Return to Video

James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley (1965)

  • 0:09 - 0:17
    [music]
  • 0:17 - 0:23
    Narrator: The following program is from NET:
    The National Educational Television Network.
  • 0:25 - 0:32
    Debate, James Baldwin Vs William Buckley.
    Subject, "Has the American Dream Been
  • 0:32 - 0:35
    Achieved at the Expense of the American
    Negro?"
  • 0:35 - 0:40
    This debate was held recently at the
    Cambridge Union, Cambridge University
  • 0:40 - 0:44
    England, and was recorded for use by NET.
  • 0:45 - 0:47
    Norman St. John Stevas, M.P:
    Well, here we are in the debating hall
  • 0:47 - 0:53
    of the Cambridge Union, hundreds of
    undergraduates and myself waiting for what
  • 0:53 - 0:58
    could prove one of the most exciting
    debates in the whole 150 years of the
  • 0:58 - 1:01
    union history.
    It really... I don't think I have ever
  • 1:01 - 1:04
    seen the union so well attended.
    There are undergraduates everywhere.
  • 1:04 - 1:08
    They're on the benches and on the floor
    and on the galleries. And there are a lot
  • 1:08 - 1:13
    more outside clambering to get in.
    Well, the motion that has drawn this huge
  • 1:13 - 1:19
    crowd tonight is this: That the American
    Dream has been achieved at the expense
  • 1:19 - 1:24
    of the American negro. The debate will
    open with two undergraduate speakers,
  • 1:24 - 1:27
    one from each side, and then we shall
    have the first distinguished guest,
  • 1:27 - 1:33
    Mr James Baldwin. The well-known American
    novelist who has achieved a world wide
  • 1:33 - 1:38
    fame with his novel "Another Country."
    Then opposing the motion will be
  • 1:38 - 1:43
    Mr. William Buckley, also an American.
    Very well-known as a conservative in the
  • 1:43 - 1:47
    United States. I must stress a conservative
    in the American sense. Author of a book
  • 1:47 - 1:52
    called "Up from Liberalism" and editor of
    the National Review. One of the earliest
  • 1:52 - 1:56
    reporters of Senator Goldwater.
    Well, this is the setting of the debate,
  • 1:56 - 2:01
    and at any moment now, the president
    will be leading in his officers and his
  • 2:01 - 2:05
    distinguished guests. He will take his
    chair, and the debate will begin.
  • 2:07 - 2:46
    [applause]
  • 2:46 - 2:50
    President: The motion before the house
    tonight is "The American Dream at the
  • 2:50 - 2:54
    Expense of the American Negro." The proposer,
    Mr. David Haycock of Pembroke College,
  • 2:54 - 2:58
    and our opposer, Mr. Jeremy Burford of
    Emmanuel College. Mr. James Baldwin
  • 2:58 - 3:03
    will speak third. Mr William F. Buckley Jr.
    will speak fourth. Mr. Heycock has the
  • 3:03 - 3:04
    ear of the house.
  • 3:04 - 3:15
    [applause]
  • 3:15 - 3:19
    David Heycock: Mr. President, sir, it is
    the custom of the house for the first
  • 3:19 - 3:23
    speaker in any debate to extend a
    formal welcome to any visitors to the
  • 3:23 - 3:27
    house. I can honestly say, however, it is
    a very great honor to be able to welcome
  • 3:27 - 3:31
    to the house this evening Mr. William
    Buckley and Mr. James Baldwin.
  • 3:31 - 3:35
    Mr. William Buckley has the reputation
    of possibly being the most articulate
  • 3:35 - 3:39
    conservative in the United States of
    America. He was a graduate of Yale,
  • 3:39 - 3:43
    and he first gained a reputation for
    himself by publishing a book entitled
  • 3:43 - 3:44
    "God and Man at Yale."
  • 3:44 - 3:48
    [laughter]
  • 3:48 - 3:50
    Since then, he has devoted himself to
    the secular, and this has included
  • 3:51 - 3:55
    Norman Mailer, Kenneth Tynan, Mary McCarthy,
    and Fidel Castro, none of whom have come
  • 3:55 - 3:57
    out of their confrontations unscathed.
  • 3:57 - 3:58
    [laughter]
  • 3:58 - 4:03
    At present, his principle occupation is
    editing a right-wing newspaper in the
  • 4:03 - 4:05
    United States entitled
    "The National Review."
  • 4:05 - 4:09
    Mr. James Baldwin is hardly in need of
    introduction. His reputation both as a
  • 4:09 - 4:14
    novelist and as an advocate of civil rights
    is international. His third novel
  • 4:14 - 4:18
    "Another Country" has been published as
    a paperback in England today. Mr. Baldwin
  • 4:18 - 4:21
    and Mr. Buckley are both very welcome to
    the house this evening.
  • 4:21 - 4:40
    [applause]
  • 4:40 - 4:46
    Imagine Mr. President, a society which
    above all values freedom and equality.
  • 4:46 - 4:50
    A society in which artificial barriers to
    fulfillment and achievement are unheard
  • 4:50 - 4:56
    of. A society in which a man may begin his
    life as a rail splitter and end it as president.
  • 4:56 - 5:01
    A society in which all men are free in
    every sense of the word. Free to live
  • 5:01 - 5:05
    where they choose. Free to work where they
    choose. Equal in the eyes of the law and
  • 5:05 - 5:09
    every public authority. And equal in the eyes
    of their fellows. A society in fact which
  • 5:09 - 5:16
    intollerence and prejudice are meaningless
    terms. Imagine; however, Mr. President, a
  • 5:16 - 5:20
    condition of this utopia has been a
    persistent and quite deliberate
  • 5:20 - 5:25
    exploitation of one ninth of its
    inhabitants. That one man in nine has
  • 5:25 - 5:28
    been denied those rights, which the rest
    of that society takes for granted.
  • 5:28 - 5:33
    That one man in nine does not have
    a chance for fulfillment or realization
  • 5:33 - 5:37
    of his innate potentiality. That one
    man in nine cannot promise his
  • 5:37 - 5:42
    children a secure future and unlimited
    opportunities. Imagine this Mr. President
  • 5:42 - 5:46
    and you have, what is in my opinion,
    the bitter reality of the American Dream.
  • 5:46 - 5:51
    A few weeks ago Martin Luther King had
    to hold a non-violent demonstration in
  • 5:51 - 5:56
    Selma, Alabama in his drive to register
    negro voters. By the end of the week
  • 5:56 - 5:59
    of his demonstrations, he was able to
    write quite accurately in a national
  • 5:59 - 6:04
    fundraising letter from Selma, Alabama
    jail, "There are more negros in prison
  • 6:04 - 6:08
    with me than there are on the voting
    roles." When King wrote that letter,
  • 6:08 - 6:12
    three-hundred and thirty-five out of
    thirty-two-thousand-seven-hundred
  • 6:12 - 6:16
    negros in Dallas had the vote.
    One percent of the Dallas population.
  • 6:16 - 6:21
    After a mass march to the court house,
    two-hundred-and-thirty-seven negros,
  • 6:21 - 6:25
    King among them, were arrested.
    The following day, four-hundred-and
  • 6:25 - 6:28
    seventy children, who had deserted
    their classrooms to protest against
  • 6:28 - 6:32
    King's arrest, were charged with juvenile
    delinquency.
  • 6:32 - 6:34
    [laughter]
  • 6:34 - 6:37
    Thirty-six adults on the same day were
    charged with contempt of court for
  • 6:37 - 6:40
    picketing the court house while
    state circuit court was in session.
