Remembering James Baldwin – Pic and Videos

Having spent the better part of the past few days reading the newly released collection of James Baldwin’s previously uncollected essays, I was moved to seek out what little video exists on the web that can attest to his brilliance, both as a writer/artist, and commentator on race. Sadly, there is not much. The documentary on his life, The Price of the Ticket, is not available to individuals, and is not on the web anywhere, except for a 4 minute, 30 second clip, which is here.

In the meantime though, I did find a few interesting pieces worth sharing.

First, this picture of Baldwin, in front of a statue of William Shakespeare. The look on Baldwin’s face speaks volumes I think.

Then, these two videos: the first, of Baldwin speaking in London in the late 60s, and the other, a documentary on racism in San Francisco, in which Baldwin plays a prominent part. The latter of these is especially interesting, given the way that white liberals so readily presume SF to be a progressive place of love and harmony. I highly recommend both of these. The last scene of the second video, “Take This Hammer,” includes possibly the most exquisite and on-point statements about race I have ever heard, anywhere at any time. I have posted the excerpt to that segment at the bottom, below the full video.

6 Responses to “Remembering James Baldwin – Pic and Videos”

  1. Tim,

    I also recommend viewing the Oxford Debate with William Buckley and his Interview on Malcolm X which is available on YouTube in three parts.


  2. It is unbelievable looking at these videos, just how long we have been in this struggle. Sometimes my spirit feels exhausted, and tired, and I wonder why some people were meant to live a certain fate. It is undeniable that we people of color and whites live, and have lived to very different realities. I sometimes wonder who’s soul is more damaged as a consequence of this on going opression.


  3. I’m looking at the opening minutes in the first video and I’m already struck by the paradigm challenge Baldwin presented. Beginning at the 5:02 mark, when Baldwin talks about how Blacks were “lied to” when they were told they were inferior and happy being slaves, etc., Baldwin makes this point which renders the conventional idea that the civil rights era was influential in changing the backward racial beliefs Whites had that just disappeared in an instant (Jim Crow segregation that existed on Monday was gone by Tuesday when we were all integrated, if you let MS Gov. Haley Barbour tell it):

    “…They’ve always known that you were not a mule. They’ve always known that no one wishes to be a slave.”

    I believe it’s important to see White Supremacy not as the genuine belief in biological superiority/inferiority based on race and I believe Baldwin touched on exactly why assuming Whites honestly held such beliefs is an error. I think it’s interesting to explore how White Privilege and the quest to maintain such privilege informed those beliefs.


  4. Take this Hammer was shot when I was two years old. The words, his and those responding to his questions haunt me. They haunt me because I have said and felt those things all my life. Race is a social construct built by those who oppress us. White is a state of mind, not a race. Black is a state of mind, not a race. When will we wake up?


  5. The first video is riveting. It is a call to action for everyone.


  6. I had the pleasure of meeting James Baldwin in 1976 or ’77, and he was very gracious to a young white girl. Also, I have The Price of the Ticket on a VCR tape somewhere…have to see about getting it transferred to DVD.


Leave a Reply