By Evangeline Cessna
July 3, 2022
This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library. This week’s column features New Adult Nonfiction.
“You Mean It or You Don’t: James Baldwin’s Radical Challenge” is by Jamie McGhee and Adam Hollowell. After a speech at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Feb. 28, 1984, James Baldwin was asked by a student: “You said that the liberal façade and being a liberal is not enough. Well, what is? What is necessary?” Baldwin responded, “Commitment. That is what is necessary. You mean it or you don’t.” This book takes up that challenge and draws from Baldwin’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry and interviews and is meant to spur today’s progressives from conviction to action. The authors posit that it is not enough to hold progressive views on racial justice, LGBTQ+ identity and economic inequality. True and lasting change deserves a response to Baldwin’s radical challenge for moral commitment. They mean this book as a call to move from mere dreams of justice to living it out in our communities, churches and neighborhoods.