  • 6:40 - 6:44
    On the following day, a hundred-and
    eleven people were arrested on the
  • 6:44 - 6:47
    same charge despite their claim that
    they merely wanted to see the voting
  • 6:47 - 6:52
    registrar. Four-hundred students were
    arrested and taken to the armory,
  • 6:52 - 6:57
    where many of them spent the night
    on a cold cement floor. The following
  • 6:57 - 7:01
    date the demonstrations spread to
    Marion, Alabama. In Marion, negros
  • 7:01 - 7:05
    outnumbered whites by eleven-and
    a-half thousand to six-thousand people
  • 7:05 - 7:11
    and yet, only three hundred are registered
    to vote. Negros in Marion were anxious
  • 7:11 - 7:15
    to test the public accommodations section
    of the civil rights law. They entered a
  • 7:15 - 7:19
    drug store and there they were served
    with Coca Cola laced with salt and were
  • 7:19 - 7:25
    told that hamburgers had risen to five
    dollars each. After the arrest of fifteen
  • 7:25 - 7:28
    negros for protesting against this
    treatment, seven hundred negros
  • 7:28 - 7:32
    boycotted their classes the next day
    and marched in orderly fashion to the
  • 7:32 - 7:38
    jail. There, they sang civil rights songs
    until they were warned by a state trooper
  • 7:38 - 7:41
    that they would be arrested if they sung
    one more song. Of course, they sung
  • 7:41 - 7:45
    another song, and of course, all seven
    hundred were arrested. American
  • 7:45 - 7:50
    society has felt fit to use negro labor.
    It has felt fit to use the blood of the
  • 7:50 - 7:54
    negro in two world wars. It has felt fit to
    listen to his music. It has felt fit to laugh
  • 7:55 - 7:58
    at his jokes, and yet, as far as I am
    concerned, it has never felt fit to
  • 7:58 - 8:02
    give the American negro a fair deal;
    and for this reason Mr. President,
  • 8:02 - 8:06
    I will beg leave to propose the motion
    that the American dream is at the expense
  • 8:06 - 8:08
    of the American negro.
  • 8:08 - 8:18
    [applause]
  • 8:18 - 8:23
    President: I now call Mr. Jeremy Burford of Emmanuel College to oppose the motion.
  • 8:23 - 8:29
    [applause]
  • 8:29 - 8:33
    Narrator: Now, we have Mr. Jeremy
    Burford of Emmanuel College who
  • 8:33 - 8:35
    is the first undergraduate opposing
    the motion.
  • 8:35 - 8:41
    Jeremy Burford: James Baldwin is well
    known as one of the most vivid and
  • 8:41 - 8:46
    articulate writers about the negro
    problem in America. Mr. Baldwin
  • 8:46 - 8:50
    had a difficult childhood, and he
    has personally himself suffered
  • 8:50 - 8:55
    discrimination and ill treatment
    of a sort in America, and I would
  • 8:55 - 9:01
    like to say at this time that it is
    not the purpose of this side of
  • 9:01 - 9:07
    the house to condone that in any
    way at all. It is not our purpose to
  • 9:07 - 9:14
    oppose civil rights. It is our purpose
    to oppose this motion. [audience: here here]
  • 9:14 - 9:18
    [laughter]
  • 9:18 - 9:21
    Thank you, sir. Come and collect
    your fee afterwards.
  • 9:21 - 9:27
    [laughter and applause]
  • 9:27 - 9:32
    This side of the house denies that the
    American dream has in any way been
  • 9:32 - 9:36
    helped by this undoubted inequality
    and suffering of the negro.
  • 9:36 - 9:41
    We maintain that in fact this has hindered
    the American Dream, and if there had
  • 9:41 - 9:45
    been equality, if there had been true
    freedom of opportunity, the American
  • 9:45 - 9:50
    dream would be very much more advance
    than it is now. If the American dream has
  • 9:50 - 9:55
    made any progress, and I think it has,
    it has been made in spite of the suffering
  • 9:55 - 10:01
    and inequality of the American negro and
    not because of it. Now it is also implied
  • 10:01 - 10:06
    in this motion that the American Dream is
    encouraging and worsening the suffering
  • 10:06 - 10:12
    of the American negro. This is emphatically
    not the case. The American Dream,
  • 10:12 - 10:17
    the American economic prosperity and
    respect for civil liberties has been the
  • 10:17 - 10:22
    main factor in bringing about the undoubted
    improvement in race relations in America
  • 10:22 - 10:28
    in the last twenty years; and Professor
    Arnold Rose who was the author of the "Negro
  • 10:28 - 10:33
    in America," which is perhaps the definitive
    work on the subject, who is also a
  • 10:33 - 10:38
    contributor of what is called "The Freedom
    Pamphlet". So I should imagine if he has
  • 10:38 - 10:44
    any bias at all, it is in favor of the negro.
    He's said that this improvement in race
  • 10:44 - 10:49
    relations will be seen in years to come as
    remarkably quick, and he has put it down
  • 10:49 - 10:55
    to three main causes: increased
    industrialization and technical advance,
  • 10:55 - 10:59
    the increased social mobility of the
    American people, and the economic
  • 10:59 - 11:04
    prosperity. And I would put it to this
    house that that industrialization and
  • 11:04 - 11:10
    economic prosperity are two of the main
    ingredients of the American dream and
  • 11:10 - 11:15
    at the same time--again, I do not want to
    say that the negro in America is treated
  • 11:15 - 11:20
    fairly--but at the same time, the average
    per capita income of negros in America
  • 11:20 - 11:26
    is exactly the same as the average per
    capita income of people in Great Britain.
  • 11:26 - 11:31
    Now, I found that absolutely amazing.
    [laughter]
  • 11:31 - 11:36
    [laughter]
    I understand that some of you do as well;
  • 11:36 - 11:40
    So I've got the reference here from the
    United States News and World Report
  • 11:40 - 11:45
    of July the 22nd 1963, in which it points
    out- [Man in the audience interrupts]
  • 11:45 - 11:48
    This will have to be the last interruption
    I take because time is running short.
  • 11:48 - 11:51
    Audience member: Mr. President. Now a
    point of information, is this being a talking
  • 11:51 - 11:58
    of real income or money income?
    [Audience: here here, applause.]
  • 11:58 - 12:03
    I am talking of money income. I would not
    wish to disguise that. I would also say that
  • 12:03 - 12:08
    in terms of this, there are only five
    countries in the world where the income
  • 12:08 - 12:12
    is higher than that of the American negro,
    and they do not include countries like
  • 12:12 - 12:18
    West Germany and France and Japan.
    Now, there are in America thirty-five
  • 12:18 - 12:25
    negro millionaires. There are negro six thousand
    doctors and so on. Now I do not by saying
  • 12:25 - 12:29
    this wish to emphasize that the negro is
    fairly treated. I merely wish to try and
  • 12:29 - 12:35
    convey a more realistic and objective
    account of the situation of the negro.
  • 12:35 - 12:41
    I agree that there are negros who are
    very poor indeed, such as the old
  • 12:41 - 12:51
    gentlemen in the south who was talking
    about some of his wealthier brethren and
  • 12:51 - 12:56
    he was saying "Yes. Some of these rich
    negros they put on airs like the bottom
  • 12:56 - 12:59
    figure of a fetch, and the bigger they try
    to be, the smaller they really are."
  • 12:59 - 13:05
    I would repeat Mr. President, sir, in the
    last minute I have that this debate
  • 13:05 - 13:08
    is not whether civil rights should be
    extended to American negros or not;
  • 13:08 - 13:12
    if it were, it would be a very easy
    motion to argue for and a very easy
  • 13:12 - 13:18
    motion to vote for. The debate tonight
    concerns whether the American Dream
  • 13:18 - 13:23
    is at the expense of the American negro.
