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Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America Hardcover – July 25, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0805075397 ISBN-10: 0805075399 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805075399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805075397
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Whereas black nationalism can be traced to Marcus Garvey (and his predecessors), Black Power was first articulated by Stokely Carmichael in 1966. This accessible survey looks at "the murky depths of a movement that paralleled, and at times overlapped, the heroic civil rights era," beginning in the late 1950s, with the rise of the Black Muslims, and ending in 1975. Joseph, who teaches Africana studies at SUNY–Stony Brook, brings to light less-known characters like the Rev. Albert Cleage Jr. of Detroit, who helped organize the 1963 Walk for Freedom a month before the March on Washington, as well as fresh judgments on figures like Malcolm X, "black America's prosecuting attorney." He analyzes the negative media coverage of Black Power, offers a discerning take on Carmichael and Charles Hamilton's 1967 book, Black Power, and recounts the emergence of the Black Arts movement. The Black Panthers also get consistent attention, in rise and decline. Drawing on a rich set of sources, including interviews and oral histories, the book also illuminates flash points in Newark, N.J.; Oakland, Calif.; and the Sixth Pan-African Congress in Dar es Salaam in 1974. Though it focuses more on politics than culture—e.g., the 1968 Olympics protest gets just a footnote—it's a good introduction to the topic. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Joseph, African studies professor, surveys the full geographic and political panorama of the black power movement. He begins with the Southern movement and the political organizing of SNCC and SCLC, then moves on to portray the crisis in the movement reflected by the rise of Stokely Carmichael and the breach of the traditional white-black alliance. From there, Joseph analyzes the shift to the West Coast, initiated through the rise of the Black Panthers and their leader Huey Newton becoming symbols of the black power movement. Finally, Joseph examines attempts at political organizing in the North, reflected in the black political convention in Gary, Indiana, in 1972 and Amiri Baraka's subsequent activism in Newark, which resulted in the election of a black mayor. While Joseph explores the interplay between SNCC and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as Malcolm X's symbolic engagement, he also highlights figures who were significant though more historically obscure, including Robert Williams, the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), and Harold Cruse, rounding out a more complete overview of this era. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Sources include interviews and oral histories, as well as extensive archival material.
Carlito's Way
'Waiting' is an ode to the Civil Rights era and it's easily one of the best ever written about this period.
Third World
Stokely Carmichael shouted "Black Power!!" at a March against Fear in Mississippi in 1966.
Khadejha Brunner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Carlito's Way on February 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is outstanding! I don't know what I was expecting. I thought, perhaps, that it was going to be an apologia regarding the Panthers. Or, if not that, it would be a polemic detailing how the Panthers "messed everything up". You see, there is a generally accepted narrative regarding the struggle for African-American equality in this country. The narrative goes like this: for a number of complicated reasons, Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation. Eventually, this was followed by Jim Crow segregation and "separate but equal". Various African-Americans engaged in a heroic civil-rights struggle, and they were aided in this struggle by whites (Communist and otherwise) and other sympathetic ethnic groups. The Civil-Rights Era coincided with and/or encompassed an age of general period of civil disobedience which included Vietnam War protests, Labor Union unrest and a continuing feminism movement. A number of solid victories came from the Civil Rights Era, namely, Brown v. Board of Education and the Voting Rights Act. Also, a number of iconic figures, and moments, emerged from this era, namely, Rosa Parks (and the Montgomery Bus Boycott), and Martin Luther King Jr. (and the March on Washington). Then these craaaaaaaazy kids came along, toting guns in San Francisco and following around cops in Oakland. Stokely Carmichael shouted "Black Power!!" at a March Against Fear in Mississippi in 1966. Olympic Medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave Black Power salutes on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics. In the 60 Minutes special, "The Hate That Hate Produced", Mike Wallace told America that a huge group of angry, angry, angry Muslims were proliferating in New York, and Malcolm X was the head nut.Read more ›
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Paul Grant on February 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is about more than politics. It's about people, people who are indeed political creatures, but are red-blooded people, with loves, and creativity, and petty rivalries, and regional differences.

Peniel Joseph has really served the public here. I hope this book is picked up by people (like myself) born after this narrative's conclusion. By moving beyond the waters of Malcolm X and Eldridge Cleaver, and looking into the arts, and cultural developments like Kwanzaa, and religion, he was actually able to bring focus to the narrative.

It was very refreshing to see Martin Luther King as more than a teddy-bear on the one hand, and more than a broken record on the other. He was in the first instance a minister--meaning a person of faith who worked with people, in all their humanity. King changed his mind about realities, and grew, and related to people with a flexibility not shared by, say, philosophers.

Joseph leaves us with the stories of men and women, not always heroes, and not too unlike ourselves in their daily lives.

My only regret is the book's ending in 1974. It would have been nice to understand black power's interface with early hip hop, and such.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By tpw79 on June 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Gill Scott-Heron once said "the revolution will not be televised" - so Peniel E. Joseph wrote about it instead. In his provocative book, "Waiting `Til The Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America," the young Brandeis University professor/social activist chronicles the highlights and lowlights of the people and the ideas that made up organized black radicalism in the United States over the last century. While the seeds of black power bore their roots in Marcus Garvey's United Negro Improvement Association, the book really takes off during the burgeoning civil rights movement in the 1960s, when black militants like Stokley Carmichael and Malcolm X began to question Dr. Martin Luther King's peaceful resistance tactics to address racism. Joseph does a good job of giving comprehensive biographies of not only the well-known key players like Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin and Angela Davis, the author also pays homage to long-forgotten names, such as renegade journalist William Worthy who befriended Communist leaders in Viet Nam and Cuba during the height of Sen. Joe McCarthy's witch trials. Joseph also points out the failures of some black power groups, most notably the Black Panthers, the militant, Oakland-based cadre that fell from national prominence due to internal conflicts and the vices of the Party's leadership (Huey Newton's drug addiction and Eldridge Cleaver's misogyny and conversion to conservatism). The black power movement left an indelible mark in American history, as can be seen in today's social movements and particularly the rise of hip hop in the 1980s. The black power movement also provided an opportunity for African Americans to see themselves on the international level and unite with other blacks worldwide in the name of Pan-Africanism.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alan Mills VINE VOICE on April 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The mythology of the civil rights movement taught in school goes something like this. We had slaves, that was bad. We fought the civil war and Lincoln freed the slaves, but some bad people in the south still treated black people badly. One day Rosa Parks was tired after work, and refused to give up her seat. Martin Luther King gave a speech, and the problem was solved. But then blacks got greedy, and wanted lots of special privileges. The slightly more nuanced version adds that after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, during the 1950's lots of people marched, held sit-ins, and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor. There was a giant march on Washington, and Congress passed the Civil Rights Laws. But then blacks abandoned protest, and instead started shouting black power, carrying around guns, rioted--burning down the cities, and destroying great cities like Detroit and Chicago's westside. In addition, blacks began demanding special privileges, so now reverse racism is as big a problem as racism used to be in the 50's.

Joseph has done a superb job by removing "Black Power" from this cartoonish history, and instead placing it in context. He begins with a brief description of Marcus Garvey's black nationalism, and then traces the movement for black empowerment through history to the present day, focusing on Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and Huey Newton. He notes that the relationship between the traditional civil rights movement as embodied by King, and the Black Power movement has always included elements of cooperation at the same time as there was competition. The Deacons for Defense provided armed protection to King and other leaders of non-violent protests; Carmichael started out in SNCC dedicated to non-violence.
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