Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.:
Baldwin, the poet, sought to account for the confusion, the mourning of loss, and the trauma it caused. He had to gather up the pieces—not only of himself, but of black folk—buried beneath the disaster that was the country. That work kept his despair at arm’s length. To be sure, King’s death, just like Medgar Evers’s, Malcolm X’s, and all the others, did not stop time. White people didn’t stop being white people. Two days after King’s murder, eighteen-year-old Bobby Hutton of the Black Panther Party was killed by Oakland police officers. Robert Kennedy was murdered two months later. Cities burned throughout the country. The Tet Offensive revealed the brutal carnage and senselessness of the war. Police rioted in Chicago at the Democratic Convention. The country lurched to the right with the election of Richard Nixon, who exploited white America’s fears and insisted “that minorities were undercutting America’s greatness.”
Baldwin and black America had to mourn and make sense of unimaginable loss with little time to grieve because the nastiness of the white world kept coming at them. With little time to mourn, we carried our dead forward in our resentments and unresolved questions. All of which gave black politics—and certainly gave Baldwin’s voice—an edge. King’s death had revealed the bitterness at the bottom of the cup.