Toni Morrison’s eulogy at James Baldwin’s funeral in Dec 1987.
The season was always Christmas with you there and … you did not neglect to bring at least three gifts… You gave me a language to dwell in, a gift so perfect it seems my own invention… . The second gift was your courage, which you let us share: the courage of one who could go as a stranger in the village and transform the distances between people into intimacy with the whole world… The third gift was hard to fathom and even harder to accept. It was your tenderness – a tenderness so delicate I thought it could not last, but last it did and envelop me it did.
You knew, didn’t you, how I needed your language and the mind that formed it? How I relied on your fierce courage to tame wildernesses for me? How strengthened I was by the certainty that came from knowing you would never hurt me? You knew, didn’t you, how I loved your love? You knew. This then is no calamity. No, This is jubilee. “Our crown,” you said, “has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do,” you said, “is wear it.”
And we do, Jimmy. You crowned us.