    That is where the American negro has paid
  • 13:23 - 13:27
    for the American dream with a suffering
    or whether the American dream has
  • 13:27 - 13:31
    furthered negro inequality, and
    I would deny those things to precept.
  • 13:31 - 13:36
    I would say that negro inequality has
    hindered the American dream, and
  • 13:36 - 13:39
    I would say that the American dream
    has been very important indeed in
  • 13:39 - 13:43
    furthering civil rights and in furthering
    freedom for the American negro.
  • 13:43 - 13:46
    Mr. President, sir, I beg to oppose
    the motion.
  • 13:46 - 13:58
    [applause]
  • 13:58 - 14:01
    President: It is now with very
    great pleasure and a very great sense of
  • 14:01 - 14:04
    honor that I call Mr. James Baldwin
    to speak third to this motion.
  • 14:04 - 14:13
    [applause]
  • 14:13 - 14:18
    Narrator: Now we have Mr. James Baldwin,
    the star of the evening, who has been
  • 14:18 - 14:24
    sitting, listening attentively and getting
    a wonderful reception here in the
  • 14:24 - 14:31
    Cambridge Union. From members, enthusiasm from all sides of the house for
  • 14:31 - 14:35
    Mr. Baldwin, who has been listening to the arguments. Now will bring the voice of actual
  • 14:35 - 14:36
    experience to the debate.
  • 14:36 - 14:37
    James Baldwin: Good evening.
  • 14:37 - 14:41
    [laughter]
  • 14:41 - 14:51
    I find myself, not for the first time, in
    the position of a kind of Jeremiah.
  • 14:54 - 15:01
    For example, I don’t disagree with
    Mr. Burford that the inequality
  • 15:01 - 15:04
    suffered by the American Negro
    population of the United States has hindered
  • 15:04 - 15:08
    the American dream. Indeed, it has.
  • 15:08 - 15:14
    I quarrell with some other things he
    has to say. The other, deeper, element of
  • 15:14 - 15:26
    a certain awkwardness I feel has to do
    with one’s point of view.
  • 15:26 - 15:29
    I have to put it that way – one’s sense,
    one’s system of reality.
  • 15:29 - 15:34
    It would seem to me the proposition
    before the House, and I would put it
  • 15:34 - 15:37
    that way, is the American Dream at the
    expense of the American Negro,
  • 15:37 - 15:40
    or the American Dream is at
    the expense of the American Negro.
  • 15:40 - 15:47
    Is a question hideously loaded,
    and then one’s response to that question
  • 15:47 - 15:53
    – one’s reaction to that question –
    has to depend on effect and, in effect,
  • 15:53 - 15:57
    where you find yourself in the world,
    what your sense of reality is,
  • 15:57 - 16:04
    what your system of reality is.
    That is, it depends on assumptions which
  • 16:04 - 16:08
    we hold so deeply as to
    be scarcely aware of them.
  • 16:08 - 16:13
    Are white South African or
    Mississippi sharecropper, or
  • 16:13 - 16:19
    Mississippi sheriff, or a Frenchman
    driven out of Algeria, all have, at bottom,
  • 16:19 - 16:25
    a system of reality which compels
    them to, for example, in the case of the
  • 16:25 - 16:30
    French exile from Algeria, to offend
    French reasons from having ruled Algeria.
  • 16:30 - 16:34
    The Mississippi or Alabama sheriff,
    who really does believe, when he’s facing
  • 16:34 - 16:40
    a Negro boy or girl, that this woman,
    this man, this child must be insane to
  • 16:41 - 16:45
    attack the system to which he owes
    his entire identity. Of course, to
  • 16:45 - 16:49
    such a person, the proposition which
    we are trying to discuss here tonight
  • 16:49 - 17:02
    does not exist. And on the other hand,
    I, have to speak as one of the people
  • 17:02 - 17:07
    who’ve been most attacked by what
    we must now here call the Western or
  • 17:07 - 17:15
    European system of reality. What white
    people in the world, what we call
  • 17:15 - 17:18
    white supremacy – I hate to say it here
    – comes from Europe.
  • 17:18 - 17:25
    That's how it got to America. Beneath
    then, whatever one’s reaction to this
  • 17:25 - 17:30
    proposition is, has to be the question
    of whether or not civilizations can
  • 17:30 - 17:36
    be considered, as such, equal, or
    whether one’s civilization has the right
  • 17:36 - 17:41
    to overtake and subjugate, and, in fact,
    to destroy another.
  • 17:41 - 17:49
    Now, what happens when that happens.
    Leaving aside all the physical facts which
  • 17:49 - 17:54
    one can quote. Leaving aside rape
    or murder. Leaving aside the bloody
  • 17:54 - 18:00
    catalog of oppression, which we
    are in one way too familiar with already,
  • 18:00 - 18:05
    what this does to the subjugated,
    the most private, the most serious
  • 18:05 - 18:10
    thing this does to the subjugated,
    is to destroy his sense of reality.
  • 18:10 - 18:16
    It destroys, for example, his father’s
    authority over him. His father can no
  • 18:16 - 18:20
    longer tell him anything, because
    the past has disappeared, and his
  • 18:20 - 18:24
    father has no power in the world.
    This means, in the case of an
  • 18:24 - 18:30
    American Negro, born in that
    glittering republic, and the moment you
  • 18:30 - 18:32
    are born, since you don’t
    know any better,
  • 18:32 - 18:36
    every stick and stone and
    every face is white.
  • 18:36 - 18:40
    And since you have not yet seen
    a mirror, you suppose that you
  • 18:40 - 18:48
    are, too. It comes as a great shock
    around the age of 5, or 6, or 7, to
  • 18:48 - 18:51
    discover the flag to which
    you have pledged allegiance, along with
  • 18:51 - 18:56
    everybody else, has not pledged
    allegiance to you. It comes as a
  • 18:56 - 18:59
    great shock to discover that Gary
    Cooper killing off the Indians, when you
  • 18:59 - 19:06
    were rooting for Gary Cooper,
    that the Indians were you. It comes as a
  • 19:06 - 19:11
    great shock to discover the
    country which is your birthplace and to
  • 19:11 - 19:17
    which you owe your life and your identity,
    has not, in its whole system of reality,
  • 19:17 - 19:25
    evovled any place for you. The
    disaffection, the demoralization, and the
  • 19:25 - 19:30
    gap between one person and another
    only on the basis of the color of their
  • 19:30 - 19:36
    skin, begins there and accelerates
    – accelerates throughout a whole lifetime
  • 19:36 - 19:40
    – to the present when you realize
    you’re thirty and are having a terrible
  • 19:40 - 19:48
    time managing to trust your
    countrymen. By the time you are thirty,
  • 19:48 - 19:56
    you have been through a certain
    kind of mill. And the most serious effect
  • 19:56 - 20:00
    of the mill you’ve been through is,
    again, not the catalog of disaster,
  • 20:00 - 20:07
    the policemen, the taxi drivers,
    the waiters, the landlady, the landlord,
  • 20:07 - 20:12
    the banks, the insurance companies,
    the millions of details, twenty four
  • 20:12 - 20:17
    hours of every day, which spell
    out to you that you are a worthless
  • 20:17 - 20:23
    human being. It is not that. It’s by
    that time you’ve begun to see
  • 20:23 - 20:28
    it happening, in your daughter or your
    son, or your niece or your nephew.
