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Stunning New Edition of ‘The Fire Next Time’ Gives Previously Unseen View of Civil Rights Movement

Unpublished photographs highlight James Baldwin's role as 'spiritual historian.'

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To anyone who thinks history books are dry and boring, take a look at the photos in this stunning new Taschen edition of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.

The poignant images capture firsthand the black experience in 1960s America. In fact, Baldwin’s classic 1963 book is often considered one of the most powerful examinations of race relation to come out of the era.

The chronicle begins amid the chaos of segregation and legalized assaults, intertwined with themes of love and strength in a community. During the Civil Rights movement, Steve Schapiro and Baldwin traveled the South for Life magazine.

The new letterpress edition boasts 100 unpublished photographs from Schapiro and is only available in a limited run of 1,963 copies—in honor of the year the book was first published.

The images include both iconic figures, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and United States Representative John Lewis, who also wrote the introduction, along with historic events, such as the march in Selma. The book also includes a written essay by Gloria Baldwin Karefa-Smart and caption by Marcia Davis, of The Washington Post.

For more on the Taschen edition of The Fire Next Time see the publisher’s website. 

See the photos below.

A court order allowed only 300 people to march to Montgomery when Highway 80 became two lanes. President Lyndon B. Johnson provided security for the five-day march. There were 2,000 army troops, 1,000 military police, and a federalized Alabama National Guard. 1965. (Steve Schapiro/Taschen)
United States Representative John Lewis, then chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), in Clarksdale, May 1963. (Steve Schapiro/Taschen)
(l)Along the march for voting rights, Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, 1965; (r) Ralph Abernathy (rear) and Dr. King lead the way on the road to Montgomery. The American flag was a natural symbol for a movement that called on the nation to live up to its principles. (Steve Schapiro/Taschen)
Schapiro’s first stop in Memphis after Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968, was the rooming house from which the shots were fired. Then he crossed the street to the Lorraine Motel. “The physical man was gone forever, and here his material things remained. It felt like his spirit still hovered above us.” (Steve Schapiro/Taschen)
(Steve Schapiro/Taschen)
(Steve Schapiro/Taschen)
(Steve Schapiro/Taschen)
(Steve Schapiro/Taschen)
(Steve Schapiro/Taschen)
(Steve Schapiro/Taschen)
(Steve Schapiro/Taschen)
James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, with photographs by Steve Schapiro
(Steve Schapiro/Taschen)