Notes from WATERtalks: Feminist Conversations in Religion Series

“Illusions of Innocence: Reflections on Race and Whiteness”

with Marcy Litle

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Audio recording available here; Video recording available here 

Mary E. Hunt, introduction

Welcome to this July 14, 2021 WATERtalk and a special welcome to our guest Marcy Litle whose book Illusions of Innocence is our focus today.

Like all of WATER’s efforts, this WATERtalk is not simply an academic seminar. It is a way to learn in order to bring what we learn to the creation of a more just and equitable world. Dr. Litle’s book is a very helpful resource for predominantly white groups like ours to look at what we don’t want to look with regard to racism. She comes to us from our sister-center The Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South (RCWMS) led so ably and faithfully by Jeanette Stokes. In their recent funding letter they suggested that people who donate to them, as I am proud to do, also donate to a women’s organization led by women of color. I see that as a concrete manifestation of the ideas explored in this book.

A bit about Marcy Litle: Since we are not acquainted personally, I have learned about Marcy from her book: “She was born in Charleston, SC, and grew up in the suburbs of New York City. For most of her adult life she has lived in Durham, NC, where she taught Latin American history and international studies at Duke University until her retirement in 2012. Since 2001 she has split her time between Durham and Seattle, WA, where she enjoys spending time with her granddaughters and their parents. Since her retirement she has volunteered for the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South. This is her first book… In her spare time she likes to paint; her work can be seen at her website” This last item is a bit of an understatement as her acrylics on canvas are captivating.

Here is what WATER said about her book Illusions of Innocence (RCWMS, 2020):

“This is ‘white people doing their anti-racism work’ with grace and grit. It is not easy to look systemic racism in the eye and see oneself staring right back. But it is the work required of white people to undo generations of privilege and embrace future generations of justice. Readers and reading groups will take a well-written lesson from this book.”

We are here to learn more from the author of this unique and accessible book—a collection of short essays that express the many facets of being a white woman in a racist society—reflections on our responsibilities. Welcome to Marcy Litle.

Marcy Litle

Thanks: Very grateful to Mary Hunt and Diann Neu for inviting me to talk about my project today; to Anali North Martin for helping with the logistics. Also, the book that led to this invitation was published by WATER’s sister organization RCWMS, based in Durham, NC. Without the support of Jeanette Stokes, director of RCWMS, I would not be speaking to you today and the book would not exist.

In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin writes: “We cannot be free until they are free.” This really struck me when I read it a few years ago. I realized that he meant me, meant white Americans, and that one of my responsibilities was to do what I could to free myself as much as I could. Baldwin’s words speak to the value of doing our own work as white people. What he doesn’t say, but what I’ve learned is that for me this work is best done in solitude, and in good company.

My plan for today: a little about me, a little more about the project that resulted in the book and what I think I learned, punctuated by a bit of reading from the book. Look forward to speaking together about whatever arises.

Me: I spent most of my childhood in an all-white New York suburb, the child of parents from small towns in Arkansas and Missouri. We attended a Southern Baptist Church in Greenwich, CT, if you can believe that. Southerner. I became a historian and taught Latin American History and international studies at Duke for 25 years. Not a specialist on US history nor on race, though I did teach about colonialism and issues of race and class in an international context. I retired from Duke in 2012, which opened space for other interests.

This book resulted from a personal journey that was sparked by events all too familiar to us today—the killing of Black Americans—not a new phenomenon, but my attention was caught starting with Trayvon Martin in 2012, then in 2014 Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, 2015 Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, where I was born, and on. I could no longer look away. So, I decided to pay attention and learn. I want to tell you a little about what that looks like for me, with another shoutout to Jeanette, who was instrumental to two of the three paths I followed along the journey.