  • 20:28 - 20:33
    You are thirty by now and nothing you
    have done has helped you to
  • 20:33 - 20:38
    escape the trap. But what is worse
    than that, is that nothing you
  • 20:38 - 20:44
    have done, and as far as you can tell,
    nothing you can do, will save your
  • 20:44 - 20:50
    son or your daughter from meeting
    the same disaster and not
  • 20:50 - 20:59
    impossibly coming to the same
    end. Now, we’re speaking about
  • 20:59 - 21:06
    expense. I suppose there are
    several ways to address oneself,
  • 21:06 - 21:16
    to some attempt to find what that
    word means here. Let me put it
  • 21:16 - 21:23
    this way, that from a very literal
    point of view, the harbors and the
  • 21:23 - 21:31
    ports, and the railroads of the
    country–the economy,
  • 21:31 - 21:40
    especially of the Southern
    states–could not conceivably be
  • 21:40 - 21:46
    what it has become, if they had
    not had, and do not still have,
  • 21:46 - 21:55
    indeed, for so long, for many generations,
    cheap labor. I am stating very
  • 21:55 - 22:03
    seriously, and this is not an
    overstatement: I picked the cotton,
  • 22:03 - 22:13
    and I carried it to the market,
    and I built the railroads under
  • 22:13 - 22:20
    someone else’s whip for nothing.
    For nothing.
  • 22:20 - 22:27
    The Southern oligarchy, which has
    still today so much power in
  • 22:27 - 22:31
    Washington, and therefore some
    power in the world, was created
  • 22:31 - 22:37
    by my labor and my sweat, and the
    violation of my women and the murder of
  • 22:37 - 22:45
    my children. This, in the land of
    the free, and the home of the brave.
  • 22:45 - 22:51
    And no one can challenge that statement.
    It is a matter of historical record.
  • 22:51 - 23:00
    In another way, this dream, and we’ll
    get to the dream in a moment,
  • 23:00 - 23:07
    is at the expense of the American
    Negro. You watched this in the Deep South
  • 23:07 - 23:15
    in great relief. But not only in the
    Deep South. In the Deep South, you
  • 23:15 - 23:18
    are dealing with a sheriff or a
    landlord, or a landlady or the
  • 23:18 - 23:28
    girl of the Western Union desk, and
    she doesn’t know quite who she’s
  • 23:28 - 23:32
    dealing with, by which I mean,
    that if you’re not a part of the town,
  • 23:32 - 23:39
    and if you are a Nothern Nigger,
    it shows in millions of ways.
  • 23:39 - 23:44
    So she simply knows that it’s an
    unknown quantity, and she wants to
  • 23:44 - 23:47
    have nothing to do with it because
    she won’t talk to you, you have
  • 23:47 - 23:50
    to wait for a while to get your
    telegram. OK, we all know this.
  • 23:50 - 23:54
    We've been through it and, by the
    time you get to be a man, it’s very easy
  • 23:54 - 23:58
    to deal with. But what is happening in
    the poor woman, the poor man’s mind is
  • 23:58 - 24:06
    this: they’ve been raised to believe,
    and by now they helplessly believe,
  • 24:06 - 24:12
    that no matter how terrible their lives
    may be, and their lives have been
  • 24:12 - 24:17
    quite terrible, and no matter how
    far they fall, no matter what disaster
  • 24:17 - 24:20
    overtakes them, they have one
    enormous knowledge in
  • 24:20 - 24:25
    consolation, which is like a heavenly
    revelation: at least, they are not Black.
  • 24:25 - 24:34
    Now I suggest that of all the terrible
    things that can happen to a
  • 24:34 - 24:38
    human being, that is one of the worst.
    I suggest that what has happened
  • 24:38 - 24:42
    to white Southerners, is in some ways,
    after all, much worse than
  • 24:42 - 24:52
    what has happened to Negroes
    there, because Sheriff Clark in
  • 24:52 - 24:59
    Selma, Alabama, cannot be considered
    – you know, no one can be
  • 24:59 - 25:01
    dismissed as a total monster.
  • 25:01 - 25:05
    I’m sure he loves his wife, his children.
    I’m sure, you know, he likes to
  • 25:05 - 25:12
    get drunk. You know, after all, one’s got
    to assume he is visibly a man like me.
  • 25:12 - 25:21
    But he doesn’t know what drives
    him to use the club, to menace with the
  • 25:21 - 25:25
    gun, and to use the cattle prod.
    Something awful must have happened to
  • 25:25 - 25:29
    a human being to be able to put
    a cattle prod against a
  • 25:29 - 25:32
    woman’s breasts, for example.
    What happens to the woman is ghastly.
  • 25:32 - 25:38
    What happens to the man who
    does it is in some ways much, much worse.
  • 25:38 - 25:47
    This is being done, after all, not a
    hundred years ago, but in 1965, in a
  • 25:47 - 25:52
    country which is blessed with what we call
    prosperity, a word we won’t examine
  • 25:52 - 25:59
    too closely; with a certain kind of
    social coherence, which calls itself a
  • 25:59 - 26:05
    civilized nation, and which espouses
    the notion of the freedom of the
  • 26:05 - 26:10
    world. And it is perfectly true from
    the point of view now
  • 26:10 - 26:16
    simply of an American Negro. Any American
    Negro watching this, no matter
  • 26:16 - 26:20
    where he is, from the vantage point of
    Harlem, which is another terrible
  • 26:20 - 26:24
    place, has to say to himself, in spite of
    what the government says
  • 26:24 - 26:29
    – the government says we can’t do
    anything about it – but if those were
  • 26:29 - 26:34
    white people being murdered in
    Mississippi work farms, being carried
  • 26:34 - 26:38
    off to jail, if those were white children
    running up and down the streets,
  • 26:38 - 26:41
    the government would find some
    way of doing something about it.
  • 26:41 - 26:45
    We have a civil rights bill now
    where an amendment, the
  • 26:45 - 26:49
    fifteenth amendment, nearly a hundred
    years ago – I hate to sound again
  • 26:49 - 26:52
    like an Old Testament prophet –
    but if the amendment was not
  • 26:52 - 26:56
    honored then, I would have any
    reason to believe in the civil rights
  • 26:56 - 26:57
    bill will be honored now.
  • 26:57 - 27:02
    And after all one’s been there, since
    before, you know, a lot of other
  • 27:02 - 27:10
    people got there. If one has got to
    prove one’s title to the land, isn’t
  • 27:10 - 27:15
    four hundred years enough? Four
    hundred years? At least three wars?
  • 27:17 - 27:20
    The American soil is full of the
    corpses of my ancestors.
  • 27:21 - 27:26
    Why is my freedom or my citizenship,
    or my right to live there, how
  • 27:26 - 27:32
    is it conceivably a question now?
    And I suggest further, and in the
  • 27:32 - 27:37
    same way, the moral life of Alabama
    sheriffs and poor Alabama ladies
  • 27:37 - 27:42
    – white ladies – their moral lives
    have been destroyed by the
  • 27:42 - 27:47
    plague called color, that the American
    sense of reality has been corrupted by it.
  • 27:47 - 27:53
    At the risk of sounding excessive,
    what I always felt, when I finally
  • 27:53 - 27:58
    left the country, and found myself abroad,
    in other places, and watched
  • 27:58 - 28:03
    the Americans abroad – and these are
    my countrymen – and I do
  • 28:03 - 28:08
    care about them, and even if I didn’t,
    there is something between us.
  • 28:08 - 28:15
    We have the same shorthand, I know,
    if I look at a boy or a girl from
  • 28:15 - 28:18
    Tennessee, where they came from in
    Tennessee, and what that means.
  • 28:18 - 28:22
    No Englishman knows that. No Frenchmen.
