Dear Angela: James Baldwin on Angela Davis; Martin Luther King speaks
The most famous contemporary black author James Baldwin and you've been in Europe Paris and we have with us another brother brother Joe Walker whose New York attitude will have its pigs who's come from Europe recently I would like to give like for you to tell us what is the reaction of the people there toward Angela Davis the case itself. One of the curious things is happening. Amanda I think that I'm aware of it and then you know living abroad and often on you know many years now you know out of this country. And one very curious thing has happened. What is embarrassing to think that. The American Legion was a very powerful and emotional planet is beginning. Twenty years later they watched American after all. I mean a lot of them in the streets into things watching the
sounds of it they don't watch the Americans and it's kind of idea that American dream is over. And in fact you were in it in the generality. Of Wagner as Europeans and evolved. Don't you believe any longer and if you Americans say they're terrified of the president in his direction quite rightly because. The Mad Men who are now in Washington can only drag this country over the bring the. Whole rest of the world to and after all the majority and we are in a sense not that Europe. That being an antique about it because. It's going to mean that America is the heir of Europe. All those people came here. Still on that circuit in Spain and in Italy in France and England and Turkey have been down that. Jews are the world explode so they have been through something which
Americans in the main and I've been through you know. And therefore now when. This and Americans listen when they listen without a desperate desperate hope of our getting a release or at least surviving them because it's going to deafen them. And look Los Angeles. It's in a sense. When we last did leave some money and I was saying. That now to me this girl is going to do things he's charged with. You know me in America and probably only in America and Washington. Can really believe it. Nobody else believes it. Not for a minute and I'll point out one thing too by the way that you know she and the dead gentleman Jackson argues that murder. But the fact is that the police committed the murder.
They pulled the trigger and they killed people they knew who was in that these two got the G-men. Welcome to the John Wayne but you're right about the three of us and Europe is all that they committed the murder and they should be armed and that is the reaction that you get when you read your I'm sorry I was at the rubber suddenly for peace which was held in Budapest Hungary. A conference which people would assume would paid particular attention to the. Height in Indochina. But it had several commissions which stretched beyond the Indochina question there was a commission on the Middle East. There was a commission on colonialism and racialism. And another commission also Honeywell colonialism. At this conference there were one hundred twenty four countries represented making a coming from about 30
international organizations and 200 national organizations. Practically all of the so-called socialist or communist world in the third world were represented. The question of Angela Davis was very important really raising at this conference and let me just come from people from the American delegation that were there and I think that the reason they didn't is that people around the world link up struggles a little differently than they do here yet elsewhere in the world are of the so-called peace organizations are the ones that raise this question Ramsdens and surely the peace organization from Chile support the sparkplug day her group the solidarity demonstrations there. A lot of things have been done in the United Arab Republic in the Sudan and Nigeria in getting and countries that are independent in Africa as well as practically all of the Southern African through the movements in Guinea Bissau in
Mozambique and in Goa and South Africa itself through their publications. They have talked about the Angela Davis case and so on and what they said was that her fight for freedom and justice here in America is part and parcel of the international fight against the same enemy the same enemy that promotes racism within these these boundaries is the one that is exploiting and subjugating people all over the world. Let me quote from the resolution the resolution said quote Angela has been in prison in solitary confinement for over seven months and we urge that each delegation to enter and initiate a mass campaign to send letters petitions telegrams and resolutions to Governor Ronald Reagan and Sacramento California racialism today attempts to justify repression. The essence of the campaign to free Angela Davis is a key element in the struggle for peace. James I mean you know Paris paper
how what type of coverage are they giving Angela's trial. What do they say how they feel and in which papers you read. It must be said in general there is France is not. Obviously you don't want to view that as that much more reliable than the American press. You know. And it's only the leftwing neighbors who are not terribly well read and also not terribly well written that. You're really involved with it but it is in the consciousness of people in the streets and especially in the conscience of students going to sound very well that what is happening in Washington at the Pentagon for example is their future their lives and children all over the world and I understand this you know and that's why the peace movement abroad struggle with that with Angela Davis. Where's the peace movement here if you had to do that the peace movement all. Social movements have always been
in my experience terribly retarded. You know people we think we're living in the center of the world are going up you know we are very lucky we're going to have people in South Africa Australia you know so no other side of the world you consider will be really our you know Latin America loves us you know when you actually own Canada and they don't love us. You know. They won't begin to shrink we're squeezed. Out I think. And this terrible war you know has been has been a kind of a crisis in the country. So even people who would never speak to him speak to you or you or me last week and. Who would be with nothing else agree with this because it begins to terrify them and their own children turned against them which must be an awful thing to face you know no one wants as well. As a handful of people who
run this country and think they can control the world because the world is dying to drink Coca-Cola. You know you know there is a there are some surprises. And it will be very and you know it will be very unhappy for them. I must confess I don't have much sympathy for those people but I have a great deal to me for the for the white and black children. Who are already paying an enormous bill for this folly you know and this irresponsibility. And this cowardice. Well you know which in which Nixon was born is a very different world than it is now. And he doesn't understand it he should be impeached. I mean that one more question brother James. Well to me and to many and of my peer group my generation you have been you know an inspiration since you were one of the few blacks who were writing about contemporary things.
I've often thought if I wanted to know what was Harlem like or about say the 30s the 40s 50s I wouldn't go read a history book I'd go read James Baldwin and I'd read maybe Malcolm X or you know another brother was reading at the time and what advice for. One bit of information could you give you know two brothers who are making as you say who've made that change of consciousness who are involved in today's struggle. I think. Well you know first of all the honest question your question for me is not a question anybody can really have true. The long answer that I myself you know. Remember this I think that I think about a much younger than I am now. This is a ridiculous way to put it. But if I let say 10 20 years.
And look around the world and if I were more or less to get that is that I'd already been ruined irreparably. I would I think I think I would and I would begin to see that if you belong to me and my point of view I don't mean to sound romantic. This is something which can be said of the present ministration. Is almost a very fortunate thing because at least there is no way to be fooled by it. You know. You certainly can have any doubts about where you stand. And if you know that then you have then you have some idea of what you had to withstand. And what you had to do. They will not be any more Nixons another animal Agnew's
in this country. They are the worst people perhaps but a bottom of the barrel. And it gets worse. Then on another level it gets better because you are forced to deal with what there is you know it's an enormous country internally divided. It is not possible but everybody here in jail. If I were 20 I would think about somehow surviving to be 40 and it will be a very difficult matter. But the world is not white you know and the world cannot afford the apostrophe policies of this country. This is we cannot afford it and they want out of it before the adventure in Southeast Asia proves it because everyone else in the world now. Is servile they'll be the next we have now. And there's a reason why they wouldn't be. The world as I love America because America is not of the world. Much of it
depends on what happens internally within the United States and how much of it do you think depends upon what happens externally rather connected because what does it know it was me they are because what is happening internally is a direct result of pressure coming from the outside you know for a very long time and we were not we were our neighbors right. No but that's no longer possible. You know not even the remotest Georgia sharecroppers is is one of our neighbors you know the way we were our neighbors when I was born you know that party is over no matter what happens with it even if we know even if the black kid is crazy. He is also on his way to Israel you know and the prices of everybody's part of it every But what we do. We as black people you know and of course the price we pay for that depends very much a lot of people do but what America is up against is the world. America's going to be a Discover that is in the world.
They thought the world was here and I was out in the world you know publishing reversed out in America. America's in the world. Now the world intends to survive and will even survive us. You know I mean precisely. How do you feel about it. Well. I thought I didn't love it. I would not. I lived I've lived a very different life and I left here years ago I would have stayed away. But I have my family here my friends here. My father paid for Newsday. You know his father before him paid for it. I have no right to give up something they bought for me. Righto I'm going to this year.
Brother Baldwin got a letter from the order concerning sister Angela Davis. And we want to feel the time is asking Where is James Baldwin. As you've gotten off the set has he forgotten us forgotten everything. Here we were you know right on time. We'd like to. Be there. System. One might have hoped by this hour the very sight of chains and black flesh or the very sight of chains. Would be so intolerable the sight of the American people and solemn babble of memory they would themselves spontaneously rise up and strike all to manacles. But no glory in the chains now more than ever. They appeared to measure their safety in chains and corpses. And so Newsweek civilized defender of the indefensible. Attempts to drown you in a
sea of crocodile tears. It remains to be seen what sort of personal liberation she had achieved. And what she wanted to cover chained. Will you love him. Alone says a Jewish housewife in the box car out of a dark car. Or is any one of our ancestors chained together in the name of Jesus. Head for Christian land. Well. Since we live in an age in which silence is not only criminal but suicidal. I've been making as much noise as I can here in Europe on radio and television. In fact I just returned from a land in Germany. Which was May notorious by it's not a majority not so very long ago. I was asked to speak on the game as I was with Davis and did so. Very probably an exercise in futility that no opportunity slide.
I'm some of the new. Generation therefore it was George Jackson ventures that there are no healthy brothers at all. I'm in no way equipped to dispute this speculation. Not anyway. Without descending into one of the moment would be irrelevant subtleties. Why no to me. I don't sort of have the certainty of a carious know when George and especially Jonathan Jackson. I began driver and what you must. With you me that in mind when he spoke of the uses to which he could put the experience of the slave. What has happened it seems to me and it simply is that a whole new generation of people have assess and absorb their history and in that tremendous action have freed themselves of it and we know the victims again. This is human art indefensibly impertinent and insensitive thing to say to us is to imprison that in her life
all our lives. Said I think that you will perhaps not misunderstand me and I do not say that roar from the position of a spectator. I'm trying to suggest that you for example your father's daughter in the same way that I am my father's son. And bottom up are the same. The expectations of his generation and mine with the same. Immense difference in our ages from the south to the north make our lives more viable. In fact that our language of that despair. He was just a liberal preacher and so was I. I jumped a track that's of no more importance here in itself than the fact that some poor sinners become rich bullfighters. Or the poor black boys become rich boxers for example.
That's rarely if ever for the people more than emotional catharsis. But I don't mean to be condescending about that either. Clay became Mohammed Ali and he was a uniform and sacrificed all that money. Back was made on the people and a very different kind of instruction had begun. The American triumph. Which the American Tragedy has always been implicit. Was make black people despise themselves when I was little. I despise myself I do not know any better. And this meant be it and consciously or against my will or in great pain. Also as my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters. Saturday night and that has happened when I was growing up and I want to them that it was intended that they should that they were penned where they were and where were they to should consider themselves better than the animals. Everything's a part of the
sense of reality nothing denied it and so one was ready when it came time to go to work to be treated as a slave. So when human terrors came to light guard and they Jesus for salvation by God wasn't able to raise a finger to help you pay your rent. Unable to be awakened in time to help you save your child. Of course any picture that has to be perceived. In all of this watching our living and surviving in our living. Under mental strength was nevertheless being forged. Which is part of our legacy today. But that particular aspect of our journey now begins to be behind us. The secret is out. We are men but the blunt open articulation of the secret is right in the nation to death. I wish I could say to life. That is much to demand of a disparate collection of displaced people
still cowering in their wagon trains and singing Onward Christian Soldiers. America as a nation is not prepared for this day. The Americans never expected or desired to see our piracy they made it clear they believe in progress and democracy. These words no American lives have become a kind of universal obscenity for this most unhappy people on the committee. There are expected to be confronted the algebra of the history. When will the nation's help. Or discern what it considers abuse interest or what to what extent it can be considered as a nation as distinguished record of special interests. Examine those people who represent a protected. One of the American leaders of figureheads that America is on the edge of absolute chaos and also suggests a future to which American interests and not the bulk of the American people will be willing to consign the blacks and look at that conveys
