from “James Baldwin Tells Us All How to Cool It This Summer”

Q. From a very short-range approach, what should the federal government do, right now, to cool it off?

BALDWIN: What do you mean by the federal government? The federal government has come to be, in the eyes of all Negroes anyway, a myth. When you say the federal government, you’re referring to Washington, and that means you’re referring to a great many people. You’re referring to Senator Eastland and many people in Washington who out of apathy, ignorance or fear have no intention of making a move at all. You’re talking about the people who have the power, who intend to keep the power. And all they can think of are things like swimming pools, you know, in the summertime, and sort of made up jobs to simply protect peace and the public property. But they show no sign whatsoever of understanding what the root of the problem really is, what the dangers really are. They have made no attempt, whatever, any of them, as far as I know, really to explain to the American people that the black cat in the streets wants to protect his house, his wife and kids children. And if he is going to be able to do this he has to be given his autonomy, his own schools, a revision of the police force in a very radical way. It means in short that is the American Negro, the American black man, is going to become a free person in this country, the people of this country have to give up something. If they don’t give it up it will be taken from them.

(Full interview here)

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