Excerpt from James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie (1964)

From James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie (a play), "Notes for Blues." (1964):

The play then, for me, takes place in Plaguetown, U.S.A., now. The plague is race, the plague is our concept of Christianity: and this raging plague has the power to destroy every human relationship. I once took a short trip with Medgar Evers to the backwoods of Mississippi. He was investigating the murder of a Negro man by a white storekeeper which had taken place many months before. Many people talked to Medgar that night, in dark cabins, with their lights out, in whispers; and had been followed for many miles out of Jackson, Mississippi, not by a lunatic with a gun, but by state troopers. I will never forget that night, as I will never forget Medgar — who took me to the plane the next day. We promised to see each other soon. When he died, something entered into me which I cannot describe, but it was then that I resolved that nothing under heaven would prevent me from getting this play done. We are walking in terrible darkness here, and this is one man's attempt to bear witness to the reality and power of the light (xv).

James Baldwin
New York, April, 1964

Published: 11 March 2008
© 2008 Southern Spaces

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