It happened on a Thursday.
February 18, 1965.
The exact moment we fell in love with James Baldwin.
It wasn’t because he was a boy genius who spent every day at the library. It wasn’t event his fiery church sermons as a teen or loving debates with Malcolm X as a young man. It was on this day, that he was propelled onto the world stage. He was raw, nervous, authentic. A Black man with vocabulary as arsenal, able to tag a full picture of our pain. This was his opus. His coming out as our Jimmy, our defender against bullies on the schoolyard. Baldwin stood toe-to-toe with “the father of conservatism,” segregationist William Buckley in the hallowed halls of Oxford under the glare of entitled white boys. By himself. With a cloak of our peoples’ sorrow and swag flying from his tiny frame. He said, not today. At that moment, he became our tragic hero – an outcast, small, gay, committed, way too smart for any neighborhood. It was swoon-worthy. And from there he went on a world tour of verbal lashing and protest speeches, articles, and books to demand the total liberation of Black people.
Let’s go on a victory lap for this man’s life.
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Janelle Monáe – Tightrope:
James Baldwin and Paul Weiss Debate Discrimination In America | The Dick Cavett Show: