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James Baldwin vs. William F. Buckley: The Great Debate Over Race in America

On February 18, 1965, an overflow crowd packed the Cambridge Union, to watch a televised debate between James Baldwin, the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement, and William F. Buckley Jr., a fierce critic of the movement and America’s most influential conservative intellectual. The subject was “the American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.”


Through his new book, The Fire is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr. and the Debate Over Race in America, Nicholas Buccola revisited that historic debate, the radically different paths that led Baldwin and Buckley to it, the controversies that followed, and how it and the decades-long clash between the two men continues to illuminate America's racial divide today.



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Professor Nicholas Buccola (@buccola_nick) is the Elizabeth and Morris Glicksman Chair in Political Science at Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon.

He is a is a writer, lecturer, and teacher who specializes in the area of American political thought. He is the author of The Fire Is upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America (Princeton University, 2019) and The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass: In Pursuit of American Liberty (New York University Press, 2012).





Dr Clive James Nwonka (@CJNwonka) is an LSE Fellow in Film Studies within the Department of Sociology. His research is situated at the intersections of contemporary realism and film policy, with particular interests in black British film, international cinemas and American Independent film.



A podcast of this event is available to from LSE Player and Soundcloud.


This event was held on 30 January 2020.

Image credit: The Cambridge Union Chamber by ExecElect [CC BY-SA]

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