From Publishers Weekly
Joseph (Waiting'til the Midnight Hour
) launches a much needed discussion of black power's successes and its contributions to the civil rights movement. Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael were, first and foremost, community organizers—as was Barack Obama, whose trajectory, according to the author, represents the culmination and redemption of his predecessors' efforts. Joseph examines two paths to black social justice—black power and the pulpit-driven civil rights movement—which popular history has traditionally pitted in opposition. Even if Carmichael's bracing criticism of American democracy or the Panthers' militancy seem miles away from King's pacifism, Joseph reveals how the two approaches fed off of each other, creating the kind of conflict and progress that would pave the way for the first African-American president, whose political roots are planted in activism. The author makes a persuasive and stimulating case for Obama's election as a vindication for black power, and his book is a vivid and welcome recasting of the history—and the myriad interpretations—of the movement. (Jan.)
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Historian Joseph views President Obama’s election from the spectrum of black power, often considered the “evil twin” of the civil rights movement. Joseph looks beyond the militant rhetoric and images of gun-toting Black Panthers that provoked fear in the white establishment to the concrete achievements of the black power movement. He examines the grassroots efforts that resulted in organizing sharecroppers in the rural South or organizing free breakfast and preschool programs that were later duplicated nationally. Joseph also examines the overlap of the aggressive black power movement and the nonviolent civil rights movement. He profiles the major iconic figures of the movement: Stokely Carmichael (credited with coining the phrase) and Malcolm X. In later chapters, Joseph draws on Obama’s memoirs and actions before and since becoming president for perspective on how the black power movement affected him. While Obama seems to view the movement as anachronistic and angry, Joseph argues that Obama, like most Americans, fails to appreciate the enduring legacy of that movement and its significance in challenging and sharpening the ideal of American democracy. --Vanessa Bush