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James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley


A still image the video with 'Baldwin vs Buckley' in thin font, overlaying a blurry image of people sitting in a large debate hall.


In 1965, James Baldwin debated author and National Review editor William F. Buckley at the Cambridge Union in London, England. A distinguished forum for the exchange of ideas through formal debate, the Cambridge Union at Cambridge University invited Baldwin to engage on the topic “The American Dream is at the Expense of the American Negro.” Baldwin argued that the American Dream had been achieved through the institution of slavery and was maintained by the “Negro’s” exploited labor during Reconstruction and Jim Crow; this labor, as well as entrenched cultural and structural barriers, formed the political and economic foundation of the United States.