James Baldwin in Obama’s America

Happy Birthday to James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) . I am re-posting this review essay I wrote three years ago.

THE OVER-EDUCATED NEGRO

(Originally published in the GC Advocate, October 2010)

The Cross of Redemption : Uncollected Writings.  Random House, 2010.

Nearly every review I’ve seen of the Cross of Redemption so far has picked up on one particular quote from this new collection of James Baldwin’s writing.   It is the first paragraph of a piece titled “from Nationalism, Colonialism, and the United States: One Minute to Twelve – A Forum,” which is a transcript of a 1961 speech the 36 year old Baldwin gave in New York for the Liberation Committee for Africa:

Bobby Kennedy recently made me the soul-stirring promise that one day – thirty years, if I’m lucky – I can be President too.  It never entered this boy’s mind, I suppose – it has not entered the country’s mind yet – that perhaps I wouldn’t want to be.  And in any case, what really exercises…

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