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Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama Paperback – February 5, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Civitas Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046503313X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465033133
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"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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A most interesting concept. Anyone who is aware of Black American 1960's History, knows there was some serious business going down. Black folks at the grassroots were serious about change coming to America. The leader of this Black Power Movement was none other than Malcolm X, a man willing to lay it on the line to promote Black folks doing whatever we had to do to improve our lives. In many ways, those involved in the Black Power Movement were considered “crazy” loonies, just garbage filled rhetoricians for self-aggrandizement. In Peniel Joseph, this Movement has found an ingenious, young Historian who takes it with the seriousness that it deserves, marking out the landscape of what it was about, showing that the Black Power Movement was no “enemy” of The Civil Rights' Movement, but was, in fact, complimentary to it. By describing the lay of the land, the dynamics of 1960's Civil Rights' History, the behind the scenes grassroots organizing of people like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, Peniel Joseph shows that in many ways, what happened was a symbolic preparing of the fields that would later reap the harvest of the Presidency for an African-American. This book is written by an astute, perceptive, young Historian who understands his History and is good at explaining it. For anyone who wants to get a better grasp on the unfolding of events that led to the phenomenon that became President Obama, and his eventual rise to The White House, this is an excellent source. Great job by a young scholar whom the world is just getting to see in the early stages of his rise to scholarly greatness. Great work! This work fits within the same genre, and can be complimented by Thomas D. Rush's “Reality's Pen: Reflections On Family, History & Culture.Read more ›
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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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