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Basic Books
  • Hardcover
  • $29.99 / $34.50 CAN
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-465-01363-0
New York Times Book Review
"An insightful, highly engaging and fluently written biography"

Washington Post
"Joseph's account of Carmichael's life is well-written and well-researched, providing persuasive explanations for his appeal-Joseph's biography fills a huge void and is a welcome addition to the scholarly literature on the civil rights movement."

Boston Globe
"This is at its heart a book of ideas — ideas about power, freedom, and identity — and of a life, the author writes, that ‘took shape against the backdrop of a domestic war for America's very soul.'"

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Mr. Joseph's detail rich biography delves into the life of a political activist turned icon while not forgetting to show us his human side."

Stokely

A Life

By Peniel E. Joseph

From an acclaimed civil rights historian, a definitive biography of Stokely Carmichael, the nonviolent activist turned black nationalist who spearheaded the Black Power movement in America.

Stokely Carmichael, the charismatic and controversial black activist, stepped onto the pages of history when he called for "Black Power" during a speech one Mississippi night in 1966. A firebrand who straddled both the American civil rights and Black Power movements, Carmichael would stand for the rest of his life at the center of the storm he had unleashed that night. In Stokely, preeminent civil rights scholar Peniel E. Joseph presents a groundbreaking biography of Carmichael, using his life as a prism through which to view the transformative African American freedom struggles of the twentieth century.

During the heroic early years of the civil rights movement, Carmichael and other civil rights activists advocated nonviolent measures, leading sit-ins, demonstrations, and voter registration efforts in the South that culminated with the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Still, Carmichael chafed at the slow progress of the civil rights movement and responded with Black Power, a movement that urged blacks to turn the rhetoric of freedom into a reality through whatever means necessary. Marked by the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., a wave of urban race riots, and the rise of the anti-war movement, the late 1960s heralded a dramatic shift in the tone of civil rights. Carmichael became the revolutionary icon for this new racial and political landscape, helping to organize the original Black Panther Party in Alabama and joining the iconic Black Panther Party for Self Defense that would galvanize frustrated African Americans and ignite a backlash among white Americans and the mainstream media. Yet at the age of twenty-seven, Carmichael made the abrupt decision to leave the United States, embracing a pan-African ideology and adopting the name of Kwame Ture, a move that baffled his supporters and made him something of an enigma until his death in 1998.

A nuanced and authoritative portrait, Stokely captures the life of the man whose uncompromising vision defined political radicalism and provoked a national reckoning on race and democracy.

Peniel E. Joseph is Professor of History at Tufts University and the author of the award-winning Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour, as well as editor of The Black Power Movement and Neighborhood Rebels. The recipient of fellowships from Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute and its Charles Warren Center, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Ford Foundation, his essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Journal of American History, The Chronicle Review, Bookforum, and The American Historical Review.

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Dark Days, Bright Nights by Peniel E. Joseph

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Dark Days, Bright Nights by Peniel E. Joseph

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