This is how I describe the project early in the book:

“After the shooting in Charleston, several Black writers suggested that the most useful thing white people can do to combat racism is talk to white people. So that is what I am trying to do. Starting with myself. I am trying to unearth the elements of my own racial formation in order to understand how they have shaped my life, to gain some freedom, and perhaps to make things a tiny bit better.” (7)

I didn’t set out to write a book, to go public about my journey; I just set out to learn more about race in America and in particular to learn about how this thing that I had been able to mostly ignore intersected with my own life. This project proceeded along three main paths:

  1. In late 2014 the Resource Center, prompted by a challenge from Ta-Nehisi Coates, decided that a small group of us would together read Michelle Alexander’s book about mass incarceration, The New Jim Crow. That experience seemed so fruitful that we decided to keep going and to invite a few more folks to join us. We’ve been going ever since; I’ve made an annotated bibliography (below). Creating a safe community dedicated to an honest and open exploration turns out a to be a fruitful container for deepening our understanding of race and of our own place in its evolution in America.
  2. At the same time I started exploring in my journal what I could remember about how race showed up in my own life. I searched for memories, some of which are recounted in the book. And I started paying more attention to how people acted around race in my own life. Here are two brief examples from the chapters of the book:

The Choir

Our house in the New York suburbs had three bedrooms—one each for my parents, brother, and me—and a small study with a burnt-orange foldout sofa that was my father’s special place. Whenever we had overnight guests, they got my room over the garage and I slept in the study. Always me. Never my brother. Separated from my things and from my privacy. Usually, guests meant grandparents or other relatives, but one time our church hosted a gospel choir from the Deep South, Mississippi or Alabama, and two members stayed at our house. In my room, of course. They slept in my twin beds. I don’t remember how many nights they stayed. Probably just one or two. After they left, my mother stripped the beds and opened all the windows wide, even though it was a cold day. She’d never done this before, that I could recall. The room not mine again until it “aired out.” I asked why and never really got an answer, not that I recall. But I knew. (13)

Casual Racism

A slender Black man sits in the middle seat across the aisle from me, with an empty aisle seat beside him. We are near the front of the plane, prime spots for those with tight connections. We are on Southwest. There are no assigned seats. I watch my fellow passengers walk by us. They do not choose the open aisle seat. Do I need to say that they are white? And then I watch more white people choose nearby middle seats, rather than the more desirable one on the aisle.

On another Southwest flight, I choose as aisle seat beside a Black man in the window seat. Only after I sit down do I catch the subtext of my choice. I assume no one will choose the seat between us. I will get more room. And I am right. Almost. Finally, right before they close the door, a man, another Black man, chooses the seat. (103)

  1. Finally, I decided to see what I could learn about my own family’s history as it relates to race… And I discovered what felt shocking to me at the time, that some of my ancestors had actively participated in enslaving other humans and in perpetuating that enslavement. There are readily accessible genealogical resources online now; you don’t even have to leave home to learn a lot, especially if you are white and your family has been on this continent for a long time. The information about enslavement shows up in census records, slave schedules, wills, estate inventories and other documents. Here’s a bit of “Enslaved” in the section on that exploration:


In July 2016, I read The Half Had Never Been Told by Edward Baptist and noticed that he does not use the word “slaves.” Rather, he calls them “the enslaved.” And those I’d been calling “slaveowners”—my ancestors—he called “enslavers.” At first it seemed an arbitrary quirk. But then—in the middle of the night—I woke up, opened my documents, and made the change. I was surprised by the power of that simple word change. Suddenly, a whole new group of people came to life in my past. (102)

The book tells the story of what I learned through these explorations and led me down some unanticipated paths:

  • This exploration ultimately led me to an exploration of the “American Dream;” to confront the way it plays in me and my reluctance to give it up.

“Not My Place”

When I decided to try to unravel my identity and responsibility as a white girl in America, I never imagined I would end up writing about the American Dream. Even though it was the very challenge set before me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the challenge that got me going in the first place. What does it mean to think that I am white? What does it mean for me? For my family? For my community? For this country? Can my journey possibly have anything to say to those whose experiences of America have been vastly different from my own? Can any white person pretend to have anything useful to say about how to recover from the mess we have created? From the harm that we have inflicted through our illusions, our assumption of innocence? There are the questions that have followed me throughout this project.

