James Baldwin on the “Incredible Humiliation” of Black People in America

James Baldwin, 1955. Photo by Carl Van Vechten, Library of Congress.

In 1961, author James Baldwin sat down with Studs Terkel to discuss his collection of essays, “Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son.” Their conversation delved deeply into the anguish of the black experience in America. Listen to a brief excerpt from their conversation on how white people never truly “see” black people, and “what terrible price this country has paid” for its racism:

Later in their conversation, the author discusses the particular tragedy of many well-meaning white people, many of whom are unwilling to truly reckon with the anguish of the black experience in America. Listen:

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A Justification For Racism: Voices From Montgomery Alabama

Just this week, Chicago announced that it had paid over 5.5 million dollars in reparations to victims of police brutality since 2013 and San Francisco has just announced that at least one police officer is facing termination from last week’s texting scandal.  The march from Selma to Montgomery that took place 50 years ago were the beginning of the end of institutional racism in America. At least that was the hope and yet stories such as Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland and Ferguson have become so routine that some people aren’t even surprised when it happens in their towns.  An entire movement #BlackLivesMatter has been born to address this issue and it has once again become a major talking point amongst Americans.

Back on March 25, 1965, Studs risks personal peril when he went to Montgomery, Alabama to speak with the citizens there to find out what they were thinking and feeling during this momentous occasion. From a 110 year old reverend, born in slavery to white citizens defending segregation with Biblical teachings, these interviews will inspire and shock you. No topic is too controversial for Studs as he discusses Governor George Wallace and Dr. Martin Luther King highlighting the disconnect between white and black America.  Fifty years later the question becomes; is racism over, and if not, what can be done to fix the problem once and for all.

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