    No one in the world knows that except
  • 28:22 - 28:24
    another black man who comes
    from the same place.
  • 28:25 - 28:33
    One watches these lonely people.
    Denying the only kin they have.
  • 28:33 - 28:36
    We talk about integration in America
    as thought it were some great new
  • 28:36 - 28:41
    conundrum. The problem in America
    is that we have been integrated for
  • 28:41 - 28:47
    a very long time. Put me next to any
    African and you will see what I mean.
  • 28:47 - 28:53
    My grandmother was not a racist.
    What we are not facing ...
  • 28:55 - 28:59
    is the results of what we've done.
  • 28:59 - 29:05
    What one begs the American people to do
    for all our sakes is simply to
  • 29:05 - 29:08
    accept our history.
  • 29:08 - 29:12
    I was there not only as a slave
    but also as a concubine.
  • 29:12 - 29:17
    One knows the power afterall which
    can be used against another person
  • 29:17 - 29:19
    who has absolute power over
    that person.
  • 29:22 - 29:25
    It seemed to me when I watched
    Americans in Europe what they
  • 29:25 - 29:31
    didn’t know about Europeans was
    what they didn’t know about me.
  • 29:31 - 29:35
    They weren’t trying, for example, to be
    nasty to the French girl, or
  • 29:35 - 29:39
    rude to the French waiter. They
    didn’t know they hurt their feelings.
  • 29:39 - 29:44
    They didn’t have any sense this
    particular woman, this particular man,
  • 29:44 - 29:46
    though they spoke another language
    and had different manners
  • 29:46 - 29:51
    and ways, was a human being. And
    they walked over them, the same kind
  • 29:51 - 30:00
    of bland ignorance, condescension,
    charming and cheerful with which
  • 30:00 - 30:04
    they’ve always patted me on the head
    and called me Shine and were upset
  • 30:04 - 30:15
    when I was upset. What is relevant
    about this is that whereas forty years ago
  • 30:15 - 30:23
    when I was born, the question of having
    to deal with what is unspoken
  • 30:23 - 30:28
    by the subjugated, what is never said
    to the master, of ever
  • 30:28 - 30:31
    having to deal with this reality
    was a very remote possibility.
  • 30:31 - 30:35
    It was in no one’s mind. When I was
    growing up, I was taught in
  • 30:35 - 30:40
    American history books, that Africa had
    no history, and neither did I.
  • 30:40 - 30:48
    That I was a savage about whom the less
    said, the better, who had been
  • 30:48 - 30:56
    saved by Europe and brought to America.
    And, of course, I believed it.
  • 30:56 - 31:01
    I didn’t have much choice.
    Those were the only books there were.
  • 31:01 - 31:05
    Everyone else seemed to agree.
  • 31:05 - 31:10
    If you walk out of Harlem, ride out
    of Harlem, downtown, the world
  • 31:10 - 31:15
    agrees what you see is much bigger,
    cleaner, whiter, richer, safer
  • 31:15 - 31:22
    than where you are. They collect
    the garbage. People obviously can
  • 31:22 - 31:25
    pay their life insurance. Their children
    look happy, safe. You’re not.
  • 31:25 - 31:31
    And you go back home, and it would
    seem that, of course, that it’s an act
  • 31:31 - 31:39
    of God that this is true! That you
    belong where white people have put you.
  • 31:39 - 31:45
    It is only since the Second World War,
    that there’s been a
  • 31:45 - 31:49
    counter-image in the world. And that
    image did not come about through
  • 31:49 - 31:54
    any legislation or part of any
    American government, but through
  • 31:54 - 32:02
    the fact that Africa was suddenly
    on the stage of the world, and Africans
  • 32:02 - 32:05
    had to be dealt with in a way they’d
    never been dealt with before.
  • 32:05 - 32:10
    This gave an American Negro for
    the first time a sense of himself
  • 32:10 - 32:20
    beyond the savage or a clown. It has
    created and will create a great
  • 32:20 - 32:25
    many conundrums. One of the great
    things that the white world
  • 32:25 - 32:30
    does not know, but I think I do know,
    is that Black people are just like
  • 32:30 - 32:34
    everybody else. One has used the
    myth of Negro and the myth of color
  • 32:34 - 32:39
    to pretend and to assume that you
    were dealing with, essentially,
  • 32:39 - 32:44
    with something exotic, bizarre,
    and practically, according to human laws,
  • 32:44 - 32:49
    unknown. Alas, it is not true.
    We’re also mercenaries,
  • 32:49 - 32:55
    dictators, murderers, liars.
    We are human too.
  • 32:55 - 33:01
    What is crucial here is that unless
    we can manage to accept, establish
  • 33:01 - 33:08
    some kind of dialog between those
    people whom I pretend have paid
  • 33:08 - 33:15
    for the American dream and those
    other people who have not achieved it,
  • 33:15 - 33:23
    we will be in terrible trouble. I want
    to say, at the end, the last, is that is
  • 33:23 - 33:28
    that is what concerns me most. We are
    sitting in this room, and we are all,
  • 33:28 - 33:32
    at least I’d like to think we are,
    relatively civilized, and we can talk to
  • 33:32 - 33:39
    each other at least on certain levels
    so that we could walk out of here
  • 33:39 - 33:43
    assuming that the measure of our
    enlightenment, or at least, our
  • 33:43 - 33:47
    politeness, has some effect on
    the world. It may not.
  • 33:47 - 33:53
    I remember, for example, when the
    ex Attorney General, Mr. Robert Kennedy,
  • 33:53 - 34:01
    said that it was conceivable that in
    forty years, in America, we might have
  • 34:01 - 34:08
    a Negro president. That sounded
    like a very emancipated statement,
  • 34:08 - 34:14
    I suppose, to white people. They were
    not in Harlem when this statement
  • 34:14 - 34:20
    was first heard. And did not hear,
    and possibly will never hear the laughter
  • 34:20 - 34:22
    and the bitterness, and the scorn
    with which this statement was greeted.
  • 34:22 - 34:26
    From the point of view of the man
    in the Harlem barber shop, Bobby Kennedy
  • 34:26 - 34:33
    only got here yesterday, and he’s
    already on his way to the presidency.
  • 34:33 - 34:37
    We’ve been here for four hundred
    years and now he tells us that maybe
  • 34:37 - 34:43
    in forty years, if you’re good,
    we may let you become president.
  • 34:43 - 34:53
    What is dangerous here is the turning
    away from – the turning away from
  • 34:53 - 34:59
    – anything any white American says.
    The reason for the political hesitation,
  • 34:59 - 35:04
    in spite of the Johnson landslide is
    that one has been betrayed by American
  • 35:04 - 35:09
    politicians for so long. And I am a
    grown man and perhaps I can be
  • 35:09 - 35:17
    reasoned with. I certainly hope I can be.
    But I don’t know, and neither does
  • 35:17 - 35:21
    Martin Luther King, none of us know
    how to deal with those other people
  • 35:21 - 35:24
    whom the white world has so long
    ignored, who don’t believe anything
  • 35:24 - 35:31
    the white world says and don’t entirely
    believe anything I or Martin is saying.
  • 35:31 - 35:35
    And one can’t blame them. You watch
    what has happened to them in less than
  • 35:35 - 35:42
    twenty years. It seems to me that the
    City of New York, for example- this is
  • 35:42 - 35:50
    my last point – It’s had Negroes
    in it for a very long time.
  • 35:50 - 35:56
    If the city of New York were able, as it
    has indeed been able, in the last fifteen
  • 35:56 - 36:01
    years to reconstruct itself, tear down
    buildings and raise great new ones,
  • 36:01 - 36:08
    downtown and for money, and has
    done nothing whatever except build
  • 36:08 - 36:15
    housing projects in the ghetto for the
    Negroes. And of course, Negroes hate it.
