The Obama presidency represented a major milestone in African American history. The very presence of a black First Family had a profound cultural impact, but did the Obama White House actually addressed any of the ongoing issues faced by Black America? Did communities of color organized sufficiently to voice their concerns? How could lessons learned from past freedom struggles guide the organizing that's needed to meet today's opportunities and challenges?
To explore these questions in depth, international journalist Joanne Griffith traveled the country to interview black intellectuals, activists, authors, and educators, including former advisor to former President Obama, Van Jones; civil rights advocate and litigator, Michelle Alexander; economist, Julianne Malveaux; and friend and speech writer for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Vincent Harding.
The result was a wide-ranging exploration of the hot-button issues facing America today, from economics, education and the law, to the cultural impact of mass media. Timely and rich in personal wisdom, Redefining Black Power connects the dots between past freedom struggles and the future of black civic and cultural life in the United States.
"Redefining Black Power [was] an important, historical rumination on race, class, power and politics in the Age of Obama. The conversations . . . are thoughtful, probing, nuanced insights into the state of African American political power at this historic moment. The book raises challenging questions, but rather than offer definitive answers, it provokes the reader to personally define 'Black power' and inspires all of us to continue the work of 'deepening the meaning of democracy.'" Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
"Joanne Griffith is a superb journalist! She writes, speaks, and interviews with great skill, sincerity, and sensitivity to those she covers. Joanne has made it in a tough journalism world -- one where the white males, working for wealthy news organizations, have the advantages. Her writings and insights are a lesson to all. She reflects President Obama's spirited call of 'fired up, ready to go!'" Connie Lawn, Senior White House Correspondent (since 1968)
"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." Booklist
"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."
Joanne Griffith is an award winning international broadcast journalist who has reported, produced and hosted programs for the British Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio and the Pacifica Radio Network. Joanne has spent her career telling the stories of tragedy and triumph throughout the African Diaspora; from voting rights in the United States, the legacy of slavery in the Caribbean, the contribution of immigrants to the United Kingdom and the politics of food and power in southern Africa.
"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."--Shelf Awareness "I agree with economist Julianne Malveaux, who says the notion that Obama's election made America 'post racial' is utter nonsense, when you look at current rates of poverty, income and unemployment among black people. Van Jones, former Green Jobs Czar at the White House, intrigued me when he claims that the youth who believe that electing a black president changes nothing were right. Joanne Griffith, of the Pacifica Radio Archives, interviews these and other long distance runners for justice to provide a lively array of conflicting, complex and critical attitudes the first black U.S. president has evoked, to answer the question of whether it's time to redefine Black Power."--Kathleen Cleaver "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."--Kirkus Reviews "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."----Booklist "Joanne Griffith's journalism gets to the story behind the story. President Obama, are you hearing me?"--Dotun Adebayo; Broadcaster and Columnist with the Voice Newspaper(UK) "Joanne is the consummate professional, who, when she researches something, leaves nothing left to the imagination, no stone unturned."--Tony Cox, public radio talk show host "Joanne Griffith is a journalist who brings a wealth of vision, a global world view, a traveler's spirit for curiosity, meticulous detail and a talent for excellence to her work. Through her powerful and informative projects, Joanne maintains persistently high standards and reminds us of the power of great journalism to offer fresh insight, wrap language in a unique world view and open our eyes to fresh possibility."--Esther Armah, host Wake Up Call, WBAI, New York "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, Book News Inc.
REDEFINING BLACK POWERTABLE OF CONTENTSIntroductionBy Joanne Griffith-Poplar1: The Movement for the Expansion and Deepening of Democracy in AmericaA Conversation of Context with Dr. Vincent Harding2. What about the Brother at the Bottom of the Well?Law in the Age of Obama with Professor Michelle Alexander3. Dollars and Sense? Race, Recession and RecoveryRacial equality and economic parity with Dr. Julianne Malveaux4. Barack Obama: The New Crack?A Story of Revolution with Ramona Africa5. Probing the President: The Media's Paralysis of Analysis?A Conversation on race, the press and the White House with Linn Washington6. It Matters What Needs to be Done Politics and Green Activism with Van Jones7. A Quiet Victory for Emotional JusticeThe impact of the First Family on the African American Psyche with Esther ArmahEpilogue AcknowledgmentsAbout the ContributorsAbout Pacifica RadioBibliography and Audio References