Baldwin vs. Buckley and the American Dream (1965)

The Baldwin vs. Buckley debate at the University of Cambridge was a landmark event in the history of American intellectual discourse. On February 18, 1965, the novelist and essayist James Baldwin, and the conservative commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. faced off in a debate on the motion, "The American Dream is at the expense of the American Negro." Baldwin argued that the American Dream was a myth perpetuated by a society that systematically oppressed Black Americans, while Buckley contended that the American Dream was a reality that Black Americans could attain through hard work and perseverance. The debate was notable for its intensity, with Baldwin delivering a passionate critique of systemic racism and Buckley responding with a more detached and academic defense of conservative ideology. The event attracted a large audience and was widely publicized, and its impact has been felt in subsequent discussions of race, politics, and social justice in the United States.


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