I Am Not Your Negro review – thrilling James Baldwin documentary

The civil-rights-era writer’s words are brought to life by Samuel L Jackson in a primer on the writer’s work

James Baldwin was one of the most important voices to document the civil rights movement. Black and gay, he was also one of the sharpest writers of his generation, with the most beautiful prose. Working from Baldwin’s unfinished 30-page manuscript Remember This House, Raoul Peck’s documentary animates his words with Samuel L Jackson’s voice, illustrating them with archive footage of adverts, interviews, newsreels, film clips (mostly from the 1930s, such as Harry Beaumont’s Dance, Fools, Dance and Mervyn LeRoy’s They Won’t Forget) and still photographs of Black Lives Matter protests. In the text, Baldwin describes wanting the lives of his friends and fellow activists Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr to “bang against each other” as they did before their eventual assassinations.
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