American novelist James Baldwin, who also was gay, wrote to his literary agent in 1979 detailing his next project, “Remember This House,” a book documenting the lives of friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. (The three historic men were also assassinated between 1963 and 1968.) But when he died in 1987, Baldwin had only written 30 pages and never finished the book.
Directed by Raoul Peck (“Sometimes in April”) and narrated by Academy Award nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson, “I Am Not Your Negro,” which was Oscar nominated this year for Best Documentary, is a visual adaptation and continuation of Baldwin’s unfinished book. Peck’s usage of Baldwin’s personal narrative as well as original wording, tries to draw deep connections between the civil rights and Black Lives Matter movements.
Unfortunately, Peck doesn’t explore the intersectionality of Baldwin’s race and his queerness. It would have added even more substance to the story, especially since these issues are so entwined not only in Baldwin’s life, but also the U.S.
“I Am Not Your Negro” scored 99/100 on Rotten Tomatoes.
Armond White of The National Review said, “Peck…reduces Baldwin’s in-the-moment reflections and once-daring insights to the petulance of the Black Lives Matter crusade, which overturns the principles and virtues that King, Malcolm, and Medgar represented before their deaths.”
But White was one of the few objectors.
Tara Brady of The Irish Times: “An urgently needed slap-down for the history-blinkered who say “What about all lives?” when confronted with Black Lives Matter.”
Adam Graham of the Detroit News: “It is an urgent, gut-wrenching film that doesn’t sugarcoat the truth. America’s race problem is all of our problem, it argues, and will not change until all of us step up and take responsibility for our role in it.”
A.O. Scott of the New York Times: “You would be hard-pressed to find a movie that speaks to the present moment with greater clarity and force, insisting on uncomfortable truths and drawing stark lessons from the shadows of history.”
“I Am Not Your Negro” is on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital HD.
If you want a free DVD of “I Am Not Your Negro,” email your name and mailing address on our contact page, https://qvoicenews.com/contact/. We are giving away three copies. Winners will be selected on a first come, first served basis.