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Kevern Verney

The historiography of the Civil Rights Movement of 1955–68 is both rich and extensive. Expressed in terms of the language and imagery of the natural world, the diversity, fecundity and quality of the scholarship is akin to the luxuriant growth of a tropical rain forest. Sadly, this pleasing vista is not an appropriate description for the body of published research by historians on Black Nationalist groups of the period or the Black Power Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. The scholarly output on these subject areas has, by comparison, been sparse, stunted

in The Debate on Black Civil Rights in America
James Baldwin’s 1968
Ed Pavlić

This article delves into James Baldwin’s work and experience in the pivotal year 1968. Working with archival materials and granular contexts that are still not a full part of our understanding of Baldwin’s story, this article paints a fuller and more nuanced portrait of Baldwin’s position astraddle cultural cross-currents that were in volatile and often violent relationship to each other and at times to themselves. The “sixties” were ending in flames as Baldwin had forecast at the outset of the decade. Baldwin was based in California, often in transit to New York and London, working in ways that were at once high-profile and underground—to the extent that we’re only now seeing real evidence of some of these conversations. The result is a fuller account of how Baldwin developed and deployed his gifts with risk-taking generosity and intergenerational brilliance during one of the most volatile years of the twentieth century in the United States and beyond.

James Baldwin Review
Robbie McVeigh

7 Kwame Ture and Charles Hamilton’s Black Power: The Politics of Liberation Robbie McVeigh Introduction Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America was first published in 1967.1 It was authored by two African American activist intellectuals – Stokely Carmichael – later Kwame Ture – and Charles Hamilton.2 Black Power is a key text in the social scientific analysis of racism – it should be an essential text in any institute of learning that takes the analysis of racism seriously. This is as true in Ireland as it is elsewhere. But its politics also remain

in Mobilising classics
James Baldwin’s Radicalism and the Evolution of His Thought on Israel
Nadia Alahmed

This article traces the evolution of James Baldwin’s discourse on the Arab–Israeli conflict as connected to his own evolution as a Black thinker, activist, and author. It creates a nuanced trajectory of the transformation of Baldwin’s thought on the Arab–Israeli conflict and Black and Jewish relations in the U.S. This trajectory is created through the lens of Baldwin’s relationship with some of the major radical Black movements and organizations of the twentieth century: Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, and, finally, the Black Power movement, especially the Black Panther Party. Using Baldwin as an example, the article displays the Arab–Israeli conflict as a terrain Black radicals used to articulate their visions of the nature of Black oppression in the U.S., strategies of resistance, the meaning of Black liberation, and articulations of Black identity. It argues that the study of Baldwin’s transformation from a supporter of the Zionist project of nation-building to an advocate of Palestinian rights and national aspirations reveals much about the ideological transformations of the larger Black liberation movement.

James Baldwin Review
James Baldwin’s Encounter with the BBC in 1963
Robert J. Corber

The author reviews the recently released short film The Baldwin Archives (Laura Seay, 2022), and argues that, in restaging the most important moments of Baldwin’s 1963 interview for the BBC television program Bookstand, it helps us understand better Baldwin’s belief that people had a moral obligation “to deal with other people as though they were simply human beings.” Following the rise of the Black Power movement in the mid-1960s, this belief contributed to Baldwin’s marginalization by a younger generation of Black activists who identified it with a lack of militancy that they attributed to his gender and sexual nonconformity. But in focusing on the moments in the BBC interview where Baldwin elaborated his understanding of this obligation, The Baldwin Archives enables us to grasp its radicalism more fully.

James Baldwin Review
James Baldwin Interviewed by Hakim Jamal for LA Free Press (1968)
Ed Pavlić

Having returned to the United States to work on his screenplay about Malcolm X, James Baldwin was interviewed for the Los Angeles Free Press in 1968. The interview offers a rare and valuable glimpse of Baldwin’s style of engagement with a new generation of radical Black activists whose current vogue Baldwin understood as valuable, whose new appraisal of history Baldwin had both helped to create and needed to learn from, and whose dangerous predicament Baldwin recognized and felt partly responsible for. Ed Pavlić provides a contextual and historical introduction to that interview, which is reproduced here with permission from the Free Press.

