What James Baldwin's Work Tells Us About Today's Fight For Racial Justice

Wednesday, Jun 24, 2020

People congregate outside a burned Wendy's restaurant on the second day following the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in the restaurant parking lot.

People congregate outside a burned Wendy's restaurant on the second day following the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in the restaurant parking lot. ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP via Getty Images

The news sounds familiar. Rayshard Brooks was 27 and a father to three young daughters and a teenage stepson. 

He was shot dead after officers responded to a call about him falling asleep in his car at an Atlanta Wendy's.

Video shows Brooks and officers in a calm, lengthy conversation before the subsequent chaos. The officer who shot him has been fired. And Atlanta's police chief resigned.

First, we spoke with Hank Klibanoff, host of the "Buried Truths" podcast and director of the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University about the latest news and where we go from here as a nation.

Then, as calls for racial justice and an end to police brutality grow louder, it's far from the first time the country has seen this kind of unrest in the fight for equality. 

Perhaps writer James Baldwin best articulated the exhaustion many Black Americans feel right now. Many people are returning to his work now, in a time that feels chillingly similar to his own.

We talked more about Baldwin and his thoughts on race in America with Bill Maxwell, professor of English and African American studies at the Washington University in St. Louis and Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University.

[Originally published on June 15, 2020 via 1A

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