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Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour

A Narrative History of Black Power in America

Peniel E. Joseph

Holt Paperbacks

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.

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Introduction 
To Shape a New World
 
Malcolm X arrived in Harlem in the early 1950s on the heels of the contentious departure of another of its adopted, if little-known, sons. As Malcolm was bounding into Harlem's local political arena, Harold Cruse was settling downtown, still clinging to wistful dreams that he had, temporarily at least, put on hold. As a young boy, Harold Cruse dreamed of becoming a writer. For a southern-born black boy coming of age in the Great Depression, this was an ambitious goal, with long odds. Born in Petersburg, Virginia, in 1916, Cruse moved as a
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REVIEWS

Praise for Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour

Peniel Joseph represents the best of a new generation of scholars whose work will substantially revise our understanding of the Black Freedom Movement. Provocative and masterfully written, Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour not only reveals the radical roots of Black Power but places the key activists and struggles within a global framework. It is one of those critically important books that will be read and debated for many years to come.

--Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Peniel E. Joseph

  • Peniel E. Joseph is an assistant professor of Africana studies at SUNY-Stony Brook. The recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson
    International Center for Scholars and the Ford Foundation, his work has appeared in Souls, New Formations, and The Black Scholar, and he is editor of a forthcoming anthology on the Black Power movement. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour

A Narrative History of Black Power in America

Peniel E. Joseph

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Holt Paperbacks

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