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The Civil Rights Movement is now remembered as a long-lost era, which came to an end along with the idealism of the 1960s. In Dark Days, Bright Nights, acclaimed scholar Peniel E. Joseph puts this pat assessment to the test, showing the 60s—particularly the tumultuous period after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act—to be the catalyst of a movement that culminated in The Civil Rights Movement is now remembered as a long-lost era, which came to an end along with the idealism of the 1960s. In Dark Days, Bright Nights, acclaimed scholar Peniel E. Joseph puts this pat assessment to the test, showing the 60s—particularly the tumultuous period after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act—to be the catalyst of a movement that culminated in the inauguration of Barack Obama.Joseph argues that the 1965 Voting Rights Act burst a dam holding back radical democratic impulses. This political explosion initially took the form of the Black Power Movement, conventionally adjudged a failure. Joseph resurrects the movement to elucidate its unfairly forgotten achievements. Told through the lives of activists, intellectuals, and artists, including Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Amiri Baraka, Tupac Shakur, and Barack Obama, Dark Days, Bright Nights will make coherent a fraught half-century of struggle, reassessing its impact on American democracy and the larger world.


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The Civil Rights Movement is now remembered as a long-lost era, which came to an end along with the idealism of the 1960s. In Dark Days, Bright Nights, acclaimed scholar Peniel E. Joseph puts this pat assessment to the test, showing the 60s—particularly the tumultuous period after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act—to be the catalyst of a movement that culminated in The Civil Rights Movement is now remembered as a long-lost era, which came to an end along with the idealism of the 1960s. In Dark Days, Bright Nights, acclaimed scholar Peniel E. Joseph puts this pat assessment to the test, showing the 60s—particularly the tumultuous period after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act—to be the catalyst of a movement that culminated in the inauguration of Barack Obama.Joseph argues that the 1965 Voting Rights Act burst a dam holding back radical democratic impulses. This political explosion initially took the form of the Black Power Movement, conventionally adjudged a failure. Joseph resurrects the movement to elucidate its unfairly forgotten achievements. Told through the lives of activists, intellectuals, and artists, including Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Amiri Baraka, Tupac Shakur, and Barack Obama, Dark Days, Bright Nights will make coherent a fraught half-century of struggle, reassessing its impact on American democracy and the larger world.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Eddie

    Peniel Joesph's deep dive into the civil rights era, culling out Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, et al. to examine the relationship between the men and the movement is unrivaled in its academic analysis. The participants, messages & timelines of the Civil Rights campaign, the era of Black Power/Pan-Africanism and Barack Obama's unprecedented rise to America's highest political office are carefully dissected and analyzed. By comparing and contrasting the civil disobedience generation to Carmichael Peniel Joesph's deep dive into the civil rights era, culling out Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, et al. to examine the relationship between the men and the movement is unrivaled in its academic analysis. The participants, messages & timelines of the Civil Rights campaign, the era of Black Power/Pan-Africanism and Barack Obama's unprecedented rise to America's highest political office are carefully dissected and analyzed. By comparing and contrasting the civil disobedience generation to Carmichael's Black Power activism to transitioning to Obama's call to adhere to a higher standard of racial harmony, Joseph reveals the connective tissue that binds these iconic figures together.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Higginbotham

    Interesting presentation of the new history on the Black Power movement, with attention to Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, which probably anticipates much that is in Joseph's new book. These figures offered an important critique on the American system, that many people did not see, but they also inspired many. There are three huge chapters, the final one on Obama's trajectory which is illuminating in how he is beyond that CR era, but informed by it. Interesting presentation of the new history on the Black Power movement, with attention to Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, which probably anticipates much that is in Joseph's new book. These figures offered an important critique on the American system, that many people did not see, but they also inspired many. There are three huge chapters, the final one on Obama's trajectory which is illuminating in how he is beyond that CR era, but informed by it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Renee P

