Submission Title

The Fire Is upon Us

Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

Subject Area

Political Science

Description

On February 18, 1965, an overflow crowd at the Cambridge Union witnessed an epic clash of ideas as one of the leading radical intellectuals of the era, James Baldwin, sparred with one of the leading conservative intellectuals of the era, William F. Buckley, Jr., on this question: Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro? It would be difficult to imagine two human beings with more dramatically different life experiences and worldviews. Baldwin was Black and gay and had emerged from the “Harlem ghetto” to become one of the most famous writer-activists in the Civil Rights Movement. Buckley was born into an immensely wealthy, devoutly Catholic, and deeply conservative family in Connecticut, and he had risen through elite prep schools and Yale to become one of the leading figures on the American Right. In this project, this famous clash is used to explore the intellectual biographies of both men against the backdrop of mid-20th century political history.

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The Fire Is upon Us

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

On February 18, 1965, an overflow crowd at the Cambridge Union witnessed an epic clash of ideas as one of the leading radical intellectuals of the era, James Baldwin, sparred with one of the leading conservative intellectuals of the era, William F. Buckley, Jr., on this question: Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro? It would be difficult to imagine two human beings with more dramatically different life experiences and worldviews. Baldwin was Black and gay and had emerged from the “Harlem ghetto” to become one of the most famous writer-activists in the Civil Rights Movement. Buckley was born into an immensely wealthy, devoutly Catholic, and deeply conservative family in Connecticut, and he had risen through elite prep schools and Yale to become one of the leading figures on the American Right. In this project, this famous clash is used to explore the intellectual biographies of both men against the backdrop of mid-20th century political history.