Robert J. Corber Trinity College, Connecticut

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“A Very Dangerous Effort”
James Baldwin’s Encounter with the BBC in 1963

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.

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