November 30, 2022

In this episode of the Spotlight on Culture, Society, and Religion series, Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr. of Princeton University gives an overview of his recent book, Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own. According to Dr. Glaude, if we hope to address the roots of persistent and pervasive inequalities in society today, we must interrogate the stories about America's guilt and innocence that we, as a nation, have convinced ourselves to be true. 

 About the Expert

Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr. Is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Dr. Glaude is a passionate educator, author, political commentator, and public intellectual who examines the complex dynamics of the American experience. You can find more of his writing and public engagement on his website

Start a Conversation

  1. For many of us, most of the stories we’ve received about America come from our social studies, civics, and history courses in school. What narratives come to mind for you when you think about “America” as a nation and as an idea? How have these changed over the course of your own education and how might they affect your own views about America as a nation?
  2.  Whose experiences have often been excluded from the story of “America” as a nation? What changes about the story when we include them?
  3. The “sacredness of human being” is central to Baldwin’s plan for creating a better America. . What might it look like if this idea – that people can’t simply be used and then discarded for the sake of an ideology – became a central feature of our politics, history education, and relationships with our neighbors?

Additional Resources

Baldwin, James. “A Talk to Teachers.” The Saturday Review, December 21, 1963.

Donoghue, Denis, ed. “On the American Narrative.” Daedalus, Winter 2012. This is a collection of essays from leading scholars about different threads in the American story. 

Glaude, Eddie S., Jr. “Why We Need to Begin Again.” The Atlantic, July 18, 2020. 

Hochschild, Arlie Russell. Interview on “The Deep Story of Trump Supporters.” NPR, January 24, 2017. 

Two recent public history projects offer starkly opposing views of American history: The 1619 Project and the 1776 Commission. What makes their stories so different?