Students screen 'I Am Not Your Negro'

Mar 21, 2017

PANTHER 2017 film screening 1
Claflin students watch the film at the Nickeledeon Theatre in Columbia. (Panther photo by Audrey Anchirinah)

Claflin students got the chance to watch and discuss the Oscar-nominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,” as well as hold a discussion with faculty about the film.

The event at the non-profit Nickelodeon Theatre in Columbia on Feb. 26 was organized by the sociology and psychology departments.

The documentary is based of James Baldwin’s 30 pages of an unfinished writing project. Baldwin writes about the lives and deaths of three friends who were influential in the civil rights movement: Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers.

“For me Baldwin is an important social and political theorist, thinker," said Dr. Andre Keith, professor of African-American studies.

Keith was part of the three-member panel leading the discussion. He was joined by Dr. Kim Bree, professor of English, and Dr. Frank Martin, professor of philosophy and art.

Bree said Baldwin is an important figure in American literature, especially in African-American society.

Most students gave the documentary good reviews. Some commented on how open-minded and intellectual Baldwin was in his way of thinking as seen in his speeches.

“Baldwin was a prolific speaker that invoked a feeling of wanting to look beyond and think outside of the box,” psychology major Romona Jeffrey said.

The documentary touched on race issues as well as the different perspectives of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr.

“His rejection of religion as a source of mediating the race issues. Although he is friends with Martin Luther King and Malcom X, in most cases, he rejects their religious undertones,” Keith said.

Frank Martin speaks at the screening event.

Frank Martin speaks at the screening.
(Panther photo by Audrey Anchirinah)

Martin cited a quote by Baldwin: “What white people have to do is try to find out, in their own hearts, why it was necessary to have a Negro in the first place because I am not a Negro, I am a man; but if you think I am a Negro, it means you need it."

“In philosophy, we think about our thinking,” Martin said. “Baldwin was an original thinker.”

The book, which was to be titled "Remember the House," was incomplete when Baldwin died. The documentary includes footage of past and current racial tensions in America.


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