I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO
Samuel L. Jackson’s pitch-perfect rendition of James Baldwin’s unmistakable voice is as pure as Baldwin’s memoir recollections of his murdered civil rights peers Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., as collected in his unfinished manuscript “Remember This House.”
Haiti-born filmmaker Raoul Peck not only captures the essence of James Baldwin’s fearless perspectives on racial injustice in America, but he breathes fresh historical perspective into the harsh realities that too many Americans mistake for justice so many decades later. Fiercely articulate, handsome, and perfectly dressed, James Baldwin comes across as a bantamweight intellectual poet-warrior prepared to command the center stage of whatever arena he enters.
A clip of Baldwin’s debut (1968) appearance on the Dick Cavett television show speaks volumes about the mindset of liberal (white) culture at the time. You will never think of Dick Cavett the same way again, but you do come to understand the nature of James Baldwin’s magnetic, if heroic, attraction to truth that led him to abandon America for France where he lived as a writer-in-exile until the end of his life. Only in America would James Baldwin be considered a radical.
“I Am Not Your Negro” is as bold and forthcoming as its uncompromising title. It is one of the best 10 films of 2016. You might want to watch it more than once.
Rated PG-13. 95 mins. (A+) (Five stars — out of five / no halves)