I heard about the movie, but had no idea there was a companion book to it.
“In his final years, Baldwin had envisioned a book about his three assassinated friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. His deeply personal notes for the project have never been published before. Peck’s film uses them to jump through time, juxtaposing Baldwin’s private words with his public statements, in a blazing examination of the tragic history of race in America.”
The writing, essays, the photos that were used are powerful and makes one want to hang your head down and wonder when will we get to that mountaintop where all men and women are seen as equal no matter the color of their skin? We have a US President and conservative based Congress that think racism is okay. They think if they are not calling black people, those who worship differently than them a slur that it’s okay. It’s like watching everything slowly grind to a halt and you want everyone to just wake up. Call a thing the name that it is. It’s racism. We have ignored it for too long and we don’t seem to care to change.
Baldwin’s writing is electrifying. It gets in your blood and in your head and I find myself nodding my head and feeling nothing but sorrow because in 2019 we have not come far enough. To think we are pushing ourselves back to a time in this country where we are once again seen as “other” and “wrong” I don’t know what we do to combat it.
“JAMES BALDWIN: Well, I don’t think there’s much hope for it, you know, to tell you the truth as long as people are using this peculiar language. It’s not a question of what happens to the Negro here or to the black man here—that’s a very vivid question for me, you know—but the real question is what is going to happen to this country. I have to repeat that.”
“Forget the Negro problem. Don’t write any voting acts. We had that—it’s called the fifteenth amendment—during the Civil Rights Bill of 1964. What you have to look at is what is happening in this country, and what is really happening is that brother has murdered brother knowing it was his brother. White men have lynched Negroes knowing them to be their sons. White women have had Negroes burned knowing them to be their lovers. It is not a racial problem. It is a problem of whether or not you’re willing to look at your life and be responsible for it, and then begin to change it. That great Western house I come from is one house, and I am one of the children of that house. Simply, I am the most despised child of that house. And it is because the American people are unable to face the fact that I am flesh of their flesh, bone of their bone, created by them. My blood, my father’s blood, is in that soil.”
“JAMES BALDWIN: There is nothing in the evidence offered by the book of the American republic which allows me really to argue with the cat who says to me: “They needed us to pick the cotton and now they don’t need us anymore. Now they don’t need us, they’re going to kill us all off. Just like they did the Indians.” And I can’t say it’s a Christian nation, that your brothers will never do that to you, because the record is too long and too bloody. That’s all we have done. All your buried corpses now begin to speak.”
“JAMES BALDWIN: I don’t know what most white people in this country feel. But I can only conclude what they feel from the state of their institutions. I don’t know if white Christians hate Negroes or not, but I know we have a Christian church which is white and a Christian church which is black. I know, as Malcolm X once put it, the most segregated hour in American life is high noon on Sunday. That says a great deal for me about a Christian nation. It means I can’t afford to trust most white Christians, and I certainly cannot trust the Christian church.”
This also includes some very hard pictures to view such as a black woman being lynched, people being jeered, and Martin Luther King in his coffin. I did not want to include them in this review because it was upsetting enough for me to view. This was definitely interesting to read and I am going to seek out the documentary soon.
I end on this.
I am a black woman, when you tell me you don’t see my color or it’s unimportant, you are telling me you don’t see me, that I am not important. When the default color is white and Christian you ignore what makes up this country of ours. To speak out against what we see is wrong is the American thing to do.
I had to do Baldwin for “Own Voices” square. The man just taps into something inside of me that I keep quiet and only let out around close friends and family. We need another Baldwin or we need to pay attention to his words and acknowledge we have not come far enough for the African Americans in the United States.