Thursday, February 7, 2008

James Baldwin speaks

James Baldwin, in the 1950s and ’60s, was the dominant literary voice of Black America... and an outspoken racial activist.

In a speech he made at a New York City church in 1962, Baldwin spoke primarily as a storyteller. The speech was titled “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity,” and Baldwin talked about the compulsion that drives a young writer.

I’m streaming a 3-minute excerpt of that speech. Click here to listen. (You can buy the complete 32-minute speech on CD from Amazon.com.)

8 comments:

daughterofthedream said...

In my Black Radical Intellectual Tradition course last semester, we listened to an amazing 60s-era radio interview with him, Lorraine Hansberry and Langston Hughes.

I want to say one of the old dudes from the old 60 Minutes facilitated it, asking dumb questions about black radicalism and scaring white people and such.

This excerpt further confirms that I do better reading him than listening to him talk. Clearly, he likes the sound of his own voice...29 mins later and I'd be snoozing. Transcripts!

Anonymous said...

http://www.nypost.com/seven/02072008/gossip/pagesix/times_vs__times_in_living_color_139953.htm

Undercover Black Man said...

Daughterofthedream: I definitely hear you.

Me, I'm an audio junkie. I find almost a ritual-magic power in hearing recordings of great figures from the past.

Invisible Woman said...

That picture of James is quite....interesting.

Wanda said...

David you have the most random selection of clips. How do you find these?

Che Dilla said...

Excellent excerpt. One of my favorite James Baldwin moments is his appearance on a PBS 3-part special that also included Martin L. King and Malcolm X. It was a thought provoking,provacative interview given by Baldwin, where he recalled his own childhood and what it means to be a n****r in America. Has any seen this?

Undercover Black Man said...

IW: Baldwin couldn't have been more of a misfit in 1950s America, could he?

Wanda: Back when I bought a lot of used records, I kept an eye out for unusual spoken-word LPs (Ossie Davis reading Frederick Douglass; Alex Haley reading from "Roots").

Nowadays, it's audiobooks and old radio broadcasts on CD or MP3.

Bklyn6 said...

That picture of James is quite....interesting.

"Snap for the kids!"

Clearly, he likes the sound of his own voice...

I've never thought of that.