  • 36:15 - 36:19
    Presently the property does indeed
    deteriorate because the children
  • 36:19 - 36:25
    cannot bear it. They want to get out
    of the ghetto. If the American pretensions
  • 36:25 - 36:34
    were based on more solid, a more
    honest assessment of life and of
  • 36:34 - 36:39
    themselves, it would not mean for Negroes
    when someone says “Urban Renewal,”
  • 36:39 - 36:42
    that Negroes can simply be thrown
    out into the streets.
  • 36:42 - 36:45
    This is just what it does mean now.
    This is not an act of God. We’re
  • 36:45 - 36:52
    dealing with a society made and ruled
    by men. Had the American Negro had not
  • 36:52 - 36:56
    been present in America, I am convinced
    the history of the American labor
  • 36:56 - 36:59
    movement would be much
    more edifying than it is.
  • 36:59 - 37:06
    It is a terrible thing for an entire
    people to surrender to the notion
  • 37:06 - 37:12
    that one-ninth of its population is
    beneath them. And until that moment,
  • 37:12 - 37:18
    until the moment comes when we, the
    Americans, we, the American people,
  • 37:18 - 37:23
    are able to accept the fact, that I have
    to accept, for example, that my ancestors
  • 37:23 - 37:29
    are both White and Black. That on that
    continent we are trying to forge a new
  • 37:29 - 37:35
    identity for which we need each other
    and that I am not a ward of America.
  • 37:35 - 37:41
    I am not an object of missionary
    charity. I am one of the people who built
  • 37:41 - 37:47
    the country–until this moment, there is
    scarcely any hope for the American dream,
  • 37:47 - 37:54
    because the people who are denied
    participation in it, by their very
  • 37:54 - 38:00
    presence, will wreck it. And if that
    happens, it is a very grave moment for
  • 38:00 - 38:01
    the West. Thank you.
  • 38:01 - 38:22
    [standing ovation, loud applause]
  • 38:22 - 38:29
    Narrator: Members. Moving moment now.
    The whole of the union standing and
  • 38:29 - 38:35
    applauding this magnificent speech of
    James Baldwin. Never seen this happen
  • 38:35 - 38:41
    before in the union in all the years
    that I have known it. Baldwin smiling,
  • 38:41 - 38:46
    obviously delighted by his reception,
    tremendously moved by it.
  • 38:46 - 39:05
    [applause]
  • 39:05 - 39:08
    President: I am now very grateful
    and very pleased to be
  • 39:08 - 39:11
    able to call Mr. William F Buckley Jr. to
    speak forth to this motion.
  • 39:11 - 39:20
    [applause]
  • 39:20 - 39:24
    Narrator: Now we have Mr. William
    Buckley, who will need all his skill to
  • 39:24 - 39:28
    establish ascendancy over his audience,
    which has clearly been so deeply
  • 39:28 - 39:32
    moved by the eloquence and personal
    experience of the preceding speaker.
  • 39:32 - 39:34
    William Buckley: Thank you Mr. President,
    Baldwin, Heycock, Burford, gentlemen.
  • 39:39 - 39:47
    It seems to me that of all the indictments
    Mr. Baldwin has made of America
  • 39:47 - 39:59
    here tonight and in his copious literature
    of protest, the one that is of most
  • 39:59 - 40:12
    striking, involves in effect, the refusal
    of the American community to treat
  • 40:12 - 40:20
    him other than as a negro. The
    American community has refused to
  • 40:20 - 40:28
    do this. The American community
    almost everywhere he goes treats
  • 40:28 - 40:36
    him with a kind of unction, of
    a kind of satisfaction at posturing
  • 40:36 - 40:45
    carefully for his flagellation of
    our civilization. That indeed, our
  • 40:45 - 40:51
    white populi commands the contempt
    which he so eloquently showers upon us.
  • 40:52 - 40:58
    It is impossible in my judgment to deal
    with the indictment of Mr. Baldwin
  • 40:58 - 41:03
    unless one is prepared to deal with him as
    a white man. Unless one is prepared to
  • 41:03 - 41:08
    say to him the fact that your skin is
    black is utterly irrelevant to the
  • 41:08 - 41:14
    arguments that you raised or the
    fact that you sit here as is your
  • 41:14 - 41:20
    rhetorical devise and lay the entire
    waves of the negro ordeal on your
  • 41:20 - 41:26
    own shoulders is irrelevant to the
    argument that we are here to discuss.
  • 41:29 - 41:36
    The bravanmon of Mr. Baldwin's charges
    against America are not so much that our
  • 41:36 - 41:42
    civilization has failed him or/and his
    people. That our ideals are
  • 41:42 - 41:49
    insufficient or that we have no
    ideals. That our ideals are rather
  • 41:49 - 41:54
    some sort of a superficial coating
    of which we come up with at any
  • 41:54 - 41:59
    given moment in order to justify
    our whatever commercial and
  • 41:59 - 42:04
    agnoxious experiment we are engaged
    in. Of us, Mr. Baldwin can write his
  • 42:04 - 42:10
    book "The Fire Next Time," in which
    he threatens America. He didn't
  • 42:10 - 42:14
    in writing that book speak with a
    British accent that he used
  • 42:14 - 42:18
    exclusively tonight, in which he
    threatened America with a
  • 42:18 - 42:27
    necessity for us to jettison...
    for us to jettison our entire
  • 42:27 - 42:33
    civilization, the only thing that the
    white man has that the negro should
  • 42:33 - 42:36
    want, he said is power.
  • 42:37 - 42:42
    And he is treated from coast to coast of
    the United States with a kind of unctuous
  • 42:42 - 42:47
    [Narrator speaking over him: inaudible]
  • 42:47 - 42:50
    ... that goes beyond anything that was
    ever expected from some of the most
  • 42:50 - 42:54
    servile negro creature by a southern
    family. I propose to pay him the honor
  • 42:54 - 43:01
    this night of saying to him, Mr. Baldwin,
    I am going to speak to you without any
  • 43:01 - 43:08
    reference whatever to those surrounding
    protections which you are used to
  • 43:08 - 43:13
    in virtue of the fact that you are a
    negro. Here we need to ask the question,
  • 43:13 - 43:17
    what in fact shall we do about it,
    Mr. President? What shall we in America
  • 43:17 - 43:25
    try to do? For instance, to eliminate
    those psychic humiliations which I join
  • 43:25 - 43:30
    Mr. Baldwin in believing are the very
    worst aspects of this discrimination.
