Black History Month || Film to See: I Am Not Your Negro

Every year since 1976 the United States has observed Black History Month. Today’s policy, news and activist movements are weighted in the conversation around and experience of race in America. As part of our observance of Black History Month we will be publishing information and recommendations of film, music, books, lectures, and events that shed light, tell story, inspire action, open doors and influence the conversation of race in America.  We will not stop on February 28th, as the conversation should not stop on February 28th, but we hope this dedicated time will be influential and informative. 

This year, for the first time in history, four black directors have received nominations for best documentary feature film at the Oscars. The three films: I Am Not Your Negro, 13th, and O.J.:Made in America. Darcie and D.C. Jim saw the film I Am Not Your Negro at the Esquire Theatre in Denver.

I Am Not Your Negro

James Baldwin was a writer and playwright born in Harlem. His work dove deep into racial and social issues and his brilliance sheds light on topics paramount to what it is like to live in America as a black person.  I Am Not Your Negro takes 30 pages of an unfinished manuscript started by Baldwin – one meant to explore the lives of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Medgar Evers – and places that manuscript and exploration of race and activism alongside images and video from both history and current events. It is powerful.

From the description: “The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and a flood of rich archival material . . . [It] is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter.”

Personally, I (Darcie) found myself intellectually challenged, emotionally engaged and thoughtfully introspective after watching the film. I wanted to return to some of the key lines of the film and sit with them to grasp their depth and full meaning as best I could. James Baldwin is an extraordinary thinker and communicator. This film removes the barrier between what we know of history and what we see happening today, shredding the assumption that systemic racism is a thing of the past or a waning concern. The parallels between the 1950s and what we are witnessing today are unavoidable and unmistakeable.


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