Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour
A gripping narrative that brings to life a legendary moment in American history: the birth, life, and death of the Black Power movement
With the rallying cry of "Black Power!" in 1966, a group of black activists, including Stokely Carmichael and Huey P. Newton, turned their backs on Martin Luther King's pacifism and, building on Malcolm X's legacy, pioneered a radical new approach to the fight for equality. Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour is a history of the Black Power movement, that storied group of men and women who would become American icons of the struggle for racial equality.
Peniel E. Joseph traces the history of the men and women of the movement--many of them famous or infamous, others forgotten. Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour begins in Harlem in the 1950s, where, despite the Cold War's hostile climate, black writers, artists, and activists built a new urban militancy that was the movement's earliest incarnation. In a series of character-driven chapters, we witness the rise of Black Power groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panthers, and with them, on both coasts of the country, a fundamental change in the way Americans understood the unfinished business of racial equality and integration.
Drawing on original archival research and more than sixty original oral histories, this narrative history vividly invokes the way in which Black Power redefined black identity and culture and in the process redrew the landscape of American race relations.
Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America
By Peniel E. Joseph
Hardcover: 416 pages
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.)
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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
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