Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Today Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
The struggles of Black Lives Matter and the attempt to achieve a new America have been challenged by the presidency of Donald Trump, a president whose time in the White House represents the latest failure of America to face the lies it tells itself about race.
For James Baldwin, a similar attempt to force a confrontation with the truth of America’s racism came in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, and was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the years from the publication of The Fire Next Time in 1963 to that of No Name in the Street in 1972, Baldwin – the great creative artist, often referred to as ‘the poet of the revolution’ – became a more overtly political writer, a change that came at great professional and personal cost. But from that journey, Baldwin emerged with a sense of renewed purpose about the necessity of pushing forward in the face of disillusionment and despair.
Today, America is at a crossroads. Drawing insight and inspiration from Baldwin’s writings, Glaude suggests we can find hope and guidance through our own era of shattered promises and white retrenchment. Seamlessly combining biography with history, memoir and trenchant analysis of our moment, Begin Again bears witness to the difficult truth of race in America. It is at once a searing exploration that lays bare the tangled web of race, trauma and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we all must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a more just future.
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