Thursday, February 4, 2021

the last book I ever read (Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, excerpt four)

from Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.:

Baldwin’s general sense of the encounter was that King was a bit skeptical of him. Although Baldwin had known King since his first trip to the South in 1957 and had worked beside him and on behalf of the movement over the years, he felt that King and those around him were discomfited by his presence. “Martin and I had never got to know each other well, circumstances, if not temperament, made that impossible,” he wrote. On King’s side, at least, a certain suspicion never dissipated. In 1963, King had been caught on tape by the FBI expressing his concern about Baldwin: He didn’t want to appear on television with him because Baldwin “was generally uninformed regarding his movement” and might be mistaken as a civil rights leader. The press may have given Baldwin that label, but King did not see him that way. To King, Baldwin was just one celebrity among many willing to lend his star power to help the movement. I can’t help but think, although King never said it explicitly, that Baldwin’s queerness unsettled him.

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