James Baldwin is a literary genius. If you call yourself a writer, then you are familiar with the power of his work. Filmmaker Raoul Peck put together an amazing documentary that brings Baldwin into modern times. The film, I Am Not Your Negro, is heavily inspired by Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript for “Remember This House”. The manuscript was passed along to Peck by Baldwin’s sister Gloria who decided that it was the time to make this happen.
While there have been many Baldwin films, this one is a little different. It is strictly based on Baldwin’s words and feelings as documented in the manuscript. He calls himself a “witness to the lives and deaths” of Medger Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The film focuses on the five years that the aforementioned leaders were assassinated. The story is told from his perspective but allows a window into both sides. It is amazing how this film and Baldwin’s sentiments echo into today’s times. While the film focuses on the events of the past, it carries the tone of race relations in America to date.
Peck uses some rare footage of Baldwin from interviews and talks from the 1960s that give this film a very personal touch. The images from the 60s are mixed in with images from protests and marches from modern times that bring Baldwin into 2017. The famed legend is credited as the writer of this piece and Peck taps a variety of his literary works to deliver his message with Oscar-worthy success.
The final touch…Samuel L. Jackson narrating the story.