This country was created by white men for the benefit of white men. But, at the same time, they deployed universalizing language that may speak to us all. Over the past few years, I have learned that this is not a question I can answer. It is not my place to answer it. And yet, I am drawn to the dream buried in their words. Dram to the possibility of democracy, of creating a society where we can live in peace, respect, and prosperity together. Drawn to the possibility of liberty and justice for all. (145)

What I think I have learned from undertaking this project:

  • That’s it’s possible to loosen some of the unconscious ways that racism operates in me.
  • That this kind of personal exploration can be an agent of change.


Love shines around the edges of writings about race by some of the most inspiring guides on my journey. Love turns out to be the unexpected, and then obvious, first step when we try to envision a way out of the morass. It holds our tension and allows us to see the possibility of community across fear and hate.

I feel troubled by the knowledge that the first adage above is common in some Christian circles as a way to confront and deny homosexuality. That’s the sin they are hating, as they try to both embrace and hold their gay friends and relatives at arm’s length.

For me, the relevant sin is enslavement, the choice made by some of my ancestors to hold other humans in bondage. The relevant sin live in the parade of institutions that followed: convict leading, lynching, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, and many more. I am trying to find a way to reach out with love, to claim my ancestors, without turning my eyes away from the abomination at the center of their lives. At the hidden center of our lives.

Philosopher George Yancy, in his letter to white Americans, “Dear White America,” asks us to listen with love to his plea that we fully face our complicity with the perpetuation of racism and white privilege. He asks for “a sort of love that demands that you look at parts of yourself that might cause pain and terror…the kind that refuses to flee in the face of danger.”*

Throughout The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin calls upon love as a source of hope, as perhaps the only source of hope. He advises his nephew to accept with love the white people who surround him, who are “still trapped in a history which they do not understand…”* He notes that the possibility of redemption will come when they learn “how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this—which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never—the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.”* And it seems that his fear that we will remain trapped stems from the existence of those “for whom power is more real than love.”* And when power is more real than love, more compelling than grief, there is no way out.

We must find a way to love. For love is power. Love opens and expands the power of community. Love allows for deep listening across difference. Love takes risks and opens our heart. Love is power. (150-151)

  • *George Yancy, “Dear White America,” The New York Times, December 24, 2015.
  • *James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (New York: Vintage Books, 1993).

Q+A Discussion

Comment: Using RCWMS’ book list [below] and Illusions of Innocence is a great way for white people to delve into racism together. I cannot overstate the value of having a small group to read these texts with, because there always comes a time when we have to come to terms with our personal history with racism, and to have a group to confront that with is very helpful, to work together to process our history/histories.

Question: These discussions need to be had, but how do you have them with people of color? I want to have conversations that aren’t surrounded by/based on violence. How do I talk with my Black friends about this, when I’ve been told that talking about my journey with racism is the last thing that people of color want to talk about?

  • Marcy’s answer: I don’t necessarily have an answer to this. Most of the people I’m close to are white. But this work, writing this book, has affected my relationships with people of color in that I am relaxed, more than I was before.
    • It has changed the way I reacted to incident with neighbor – able to think more clearly
    • Haven’t gone out of my way to make Black friends, per say, but when interacting with people of color/when our paths cross, the tension there is lessened
    • Jeanette and I (Marcy) have done a workshop called “Doing Our Own Work,” which is for white people to get the chance to ask and answer questions just like this, so that might be a helpful learning tool for you.
  • Comment: I work at UNC to bring a different type of diversity, equity, and inclusion into real life. The hardest thing, as a person of color, is feeling like it’s our responsibility to educate, to explain how we feel and why. The way I explain it often is, think about it as if it was your child having to have these conversations, these questions directed at them: if someone responded to them the way I have been responded to in conversation, how would you feel? Kindness goes a long way. Asking questions, saying “I don’t know how to say this,” goes a long way. We want to have these conversations; it’s important to try. If there comes a point when you could lighten someone’s burden, ask – ask how you can help. As one of the only brown faces in my office, it’s encouraging to be here and listen to you all wanting to learn.
  • Comment: As an African American who’s spent most of my life in predominantly white communities, I am very comfortable walking in and out of communities, and my comment {to white people} is take care of white folks first. When I hear people saying they want to talk to folks of color about this, I say, “leave us alone until you’ve done your own work.” Why do you want to talk to a person of color about it? Is it just because it’s just “the next thing to do”? Racism is not an individual thing; it’s systemic and structural and occurs also on the collective level, and what really needs to change are the structures: policy and procedure. So, work on that first. Get on top of voter suppression, working on getting people to the polls and influencing policy makers and government officials at all levels. If you’re in places you’re naturally meeting people of color, dive into those relationships, but don’t search out people of color just to Be with us; we don’t need that. We need work done on the systems and structures.
  • Marcy’s Comment: Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Anti-Racist is a very helpful book in explaining how this whole policy question works, so if you’re interested in going into more depth on what was just said, it’s a very good read.