    With Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama, Dr. Joseph approaches the subject of black intellectual thought and practice through the contemporary understanding that the historical context of Black power often ends like a “children’s bedtime story” (2). In his account, Dr. Joseph explores the intermingled existence of Malcolm X, Dr. King, Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Ture, Amiri Baraka, and Barack Obama, painting a broader portrait of civil and human rights work that was not silo With Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama, Dr. Joseph approaches the subject of black intellectual thought and practice through the contemporary understanding that the historical context of Black power often ends like a “children’s bedtime story” (2). In his account, Dr. Joseph explores the intermingled existence of Malcolm X, Dr. King, Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Ture, Amiri Baraka, and Barack Obama, painting a broader portrait of civil and human rights work that was not siloed. Rather, these leaders and their advocacy were in conversation with one another. Similarly, these leaders were not single-faceted humans and faced the same ‘repeated acts of self-creation’ that both Malcolm X and Obama reference. The re-invention and self-determination of the movement and its leaders was often grounded in internationalism. Carmichael is an obvious example—his intense period of political and social leadership called for a sort of pseudo-retirement as “an elder statesman” by the age of 28 (156). The end of Carmichael’s direct link to the Panthers is again, not a simplified happy ending. Like Ewing’s assertion that Garveyism the movement transcended Garvey himself, Stokely’s legacy of outspoken, passionate activism was too long either “ignored or demonized” in a way seemingly intended to hem in Carmichael’s important contribution to work at the grassroots level and in conversation with other political figures of the time. As we see in Chapter 4 of Joseph’s book, Obama’s interpretation of (or “curious relationship to the”) 60s Black Power movement was possible because of the nuanced, varied discourse and perspectives within Black Power activist circles in the first place. Dr. Joseph reclaims the complicated legacies of these civil rights leaders. A really important text to read, especially in the post-Obama White House and with 45's rise to power.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Glenda Nelms

    interesting and detailed connection between the black power movement and the election of Barack Obama.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Rush

    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 rhe 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.” Rush's work refers to much of the 1960's Black American History captured by Joseph's work from the eyes of an average American. It is filled with anecdotes of richness. The book has many ingredients attractive to inquiring minds. One of its most interesting stories is a piece on page 95 of the book called “You Never Know Who God Wants You To Meet.” It is a 1989 story of the not-yet-famous Barack Obama having 2 long conversations with a normal person from his daily life, with Obama laying out a vision of what he hopes to see in his romantic life. This interaction with Rush takes place before Obama's introduction to Michelle. One of the reasons that this story is so valuable is precisely because it is written by an average person, long before Obama becomes famous.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sonja Reid

    Well, had a brief chance to start this book before it had to go back. My impression: he's an even-handed writer, who really wanted to write about the Black Power movement. It feels as though an editor suggested adding in the Obama references, and while he does a pretty good job of it, I find those sections distracting and having a "tacked-on" feel. I didn't get far enough in to see if he was going to spend more time giving a better background on Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. From what I read Well, had a brief chance to start this book before it had to go back. My impression: he's an even-handed writer, who really wanted to write about the Black Power movement. It feels as though an editor suggested adding in the Obama references, and while he does a pretty good job of it, I find those sections distracting and having a "tacked-on" feel. I didn't get far enough in to see if he was going to spend more time giving a better background on Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. From what I read it felt as though he was presuming a lot of knowledge, though he gave some very thoughtful context and analysis of their actions. Not sure if I'm going to finish it....

  7. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This is a fabulous book, which examines the connections between civil rights, black power, and the politics that allowed Obama to become President. While not too much is new here if you have followed Joseph's other work, this is incredibly well-written and thought provoking. This is a fabulous book, which examines the connections between civil rights, black power, and the politics that allowed Obama to become President. While not too much is new here if you have followed Joseph's other work, this is incredibly well-written and thought provoking.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rakiyah Muhammad

    Very great book! Ties deep into Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lacarnly Creech

    Joseph tells a vital, yet misunderstood, part of history, but is repetitive especially across sections.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mariana

    I want to know more about Kwame Ture.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    As seen on npr.org. As seen on npr.org.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thom Dunn

    Featured on The News Hour, PBS , 1/18/10--Sees Obama Presidency as a function of the Black Power Mvt. rather than the earlier Civil Rights coalition.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael Thorpe

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine Guillory

  15. 4 out of 5

    TamyDee

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  18. 4 out of 5

    Corrina

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karlyn

  20. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Rubin

  21. 4 out of 5

    Basic Books

  22. 4 out of 5

    reem

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tony Jefferson

  24. 4 out of 5

    Theo

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kim Pettigrew

  27. 5 out of 5

    Valerie Carter

  28. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peyton

  30. 4 out of 5

    lisa_emily

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