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Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama Hardcover – January 5, 2010


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Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama + Stokely: A Life + Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Civitas Books (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046501366X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465013661
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,034,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By s.nunes on July 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Dark Days and Bright Nights" gave me a new perspective on the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's. I always viewed the efforts of Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Jessie Jackson, et.al as a unified civil action with multiple facets (NAACP, SCLC, SNCC, etc.) and that the more militant aspect evolved from this base. I was also under the impression that Malcolm X and Stokley Carmichael were, at least in the beginning, on the fringe of the movement until the Black community became frustrated and impatient with lack of progress of the "main stream" civil rights organizations and began to accept a more militant and violent agenda. I was wrong.

After reading this book I realized that my perspective was simplistic and uninformed. Dr. Joseph points out that the militant dimension of the Black Power of the Civil Rights Movement did not evolve from the more mainstream civil rights organizations but rather developed parallel to these movements. Paraphrasing Dr. Joseph's insight, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, Jessie Jackson, et. al. were putting pressure to change the system (segregation, racism, Jim Crow) from the outside whereas Black Power movement, personified in Malcolm X and Stokley Carmichael, was concentrated on the inside of the Black community by advocating positive self-identity and the importance of developing a Black power base in local communities. Both Malcolm X and Carmichael were exceptional community organizers and this ultimately constituted the basis for the development of Black Power.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Katie on February 2, 2014
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This book is extremely well written. I read this as a requirement for a class, but I really enjoyed reading it and recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about the history of black power in America and its effects today. Many academic books I've read in this genre are very dry and have no flow. This book is easy to read while being academic, however you don't need any real background knowledge in black history. I have read many books on this subject, and this is easily one of my favorites because it covers important people in Black Power and current topics and is enjoyable to read. I would encourage people not studying this field to read it because it's easy to follow what he's talking about and his explanations are informative and interesting. The Black Power Movement is ignored in education, but its effects are just as important as the Civil Rights Movement and this book does a wonderful job explaining its role in America in the past and present. The questions and topics brought up are thought-provoking and informative. In discussing Barack Obama, he raises interesting points on his political career relating to race and to what shaped the current national environment and the President’s life. The amount of information in the book could easily be overwhelming, but someone with no knowledge of Black Power could read, understand, and enjoy the book. Many scholarly books lack that ability to reach a wide range of audience and read as stuffy and only marginally comprehensible. The amount of information presented by Joseph is easier to understand because it's presented clearly and explained well. I would recommend this to parents for 5th or 6th grade or higher depending on reading level as a supplement to what schools don't teach.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Charles E. French on July 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is a very repetitive book. Whole paragraphs are repeated. There is almost no new information. The only thing slightly redeeming is the discussion of Stokely Carmichael and his role. I would avoid this book, there are so many better ones out there on this subject. Obama is put in to juice the sales. There is nothing significant about him either.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm reading this slowly. In fact, I find myself re-reading many sentences and paragraphs immediately just to enjoy again the vast content of novel thought Peniel weaves into every statement. He keeps surprising me with . . . I'm not yet sure what. His is a fascinating combination of new (to me) information and history reportage that often sound like points of view but which I realize are valid interpretations I'd not encountered. I lived through this period as (I thought) a liberal/progressive white Southerner. Peniel shows me so much I did not know and makes me wish I'd found a way to help. He also shows me I still can.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Hutchinson on May 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Peniel Joesph's deep dive into the civil rights era, culling out Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, et al. to examine the relationship between the men and the movement is unrivaled in its academic analysis. The participants, messages & timelines of the Civil Rights campaign, the era of Black Power/Pan-Africanism and Barack Obama's unprecedented rise to America's highest political office are carefully dissected and analyzed. By comparing and contrasting the civil disobedience generation to Carmichael's Black Power activism to transitioning to Obama's call to adhere to a higher standard of racial harmony, Joseph reveals the connective tissue that binds these iconic figures together.
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