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James Baldwin and the 1980sWitnessing the Reagan Era$
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Joseph Vogel

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041747

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252041747.001.0001

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Things Not Seen

Things Not Seen

Covering Tragedy, from the Terror in Atlanta to Black Lives Matter

(p.113) 5 Things Not Seen
James Baldwin and the 1980s

Joseph Vogel

University of Illinois Press

This chapter reads Baldwin’s award-winning essay, “Atlanta: The Evidence of Things Not Seen” and elaborated final nonfiction book, TheEvidence of Things Not Seen, as a corrective to sensationalist media accounts of the Atlanta child murders and simplistic gloss-overs of the New South. This chapter argues that while Evidence is perhaps Baldwin’s most neglected work (both upon publication and today), it offers one of the most penetrating examinations of the paradoxes, hypocrisies, and illusions of the Reagan era. It also presciently anticipates the “post-racial” violence that continues in the Obama era, from Trayvon Martin to Mike Brown, from Sandra Bland to the Charleston Nine.

Keywords:   James Baldwin, Atlanta, New South, Violence, 1980s, Ronald Reagan, post-racial, Black Lives Matter

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