Author Eddie S. Glaude Jr. thinks that James Baldwin can still teach America valuable lessons about racial injustice.

Glaude appeared on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah to discuss his latest book, Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own. The book, released last month, has garnered significant praise from critics, with a reviewer for Kirkus writing, “Baldwin’s genius glimmers throughout as Glaude effectively demonstrates how truth does not die with the one who spoke it.”

Asked by Noah whether anything has changed since Baldwin’s time, Glaude responded, “Baldwin has this wonderful line: ‘America’s always changing, but America never changes.’ There’s this sense that the country is dynamic, but there’s this ongoing throughline…this belief that white people matter more than others.”

Glaude’s book focuses on Baldwin’s later writings, which, he said, many people find “unsettling.”

“The later Baldwin is trying to come to terms with America’s betrayal,” Glaude said. “Most folks say he’s bitter, he’s angry, his rage has overwhelmed his heart. But Baldwin is trying to come to terms with the fact that the country has assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr.… And here we are in our moment, after Barack Obama’s presidency, and then the vitriol of the Tea Party, voter suppression and voter ID laws, and then we vomited up Donald Trump. And I was trying to deal with my own despair and disillusionment, and so I turned to him in that moment.”

Despite the pandemic of racism in America, Glaude still has hope for the future, he said.

“Every single time we try to give birth to a new nation, the umbilical cord of white supremacy is wrapped around its neck,” he said. “We have to be truthful and be really responsible midwives so that we can give birth finally to a new country that is a genuinely multiracial democracy. Our history says we’re not going to do very well, but I have faith, because wherever human beings are, again, we have a chance.”

Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.