I seem to be the minority here. The writing is just awful in my opinion. It takes a passionate struggle and turns it into an academic's processions of facts, names and dates. It's writing without pulse on a subject that was more than just ideas and debates. I stopped reading 60 pages in because, even though I recognized there was lots of well rounded information here- without really weaving it into a story I wasn't likely to remember any of it- forget actually feeling history's living breathing pulse. I'm not an expert on the subject but I'd recommend a different source.
The mythology of the civil rights movement taught in school goes something like this. We had slaves, that was bad. We fought the civil war and Lincoln freed the slaves, but some bad people in the south still treated black people badly. One day Rosa Parks was tired after work, and refused to give up her seat. Martin Luther King gave a speech, and the problem was solved. But then blacks got greedy, and wanted lots of special privileges. The slightly more nuanced version adds that after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, during the 1950's lots of people marched, held sit-ins, and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor. There was a giant march on Washington, and Congress passed the Civil Rights Laws. But then blacks abandoned protest, and instead started shouting black power, carrying around guns, rioted--burning down the cities, and destroying great cities like Detroit and Chicago's westside. In addition, blacks began demanding special privileges, so now reverse racism is as big a problem as racism used to be in the 50's.
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.
I had to read this book for my African American Class and It gives a different perspective on the black power movement. I agree that “Waiting Til The Midnight Hour” by Peniel E. Joseh challenges narrow and binary depictions of the black struggle for equality. Most specifically, the book contradictions long standing assumptions that a northern, sometimes violent Black Power Movements. Throughout history we were told that for a number of different reasons Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation. Eventually, this was followed by Jim Crow segregation and "separate but equal" laws. Various African-Americans engaged in the civil-rights struggle, and risk their lives for the cause. The Civil-Rights Era coincided with and/or encompassed an age of general period of civil disobedience which included Vietnam War protests, Labor Union unrest and a continuing feminism movement. A number of solid victories came from the Civil Rights Era, namely, Brown v. Board of Education and the Voting Rights Act. Also, a number of iconic figures, and moments, emerged from this era, namely, Rosa Parks (and the Montgomery Bus Boycott), and Martin Luther King Jr. (and the March on Washington). Then these radical crazy kids came along, toting guns in San Francisco and following around cops in Oakland. Stokely Carmichael shouted "Black Power!!" at a March against Fear in Mississippi in 1966. Olympic Medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave Black Power salutes on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics. In the 60 Minutes special, "The Hate That Hate Produced", Mike Wallace told America that a huge group of very angry Muslims were proliferating in New York, and Malcolm X was the head nut. All of a sudden, crazy radicals replaced the politics of integration, non-violent protest and collaboration with that of aggressive "black self-esteem" and revolutionary rhetoric. As a result, these excesses dragged everything down, precipitating a Civil Rights decline. This, coupled with a conservative backlash, continues negatively to affect the lives of African-Americans today. 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.
"Waiting Til the Midnight Hour" is an excellent book. Well written and thorough. Just because you lived through an era, does not mean that you have a comprehensive view of it, or that you fully understand it. Great title too.😎
Sorry for the cliche,however this is a must read;for anyone seeking an insight into the truth about a very significant part of the civil rights movement in the USA. It is written to quote James Baldwin "with the ring and candor of truth". get a copy for yourself, you will want to read it again and again!