On James Baldwin and The New School

When Mark Larrimore and I first began discussing teaching a course on the history of the New School, it was clear that a central task would be posing the myths of the school against its realities. Some of the myths relate to actual events, such as the remarkable effort to save and host scholars fleeing fascism in Europe in the 1930s. But many of them are more mythology than fact–and James Baldwin taking a class at the New School is one of the most enduring. In this essay, I explore how that myth informs much of the New School’s struggle to fully tackle racism and discrimination.