Question/Comment: As a congregation, we’ve been reading and studying anti-racism in the past few years. But we have an influx of people from other countries, other cultures, joining us, so we’re working on understanding interculturality: how to live together in a more equal way without one culture being dominant. We’ve learned that when you have people from different cultures and of different races living together, each person brings their own culture, but when you get together in one household, you cannot live by a particular culture: you have to invent a completely different culture to live in while still accepting all those cultures, one that isn’t dominated by white people. We’re learning how to learn and understand one another’s cultures – not just family or ministry history, but your cultural history? What’s traditional, what’s valued, what’s rude and not rude? So I’m looking for the next steps to really understanding each other.

Question: These short essays add up to a deep dive. Did you choose your method deliberately or did it choose you in some sense?

  • Marcy’s answer: The method chose me. I had tried to turn my thesis into a book a while ago, and when that didn’t work out, I was turned off from writing for a while. But an English professor at Duke, Jane Tompkins, taught me to write again, one of the first methods being poetry. I’ve learned from these essays that I just have to wait for them to come and be ready to write them down when I do. And then do lots of editing, going through them 10-15 times.

Question: How can we keep the necessary grief work as we learn more about our own complicity in racism from becoming ‘all about us,’ solipsistic?

  • Marcy’s answer: I’m not always successful at this, but I’m a meditator; I’ve done a lot of work on letting go. I’ve learned how to deal with these difficult things while not being too attached to the grief that it brings up.

Question: I was lucky to have great religious orders shape my values, and I think they asked, as you are asking, the right question: how do we learn from each other? In business, it’s called the Third Way: we each bring something, and then with those pieces create a new way, and you do that by telling stories. Tell stories, learn from them, and ask of them, “What are the values I’m learning from these stories?” You show up, and you’re gracious – that’s step one.

Comment:  I want to encourage getting a group of friends and dive in to this work, even without a strong teacher/leader. What’s being/been written in this country in the past few decades has been really good and really accessible.

  • Marcy’s comment: Just to say that groups like that help avoid putting the burden of being asked/educating onto people of color. There are so many books by African American authors that already have the answers, telling you what to know. And then you can talk about that with other white people, discuss it and work through it, so that you don’t bring that work to people of color.
  • Comment: There is a legitimate hunger to be in community/conversation with people who don’t look like us. The way to honor that is to wait for people of color who want to be in those conversations, those spaces. Let them take the lead – you can make the space but let them be the ones to step in. My hunger for conversation might not match someone else’s, so don’t assume a ready and willing partner in that – make space for the mutual consent, the invitation. It’s not always easy, and a bit of a dance.
  • Comment: There is no right answer to how to do this, but many wrong ones, m any ways to make mistakes, but the main thing to do is remain attuned and aware to that. This field of feminist studies in religion used to have so few people of color, and we made many mistakes in those interactions as they were the vast minority, but now, as there are groups specifically for and led by people of color, like the Katie Geneva Cannon Center for Womanist Leadership and Pacific Asian and North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry (PANAAWTM), we can work with them and take leadership from them, learn from them.