that it is the nominal countrymen we are all expendable. And Mrs. Nixon Agnew Mitchell and whom of course are a basket case. The winning while Reagan. Will not hesitate one instant to carry out what the answer This is the will of the people. But America has a will of the people and all of the above named Allah people. The people who they may be. Know as much about the verses which are placed here bubbling venom and power as well by the person responsible for the slaughter in Viet Nam the will of the people of America has always been at the mercy of anyones phenomenal but sacred and secular cultivated. The better to be used on the US economy with Democratic sorrows and victimizes whites and blacks alike. Almost white Americans and I did with this. Suspected. And this fact contains murder for the blacks. And tragedy for the nation. All of the other way as long as refuge in their likeness goes along as they are able to walk out of this most monsters and traps
people to be slaughtered in their name. And will manipulate it into and surrender themselves to what they will think of and justified as a racial war they will never put the source of distance between themselves and their own experience and the experience of others who themselves vision of human. Worth while to become responsible for themselves their leaders their country their children all that hate. They were perish as we once put it in our black church in their sins. That is in their delusions. And this is happening. Needless to say already all around us only a handful of people in this vast place are aware that they are intended for use as Angela and the George Jackson. Out of the numberless prisoners of the concentration camps. That is what they are. Is a fate which is that which is about when you got them to. Write lies of the forces which this country are no more sacred than black ones as many many a student is discovering as a white
American corpses in Viet Nam. You think American people are able to contend with their elected leaders for the redemption of their own honor and the lives of their own children. The blacks the most reject the Western children and expect to help with their hands. Which after all is nothing new what the Americans and realize is that a war between brothers in the same cities is not a racial war but as civil war for the American delusion is not only that others all are white but the whites all their brothers. So be it. We got a break in the sleeper and God knows we have tried. We can do and what of our own save each other. We are not drowning and apathetic self-contempt ourselves we should be worthwhile to contend with the inexorable forces in order to change our fate and the fate of our children and the condition of the world we know that a man is out of things and not to be placed at the
mercy of things we know that air and water belong to all mankind not merely to industrious. Does not come into the world in some other someone else's profit. Democracy does not move the question or into a deadly and finally wicked mediocrity. For the liberty for all to aspire to the best that is in all others and even the blacks not only me the blacks have been and are the victims of a system is only human as greed is only God's prophet we know that the system of despair and death and you know the system is doomed because of work longer afford it even did it ever could have and we know the fall of the system we have all the mercy of the told nothing but lies lies about ourselves about love life and death and body heaven down to now. You know much of black consciousness has occurred in your generation. I desisted the beginning or the end of some of those white and
- Producing Organization
- KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
- Contributing Organization
- Pacifica Radio Archives (North Hollywood, California)
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- Episode Description
- James Baldwin talks with Joe Walker (1934-2007), editor of the Nation of Islam's newspaper "Muhammad Speaks" and author George Cain about the Angela Davis trial and the international attitude on America and its race issues at this time. Baldwin then reads his "An open letter to my sister, Angela Davis." This program, number 7137 of the Martin Luther King Speaks series, was recorded at the Shilin Room, Interchurch Center, New York, New York, on June 10, 1971. Programs from this series were produced by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and broadcast over many stations, including the Pacifica Network.
- Broadcast Date
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- Talk Show
- Baldwin, James, 1924-1987; Davis, Angela Y. (Angela Yvonne), 1944-; Cain, George, 1943-2010; Walker, Joe; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; African Americans--Civil rights--History
- Media type
Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: 5278_D01 (Pacifica Radio Archives)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: PRA_AAPP_BC0642_James_Baldwin_on_Angela_Davis (Filename)
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- Chicago: “Dear Angela: James Baldwin on Angela Davis; Martin Luther King speaks,” 1972-00-00, Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 22, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-28-td9n29pp9j.
- MLA: “Dear Angela: James Baldwin on Angela Davis; Martin Luther King speaks.” 1972-00-00. Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 22, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-28-td9n29pp9j>.
- APA: Dear Angela: James Baldwin on Angela Davis; Martin Luther King speaks. Boston, MA: Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-28-td9n29pp9j