I Am Not Your Negro
Last year, director Raoul Peck brought James Baldwin’s focus on racial equality to contemporary audiences in his Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, and now his message is spreading even further with the help of actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Janelle Monáe, and Lupita Nyong’o.
The aforementioned stars have joined a star-studded lineup of black celebrities celebrating Baldwin in a new video crafted by Mic. Inspired by Peck’s nonfiction feature, the clip (released Tuesday) opens with Jackson saying, “I am not your negro,” while Monáe adds, “I am not your bitch. I am not your receptacle. I am not your servant.”
Amid other famous faces lending their support to the cause — including Chris Rock and Jidenna — Academy Award-winning songwriter and rapper Common also appears, stressing his identity as “your equal” as opposed to “your criminal.”
A short profile on Baldwin’s life and work also appears in the video, highlighting him as a “pioneering writer and intellectual” whose words were used “to confront race in modern America,” as detailed in I Am Not Your Negro.
“The future of the negro in this country is precisely as bright or as dark as the future of the country,” Baldwin says in archival footage. “Because I am not a n—-r. I am a man.”
According to the Mic production, Peck will work with organizations like the Ford Foundation and Emerson Collective as part of a national initiative aimed at integrating Baldwin’s publications into school curriculums around the country. Until then, the compilation’s subjects urge viewers to not only read his works, but to “know [their] Baldwin.”
Watch the full video above.