Film Showing: I Am Not Your Negro

September 11, 2017

4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017

At 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24, the Strand Theater in downtown Grinnell will host a free, public viewing of Raoul Peck's documentary I Am Not Your Negro.

I Am Not Your Negro is an examination of race and racism in America through the lens of James Baldwin's unfinished book, Remember This House. He intended the book to be an account of American history told through the lives of slain civil rights activists Medgar Evers, Malcom X, and Martin Luther King Jr., each of whom Baldwin knew personally. However, Baldwin was only able to assemble 30 pages of notes before his death in 1987.

The film draws on Baldwin's vision to combine his words, archival footage, and scenes from the contemporary United States to illuminate the place of racism in American life. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the documentary makes important connections between the history of racism in the United States and the present moment.

Baldwin, born in 1924 in Harlem, New York, is recognized as one of the 20th century's greatest writers. He was a pioneer who broke new literary ground through his exploration of racial and social issues in his many works. He is especially well known for his unflinching look on the black experience in America through essays such as “Nobody Knows My Name.”

“Baldwin has a prophetic voice,” said Caleb Elfenbein, director of the Center of the Humanities and associate professor of history and religious studies. “Although he was writing decades ago, his thoughts on race and racism help us connect deep currents in American history with contemporary developments, from recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, to shocking displays of hate in Creston, Iowa. This film is essential viewing for our community because it will introduce lots of people to perspectives that they may not otherwise hear.”

The viewing is sponsored by the College's Center for the Humanities and the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement.

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