Question: What do your children say, not necessarily your biological children, but younger people in general. How is it different for them? Do their presumably more integrated experiences of growing up with much more diversity in community than many of us experienced help them to see your point, or is there a way in which this reads as simply history unrelated to today, yet one more removed from the source?

  • Marcy’s answer: I don’t hang out with Duke students anymore, so I’m less connected to that. My daughter, in her 40s, is struggling with these issues in the institution she works in, as it is still mired in an unhelpful diversity framework, and my other child is Chicano, so it’s a very different experience for him as he deals with race as a person of color living in a very white community.
    • I confess that my world is still pretty white. I agree with what you’re saying, though I don’t think I have an answer. I come at this from a contemplative, academically-minded, introverted path, and that’s just one way to come at it.
  • Comment: I think it makes a big difference, takes a different form, if you’re oftentimes in places where you’re the minority, say attending a majority African American church. Your book and is one approach to make that different. Racism, being so deeply systemic and so hideously big and ingrained, there are so many dimensions and thus so many ways to work at it, to dismantle it. You have to have multiple strategies that overlap and come at it from all angles. This book is as legitimate a way to come at it as any other.

Mary E. Hunt, concluding remarks

Thank you to all for joining. Thanks to Marcy Litle whose book Illusions of Innocence is our topic today. Marcy has offered us a great deal about which to ponder. We wish you all strength and courage in facing the realities of racism.





RCWMS Reading Race Reading List — June 2020


Chimamanda Adiche, Americanah, 2013

A novel about coming to America from Nigeria and grappling with the meaning of blackness in a completely new context. Ifemelu, the main character, becomes an academic and blogger. Blog posts, included in the novel, paint a blistering critique of race in the U.S.

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, 2010

Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow. The book makes a strong case for the centrality of mass incarceration in contemporary American racial dynamics. Laying the groundwork for her argument, Alexander cogently traces the history of how America polices its Black residents, and, later, citizens.

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, 1963

Written in the form of two letters, the first to his nephew on the hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the book traces Baldwin’s childhood in Harlem and documents the consequences of racial injustice in America. The New York Times Book Review described it as a “sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle.” It’s a must read.

Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half, 2020

Compelling novel about twin sisters from a small town in Louisiana established for light-skinned Black people. Traces the sister’s stories, one of whom chooses to pass for white and one who marries a dark-skinned man, and the stories of their daughters.

Austin Channing Brown, I’m Still Here, 2018

Brown writes about growing up surrounded mostly by white people and what it felt like to discover her Black identity. She deftly illuminates what it’s like to be the only Black person in a white organization, and what it’s like to be a Black leader within Christian organizations.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me, 2015

A must read. Inspired by Baldwin, Coates frames this book as a letter to his son, a letter about what it means to be a Black man in America today. He writes about his experiences growing up with activist parents, attending Howard University (the mecca), and in Paris. He powerfully describes the embodied experience of Blackness.

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Thick, 2019

Essays on blackness from a sociologist who blends personal reflection, theory, and humor into searing explorations of media, beauty, childbirth, body, and more. The book treats the personal, the social, and the political. Always engaging and provocative.

Scott Ellsworth, Death in a Promised Land, 1982

An account of the roots, events, and aftermath of the Tulsa Massacre of 1921 that wiped out the vibrant Black district of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Jennifer Harvey, Dear White Christians, 2014

Subtitled “For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation,” Harvey’s book carefully builds the case for why reconciliation cannot come before reparations. She details the work that churches, and other religious organizations, might do in order to bring about this transformation. Though dealing primarily with churches and Christian organizations, the work also illuminates the broader relationship between reconciliation and reparation.

Arlie Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land, 2016

What happens when a sociologist from Berkeley goes to live in southern Louisiana and deeply listens to the concerns of the white people who live there, people whose lives have been undermined by the pollution that permeates the region due to the predominance of the oil and gas industries? Hochschild illuminates how many of the people she meets feel that they have been cheated out of their place in line because of perceived favors given to Black people and other minorities.

Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist, 2019

Kendi weaves together his personal story with cogent analysis of the contours of racism and its history. He clearly marks the distinction between racist and antiracist, and among assimilationist, segregationist, and antiracist. He claims his own racism. Throughout he stresses the importance of understanding how policy provides the scaffolding for the persistence of racism.

Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele, When They Call You a Terrorist, 2018

Khan-Cullors is one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. This book is her memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America and how she came to co-found the movement with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi.

Ian Haney López, Dog Whistle Politics, 2014

Predating the rise of Trump and the recent tendency to “say the quiet part out loud,” López traces the political history of the “quiet part,” in other words of dog whistles, of using coded language to appeal to white voters. In the words of the subtitle he explores “How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class.”

Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race, 2019

Framed around questions that white people are often afraid to ask (or shouldn’t ask) the Black people in their lives. “What if I talk about race wrong?” “Is police brutality really about race?” “I just got called a racist, what do I do now?’ Oluo presents powerful answers to these questions and more.

Claudia Rankine, Citizen, 2014

This is a beautiful book full of essays, images, and prose poems about the daily impact of racism on Black lives. Rankine uses dialog, personal experiences, and public encounters to document the experience of Blackness in America and elsewhere. Especially searing is the piece on Serena Williams. The book asks: what does it mean to be both Black and a Citizen?

Claudia Rankine, The White Card, 2019

Rankine’s play about what it’s like to be a Black artist who must deal with wealthy white collectors, depicted through a dinner party. Whose gaze matters? And what does it see?

Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy, 2014

Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama, writes powerfully about the deep flaws in our system of justice. He tells his own story and that of Walter McMillian, who was given the death penalty for a murder that he did not commit. This is an inspiring book.

Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give, 2017

A novel told through the eyes of a sixteen-year old who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of the police. She simultaneously navigates the world of her neighborhood and of the fancy predominantly-white school that she attends. This is a story about finding your voice, among many other things.

Jesmyn Ward, ed, The Fire This Time, 2016

A collection of essays that picks up Baldwin’s theme for a new generation. The essays, by Isabel Wilkerson, Kiese Laymon, and Claudia Rankine, among others, are divided into three sections: “Legacy,” “Reckoning,” and “Jubilee.”

Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad, 2016

A stunning, heartbreaking, and complicated novel that won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. It tells the story of a young enslaved women and her journey to freedom.

Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns, 2010

Traces the “Great Migration” of Black people from the South to Northern and Western cities in the decades during and after World War One. Wilkerson provides intimate portraits of three migrants alongside a sweeping account of the movement and its impact on the country, the migrants, and their children.

Angel Kyodo Williams, Rod Owens, Jasmine Syedullah, Radical Dharma, 2016

Essays and conversations by three Black Buddhist practitioners and Dharma teachers about the intersection of racism and the Dharma.


Eula Biss, “White Debt,” The New York Times, Dec. 12, 2015

Subtitled “Reckoning with what is owed—and what can never be repaid—for racial privilege.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” The Atlantic, June, 2014

The powerful article, framed around housing discrimination in Chicago, that kickstarted the national conversation about reparations.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “My President Was Black,” The Atlantic, January/February, 2017

Retrospective on the presidency of Barack Obama in light of the election of Donald Trump.

William Darity, “For Reparations: A Conversation with William A. Darrity, Jr, 2017 (

Podcast and transcript of a conversation with one of the foremost thinkers about reparations in the country. In 2020, with A. Kirstin Mullen, he published From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century.

Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack,” 1989


Widely available early, and important, article about white privilege, in which McIntosh interrogates the details of her own privilege.

Nell Painter, “What Whiteness Means in the Trump Era,” The New York Times, Nov 13, 2016


Post-election assessment of the prospects for whiteness in the age of Trump, written by historian Nell Painter, author of The History of White People, 2010.



I Am Not Your Negro, directed by Raoul Peck, 2017

Based on an unfinished book by James Baldwin about the lives of his friends Medger Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. (Available to stream on Amazon Prime.)