  • 43:30 - 43:35
    You found it a source of considerable
    merth to laugh away these statistics
  • 43:35 - 43:40
    of my colleague, Mr. Burford. I don't
    think they are insignificant. They
  • 43:40 - 43:45
    certainly are not insignificant in a world
    which attaches a considerable importance
  • 43:45 - 43:53
    to material progress. It is in fact the case
    that seven-tenths of the white income
  • 43:53 - 43:57
    of the United States is equal to the
    income that is made by the average
  • 43:57 - 44:03
    negro. I don't think this is an irrelevant
    statistic, ladies and gentleman. It takes
  • 44:03 - 44:07
    the capitalization of fifteen, sixteen,
    seventeen thousand dollars per job in the
  • 44:07 - 44:12
    United States. This is capitalization that
    was not created exclusively as a result
  • 44:12 - 44:18
    of negro travail. My great grand parents
    worked too, presumably yours worked
  • 44:18 - 44:21
    also. I don't know of anything that has
    ever been created without the expense
  • 44:21 - 44:26
    of something. All of you who hope for a
    diploma here are going to do that at the
  • 44:26 - 44:30
    expense of a considerable amount of
    effort. And I would thank you to please
  • 44:30 - 44:35
    not to deny the fact that a considerable
    amount of effort went into the production
  • 44:35 - 44:40
    of a system which grants a greater degree
    of material well being to the American
  • 44:40 - 44:44
    negro. Other than that, that is enjoyed
    by 95% of the other peoples' of the human
  • 44:44 - 44:51
    race. But even so, to the extent that
    your withering laughter suggested that
  • 44:51 - 44:57
    you found this a contemptible
    observation.I agree. I don't think it
  • 44:57 - 45:02
    matters that there are thirty-five
    millionaires among the negro community
  • 45:02 - 45:06
    if there were thirty-five, if there were
    twenty million millionaires among
  • 45:06 - 45:10
    the negro community of the United States,
    I would still agree with you that we
  • 45:10 - 45:17
    have a dastardly situation. But I am
    asking you not to make politics as
  • 45:17 - 45:23
    the crow flies, to use the fleeted phrase
    of Professor Oakshock. Rather consider
  • 45:23 - 45:27
    what in fact is that we Americans ought
    to do? What are your instructions that
  • 45:27 - 45:31
    I am to take back to the United States
    my friend? I want to know what it is
  • 45:31 - 45:37
    that we should do and especially, I want
    to know whether it is time in fact
  • 45:37 - 45:41
    to abandon the American Dream as it
    has been defined by Mr. Heycock and
  • 45:41 - 45:48
    Mr. Burford. What in fact is it we
    ought to do; for instance, to avoid
  • 45:48 - 45:55
    two humiliations mentioned by Mr. Baldwin
    as being a part of his own experience
  • 45:55 - 46:01
    during his lifetime. At the age of twelve,
    you will find on reading his book,
  • 46:01 - 46:07
    he trespassed outside the ghetto of
    Harlem and was taken by the scruff of the
  • 46:07 - 46:11
    neck by a policeman on forty-second
    street, Madison Avenue and said, "Here,
  • 46:11 - 46:17
    you nigger, go back to where you belong.
    "Fifteen, twenty years later he goes in
  • 46:17 - 46:24
    and asks for a scotch whiskey at the
    airport at Chicago and is told by the
  • 46:24 - 46:30
    white woman that he is obviously under-age
    and under the circumstances, can't be
  • 46:30 - 46:35
    served. I know. I know from your faces
    that you share with me the feeling of
  • 46:35 - 46:40
    compassion and the feeling of outraged
    that this kind of thing should have
  • 46:40 - 46:44
    happened. What in fact are we going to
    do to this policeman and what in fact are
  • 46:44 - 46:52
    we going to do to this barman? How are we
    going to avoid the kind of humiliations
  • 46:52 - 46:58
    that are perpetually visited on members
    of the minority race. Obviously, the first
  • 46:58 - 47:04
    element is concern. We've got to
    care that it happens. We've got to
  • 47:04 - 47:09
    do what we can to change the warp
    and woof of moral thought in society
  • 47:09 - 47:16
    in such fashion as to try to make it
    happen less and less. Let me urge this
  • 47:16 - 47:20
    point to you which I can do with
    authority, my friends. The only thing that
  • 47:20 - 47:26
    I can tonight, and that is to tell you
    that in the United States there is a
  • 47:26 - 47:29
    concern for the negro problem. Now
    if you get up to me and
  • 47:29 - 47:33
    say- [laughter]
  • 47:33 - 47:37
    If you get up to me and say,
    "Well is there now the kind of
  • 47:37 - 47:41
    concern that we, students of Cambridge,
    would show if the problem were our
  • 47:41 - 47:47
    own?" All I can say is I don't know.
    It may very well be that there has
  • 47:47 - 47:55
    been some sort of a sunburst of
    moral enlightenment that has hit this
  • 47:55 - 47:58
    community so as to make it predictable
    that if you were the
  • 47:58 - 48:01
    governors of the United States,
    the situation would change overnight.
  • 48:01 - 48:08
    I am prepared to grant this as a
    form of courtesy, Mr. President, but
  • 48:08 - 48:14
    meanwhile, I am saying to you that the
    engines of concern in the United States
  • 48:14 - 48:20
    are working. The presence of Mr. Baldwin
    here tonight is in part a reflection of
  • 48:20 - 48:24
    that concern. [audience members
    yells out] You cannot go to a
  • 48:24 - 48:29
    university in the United States, a
    university in the United States presumably
  • 48:29 - 48:35
    also governed by the lord spiritual as
    you are, in which Mr. Baldwin is not the
  • 48:35 - 48:40
    toast of the town. You cannot go to a
    university of the United States in which
  • 48:40 - 48:45
    practically all other problems of public
    preempted by the primary policy of concern
  • 48:46 - 48:50
    for the negro. I challenge you to name
    another civilization any time
  • 48:51 - 48:55
    anywhere in the history of the world
    in which the problems of the minority,
  • 48:55 - 49:01
    which have been showing considerable
    material and political advancement is as
  • 49:01 - 49:06
    much a subject of dramatic concern as it
    is in the United States, but let me just
  • 49:06 - 49:16
    say finally, ladies and gentlemen, this.
    There is no instant cure for the race
  • 49:16 - 49:22
    problem in America and anybody who tells
    there is, is a charlatan and a boring man
  • 49:22 - 49:28
    Boring precisely because he is then
    speaking the kind of abstractions that
  • 49:28 - 49:33
    do not relate to the human experience.
    The trouble in America where the negro
  • 49:33 - 49:39
    community is concerned is a very
    complicated one. I urge those of you
  • 49:39 - 49:44
    who have an actual rather than a
    purely ideologized interest in the
  • 49:44 - 49:51
    problem to read the book "Beyond
    the Melting Pot" by Professor Glazer,
  • 49:51 - 49:57
    also co-author of the "The Lonely Proud"
    a prominent Jewish intellectual who
  • 49:57 - 50:02
    points at the fact that the situation in
    America where the negros are concerned
  • 50:02 - 50:09
    is extremely complex as the result of an
    unfortunate conjunction of two factors.
  • 50:09 - 50:16
    One is the dreadful efforts to perpetuate
    discrimination by many individual American
  • 50:16 - 50:22
    citizens as a result of their lack of that
    final and ultimate concern which some
  • 50:22 - 50:27
    people truly find agitate the other or is
    as a result of a failure of the negro
  • 50:27 - 50:35
    community itself to make certain exertions
    which were made by other minority groups
  • 50:35 - 50:40
    during the American experience. If you can
    stand a statistic not of my own making,
  • 50:40 - 50:46
    let me give you one which Professor
    Glazer considers as relevant. He says
  • 50:46 - 50:52
    for instance, in 1900 there were thirty-
    five hundred negro doctors in America. In
  • 50:52 - 50:57
    1960, there were thirty-nine hundred. An
    increase in four hundred. Is this because
  • 50:57 - 51:02
    there were no opportunities, as has been
    suggested by Mr. Heycock and also by
  • 51:02 - 51:07
    Mr. Baldwin implicitly. "No," says
    Professor Glazer. There are a great many
  • 51:07 - 51:13
    medical schools who by no means practice
    discrimination, who are anxious to recieve
  • 51:13 - 51:17
    the trained negro doctors. There are
    scholarships available to put them
  • 51:17 - 51:22
    through, but in fact that particular
    energy which he remarks was so noticeable
  • 51:22 - 51:26
    in the Jewish community and to a certain
    and lesser extent in the Italian and
  • 51:26 - 51:32
    Irish community for some reason is
    not there. We should focus on the
  • 51:32 - 51:36
    necessity to animate this particular
    energy, but he comes to the conclusion
  • 51:36 - 51:40
    which strikes me as plausible. The people
    who can best do it most effectively
  • 51:40 - 51:46
    are negros themselves. Let me conclude
    by reminding you, ladies and gentlemen
  • 51:46 - 51:53
    that where the negro is concerned, the
    dangers are as far as I can see in this
  • 51:53 - 51:58
    moment is that they will seek to
    reach out for some sort of radical
  • 51:58 - 52:05
    solutions on the basis of which the true
    problem is obscured. They have done a
  • 52:05 - 52:10
    great deal to focus on the fact of white
    discrimination against negros. They have
  • 52:10 - 52:16
    done a great deal to agitate a moral
    concern, but where in fact do they go
  • 52:16 - 52:21
    now? They seem to be slipping, if you read
    carefully for instance the words of Mr.
