The Fire Next Time

Baldwin’s most famous work takes the form of two essays: the first, a letter to his 14-year-old nephew on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of emancipation, and the second, a wide-ranging essay on religion, the Nation of Islam, and the determination necessary to end white supremacy. “If we—and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world” (105). Required reading.