James Baldwin was the prophetic voice of an era that isn’t over. Fifty years ago he was the intense man from Harlem who wrote, in essays and novels, his version of a civil-rights movement. Over the ruins of the 1960s, and specially the assassination of key leaders, black and white, James Baldwin spoke a sort of furious sad song for his country.
Activist-philosopher Cornel West writes and speaks in the James Baldwin tradition, in books like Race Matters and Black Prophetic Fire. You see him on television between Amy Goodman on Democracy Now and Sean Hannity on Fox, he’s back and forth as a teacher too, at Princeton and now at Harvard. In Andover Hall, the only gothic building on the Harvard campus, we sat down with West to learn about James Baldwin’s resonance today, in “as blues-like a moment as we can imagine.” Christopher Lydon