James Baldwin, in His Own Words
On January 9, 1968, Playboy Magazine journalist Alex Haley received a brief letter from Murray Fisher, Haley’s editor for the now-famous Playboy Interviews:
Alex dear, Many thanks for your lovely Christmas note – it was very thoughtful of you to remember me. (Articles editor James Goode says): DO NOT LOSE THE TRANSCRIPTION OF THE TAPES FROM HIS TALK WITH BALDWIN. It’s the only copy. OK?
The transcription, to which Fisher here refers, was that of an unscripted conversation which Goode had recently had with the writer, activist, and social critic James Baldwin (b.1924 – d.1987). In this interview, which Haley was to redact later for publication in the magazine, Baldwin candidly discussed his upbringing, and his later expatriatism in France; his experience of social ills, physical threats, and FBI surveillance; his associations with figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, and Robert F. Kennedy; and his views on SNCC, counterculture, and white middleclass liberalism.
In its sale of 17 February, 2017, Freeman’s department of Books, Maps, and Manuscripts will offer a small archive of materials pertaining to the James Baldwin interview, including original reel-to-reel tapes, editorial notes, and the 170 pp transcription which Alex Haley was to safeguard. These documents, which derive from Haley’s own estate, have remained unpublished for decades; in light of recent popular interest in this seminal thinker, they are most certainly deserving of fresh study.
To be offered 02/17/17: Lot 359: (Baldwin,James; Haley, Alex; Goode, Jim.) File of typescripts and reel-to-reel audio tapes. Interview conducted with James Baldwin by Jim Goode (Playboy Magazine's Articles Editor), ca. December, 1967. Photo of James Baldwin by Allan warren - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, courtesy of Wikipedia.