, prepared by the Presidential Committee on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery, advances our quest for truth through scholarship about the University’s historic ties to slavery—direct, financial, and intellectual. [...] This report documents now incontestable truths: During the 17th and 18th centuries, the sale and trafficking of human beings—in slavery—and the industries rooted in the labor of enslaved women, men, and children were pervasive around the world, comprised a vital part of the New England economy, and powerfully shaped Harvard University. Harvard leaders, faculty, staff, and benefactors enslaved people, some of whom labored at the University;⁠ accrued wealth through the slave trade and slave labor; and defended the institution of slavery."