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By James Baldwin, Jules Chametzky, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities

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Read or Download Black writers redefine the struggle: a tribute to James Baldwin : proceedings of a conference at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, April 22-23, 1988 featuring Chinua Achebe ... et al. PDF

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The irritation in Mr. Parker's voice is unmistakable. One has heard it elsewhere. What does Baldwin want? S. S. Army, and a whole lot of other gains. What does the fellow want? The misunderstanding between such a view of the situation and James Baldwin's cannot but be fundamental. Baldwin wants something other than mayors and generals. He defines the struggle differently. He wants to lift from the back of Black people the heavy burden of their blackness, to end the oppression which is visited on them because they are Black and for no other reason, to use his own phrase.

Such books as Chancellor Williams' Destruction of Black Civilization; Chinweizu's The West and the Rest of Us; and especially Cheik Anta Diop's The African Origin of Civilization should be standard fare for us and our children. These are not fanciful books. In 1966, at the First World Festival of Black and African Arts held in Dakar, Dr. B. Dubois an award as the writer who had exerted the greatest influence on Negro thought in the 20th century. Dr. Diop, an African Renaissance manphysicist, historian, poetwas until his death recently Director of the Radiocarbon Laboratory at the University of Dakar.

From Homer and the Greeks to the Igbo of Nigeria. There is a remarkable little story which I took the liberty of adapting to my use in Things Fall Apart, which is the story of Tortoise and the Birds. I will summarize it here for those who are not familiar with that novel. The birds have been invited to a great feast in the sky and Tortoise is pleading with them to take him along. At first they are skeptical because they know how unreliable he is, but Tortoise convinces them that he's now a changed man, a born-again Tortoise, no less.

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