Baldwin vs. Buckley Redux

(Above: Baldwin and Buckley face off. Source:

“Redux,” in our headline above, is just the sort of word that conservative intellectual William F. Buckley might have used to describe this week’s three free live-streamed recreations of his 1965 televised debate with author/civil rights activist James Baldwin.

Speaking of words, the question under debate in 1965, using the vernacular of the time: “Is the American Dream at the Expense of the American Negro?”

Buckley Baldwin debate, american vicarious

Thus, the stage was set for an epic confrontation that pitted Baldwin’s call for a moral revolution in race relations against Buckley’s unabashed elitism and implicit commitment to white supremacy,” according to the american vicarious, producer of this week’s restagings. “Our objective is to simply place their words, which still resonate 55 years later, within the voice of contemporary artists.”

Those artists include Teagle F. Bougere, recent co-star with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the Facebook Watch series Queen America, as well as Eric T. Miller, Spencer Hamp, Charlie O’Rourke, Daniel Marconi and Kevin Cristaldi.

Buckley Baldwin debate, bric

You can see their re-creations today, Friday or Saturday night at 7:30 pm ET over the YouTube channel of co-presenter BRIC, the Brooklyn, NY media and arts institution.

You can also watch the original event, as first presented by the pre-PBS National Educational Television, right here:

For more of the combative Buckley, visit YouTube for many episodes of his Firing Line series (1966-1999), whose guests ranged from Norman Mailer to the Dalai Lama.

For more of Baldwin, we recommend the Oscar-nominated 2017 documentary I Am Not Your Negro, now streaming on multiple subscription services, and a 1963 public TV documentary, Take This Hammer, available on YouTube or right here:

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

View All Articles

Leave a Comment