On Friday, Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” will be released in theaters. The film, narrated in part by Samuel L. Jackson, is comprised entirely of the writings and recordings of James Baldwin, the great author and Civil Rights activist.
Baldwin had an uncanny way with words, an uncanny way of deconstructing language and, in essence, what he once described as the “performance” of American life. Few people have been able to distill the experience of being black in America like Baldwin, who so famously said,
“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”
In a time when the future of America feels more uncertain than ever, Baldwin’s powerful insights from the past are more vital than ever. Below are 11 must-see clips of the great writer and thinker talking about race in America ― everything from the concept of the “nigger” to the prospect of an American black president. Though decades have passed since he spoke them, the words still strike a chord today: