I Am Not Your Negro (2017)


Critic Consensus: I Am Not Your Negro offers an incendiary snapshot of James Baldwin's crucial observations on American race relations -- and a sobering reminder of how far we've yet to go.


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In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends-Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin's death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript. Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin's original words and flood of rich archival material. I Am Not Your Negro is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.

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Critic Reviews for I Am Not Your Negro

All Critics (192) | Top Critics (33)

Baldwin re-emerges as a devastatingly eloquent speaker and public intellectual; a figure who deserves his place alongside Edward Said, Frantz Fanon or Gore Vidal.

Apr 7, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

It's an astonishing, often challenging and sharp examination of race in the United States, confronting how the country's history repeats and how Baldwin insisted we must remember, relentlessly question, remain conscientious and resist.

Feb 24, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

The result - hard-hitting and insightful - is a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Feb 23, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

"I Am Not Your Negro" is important. And urgent. And almost certainly unlikely to be seen by the people who would benefit from it most.

Feb 16, 2017 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

Baldwin's words, Jackson's reading and Peck's elegant and scorching composition will resonate for years to come.

Feb 9, 2017 | Full Review…

An enormously resonant work of cultural history that should do much to renew attention to the lonely, prophetic voice of James Baldwin.

Feb 7, 2017 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for I Am Not Your Negro

James Baldwin was one of the most vital voices in America's 20th century and thanks to this movie his voice seems more essential then before. This important film shares Baldwin's views on racism at a point in his life where he was 63. Angry, tired, introspective, enlightened is how Baldwin comes across (in a letter read by Samuel L. Jackson and visualized brilliantly by Raoul Peck). This is a film that needs to be shared in homes, schools and any venue where discussion can follow.

Aldo Gandia
Aldo Gandia

Super Reviewer


Baldwin's always been a figure of fascination for me and Peck's intriguing portrait only deepens my appreciation of the man. That so much of what he had to say is still relevant speaks to this country's deep failings.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

The fact that this unmissable documentary has been somehow met with strong opposition from a segment of the public is symptomatic evidence of its importance as an objective examination that should make us seriously reflect on the very roots of racism in America.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

James Baldwin lived a difficult and amazing life. Growing up poor in Harlem, he managed to crawl out from under the burden of a segregated America to achieve a place as one of the heroes of its betterment. However, as he explains in Raoul Peck's newest documentary "I Am Not Your Negro", growing up a Black child in John Wayne's America made him the villain by default. Just the same as the Native Americans that Wayne would kill and admonish in films, the Black man was the unwanted backbone of the country. As Baldwin said, the history of Blacks in America IS the history of America, and history, as this timely documentary shows, continually repeats itself. Based on the notes to his final, incomplete book "Remember this House", the film recounts in Baldwin's own words (narrated quietly by Samuel L. Jackson) his recollection of the lives and movements of Medgar Evers, Malcom X, and Martin Luther King Jr. It is a moving and beautiful film, but more than just commemorating their lives, Baldwin strikes at the core of race relations in the in the US. Ignorance, or an unwillingness to look at that which we cannot accept is at the heart of our dire culture, and it is codified through fear. It's fear of the other and fear of ourselves. The only problem I can see with the film is that you don't have to tell me or people like me this. People like me go see "Moonlight", "Fences", "Get Out" and "I Am Not Your Negro". Sure, we should be reminded of these truths often, but until movies like this are interjected into NASCAR races and between episodes of "Swamp People" the people who need to hear it the most will continue to keep their heads in the sand.

K Nife Churchkey
K Nife Churchkey

Super Reviewer

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