Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama

Peniel E. Joseph, Author . Basic Civitas $26 (277p) ISBN 978-0-465-01366-1

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.)

Reviewed on: 11/30/2009
Release date: 01/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
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