AMERICAN MASTERS recounts the life, works and beliefs of the late writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin: what it is to be born black, impoverished, gifted and gay in a world that has yet to understand that “all men are brothers.” Baldwin tells his own story in this emotional portrait. Using rarely seen archival footage from nine different countries, the film melds intimate interviews and eloquent public speeches with cinéma vérité glimpses of Baldwin and original scenes from his extraordinary funeral service in December 1987. His close friends and colleagues — even critics — illuminate the narrative, among them writers Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka and William Styron, and entertainer Bobby Short. Originally broadcast August 1989, this special encore broadcast airs 25 years after Baldwin’s death and 50 years after the historic March on Washington and publication of his best-selling essay The Fire Next Time.
An encore of James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket (original broadcast August 14, 1989) is scheduled for Friday, August 23 at 9pm on PBS in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington (8/28/1963). This broadcast also coincides with the 25th anniversary of James Baldwin’s death (12/1/1987) and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (1/1/1863).