“A two-part essay by American writer James Baldwin. Variously employing biblical allusions, the rhapsodic rhetorical style of the black pulpit, as well as his own personal ‘witness’ Baldwin admonishes America to ‘end the racial nightmare.’ The first essay, ‘My Dungeon Shook,’ is a letter to his nephew James, on the one hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. In ‘Down at the Cross,’ Baldwin describes growing up in Harlem, his experiences with the Nation of Islam, and offers a warning and a plea for white and black American to work together.”
Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.