Princeton Prof Eddie Glaude Talks New Book ‘Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America’

Historians in the News
tags: civil rights, African American history, James Baldwin

In his new book “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own,” Princeton University professor of African American religion, Eddie Glaude, confesses that for many years, he hesitated to engage with James Baldwin’s work. Baldwin’s blunt truth telling made him uncomfortable. “I could not reconcile his rage with his talk of love,” he writes. In academia, it also demanded that Glaude deal with the fragility of his white colleagues, which he then had no desire to do.

“Begin Again” is both call-to-action for Americans today, an era Baldwin would describe as an “after time,” and paean to Baldwin, long recognized as one of our nation’s greatest writers and thinkers. Baldwin, who died in 1987, published more than 10 books, and made numerous speeches and media appearances wherein he dissected the scourge of racism in America.

The present moment almost demanded Glaude turn to Baldwin, who sat at the intersections of being both queer and Black. Not only are the gains of the gay, civil, and women’s rights movements being turned around, Democracy itself is in an unprecedented hasty retreat. These are the darkest of the “after times” indeed. Glaude’s “Begin Again” reminds us that the duty to turn things around is ours. Baldwin is our guide.

Baldwin, Glaude states, “Grappled with profound disillusionment after the murder of Dr. King.”

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