Review: What Truth Sounds Like

On her Back in the Stacks blog, Cataloging Specialist Jan Hardy reviews What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race In America by Michael Eric Dyson (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

In May 1963, Robert F. Kennedy called for a meeting with James Baldwin, one of the most powerful voices of the civil rights movement. Baldwin brought the singers Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, scholar Kenneth Clark, and freedom rider Jerome Smith. Kennedy expected a polite, deferential meeting, but his guests weren’t willing to be patient
and work on policies. Smith was recovering from a savage beating by white supremacists; Baldwin and his friends angrily gave witness to “blackness seen through the prism of pain and trauma.”

Michael Eric Dyson uses this meeting as a springboard to understanding racial conflict in 2018 America. He examines Barack Obama (“a black face in a high place does not guarantee a new order”) and the rise of Trump, who is “far more representative of the nation than many whites would like to admit.” He also looks at the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton, and at
newer candidates like Kamala Harris and Joseph Kennedy (grandson of RFK).

Read more on the Back in the Stacks blog.

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