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James Baldwin Vs. William F. Buckley Jr. 1965

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James Baldwin (left), William F. Buckley (right)


On a February night in 1965 at England’s prestigious University of Cambridge, two well-known intellectuals, James Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr., debated the question: Has the American dream been achieved at the expense of the American Negro?

The debate was the event of the year and became a touchstone in the lives of its orators. And when the two men concluded their speeches, the results were clear: The night went to Baldwin, who won the debate, 540 to 160. As America today continues to grapple with the wounds of its racist past and present, Baldwin’s arguments feel as disappointingly relevant as they were 55 years ago. We’ll work through the famous debate with scholar Nicholas Buccola, author of The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate Over Race in America and discuss what has changed and what hasn’t since Baldwin declared, “The American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.”   

Dr. Nicholas Buccola’s book is The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate Over Race in America. [IndieBound|Amazon|Bookshop|Audible].

Watch James Baldwin’s and William F. Buckley’s 1965 debate here.

During July, the RadioWest Book Club read James Baldwin's first novel, "Go Tell Is on the Mountain." We'll meet Tuesday, Aug. 4, 7 p.m. via Zoom to discuss the book with Dr. Justin Joyce, managing editor of the James Baldwin Review. Look for details on our Facebook Group

Doug Fabrizio has been reporting for KUER News since 1987, and became News Director in 1993. In 2001, he became host and executive producer of KUER's RadioWest, a one hour conversation/call-in show on KUER 90.1 in Salt Lake City. He has gained a reputation for his thoughtful style. He has interviewed everyone from Isabel Allende to the Dalai Lama, and from Madeleine Albright to Desmond Tutu. His interview skills landed him a spot as a guest host of the national NPR program, "Talk of the Nation." He has won numerous awards for his reporting and for his work with RadioWest and KUED's Utah NOW from such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Broadcasters Association, the Public Radio News Directors Association and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.