The Evidence of Things Not Seen (Paperback)
This was an eerie read, for the simple fact that Baldwin’s words fit too perfectly in the present day. This was a dose of reality that shakes you out of comfortability. 50 years ago, Baldwin said, “Others may see American progress in economic, social, ad racial affairs - I do not.” He did not sugar-coat, or naively believe that he would see progress in his lifetime. But he told us directly that we are responsible for making radical change.— Jonathan P.
Over twenty-two months in 1979 and 1981 nearly two dozen children were unspeakably murdered in Atlanta despite national attention and outcry; they were all Black. James Baldwin investigated these murders, the Black administration in Atlanta, and Wayne Williams, the Black man tried for the crimes. Because there was only evidence to convict Williams for the murders of two men, the children's cases were closed, offering no justice to the families or the country. Baldwin's incisive analysis implicates the failures of integration as the guilt party, arguing, "There could be no more devastating proof of this assault than the slaughter of the children."
As Stacey Abrams writes in her foreword, "The humanity of black children, of black men and women, of black lives, has ever been a conundrum for America. Forty years on, Baldwin's writing reminds us that we have never resolved the core query: Do black lives matter? Unequivocally, the moral answer is yes, but James Baldwin refuses such rhetorical comfort." In this, his last book, by excavating American race relations Baldwin exposes the hard-to-face ingrained issues and demands that we all reckon with them.
Stacey Abrams is an author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO and political leader. After eleven years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as Minority Leader, Abrams became the 2018 Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, where she won more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history. She has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels; and she is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Abrams is the 2012 recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award and the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States.
“To grapple with the pervasiveness of American racism, we can always turn to James Baldwin. You cannot help but admire his words in this volume as they remain as relevant today as when they first appeared.”
—Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning
“Baldwin’s insightful depiction of Atlanta seeing itself as separate from Georgia’s politics has a heartbeat that is still pounding in today’s political climate.”
—Kimberly Jones, activist and author of How We Can Win