On Boxing Day 1962, when Juliet Nicolson was eight years old, the snow began to fall. It did not stop for ten weeks. It was one of the coldest and harshest winters for 300 years. The drifts in East Sussex reached twenty-three feet. In London, milkmen made deliveries on skis. On Dartmoor 2,000 ponies were buried in the snow, and foxes ate sheep alive. It wasn’t just the weather that was bad. The threat of nuclear war had reached its terrifying height with the recent Cuban Missile Crisis. Unemployment was on the rise, de Gaulle was blocking Britain from joining the European Economic Community, Winston Churchill, still the symbol of Great Britishness, was fading. These shadows hung over a country paralysed by frozen heating oil, burst pipes and power cuts which are explored here.
The struggles of Black Lives Matter and the attempt to achieve a new America have been challenged by the election of Donald Trump. For James Baldwin, these after times came in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, when a similar attempt to force a confrontation with the truth of America’s racism was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the years from the publication of ‘The Fire Next Time’ in 1963 to that of ‘No Name in the Street’ in 1972, Baldwin became a more overtly political writer, a change that came at great professional and personal cost. But from that journey, Baldwin emerged with a sense of renewed purpose about the necessity of pushing forward in the face of disillusionment and despair. Glaude suggests we can find hope and guidance through our own after times, this era of shattered promises and white retrenchment.