James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley (1965)

Historic debate between James Baldwin v. William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge University on the question: “Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?”


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  1. I really think that there is a need for such igniting, challenging, and enlightening debates. Yes and presently, there are scores of debates on an equally as numerous topics. Within my little thoughts, few debaters are as rich in experience and few are hosts to such well formed arguments as these two gentlemen. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. true, buckley didn't really address the contention that the "American dream" is at the expense of blacks. this would be too dangerous an indictment of so called "capitalism". He mostly just chided them for not being the same as other oppressed groups who were not slaves, and said there are rising social conditions in the US, so take advantage of that. conveniently he did not mention that it was also an argument for retaining slavery that living standards for slaves were rising.

  3. Did you notice when James Baldwin finished speaking the entire audience stood and applauded, mind you there was a FULL house! When Mr. Buckley finished with his speech, during the applause, the cameras panned the room and I noticed a good portion of the audience had left!

  4. Our African anesters did not come here chasing wealth and the freedom that comes with it. They were brought here by the people who were looking to get wealthy and sold to people who were busy building their fortunes in the new world. African slaves were the fuel that fed the American dream.

  5. Buckley observes that Jewish and Italian communities were more energetic in getting ahead than were Black Americans, but he doesn't acknowledge the obvious difference: despite severe discrimination, Jews and Italians were never slaves or grew up with that knowledge and experience hanging over them for generations or had to contend with their former and bitter owners and those owners' descendants living side by side with them and who acted to deliberately deny black participation in the system.

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