Annual Lecture on Multiculturalism: Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama, Feb. 24

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KINGSTON, R.I. — February 18, 2009 — Peniel E. Joseph, who is quickly earning a reputation as one of the leading young scholars of African American history, particularly in the emerging area of Black Power Studies, will deliver the University of Rhode Island’s 14th Annual Lecture on Multiculturalism: “Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama.”

Through his columns and media appearances, Joseph is a frequent commentator on race and democracy, and was featured on PBS during both national conventions and the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Joseph, an author and an associate professor of Afro-American Studies and history at Brandeis University, will speak Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ballroom of URI’s Memorial Union, 50 Lower College Road, Kingston. A question and answer session and book signing will follow his talk, which is free and open to the public.

Joseph is examining the point in African-Americans’ collective identity when they operate from the assumption that the conditions of their lives will change only when they can intentionally and strategically influence their behavior and that of others. Traditional historical accounts often focus on the humanism, sublimation, and moral appeal of the American Civil Rights movement. Delineating the course of the contemporaneous but often unheralded Black Power movement, Joseph shows how the black power movement preached self-empowerment rather than integration, demanded pride (and dignity) rather than brotherhood, and called for rigorous defense rather than nonviolence.

His book, Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (2006) was selected by The Washington Post Book World as “Best Nonfiction Pick.” He is editor of The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era (2006). His book, Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama, will be published by Basic Books in 2010.

Joseph has taught at URI and at State University of New York at Stony Brook.

URI’s annual lectures on Multiculturalism seek to increase awareness of our interdependence with other members of the human family by encouraging new patterns of discourse and thought on issues of culture, power, knowledge, and identity. For more information go to

This year’s lecture is sponsored by the multicultural Center, in conjunction with the Center for Student Leadership Development, the Dr. Rose Butler Browne Mentorship Program for Women of Color, and Uhuru SaSa.