‘Must-See History: James Baldwin in San Francisco, 1963′
This gem of oral and visual American history comes to BBN courtesy of journalists Amy L. Alexander and Darryl Cox. It is a powerful presentation delivered by the late James Baldwin.
We are unable to embed the video of “Take this Hammer” on this page. Take this hammer was originally produced by KQED for National Educational Television (NET) and first aired in 1964.
KQED’s mobile film unit follows author and activist James Baldwin in the spring of 1963, as he’s driven around San Francisco to meet with members of the local African-American community. He is escorted by Youth For Service’s Executive Director Orville Luster and intent on discovering: “The real situation of Negroes in the city, as opposed to the image San Francisco would like to present.” He declares: “There is no moral distance … between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham. Someone’s got to tell it like it is. And that’s where it’s at.” Includes frank exchanges with local people on the street, meetings with community leaders and extended point-of-view sequences shot from a moving vehicle, featuring the Bayview and Western Addition neighborhoods. Baldwin reflects on the racial inequality that African-Americans are forced to confront and at one point tries to lift the morale of a young man by expressing his conviction that: “There will be a Negro president of this country but it will not be the country that we are sitting in now.” The TV Archive would like to thank Darryl Cox for championing the merits of this film and for his determination that it be preserved and remastered for posterity.
Follow the link below to view KQED’s later documentary Losing just the same (1966), which also looks at the economic and social experiences of African Americans living in the San Francisco Bay Area:
We encourage you to watch and share with the young people in your life.