Raoul Peck’s galvanizing documentary reacquaints viewers with one of the most powerful voices of the civil rights era, the great novelist, playwright, and essayist James Baldwin. His 1963 book The Fire Next Time, a best seller in the U.S., squarely confronted white Americans with the moral cost of their apartheid government and for several years made him a prominent public figure. As Peck’s archival clips illustrate, Baldwin was a captivating speaker, his bold language and dramatic cadences drawn right from the pulpit. His forbidding stepfather, David Baldwin, had been a Pentecostal preacher in Harlem, and 14-year-old James had followed him into the ministry, preaching the gospel for three years, before he’d turned his back on organized religion. Baldwin understood the theatrics of the sermon, and the apocalyptic tone he brought to his pronouncements on race is no less arresting now than it was 50 years ago. Continue reading >>