  • 52:21 - 52:28
    Bayard Rustin, toward some sort of a
    procrustean formulation which ends up
  • 52:28 - 52:33
    less urging the advancement of the negro
    than the regression of the white people.
  • 52:33 - 52:38
    Fourteen times as many people in New
    York City born of negros are illegitimate
  • 52:38 - 52:44
    as of whites. This is a problem. How
    should we address it? By seeking out laws
  • 52:44 - 52:49
    that encourage illegitimacy in white
    people? This unfortunately tends to be
  • 52:49 - 52:53
    the rhetorical momentum of some of the
    arguments are taking. Audience member:
  • 52:53 - 52:57
    One thing you might do Mr. Buckley is let
    them vote in Mississippi. [applause]
  • 52:57 - 53:07
    Buckley: I couldn't agree with you more
    and for, except, lest I appear too
  • 53:07 - 53:12
    ingratiating which is hardly my objective
    here tonight. I think actually what is
  • 53:12 - 53:17
    wrong in Mississippi, sir, is not that not
    enough negros are voting but there are
  • 53:17 - 53:19
    too many white people are voting.
  • 53:19 - 53:26
    [laughter]
  • 53:26 - 53:33
    Booker T. Washington said, "That the
    important thing where negros are
  • 53:33 - 53:38
    concerned is not that they hold
    public office, but they be prepared
  • 53:38 - 53:42
    to hold public office. Not that they vote,
    but that they be prepared to vote.
  • 53:42 - 53:45
    What are we going to do with the
    negros having taught the negros
  • 53:45 - 53:50
    in Mississippi to despise Barnett,
    Ross Barnett, shall we then teach
  • 53:50 - 53:54
    them to emulate their cousins
    in Harlem and adore Adam
  • 53:54 - 53:59
    Clayton Powell Jr.? It is much more
    complicated, sir, then simply the
  • 53:59 - 54:03
    question of giving them the vote.
    If I were myself a constituent of the
  • 54:03 - 54:07
    community of Mississippi at this moment,
    what I would do is vote to lift the
  • 54:07 - 54:12
    standards of the vote so as to disqualify
    sixty-five percent of the white people who
  • 54:12 - 54:14
    are presently voting, not simply...
  • 54:14 - 54:20
    [applause]
  • 54:20 - 54:26
    I say then what we need is a considerable
    amount of frankness that acknowledges
  • 54:26 - 54:32
    there are two sets of difficulties,
    the difficulties of the white person who
  • 54:32 - 54:38
    acts as white people, as brown people
    and black people do all over the world to
  • 54:38 - 54:43
    protect their own vested interests, who
    have as all the races in the entire world
  • 54:43 - 54:50
    have and suffer from a kind of racial
    narcissism which tends always to
  • 54:50 - 54:55
    convert every contingency in such a way
    to maximize their own power. That yes
  • 54:55 - 55:01
    we must do, but we must also reach
    through to the negro people and tell them
  • 55:01 - 55:06
    that their best chances are in a mobile
    society and the most mobile society
  • 55:06 - 55:11
    in the world today, my friends, is the
    United States of America. The most
  • 55:11 - 55:15
    mobile society in the world is the
    United States of America, and it is
  • 55:15 - 55:20
    precisely that mobility which will give
    opportunities to the negros which
  • 55:20 - 55:25
    they must be encouraged to take, but
    they must not in the course of their
  • 55:25 - 55:32
    ordeal be encouraged to adopt the kind
    of cynicism, the kind of despair, the kind
  • 55:32 - 55:38
    of iconoclasm that is urged upon them
    by Mr. Baldwin in his recent works because
  • 55:38 - 55:45
    one thing I can tell you, I believe with
    absolute authority that where the
  • 55:45 - 55:51
    United States is concerned, if it ever
    becomes a confrontation between a
  • 55:51 - 55:59
    continuation of our own sort of idealism,
    the private start of, which granted like
  • 55:59 - 56:02
    most people in the world, we tend to
    lavish only every now and then on
  • 56:02 - 56:07
    public enterprises reserving it so often
    for our own irritations and pleasures,
  • 56:07 - 56:14
    but the fundamental friend of the negro
    people in the United States, is the good
  • 56:14 - 56:21
    nature and is the generosity and is the
    good wishes, is the decency, the
  • 56:21 - 56:27
    fundamental decency that do lie at the
    preserves of the spirit of the American
  • 56:27 - 56:32
    people. These must not be laughed at
    and under no circumstances must they
  • 56:32 - 56:37
    be laughed at and under no circumstances
    must America be addressed and told that
  • 56:37 - 56:42
    the only alternative to the status
    quo is to overthrow that civilization
  • 56:42 - 56:47
    which we consider to be the faith
    of our fathers, the faith indeed of
  • 56:47 - 56:52
    your fathers. This is what must
    animate whatever meliorism that must
  • 56:52 - 56:58
    come because if it does finally come to
    confrontation, a radical confrontation,
  • 56:58 - 57:03
    between giving up what we understand
    to be the best features of the American
  • 57:03 - 57:07
    way of life, which at that level is
    indistinguishable as far as I can see
  • 57:07 - 57:11
    from the European way of life, then
    we will fight the issue and we will
  • 57:11 - 57:16
    fight the issue not only in the Cambridge
    Union, but we will fight it as you were
  • 57:16 - 57:20
    once recently called to do on beaches
    and on hills and on mountains and
  • 57:20 - 57:25
    on landing grounds and we will be
    convinced that just as you won the
  • 57:25 - 57:31
    war against a particular threat to
    civilization, you were nevertheless
  • 57:31 - 57:36
    waging a war in favor of and for
    the benefit of Germans, your own
  • 57:36 - 57:41
    enemies, just as we are convinced that if
    it should ever come to that kind of a
  • 57:41 - 57:45
    confrontation, our own determination
    to win the struggle will be a
  • 57:45 - 57:49
    determination to wage a war not only for
    whites but also for negros.
  • 57:49 - 58:21
    [long applause]
  • 58:21 - 58:26
    President: Will the tellers take
    their places please. Voted in favor of the
  • 58:26 - 58:30
    motion, the motion being the American
    Dream at the expense of the
  • 58:30 - 58:34
    negro voted in favor of that motion
    five-hundred and-forty-four persons
  • 58:34 - 58:37
    and against, one hundred-and-sixty-four
    persons. The motion is
  • 58:37 - 58:40
    therefore carried by three-hundred-eighty
    votes and I declare the house
  • 58:40 - 58:48
    to stand adjourned. [applause]
Title:
James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley (1965)
Description:

more » « less
Video Language:
English
Duration:
58:58

English subtitles

Revisions Compare revisions