Having not read this book since high school, I anticipated having a fresh appreciation for this powerful and often described as, manifesto.  As a new father, the first letter resonated deeply but it was Baldwin's second letter which hit home. Always a straight shooter, James Baldwin never dissappointed when it came to dropping universal nuggets. I decided to share my favorite quote from "My Dungeon Shook" which I believe carries timeless truth -  even though it was penned over 53 years ago.

I do not mean to be sentimental about suffering—enough is certainly as good as a feast—but people who cannot suffer can never grow up, can never discover who they are. That man who is forced each day to snatch his manhood, his identity, out of the fire of human cruelty that rages to destroy it knows, if he survives his effort, and even if he does not survive it, something about himself and human life that no school on earth—and, indeed, no church—can teach. He achieves his own authority, and that is unshakeable.
— James Baldwin, My Dungeon Shook

Heavy stuff, right? I think this would be a good time to make a drink. For Chapter 2, you will be making a, Brown Derby. An extremely simple yet delicious mixture of Kentucky bourbon, grapefruit and yes, molasses. Cold and extremely refreshing, I found it to be an ideal beverage, for easing the flames and emotions "The Fire Next Time" ignites.

Makes 1 Cocktail


2 oz. pink grapefruit juice

1 1⁄2 oz. Kentucky bourbon, preferably Four Roses Single Barrel

1⁄2 oz. molasses (not blackstrap)


Combine juice, bourbon, and molasses in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass; serve immediately.

Rashad FrazierComment