How long is 7 minutes?
This is the next-to-the-last page of no man’s land in this edition of the rabbit hole. (No man’s land is the strange wilderness beyond the terminus page.)
So here is your challenge: Click the video below right now so that it begins playing and then keep reading what is written on this page while it plays. You will finish reading long before James Baldwin has finished speaking, even though the video is only 7 minutes and 9 seconds. I mention the 9 seconds because 9 seconds is a very long time in the hectic world of 2012.
The video was shot on Friday, May 24, 1963, immediately after Baldwin met with Attorney General Robert Kennedy. It’s an interesting glimpse into the fulcrum year that preceded the fulcrum of 2003. (Pendulum theory)
When our 7-minute excursion into America’s past is complete, we’ll go together to the final page, okay?
FROM WIKIPEDIA: James Baldwin was born in Harlem in 1924 and died in France in 1987. His essays, such as Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore the unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in mid-20th-century America, vis-à-vis their inevitable if unnameable tensions with personal identity, assumptions, uncertainties, yearning, and questing. Some Baldwin essays are book-length, such as The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976).
There is more to read below the video…
Historian, Educator, Arts Advocate and doctoral student Leslye “Joy” Allen writes:
On Thursday, May 23, 1963, writer and activist James Baldwin met privately with Robert F. Kennedy at Kennedy’s home in McLean, Virginia. Baldwin was infuriated by the virulence meted out on peaceful civil rights protestors by Birmingham, Alabama police. Robert Kennedy got an earful.
A second meeting was hastily held the next day, this time at Robert Kennedy’s New York City apartment. However, on that Friday, May 24, Baldwin brought along a group that can best be described as a “civil rights arsenal”!
Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, Rip Torn, Dr. Kenneth Clark, freedom rider Jerome Smith, attorney Clarence B. Jones, Edwin C. Berry of Chicago’s Urban League, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morganthau arrived at this meeting at Baldwin’s request.
Baldwin’s group came to discuss and complain to Robert Kennedy and Burke Marshall (head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights wing) about President John F. Kennedy’s failure to use the power of the presidency to stem the police violence that continued to plague peaceful civil rights protesters.
The meeting of this group of individuals was not particularly successful. Yet, Baldwin’s outspokenness, audacity, and literary genius was–and remains–a source of both political and artistic inspiration.