The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and '60s is now remembered as a long-lost, sepia-toned era, whose achievements and idealism were soon eclipsed by angry, confrontational Black Power activists. In Dark Days, Bright Nights, acclaimed scholar Peneil E. Joseph puts this pat assessment to the test, showing that the '60s—particularly the tumultuous period after 1965—were in fact the launching pad for a movement that culminated in the inauguration of Barack Obama.
Joseph argues that the 1965 Voting Rights Act wrested open a dam holding back radical democratic impluses. This political explosion initially took the form of the Black Power Movement, which, though conventionally adjudged a failure, in fact laid the groundwork for a crucial new wave of black leadership. To elucidate Black Power's unfairly forgotten achievements Joseph retells the movement through the lives of activists, intellectuals, and artists including Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Amiri Baraka, and Barack Obama. In so doing, Dark Days, Bright Nights re-assesses a half-century fraught with struggle to expose its resounding triumphs and continuing influence on American democracy.