Redefining Black Power

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Redefining Black Power
Reflections on the State of Black America

Edited by Joanne Griffith

Press Reviews

Book News Inc.

"In this book, radio-journalist Joanne Griffith travels the country to interview leading black intellectuals, educators, authors and organizers about the state of Black America . . . She talks with Vincent Harding about the deepening of democracy in America, with Julianne Malveaux about race and economic inequality, with Michelle Alexander about law in the age of Obama, with Ramona Africa about revolutionary struggle, with Linn Washington Jr. about the media's inability to earnestly analyze government, with Van Jones about green activism; and with Esther Armah about the emotional impact of the first Black First Family."

—Eithne O'Leyne

Shelf Awareness

"Griffith's stellar introduction places Obama's rise in the historical context of previous generations' struggles for equality and a seat at the table of American power, recounting the emotional heft she and other African-Americans felt at Obama's victory. The interviews that follow are never less than fascinating; they are lively, engaging give-and-takes on the Civil Rights Movement, poverty and under-employment in America and on Obama's place in history. . .  This book displays a full, rich range of responses from America's black intelligentsia, cultural icons, artists and activists who at times question the meaning and the motives of the president rather than simply assume he offers a panacea for issues that have plagued this country since its inception. "--Donald Powell

Kirkus Reviews

"Griffith concludes by wondering if progressives have been 'lulled into a satisfied slumber' by Obama's election, and whether Dr. King’s ambitions have been betrayed by this complacency. Multifaceted discussions regarding the challenges faced by African-Americans during the Obama presidency."


"International broadcast journalist Griffith draws on the archives of radio interviews with black intellectuals to offer a perspective on how the election of the nation's first black president has changed notions of black power and ideas of a multicultural democracy. . . . Griffith provides context for each excerpted interview, adding to the texture of the analysis of changing perspectives on contemporary black power."

Publishers Weekly

"Few were more galvanized by the election of Obama than African Americans. But four years after the first black president moved into the Oval Office, the excitement has been supplemented by the sober realization that no single individual can tackle the major civil rights challenges that remain. BBC journalist Griffith interviews activists, scholars, and others, including Obama's former Green Jobs Advisor Van Jones, to delve into the psyche of African Americans during the Obama years. This slim volume packs a punch as it unpacks uncomfortable truths, and the provocative voices here do not mince words. Some, like Ohio State University law professor Michelle Alexander, fault Obama for not doing more for blacks, going so far as to declare that 'there really is no point in putting black and brown faces in positions of power if they aren't actually going to make much of a difference.' But others say African Americans slipped into the trap of seeing Obama as a 'saviour' and failed to understand that the president is head of state, not the leader of a new civil rights movement. Consequently, according to Jones,  expecting Obama to 'fix black America' is a mistake; if anyone is going to do that, it will be some person or group outside the political realm. Operating as he does within the constraints of Washington, the president's greatest triumph is perhaps more psychological, as Obama, his wife, and daughters have provided a much needed emotional boost for blacks as the country's First Family." -- Publishers Weekly