Going to Meet the Man

by

James Baldwin

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Protest Leader Character Analysis

The protest leader is a college-aged Black man who lives in the same town as Jesse and has been leading protests in the area for at least the past year. He first met Jesse around ten ago when he was a child, since his grandmother (Julia Blossom) was one of Jesse’s customers when he was working for a mail-order business. As a child, the protest leader refused to allow Jesse to refer to his grandmother as “Old Julia” and, as an adult, he asks Jesse if he has learned to call Black women by their real names yet. Jesse almost beats the protest leader to death trying to get him to instruct the other jailed protestors to stop singing, but the protest leader refuses. In this way, he represents the lasting power of the civil rights movement, a force that racist white men like Jesse cannot stop.

Protest Leader Quotes in Going to Meet the Man

The Going to Meet the Man quotes below are all either spoken by Protest Leader or refer to Protest Leader. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Going to Meet the Man published in 1995.
Going to Meet the Man Quotes

“They had this line you know, to register”—he laughed, but she did not—“and they wouldn’t stay where Big Jim C. wanted them, no, they had to start blocking traffic all around the court house so couldn’t nothing or nobody get through, and Big Jim C. told them to disperse and they wouldn’t move, they just kept up that singing, and Big Jim C. figured that the others would move if this nigger would move, him being the ring-leader, but he wouldn’t move and he wouldn’t let the others move, so they had to beat him and a couple of the others and they threw in the wagon…”

Related Characters: Jesse (speaker), Protest Leader
Related Symbols: Big Jim C., Singing
Page Number: 232
Explanation and Analysis:

“She’s gone out?”

The boy said nothing.

“Well,” he said, “tell her I passed by and I’ll pass by next week.” He started to go; he stopped. “You want some chewing gum?”

The boy got down from the swing and started for the house. He said, “I don’t want nothing you got, white man.” He walked into the house and closed the door behind him.

Related Characters: Jesse (speaker), Protest Leader (speaker), Julia Blossom (“Old Julia”)
Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:

He began to tremble with what he believed was rage, sweat, both cold and hot, raced down his body, the singing filled him as though it were a weird, uncontrollable, monstrous howling rumbling up from the depths of his own belly, he felt an icy fear rise in him and raise him up, and he shouted, he howled, “You lucky we pump some white blood into you every once in a while—your women! Here’s what I got for all the black bitches in the world—!” Then he was, abruptly, almost too weak to stand; to his bewilderment, his horror, beneath his own fingers, he felt himself violently stiffen—with no warning at all…

Related Characters: Jesse (speaker), Protest Leader
Related Symbols: Singing
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Going to Meet the Man LitChart as a printable PDF.
Going to Meet the Man PDF

Protest Leader Character Timeline in Going to Meet the Man

The timeline below shows where the character Protest Leader appears in Going to Meet the Man. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Going to Meet the Man
Civil Rights, Progress, and Resistance Theme Icon
...him to go to sleep, but he explains that this customer’s grandson is now a protest leader . His coworker Big Jim C. “had to whip that nigger’s ass today.” (full context)
Civil Rights, Progress, and Resistance Theme Icon
...to vote, blocking traffic, singing, and refusing to move. Jesse’s former customer’s grandson was the protest leader , so Big Jim C. decided to target him, beating him and a few other... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Civil Rights, Progress, and Resistance Theme Icon
Like Big Jim C., Jesse decided to target the protest leader , who was already bleeding and moaning on the ground of his cell. Jesse prodded... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Civil Rights, Progress, and Resistance Theme Icon
Jesse stops speaking and, in a flashback, he’s prodding the protest leader as the man rolls in the dirt of the cell, unable to even scream in... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Civil Rights, Progress, and Resistance Theme Icon
As Jesse moves to leave the cell, the protest leader calls out, “White man.” Jesse stops in surprise and grabs his genitals, though he’s not... (full context)
Civil Rights, Progress, and Resistance Theme Icon
Looking at the unconscious protest leader , Jesse suddenly remembers that this man—who he has seen at several protests over the... (full context)
Learning Racism Theme Icon
In the silence, Jesse sees the boy-aged version of the protest leader looking at him with malevolence and begins to feel that he is trapped in a... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Civil Rights, Progress, and Resistance Theme Icon
Back at the jail house, Jesse looks down at the protest leader ’s nearly dead body and thinks how he would like to pistol whip him until... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Civil Rights, Progress, and Resistance Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
Back in the present, thinking of the protest leader in his cell, the lynching victim in the fire, and the knife that was used... (full context)