I Am Not Your Negro

Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Directed by Raoul Peck

Feb 08, 2017 Web Exclusive
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Raoul Peck’s stunning new documentary, I Am Not Your Negro, is without a doubt one of — if not the — best documentaries of the year. Rightly nominated for an Academy Award, the monumental film, which explores the Civil Rights Movement through the late James Baldwin’s writings about the assassinations of three of his dear friends (Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.) is an all-too-once-again-timely examination of race, as it exists in the American zeitgeist.

In 1979, James Baldwin announced that his next book project, Remember This House, was to be an autobiographical response to the lives and deaths of his three aforementioned friends. However, by the time of his passing in 1987, Baldwin had completed only eleven pages of his planned manuscript. Interspersed throughout the film with archival footage of Baldwin interviews, and as delivered in voice over by Samuel L. Jacksons, Baldwin’s words offer a startling juxtaposition to the modern Black Lives Matter movement.

Frankly, it’s staggering how relevant Baldwin’s nearly four-decades-old writings are today. A mix of prophesy and proof that history repeats itself, the quest for racial equality in the era of Baldwin’s focus unfortunately almost identically mirrors the current deterioration of race relations, especially by the African American community and police (as highlighted in the film). To understand our history, we must understand our past, and there is little more relevant or masterful a lens through which to explore that dichotomy than through I Am Not Your Negro. In but 93-miuntes, the film delivers a potent history lesson, as well as an urgent call to awareness. A documentary like I Am Not Your Negro only comes around once in a blue moon, and for it to have cycled now, when tensions in America are rising at exponential rates, makes it absolutely essential viewing for every citizen of this nation.


Author rating: 8.5/10

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