Told entirely in the words of James Baldwin, through both personal appearances and the text of his final unfinished book project, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO touches on the lives and assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers to bring powerful clarity to how the image and reality of Blacks in America today is fabricated and enforced.
Medgar Evers, died on June 12, 1963. Malcolm X, died on February 21, 1965. Martin Luther King Jr., died on April 4, 1968.
James Baldwin loved these men and was determined to expose the complex links and similarities among these three individuals. He was going to write about them. He was going to write his ultimate book! ‘Remember this House’ was the working title of that book.
But James Baldwin never wrote ‘Remember this House’ and film maker Raoul Peck has stepped in with this ambitious film to partly fill the void.
The ‘narrator’ of the film is Baldwin himself, with his violent, inescapable, insurmountable prose. Every word in this film is Baldwin’s, from his books, essays, interviews, broadcasts, speeches, films, etc.., (with very limited “technical” adjustments.) Words, which come from another era, but still resonate deeply today.
And to fortify that resonance, Samuel L. Jackson was the perfect choice to voice the words.
The film primarily uses archival images from private and public photos; film clips, Hollywood classics, documentaries, film and TV interviews, popular TV shows, TV debates, public debates and contemporary images.
The Hollywood classics include Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Dance Fools, Dance, with an incredibly lithe and lovely Joan Crawford, In the Heat of the Night, The Defiant Ones, A Raisin in the Sun, Stagecoach, Soldier Blue, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, and the white bread, white class, Lover Come Back, with the whiter than white, Doris Day.
Nominated in this year’s Best Documentary category at the Academy awards, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO was pipped by O.J. Made in America. Ironic and deadly!