Review: I Am Not Your Negro

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin .... No. 1395 .... April 11, 2017

Review: "I Am Not Your Negro"

Ernie Tate

Now and then, and despite its capitalist and racial biases, our culture throws up something that can speak quite eloquently and uniquely about the times we're living through. In this case, I'm referring to an amazing documentary film that has been released recently, "I Am Not Your Negro," directed by Raoul Peck, an acclaimed Haitian director with major films to his credit. This latest work is well worth seeing and has been well received here.

A meticulously woven story of the civil rights movement at a critical juncture in its history, expressed in the marvellous words of James Baldwin, the documentary focuses on the lives of three central leaders of that movement in the 1960s, Medgar... Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X, their lives tragically cut short by assassinations, killings that strategically weakened the movement and from which it never recovered.

From a poor and large working class family, Baldwin had emerged on the U.S. scene from the slums of Harlem to become a major writer of his time, even internationally. In the 1940s he exiled himself to Paris to escape the deep homophobia of America, becoming a brilliant novelist and playwright, returning to New York in 1957. He was an extremely articulate propagandist and theorizer of the then rising civil rights movement and powerful voice for black Americans.

The three central leaders of that struggle, Medgar Evers (July 2, 1925 -- June 12, 1963), Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 -- April 4, 1968) and Malcom X (May 19, 1925 -- February 21, 1965), Baldwin had personally known and considered them friends. All were assassinated within five years of each other in the 1960s.

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