Colin Marshall in Open Culture:
One often hears lamented the lack of well-spoken public intellectuals in America today. Very often, the lamenters look back to James Baldwin, who in the 1950s and 1960s wrote such powerful race-, class-, and sex-examining books as Go Tell It on the Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, and The Fire Next Time, as one of the greatest figures in the field. Though Baldwin expatriated himself to France for much of his life, he seems never to have let the state of his homeland drift far from his mind, and his opinions on it continued to put a charge into the grand American debate.
Upon one return from Paris in 1957, Baldwin found himself wrapped up in the controversy around the Civil Rights Act and the related movements across the south. He wrote several high-profile essays on the subject, even ending up himself the subject of a 1963 Time magazine cover story on his views. That same year, he went on a lecture tour on race in America which put him in close contact with a variety of student movements and other protests, whose efficacy he and Malcolm X debated inthe broadcast above.