‘We must tell the truth till we can no longer bear it.’ – James Baldwin (1924 – 1987)
America is at a crossroads. It is a time of moral reckoning, an opportunity for the nation to choose whether it will become a genuinely multiracial democracy. That’s the view of Eddie Glaude, African American scholar and author of the New York Times bestseller, Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons For Our Own. He believes that Baldwin, the great novelist and essayist who bore witness to American racial strife in the mid-20th century, is a man for our times and that we can look to him for guidance as we think about colonial history, slavery, race and identity.
In March 2022 Glaude came to Intelligence Squared when, in conversation with historian Christienna Fryar, he shared the insight and inspiration he has drawn from Baldwin’s writing. He set out the urgent need to abolish the idea of white America and to confront the truth about the country’s past – slavery and Jim Crow segregation – not to posit the greatness of America, but to establish the ground upon which to imagine the country anew.