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Solving America’s Race Crisis According to James Baldwin

I believe the solution to America’s problem of race is somewhere in between Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Baldwin—Suns of [the] movements—and what white people must finally acknowledge and ultimately accept.

Today in 2015, America is at a racial crossroads. As I type this entry, Black churches are up in flames in different places throughout South Carolina, less than one week before this post, President Barack Obama eulogized the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Pastor Clementa Pinckney, as he and 8 other parishioners lost their lives as a result of a racist, 21-year old gunman who opened fire during a Wednesday night prayer circle in Charleston, South Carolina.  In a little less than two weeks from the time of this post, members of the Ku Klux Klan will march in solidarity against the removal of the Confederate Flag from South Carolina’s State Capitol Building.

It’s 2015.

On June 24th, 1963, City College Psychology Professor Dr. Kenneth Clark, in separate interviews, brought three of the most brilliant contempory minds the world has ever seen to discuss the race crisis in America. This one-hour special program was called, “The Negro and the American Promise.”

When opening the program, Dr. Clark offered the following to stimulate the viewers’ minds for the intellectual treats of Malcolm X, King, and Baldwin:

“By all meaningful indices, the Negro is still, and unquestionably, the downtrodden, disparaged group, and for a long time was systematically deprived of his dignity as a human being. The major indictment of our democracy is that this is being done with the knowledge and at times with the connivance of responsible, moderate people who are not overtly bigots or segregationists.

We have now come to the point where there are only two ways that America can avoid the continued racial explosions. One would be total oppression. The other, total equality. There is no compromise.”

Both Dr. Clark and Baldwin believed the future of Blacks and the future of America were linked–Baldwin said they were, “indissoluble.” When asked whether he was pessimistic or optimistic about this future, this is in part how James Baldwin responded.

“But the future of the Negro in this country is precisely as bright or as dark as the future of the country. It is entirely up to the American people and our representatives — it is entirely up to the American people whether or not they are going to face, and deal with, and embrace this stranger whom they maligned so long.
What white people have to do, is try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place, because I’m not a nigger, I’m a man, but if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it.
The question you have got to ask yourself–the white population of this country has got to ask itself — North and South, because it’s one country, and for a Negro, there’s no difference between the North and South. There’s just a difference in the way they castrate you. But the fact of the castration is the American fact. If I’m not a nigger here and you invented him, you, the white people, invented him, then you’ve got to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that. Whether or not it’s able to ask that question.”

For the full text and footage of James Baldwin’s interview with Dr. Kenneth Clark, click here

Black History Month Events and TV Programming

If I read one more Op-Ed column, blog, commentary, article, Facebook post, or otherwise about how much people hate Black History Month I am going to scream…oh boy! Let the screaming begin!

Black History Month, for as long as I can remember has always been a staple in my household; whether it was February or any other month of the year, my family has always celebrated Black History Month because we are a Black family, but also because there is always so much to do and learn during this time of year.

Ever heard of the Fisk Jubilee Singers? In 1871, singers from Tennessee’s Historically Black University, Fisk University, introduced the entire world to the “field songs” sang by enslaved Blacks during the institution of slavery.  In the 19th century, these immaculate singers traveled and broke racial barriers in the United States and in the world performing for kings and queens.  Although these students loved to sing and had a pristine talent for it, they sang to raise money for their beloved institution, Fisk University. Below is a 1909 recording of the Fisk Jubilee singers. 1909 is also the same year in which the NAACP was established.

Harriet TubmanDuring Black History Month, we all get to learn more about groups like the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

Speaking of maintaining the tradition of the Fisk Jubilee Singers The Irondale Ensemble Project and the American Opera Projects will perform Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom featuring Metropolitan Opera singer Ms. Janinah Burnett and other reputable opera singers in Brooklyn, NY on February 21st-22nd, the 27th, and March 1st, 2014.

Below  is  a list of websites that include everything from museum exhibits to historical conversations. There are Black History Month parades to musical performances. Click on any of the links below to find an event for you and your family all along the East Coast.  Also, tune into PBS for great conversations featuring the incomparable Ms. Alice Walker and Black History Month themed programming.  Enjoy!

Black History Month 2014 TV Programming on PBS

Black History Month 2014 in Washington DC

Black History Month 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland

Black History Month 2014 in New Jersey

Black History Month 2014 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Black History Month 2014 in New York City

Black History Month 2014 in Virginia

Black History Month 2014 in Georgia

No matter how we feel about Black History Month–like the complaints about it being celebrated during the shortest month of the year, or the assertions that during Black History Month the same notable Black people are celebrated year after year, we can never say nationwide and global efforts are not consistently made to pay homage to Black people and our contributions to this world.   Black History Month was created by a Black man, Carter G. Woodson, that wanted the world to know that his parents’ toil and labor in slavery had not been in vain and that the spirit and life contributions of the ancestors that they inherited, long before Blacks were even introduced into slavery in America, was worth celebrating and being recognized.  In addition, each of us can add to the narrative and contribution to Black History Month beyond our hate for it.



Marcus Garvey

The Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr.

Today, August 17th, 2013, marks the 126th birthday of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).  Listen to him here:

Explanation of the Objects of the UNIA (UCLA):


He was:  a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a friend, a thinker, a Black nationalist, a Pan-Africanist, an apprentice (Booker T. Washington was his “great hero”), an entrepreneur (The Black Star Line Ship Company), a visionary, a political critic, a writer, an orator, an organizer, a world traveler, a publicist, a revolutionary, a critical thinker, a poet, a cultural critic, a bridge builder (“Back to Africa Movement”), a publisher, a journalist, an economist, an inspiration (Ghana and Kwame NkrumahThe Nation of Islam (Malcolm X’s parents, Earl and Louise Little met at a UNIA conference) and the Rastafari

International Convention of Negroes of the World, Liberty Hall

International Convention of Negroes of the World, Liberty Hall 1924

Movement were all inspired by him). He was controversial, an advocate, adversarial…he was HUMAN.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King visited Marcus Garvey’s shrine when they visited Jamaica, the Island of Garvey’s birth, June, 20th, 1965. They placed a wreath for him.

Marcus Garvey’s life was filled with many accomplishments, many setbacks, and it was a life that was GREAT because it was a life that SERVED!

—-> “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Dr. King remarked that Marcus Garvey “was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny. And make the Negro feel he was somebody (Salley, pg. 82).”

UNIA Flyer seeking investors

UNIA Flyer seeking investors

All great people are inspired  by and copy the actions of other great people. For Marcus Garvey, it was Booker T. Washington.  For Dr. King, it was Mohandas Gandhi and Marcus Garvey.


Who inspires you?

Click on the following links from PBS’ American Experience to learn more:





Hon. Marcus Garvey speaking on his return to the United States: