This is a 2016 documentary film based on the unfinished manuscript of James Baldwin called Remember this house. James Baldwin was an American novelist, poet and social critic. To many, he is seen as an activist and an advocate for black rights during the civil rights movement in the 1960s and until he died in 1987.
Baldwin never lets any marches or rallies he only took part in debates and was featured on talk shows. Despite not being directly involved in politics at that time and also spending quite some time away from America travelling around the world, he had such powerful views on the racial and political climate of the country at that time.
The 94-minute documentary film was directed by Raoul Peck and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. It was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Academy awards. The film focuses on the 3 civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medger Evers. James Baldwin knew all three of them personally and the film shows Baldwin’s perspective on how they influenced the civil rights movement, their legacy and assassinations. All 3 civil rights leaders were assassinated between 1963-1968. Baldwin’s written manuscripts helped to shed a light on how this shaped the future of America.
The film focuses on race and how the white people in America viewed black people. Many middle to upper-class white people in America in the early 20th century had no direct contact with black people who were not their domestic staff because the majority of the country was segregated. Black people were viewed as second-class citizens and we can still see similarities between how black people were treated in America in the mid 20th century and how they are currently being treated.
The perception of black people at that time was widely controlled by media and entertainment. The documentary film showed how white people have put messages and images in certain movies making that have helped to justify the massacres and genocide they have committed against other races. In certain movies, black people are portrayed in certain ways that affirmed certain stereotypes. An example of this is the 1915 movie Birth of a nation. Another example is The Defiant Ones, a 1958 movie starring Sydney Poitier. Baldwin felt like in this movie Sydney Poitier had to jump off the train at the end to reassure the white man because the black man was always and still is perceived as a threat. The documentary links this to the shooting of unarmed young black boys currently in America.