There has probably never been, and probably will never be (though thank god we have Ta-Nehisi Coates), a more eloquent chronicler of racial discord in America than James Baldwin. Though he died in 1987, Baldwin's observations from a half-century ago still ring powerfully, and depressingly, true as evinced by the trailer to the new documentary, I Am Not Your Negro.
“If any white man in the world says, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ the entire white world applauds,” Baldwin tells talk show host Dick Cavett, in a scene from the doc. “When a black man says exactly the same thing, he is judged a criminal and treated like one and everything possible is done to make an example of this bad nigger so there won’t be any more like him.”
Baldwin had planned a book on the lives and successive assassinations of civil rights activists and close friends Medgar Evers (1963), Malcolm X (1965) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968), entitled Remember This House.
Baldwin left only 30 completed pages of the book at the time of his death, but with I Am Not Your Negro director Raoul Peck envisions Baldwin's unfinished work using the late author's original words, as read by national treasure Samuel L. Jackson, along with archival footage.
The result is a timely meditation not only on race in America, but on what this country stands for, at a time when it seems to stand for nothing and fall for anything.
Hitting theaters February 3, check out the trailer for I Am Not Your Negro below: