The article Tweets of a Native Son: The Quotation and Recirculation of James Baldwin from Black Power to #BlackLivesMatter is responding to James Baldwin’s numerous quotes and the use and responses that he received from them. The article is responding to the uprising and growth of #BlackLivesMatter. Scholars such as William Maxwell responded to this saying that “Baldwin has been resurrected across many groups and spaces as the movements literary touchstone.” Many other scholars such as Zandria Robinson, Douglas Field, Ernest Gibson and Eddie Glaude Jr. also noted the “recirculation of Baldwin’s tweet and movement. However, they all asked in different ways: why Baldwin? Why Twitter? And why now?”
The claim within this article is that Baldwin “became the most famous mass-mediated literary writers of the 1960’s civil rights movement and the 1970’s black power movement.” The argument of this article is that twitter users from 2014-2015 both signified a racial justice rallying cry and built an online political coalition that anchored Baldwin’s social proverb signifier to the specific cause of Ferguson-inspired antiracist protest while leaving it open for other signifiers as well.” There is evidence within the article to back up the claim that Baldwin’s quotes were more popular around crucial time periods such as the death of Brown and the protests of Ferguson. The author of this article uses data to show the year that Baldwin created a quote and the number of tweets it received between the years 2014 and 2015. Another set of data shows quotes from Baldwin that were tweeted by who, how many retweets that author had and followers they had as well. The author got this data from a computational tool created by Ed Summers of Documenting the Now which allowed her access to 32 million tweets. The author then searched for tweets with James Baldwin’s first and last name and came to a total of 7,326 tweets and retweets.
The article shows the supportive data that the author uses, through bar graphs and charts that display the tweets, their authors, the quote they used from James Baldwin, when it was posted and how many followers the author had. The chart also displayed this information starting from the highest number of retweets to the lowest number of retweets found. The stakes of this argument are that people might get offended because they might not necessarily agree with Baldwin and some of the quotes used, they might think that there was another influential person who was used more than Baldwin during this crucial time period. This research matters because it shows readers that Baldwin was an influential person similar to Martin Luther King. He may not have made famous speeches like King, but he was responsible for a movement created through Twitter that inspired many people.