By Dan Clendenin
I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
When James Baldwin died in 1987, he left behind an unfinished, thirty-page manuscript called “Remember This House” that he had discussed with his literary agent. The book project was to be Baldwin’s deeply personal reflections on three of his friends who had been assassinated — Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., as a way to reflect on race relations in America. The film director Raoul Peck brings this manuscript to life by using only Baldwin’s own words, narrated either by Samuel L. Jackson or Baldwin himself, along with powerful archival images from the 1930s to the present. The movie makes extensive use of the portrayals of race in the history of cinema. After its release on February 3, 2017, the film earned remarkable and nearly universal praise — 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, for example, and 96% on Metacritic. “The story of America is the story of the negro,” said Baldwin, “and it’s not a pretty story.”
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