A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
A Finalist for the Mark Lynton History Prize
A New York Amsterdam News Best Book of the Year
With the rallying cry of “Black Power!” in 1966, a group of civil rights activists including Stokely Carmichael and Huey P. Newton turned their backs on Martin Luther King Jr.’s pacifism and pioneered a radical new approach to the fight for equality. Waiting ’Til the Midnight Hour is a history of the storied group of men and women who would become American icons of the struggle for racial equality.
Peniel E. Joseph introduces a cast of historical characters that includes William Worthy, the globe-trotting foreign correspondent; Albert Cleage, the radical clergyman from Detroit; James Baldwin, the novelist whose essays came to distill the very essence of American racial life; and Malcolm X, the common denominator who united black radicals from far-flung corners of the nation–and, over time, the world. On virtually every single page, Waiting ’Til the Midnight Hour uncovers buried intimacies of the larger postwar freedom struggle.
With a novelist’s eye for detail, Joseph follows Malcolm X from urban street corners to Ghanaian universities to examine his relationship with local activists, introducing us to a world where black militants waged political war in urban settings far from the national spotlight. A detailed narrative of the Meredith March reveals connections between Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael, while its aftermath uncovers a federal intelligence bureaucracy intent on neutralizing the Black Power movement's most charismatic spokesman.
From the domestic and international shockwaves of 1968 through the events leading up to Huey P. Newton’s murder trial and the Black Panther Party’s short-lived alliance with SNCC, Waiting ’Til the Midnight Hour builds to Black Power’s apex in the early 1970s. The lives of Black Panther co-founder Huey P. Newton, black nationalist poet turned activist Amiri Baraka, and Angela Davis are chronicled against the backdrop of growing waves of domestic insurrection, including violent urban unrest and campus radicalism.
Drawing on original archival research and extensive oral histories, including dozens of new interviews, Waiting ’Til the Midnight Hour vividly reveals the way in which Black Power redefined black identity and culture and in the process redrew the landscape of American race relations.