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James Baldwin

The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time

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By James Baldwin | Modern Library (2021)

A stirring, intimate reflection on the nature of race and American nationhood that is a catalyst for change in a time of turmoil

With clarity, conviction, and passion, James Baldwin delivers a dire warning of the effects of racism that remains urgent nearly sixty years after its original publication. In the first of two essays, “My Dungeon Shook: Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation,” Baldwin offers kind and unflinching counsel on what it means to be Black in the United States and explains the twisted logic of American racism.

“Down at the Cross: Letter from a Region in my Mind” recounts Baldwin’s spiritual journey into the church after a religious crisis at the age of 14, and then back out of it again, as well as his meeting with Elijah Muhammed, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Throughout, Baldwin urges us to reckon with the oppressive institutions of race, religion, and nationhood itself, and insists that shared resilience among both Black and white people is the only way forward. As much as it is a reckoning, The Fire Next Time is also a clarion call to care, courage, and love, and a candle to light the way.

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