Door 7: I Am Not Your Negro

Photography © Sedat Pakay 1966

It seems sometimes that artists have a prophetical gift, describing the future so accurate that it is frightening. A well known example is Paul Klee's Angelus Novus who got famous through Walter Benjamin's essay. A more recent example, even though it was written more than thirty years ago, is the documentary I Am Not Your Negro.

The said documentary was released in 2016 to much acclaim. The movie is directed by Raoul Peck, who besides a short period as Haiti's Minister of Culture is an awarded director, mostly of documentary feature films. Additionally the movie is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

Those alone are standout facts, but it is James Baldwin's unfinished script Remember This House, on which the documentary is, that makes it so compelling. The story follows the lives and deaths of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., which he all knew personally well, that makes the subject of the movie so contemporary.

As the writer and poet Baldwin was an outspoken and eloquent observer of his time, his words, which are compared to recent developments like Ferguson and Black Lives Matter ring truer today than ever. In a little above 90 minutes the movie captures more depth than a lot of series, it is of course not an easy watch, but definitely worth it.