James Baldwin Review
An Interview with Cecil Brown
Matt Sandler

Cecil Brown is nearing eighty years old and starting new projects all the time. He is currently writing a historical novel about the life of the enslaved poet George Moses Horton and a memoir about his friendship with James Baldwin. He met Baldwin early in his career, during a trip to Europe after the translation of his first novel, The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger (1969) [trans. La vie et les amours de Mr. Jiveass le Nègre, 1972]. They remained friends until Baldwin’s death in 1987. This interview collates several conversations about Baldwin that took place in December 2022 and January 2023. Brown reflects on their relationship, on Baldwin’s influence for him personally, and on the meaning of Black cultural celebrity more broadly; he also touches on Baldwin’s situation between Black Power and Black feminism, and the ramifications of the politics of the 1970s for the present.

James Baldwin Review
Lynn Orilla Scott

James Baldwin criticism from 2001 through 2010 is marked by an increased appreciation for Baldwin’s entire oeuvre including his writing after the mid 1960s. The question of his artistic decline remains debated, but more scholars find a greater consistency and power in Baldwin’s later work than previous scholars had found. A group of dedicated Baldwin scholars emerged during this period and have continued to host regular international conferences. The application of new and diverse critical lenses—including cultural studies, political theory, religious studies, and black queer theory—contributed to more complex readings of Baldwin’s texts. Historical and legal approaches re-assessed Baldwin’s relationship to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements and new material emerged on Baldwin’s decade in Turkey. Some historical perspective gave many critics a more nuanced approach to the old “art” vs. “politics” debate as it surfaced in Baldwin’s initial reception, many now finding Baldwin’s “angry” work to be more “relevant” than “out of touch” as it was thought of during his lifetime. In the first decade of the new millennium, three books of new primary source material, a new biography, four books of literary criticism, three edited collections of critical essays, two special issues of journals and numerous book chapters and articles were published, marking a significant increase not only in the quantity, but the quality of Baldwin criticism.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
James Baldwin’s Poethics of Love
Emanuela Maltese

Often overlooked by James Baldwin criticism or addressed according to its unique relationship to sex and gender, love plays a central role in the writer’s oeuvre. This article, conceived as a contrapuntal reading between A Dialogue (1972)—the transcript of a four-hour conversation between James Baldwin and poet Nikki Giovanni in November 1971—and If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), Baldwin’s fifth novel, will shed light on Baldwin’s “poethics” of love in the 1970s, after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the author’s engagement with Black Power and feminism. This revision takes its cues from intersectionality and extends them via Hortense Spillers’s bold critique of Baldwin’s politics of intimacy, his writing style, and the American family grammar. His vision of love as moral “energy” not only anticipates what Denise Ferreira da Silva terms a “Black Feminist Poethics,” but is also a potential “key” to end “the racial nightmare” and “save the children,” thereby becoming a poethics of love for the infancy of the world.

James Baldwin Review

The blossoming of interest in black history since the 1950s was directly linked to the rise of Martin Luther King and the post-Second World War Civil Rights Movement. The advances achieved in desegregation and black voting rights since the 1950s suggested that this was a destination that King's children, and African Americans as a whole, would ultimately reach. In the inter-war years there were indications that some scholars were willing to examine the more depressing realities of black life, most notably in a series of academic studies on lynching. The book discusses the approach of Du Bois to the academic studies on black migrants from a sociological perspective. When African American history began to command more serious attention in the mid-1960s, the generation of historians who had had direct personal experience of the Great Depression and the Second World War began to reach the age of retirement. The book also examines the achievements of race leaders like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, the Black Power Movement and Black Nationalism of the 1960s. In a 1996 study, political scientist Robert C. Scholarly debate on the African American experience from the 1890s through to the early 1920s gathered momentum with fresh studies on the spread of racial segregation and black migration to the cities. The rise of feminism and popularity of women's history prompted academic researchers to pay attention to the issue of gender in African American history. Stereotyped depictions of African Americans in US popular culture are also discussed.