035: Peniel E. Joseph, 34


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

35: Peniel E. Joseph, 11-20-06

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, SUNY-Stony Brook (2005-)
Area of Research: Civil Rights/Black Power Movement; African American History; African American Intellectual History; Comparative Black Nationalism; Twentieth Century American Social History; African Diaspora; Pan-Africanism
Education: Ph.D. 2000, Temple University (American History)
Major Publications: Joseph is the author of Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (New York: Henry Holt, 2006). Peniel E. Joseph JPG He is the Editor and author of the introduction of The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights and Black Power Era (New York: Routledge, 2006).
He was the Guest Editor of “Black Power Studies II,” The Black Scholar, Volume 32, number 1, (Spring 2002), and Guest Editor, “Black Power Studies I,” The Black Scholar, Volume 31, number 3-4, (Fall/Winter 2001). Joseph is currently working on a number of book manuscripts including A World of Our Own: Black Intellectuals and the Pan-African Dream, Any Day Now: African American Historical Criticism, and Revolutions in Babylon: Stokely Carmichael and America in the 1960s.
Co-editor (with Manning Marable of Columbia University) of The Palgrave Macmillan Series in Contemporary Black History Book Series.
Fellowships and Awards: Joseph is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including:
Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars Residential Fellowship, Washington, D.C., September 2002-May 2003;
Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, Institutional Affiliation: Dept. of Africana Studies, Brown University, May 2002-August 2002, June-August 2003;
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2002-2003 (declined);
Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2002-2003 (declined);
Robert Woodruff Special Collections Library Grant, Emory University, Summer 2002. URI Council of Research Grant, Summers 2001 and 2004;
Teaching Assistant, Dept. of History, Temple University, 1993-1996.
Additional Info:
Formerly Assistant Professor of History and African/African-American Studies, University of Rhode Island (2000-2005).
Joseph has appeared on television and radio programs, including the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS, the Bev. Smith Radio Show, the Bob Edwards Show on XFM Sattelite Radio; and others.
Midnight Hour has also been featured in “Black Issues Book Review”; “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education”; and Joseph has been interviewed in publications such as “The Crisis.”
Waiting Til the Midnight Hour was named an October Bestseller for Hardcover Non- Fiction by Kramerbooks in Washington, DC.
Joseph is a member, Editorial Working Group, “Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society.”

Personal Anecdote

I was born in New York City, the second son of Haitian immigrants. My mother moved my older brother and I to Queens Village in 1975, and raised us as a single parent. A historian in her own right, I grew up in a family where dinner table conversation centered on Haitian history, contemporary labor politics, and anti-racist struggles. Raised in a predominantly African American neighborhood, Haitian Creole and history coupled with black popular cultural innovations such as the emerging Hip Hop era made my childhood a kind of delicious gumbo. My mother’s tales of tumult, passion, joy, and sorrow inspired a life-long fascination with social justice. Activism, in a variety of forms from joining organizations, standing on picket lines, protesting the Gulf War, apartheid in South Africa, and the quarantine of Haitian refugees in Guantanamo, is a legacy passed on from my mother, a trade-unionist, hospital worker, and member of local 1199 for almost forty years.

As an undergraduate at Stony Brook University, my double major in European history and Africana Studies was complimented by my involvement in campus activism and journalism as a writer for the campus newspaper. After graduating from college I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in American history. A graduate degree, I thought, would allow me to raise the stakes of my community activism to ivory towers where black faces were few and far between.

I purposely applied to schools away from New York city in hopes of widening my intellect and experience. Peniel E. Joseph JPG Accepted into Temple University I arrived in Philadelphia mildly surprised to witness a level of urban misery that I had almost regarded as being exclusive to my hometown.

In graduate school I became intensely involved with issues surrounding police brutality, social justice, and the death penalty during these years. Local politics in Philadelphia reminded me of the stories that I had grew up on regarding black militancy during the 1960s and re-ignited my curiosity about the era.

