October 16, 2020
Third Weekly Challenge Baldwin describes the second part of The Fire Next Time as another letter. This time he doesn’t say to whom the letter is addressed, but he says it is a “Letter from a Region in My Mind.” Baldwin’s mind would be an amazing place to visit. But he would want us to know our own minds. Download a coloring page of the brain from the website below and map your mind out! Use color or words or collage. Send it to your fellow readers if you dare! Download page here.
Second Weekly Challenge Baldwin begins The Fire Next Time with a letter to his nephew, James. It is a love letter. Baldwin often gives as the reason to confront racism, the love and concern for children. Try writing your own love letter to a young relative. And if you feel comfortable, share it with them. The Lord knows our children are in need of love, always, but particularly when the world is unsteady.
First Weekly Challenge James Baldwin said, “Color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality.” Advances in DNA research now confirm his assertion that race is not a human or personal reality. But as long as it is a political reality, it is important for us to own the color that can be seen. Download the Crayola Color Camera from your app Store to turn a picture of yourself into a coloring page. Pull out your crayons and color yourself! Tack it upon the wall or start a Plymouth Reads journal. We may not start with a rainbow but hopefully, we will end with one! And Invite your friends and those whom you would like to become friends to do the same.
You are invited to join Plymouth Reads
The Plymouth UCC Church Library is pleased to sponsor the first ever Plymouth Reads. This is a unique opportunity to read together three books written by Black Americans sharing their personal journeys through America’s racial landscape.
Each reading will culminate in an online webinar. Speakers will be invited to add their experience and knowledge of the book and the issues it raises. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions and participate in a facilitated small group discussion to share with other readers their thoughts on reading the book.
October through December
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Many of us can quote James Baldwin but to sit down and read this classic from cover to cover, is to be wrapped in his intellect and humanity. Baldwin challenges Americans, black and white, to be truly human, to love, and to live fully in community.
January through March
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Can a Black American be a racist? In this book Ibram X. Kendi takes us along with him on his own bumpy ride towards understanding what racism is. And more important, what it isn’t. In doing so, he offers Americans a roadmap out of racism.
April through June
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Austin Channing Brown writes this book for us to share in her experience of what it means to be a black traveler in a white landscape where her life has largely been lived. As a Christian, she brings her faith to her experience and her response.
James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist. He explored topics of racial, sexual, and class distinctions.
Here are some resources that will enrich your experience as you read The Fire Next Time:
Books by or about James Baldwin available at Plymouth Library:
The amen corner; a play/Baldwin, James, 812 BAL
The fire next time/Baldwin, James, 326 BAL
(You can listen to a free audio option of the Fire Next Time here: https://youtu.be/hi43zpigptI)
The fire is upon us : James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the debate over race in America / Buccola, Nicholas, 305.800973 BUC
(Watch the debate - James Baldwin vs William Buckley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Tek9h3a5wQ)
Begin again : James Baldwin's America and its urgent lessons for our own / Glaude, Eddie S., 305.800973 GLA
(Eddie Glaude Jr talks about Baldwin on this great podcast: https://lithub.com/eddie-s-glaude-jr-on-the-urgency-of-james-baldwins-lessons/)
Movies to look for:
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018 film dramatisation of Baldwin's novel)
Links to videos:
To begin, I recommend watching Phil Vischer's Race in America www.bit.ly/VischerViralVideo . You may know some of this already. You may know most of it already. But put all the facts and figures together and, well, you know a change has gotta come.
There are so many videos of James Baldwin that you can find, but here are two, hand-picked for you:
James Baldwin Discusses Race on the Dick Cavett Show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWwOi17WHpE
"Free and Brave", a speech by James Baldwin, 1963 https://youtu.be/EMYgOfcgMaI
Background information on the Civil Rights era from Plymouth Library:
Malcolm X ; directed by Spike Lee. DVD F MAL
The gospel according to RFK : why it matters now / edited and with commentary by Norman MacAfee/Kennedy, Robert F., 973.923092 KEN
King: go beyond the dream to discover the man / produced by NBC News ; producers, Tim Beacham, Tom Keenan, Shoshana Guy. DVD 323 KIN
Voices of civil rights. DVD 323 VOI
You might want to read books by some of Baldwin's friends: Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry, Nikki Giovanni, Jean-Paul Sartre, and these writers represented in Plymouth Library:
Things fall apart/Achebe, Chinua. F ACH
I know why the caged bird sings /Angelou, Maya. B ANG
Beloved , The bluest eye; a novel, Song of Solomon, Sula , and Tar baby, all by Toni Morrison ( F MOR).
James Baldwin met Marlon Brando in 1944, and they remained friends for over twenty years. You can watch Brando in The Wild One (Stanley Kramer Film Collection DVD F KRA) from Plymouth Library. Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier were regular house guests when Baldwin was living in France. Baldwin wrote the lyrics to some of Ray Charles' songs and was friends with Nina Simone and Miles Davis.
Harry Belafonte on racism and war: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XUlCuW7Drc
Sidney Poitier on overcoming racial dogma: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4teSva3BSs
Music to listen to while you read - maybe with a cup of coffee and Cognac*
Strange Fruit - Nina Simone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8Lq_yasEgo
We Shall Overcome - Mahalia Jackson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmR1YvfIGng.
Lift Every Voice and Sing - try the version recorded by the Stanford Talisman Alumni Virtual Choir recorded June 25,2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8pGp7N9bG8 or listen to Baldwin's friend, Ray Charles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU8921j20e8.
So what - Miles Davis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqNTltOGh5c
To Be Young, Gifted and Black (on Sesame Street!)- Nina Simone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGckHQ15bZM
Did you read about Big Bill Broonzy in The Fire Next Time? Listen to his song Black, Brown and White https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0c1c0ZsTLA
Here's one of my favorites: What's Going On - Marvin Gaye https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5TmORitlKk
Wake Up Everybody - Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pspeIJS7XQ
A Change is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPr3yvkHYsE
People Get Ready - Chambers Brothers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0FnjkSFwss
Glory - Common and John Legend https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUZOKvYcx_o
*I was headed to Café de Flore, the place where Baldwin had spent endless hours on the second floor, drinking coffee and Cognac to keep warm while working on his first novel, “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” - "James Baldwin's Paris" by Ellery Washington, The New York Times, January 17, 2014Subscribe
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We look to God for the breaking of oppression and healing in the land. Let us stand together with one voice as we watch, fight, and pray with life prioritized.
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