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Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America Paperback – July 10, 2007
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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. The Panthers believed in self defense, but also believed in running social service programs (e.g, breakfast for school kids).
Joseph's bottom line is that both the traditional non-violent civil rights movement and the black power movement fractured because of the contradiction inherent in both movements--was the fundamental problem race or class. Neither ever fully answered that question, and ultimately the class conflicts inside the movements broke into the open, fracturing both movements.
The struggle continues.
For instance, the admission of a leader of the Oakland black panther party that a shootout that resulted in the death of a panther was a pre-planned ambush on police received one line of attention while Joseph alleges Nixon was a racist because a third party candidate was actually racist (??????) and spends a page developing this idea. Furthermore, Joseph often pays no notice to the opposing side of the black Panthers story, such as the afforementioned shooting.
The book is an excellent examination of the black power movement, but it is more set on reaffirming the methods and ideas of the black power movement than providing an accurate historical presentation.
The author shows that this narrative was far from the whole truth by examining the Black Power Movement as a legitimate movement separate and distinct from the Civil Rights Movement. His book demonstrates the continuing influence of Black Power, while remaining cognizant of the flaws of its leaders. The book places Black Power within a global context, showing that Black Power was about more than the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam. He writes about 1955 Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung and Catros's trip to New York in 1960, when he made a point of meeting with Malcolm X. The author talks about the stars of this period such as Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton and Stokely Carmichael. In fact, this book makes clear that Stokely Carmichael is such a seminal figure to Black Power Movement. The author also tells the stories of lesser known figures such as William Worthy, Robert Williams, Albert Cleage, Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez. He argues persuasively that Lorraine Hansberry's, "A Raisin In the Sun" is actually a radical play. He identifies the radical roots of King and he disseminates what Baraka meant in his essay, "Black Is a Country.”
If you love reading about African American History then this will be a great read for you.