In his Message to Grassroots (10 November 1963), Malcolm X ends with:
No, it was a sellout. It was a takeover. When James Baldwin came in from Paris, they wouldn’t let him talk, ’cause they couldn’t make him go by the script. Burt Lancaster read the speech that Baldwin was supposed to make; they wouldn’t let Baldwin get up there, ’cause they know Baldwin’s liable to say anything.
Just three years later, James Baldwin again proved Malxcolm X right, authoring A Report from Occupied Territory (11 July 1966) for The Nation.
The essay resonates powerfully as virtually all of Baldwin’s essays do until this day—but it also leaves the mouth acrid because the bitterly unjust world Baldwin captures lives out before us now as vividly as it did during Baldwin’s life.
In the most perverse of prophesies, Baldwin places words in the mouths of Tamir Rice, Jordan Davis, Trayvon…
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