There Is Nothing More Timely Than the Trailer for I Am Not Your Negro

James Baldwin’s voice is as spot-on and prophetic as ever in the trailer for Raoul Peck’s documentary I Am Not Your Negro, a story about the black American experience told through Baldwin’s perspective.


“If any white man in the world says, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ the entire white world applauds,” Baldwin says in an interview clip to open the trailer. “When a black man says exactly the same thing, he is judged a criminal and treated like one and everything possible is done to make an example of this bad nigger so there won’t be any more like him.”

Before Baldwin died in 1987, his unfinished manuscript Remember This House was intended to be a meditation on the assassinations of Civil Rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. I Am Not Your Negro is director Raoul Peck’s interpretative completion of Baldwin’s work, using archival footage alongside Samuel L. Jackson’s narration of Baldwin’s bold statements on race and blackness—“In America, I was free only in battle. Never free to rest,” Jackson narrates.


The Civil Rights Movement, Hollywood, and Black Lives Matter are all explored under the rhetoric of Baldwin, in a film that looks to be a chilling bridging of the past with current events. The documentary releases nationwide in theaters on February 3 and airs on PBS later this year.

Culture Editor, Jezebel

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There’s something mesmerizing about his combination of righteous anger, intellectual precision, and unflappable self-respect. He was of his time, but also ahead of his time, because nobody answered the questions he raised, and still haven’t.