"I had read Uncle Tom's Cabin compulsively, the book in one hand, the newest baby on my hipbone. I was trying to find out something, sensing something in the book of immense import for me: which, however, I knew I did not really understand.|
"My mother got scared. She hid the book. The last time she hid it, she hid it on the highest shelf above the bathtub. I was somewhere around seven or eight. God knows how I did it, but I somehow climbed up and dragged the book down. Then, my mother, as she herself puts it, 'didn't hide it anymore,' and, indeed, from that moment, though in fear and trembling, began to let me go."
— Baldwin, "The Devil Finds Work"
And in Stealing the Fire: The Art and Protest of James Baldwin, in a chapter subtitled "Harriet Beecher Stowe, James Baldwin's Nineteenth-Century White Mother," Horace A. Porter points out how close the ending of Baldwin's 1963 The Fire Next Time is to the ending of Stowe's novel.If we—and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, recreated from the Bible in a song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water, the fire next time.
A day of grace is yet held out to us. Both North and South have been guilty before God; and the Christian church has a heavy account to answer. Not by combining together, to protect injustice and cruelty, and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to be saved,—but by repentance, justice and mercy; for, not surer is the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean, than that stronger law, by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God!