ODN Item of the Week: Passage to America

You’ve seen I Am Not Your Negro, the award winning documentary film based on the writings and life of James Baldwin, but did you know that Baldwin was both a writer-in-residence and visiting professor at Bowling Green State University? Forty years ago, Baldwin was invited to present a lecture at the university, and it turned into so much more.

Today we are revisiting Baldwin’s “A Passage to America” speech, given at BGSU in November of 1979. Luckily for us, the speech was recorded on video and thanks to the work of BGSU libraries we can watch it in its entirety today.

Baldwin’s publications on race and racism, especially within the framework of the history of the United States, continue to resonate with audiences and readers today. The questions he asks us slice through preconceived notions about our society and open the door to self-reflection and discussion – necessary steps for social and personal progress.

“Passage to America” speech by James Baldwin, Courtesy BGSU Libraries

For more information on James Baldwin’s time at BGSU, you can view BGSU’s digital gallery, read about his time at BGSU and his works in comparison with another notable black writer, Chinua Achebe, and of course there is always more to see on DPLA!