These experiences dovetailed into my efforts to write a narrative history of the Black Power Movement that focused on the lives, political activism, and legacy of the era’s iconic and obscure figures. The enormity of the black freedom struggle has always held a particularly strong appeal for me. The sheer vastness of the historical era, a canvas broad enough to include a diversity of ethnicities that range from Caribbean born Black Power activists to Jewish civil rights supporters, African rulers, White House officials, and Black Muslims, is perhaps the most enduring story of our time. Yet most people are unaware of the period’s expansive hopefulness, radical democracy, and contemporary resonance. It is my hope that the narrative’s accessibility, insights, and sweep will provide contemporary activists of all stripes a window onto a past that has enormous lessons to teach us about the present. With Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour, I have come full circle, writing a historical narrative that would not be an unfamiliar source of dinner table conversation in my youth.


By Peniel E. Joseph

“Black Power at the local, national, and international level would launch a Waiting Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America JPGradical political movement that while racially specific was nonetheless interpreted by a variety of multiracial groups as a template for restructuring society. Black Power, beginning with its revision of black identity, transformed America’s racial, social, and political landscape. In a premulticultural age where race shaped hope, opportunity, and identity, Black Power provided new words, images, and politics. If the movement’s confrontational posture quickened the pace of racial change, it also provoked a visceral reaction in white Americans who could more easily identify with civil rights activists than with Black Power militants. Ultimately, Black Power accelerated America’s reckoning with its own uncomfortable, often ugly racial past, and in the process spurred a debate over racial progress, citizenship, and democracy that would scandalize as much as it would change the nation.” — Peniel E. Joseph in “Waiting Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America”

About Peniel E. Joseph

  • “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” reviewing of “Waiting Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America”
  • “Peniel Joseph takes us beyond the simplistic and superficial treatments of the Black Power movement to present that movement in all its complexity, and in its historical context. It is a dramatic story, carefully researched, and deserving of our attention.” — Howard Zinn reviewing of “Waiting Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America”
  • “From Malcolm X’s Harlem, through Stokely Carmichael’s Mississippi, to the San Francisco of Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour is a mesmerizing journey through the radical wing of America’s civil rights revolution. In vivid, moving prose Peniel Joseph re-creates the fierce passion and prophetic anger that made Black Power one of the nation’s most explosive political movements.” — Kevin Boyle reviewing of “Waiting Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America”
  • “This fresh, powerful, and passionate history captures the complexity and reveals the often misunderstood character and impact of the Black Power movement. Wide in scope and richly researched, it complements more familiar studies of civil rights with a sympathetic account of the politics of culture, identity, and pride.”.” — Ira Katzelson reviewing of “Waiting Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America”
  • “Not since Clayborne Carson’s In Struggle over two decades ago have I read such a rich, theoretically grounded narrative of the origins and evolution of the Black Freedom movement. Peniel Joseph’s Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour marks the dawn of a new black narrative history: nuanced, deeply researched, and brilliantly insightful. Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour will become a new standard interpretation of black political culture in the 1960s.” — Manning Marable reviewing of “Waiting Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America”
  • “Peniel E. Joseph, a talented young historian… has finally taken us beyond the politics of memory, mining virtually every available archive and printed source relevant to the Black Power saga. The result is an engaging…revisionist narrative that reveals a hidden world of black intellectual ferment and pursposeful political organizing.” — Raymond Arsenault, Washington Post reviewing of “Waiting Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America”
  • “Informative and elegant… skillfully carries the reader across time and space… from Harlem to the rural south, Detroit to Los Angeles, Cuba to Ghana.” — Philadelphia Weekly review of “Waiting Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America”
  • “The writing is nimble…The author is often willing to face the more discreditable facts about the movement, giving the book a tough-mindedness necessary for coming to terms with the past.” — New York Newsday review of “Waiting Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America”
  • “Dr. Joseph is one of the reasons I took up History as one of my majors. He knows his subject and is one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met in my life. He was on leave but now he’s going to be teaching at some school in New York. Whoever didn’t get a chance to have him missed out.”…
    “Intelligent, Challenging, Funny”….”Really passionate about the topic and that shows in the lectures making them more interesting.” — Anonymous Student Comments

Posted on Sunday, November 19, 2006 at 7:17 PM

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