Dark Days, Bright Nights

Dark Days, Bright Nights

From Black Power to Barack Obama

Book - 2010
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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 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.

Publisher: New York : BasicCivitas, c2010.
ISBN: 9780465013661
Branch Call Number: 323.1196073 J83
Characteristics: v, 277 p.


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Dec 14, 2010

Out of the plethora of books published about Barack Obama, this one is unique. The author details the history that brought us to President Obama by studying three pivotal individuals. No, Martin Luther King Jr. is not among them.

Instead, Professor Joseph persuasively makes the case that Malcom X and Stokely Carmichael were essential elements in moving this country forward from a wretched history of racism and discrimination. They spoke the truth as they saw it and didn’t mince words. They saw what Americans called democracy and said, “No, not yet, it isn’t.” They pushed and pushed and didn’t stop pushing to make “democracy” even a halfway accurate description of American life.

Certainly Obama was inspired by the icons of the Civil Rights movement – Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis, Rosa Parks -. but his passionate commitment to community organizing followed the tradition of Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. As a biracial young man raised in a white family, educated in a private high school and in Ivy League colleges, Obama could’ve chosen to assimilate into mainstream culture. Instead, in a very black power, black is beautiful way, he chose to work as a community organizer in a housing project in Chicago. He proudly laid claim to being part of the black community, as well as the American community at large. He did not see those identities as Either/Or. He had the audacity, -which is so bold even Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael would’ve been in awe - to run for President of the United States. And win.

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