James Baldwin's Black Power : 'No Name in the Street', Fanon, Camus, and the Black Panthers

Miller, James (2019) James Baldwin's Black Power : 'No Name in the Street', Fanon, Camus, and the Black Panthers. In: Craven, Alice Mikal , Dow, William E. and Nakamura, Yoko, (eds.) Of Latitudes Unknown: James Baldwin's Radical Imagination. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 177-193. ISBN 9781501337710


My paper examines James Baldwin’s intellectual involvement with the concept of Black Power, concentrating on his long essay, ‘No Name in the Street’ (1972). Neither this essay, nor Baldwin’s engagement with the movement, have received any substantial scholarly attention. I examine the extent to which Baldwin’s essay revises, adapts and to some extent distorts Frantz Fanon’s ideas in The Wretched of the Earth. I argue that Baldwin adopts Fanon’s anti-Western, anti-humanist perspective to condemn white, Euro-American culture and to try and forge a symbolic moral allegiance between Third World freedom fighters and African-Americans. I demonstrate how this antagonistic and rejectionist perspective differed from the much more complex and involved engagement with Euro-American culture outlined in Baldwin’s earlier essays, particular ‘Princes and Powers’ (1956) his account of the First International Conference of Black Writers and Artists, and the only time Baldwin, Richard Wright and Fanon were gathered together under one roof. I ask how far Baldwin struggled to compare and cohere the predominantly racial focus of the Black Power movement with the territorial demands of Third World anti-colonial struggle. I conclude by demonstrating that Baldwin, by negotiating between Fanon and Black Power activists, articulates a sense of Black Power as a form of sceptical consciousness able to question, contest and transform white ideologies of identity and history.

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