Every generation has a few voices which ring with a special clarity. If you are lucky enough to have access to an education which allows both teachers and students to open themselves to the sounds of those voices, then those words become a part of you and the life you lead for decades after. Today’s generation of students have their own voices to guide them. For me, during my formative years in the 1960’s, I was lucky enough to have access to a good education, with innovative and fearless teachers. They introduced to me the voice of James Baldwin, specifically to his collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son, first published in 1955.
For obvious reasons, I have been thinking about him quite a bit lately. I recently came upon this video of him addressing a group of students at Cambridge University during a debate with William F. Buckley. I’m grateful to now be reminded of his wisdom, and his voice: