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.”
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.