In 1944 he met author Richard Wright, who helped him to land the 1945 Eugene F. Despite the financial freedom the fellowship provided, Baldwin was unable to complete his novel that year.He found the social tenor of the United States increasingly stifling even though such prestigious periodicals as the began to accept his essays and short stories for publication.
Baldwin took a job in the defense industry in Belle Meade, N.
J., and there, not for the first time, he was confronted with racism, discrimination and the debilitating regulations of segregation.
Baldwin embraced his role as racial spokesman reluctantly and grew increasingly disillusioned as he felt his celebrity being exploited as entertainment.
Baldwin did not feel that his speeches and essays were producing social change.
During the last ten years of his life, he produced a number of important works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
He also turned to teaching as a new way of connecting with the young.
He served as a junior minister for three years at the Fireside Pentecostal Assembly, but gradually lost his desire to preach as he began to question Christian tenets.
Shortly after he graduated from high school in 1942, Baldwin was compelled to find work in order to help support his brothers and sisters; mental instability had incapacitated his stepfather.
The assassinations of three of his associates, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr.
and Malcolm X, shattered his remaining hopes for racial reconciliation across the U. At the time of his death from cancer late in 1987, Baldwin was still working on two projects—a play, , and a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.