Nicholas Buccola in Conversation with Tony Wolk, Discussing the Baldwin/Buckley Debate of 1965
Please join us at 7 pm on Thursday, January 16th, as we cap off our year-long celebration of James Baldwin with a conversation between Nicholas Buccola, author of the recently published book The Fire is Upon Us, and Tony Wolk, professor of literature at Portland State University.
Buccola’s book focuses on the historic televised debate in 1965 between James Baldwin, civil rights firebrand, and William F. Buckley Jr., the father of modern conservatism. The topic was "the American dream is at the expense of the American Negro." The Fire is Upon Us tells the full story of the event, the radically different paths that led Baldwin and Buckley to it, the controversies that followed, and how the debate and the decades-long clash between the men continues to illuminate America's racial divide today.
Born in New York City only fifteen months apart, the Harlem-raised Baldwin and the privileged Buckley could not have been more different, but they both rose to the height of American intellectual life during the civil rights movement. By the time they met in Cambridge for the debate, Buckley was determined to sound the alarm about a man he considered an "eloquent menace," while Baldwin viewed Buckley as a deluded reactionary whose popularity revealed the sickness of the American soul.
Buccola is the author of The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass and the editor of The Essential Douglass and Abraham Lincoln and Liberal Democracy. He is the Elizabeth and Morris Glicksman Chair in Political Science at Linfield College in McMinnville and lives in Portland.
Wolk, an avid cyclist, moved to Portland in 1965 and began teaching at Portland State University, specializing in Renaissance literature, science fiction, and composition. In 1972, he and his wife spent a couple of hours interviewing James Baldwin in London.
Following the lead of the National Book Foundation, Broadway Books declared 2019 the Year of Reading James Baldwin and extended a 20% discount on all his books (through January 2020).