Narrated by Samuel L Jackson, I Am Not Your Negro (2016) uses James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript to tell the horrific history of racism in America. Following the lives of three slain civil rights leaders, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr, Baldwin’s words still resonate today.
Since the beginning, race has defined America and racism permeates its politics to this day. To discuss the issue, Dr Richard Johnson, lecturer in US politics and international relations at Lancaster University, joins the podcast.
Richard’s work examines the US’s increasingly racially polarised politics. He draws parallels between contemporary America and the end of the post-Civil War Reconstruction. Richard believes we are living in the twilight of the ‘second reconstruction’ – an era that began with the civil rights movement. Are there signs that a ‘third reconstruction’ is dawning?
Despite the election of Barack Obama in 2008 – the US’s first black president – the 2010s were a decade of increasing racial polarisation. But with white, working class voters searching for an anti-establishment voice, could there be a glimmer of hope?
“There are racial dimensions to all issues.” – Dr. Richard Johnson
00:54 – Today’s topic: racism in the US.
01:21 – Introducing our guest Dr. Richard Johnson.
03:17 – Today’s film: I Am Not Your Negro (2016).
03:55 – Why Richard chose this film.
05:43 – A brief synopsis of the film.
09:55 – The context and history of American racism.
15:15 – The Reconstruction and democracy in the South post-Civil War.
19:16 – Our first clip: Dick Cavett’s interview with James Baldwin.
21:36 – The ‘second reconstruction’ and the civil rights movement.
26:12 – The racial polarisation of political debates and policy decisions.
28:02 – Our second clip: James Baldwin looking at the real problem of racism in America.
31:40 – The future of race in American politics.
37:22 – Working class alienation and the potential for de-racialisation.
40:16 – Our last clip: James Baldwin’s advice that we need passion not numbers.