New biography of Trinidadian-American Stokely Carmichael


A post by Peter Jordens.

Stokely: A Life

by Peniel E. Joseph

Published March 4, 2014 by Basic Civitas Books

424 pages

ISBN 978-0465013630

Book description from the publisher

“From an acclaimed civil rights historian, a definitive biography of Stokely Carmichael [later renamed Kwame Ture; Trinidad and Tobago, June 29, 1941 – Guinea, November 15, 1998], the nonviolent activist turned black nationalist who spearheaded the Black Power movement in America. […] 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. […]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 Joseph’s vivid portrait of the charismatic man who coined the term ‘Black Power’ is not only a masterful biography of one of the leading black radical heirs to Malcolm X, it is also a compelling ‘biography’ of the final phase of the Civil Rights Movement and the birth and demise of the Black Power Era. Joseph brings to his subject his characteristically careful research and a wonderful capacity to weave a gripping tale. His biography will restore Stokely Carmichael to his rightful place as a major leader of two movements in the history of the African American’s struggle for equal rights.” — Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

“Peniel Joseph’s marvelous book lays bare a fundamental truth—that Stokely Carmichael’s profound love affair with Black people made him one of the great revolutionary figures of the twentieth century. In the age of Obama, Joseph brilliantly reminds us what a deep commitment to fundamental change really means in the prophetic witness and sacrificial life of Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael).” — Cornel West


“This stunningly thorough appraisal of this radical activist, 50 years after the ‘heroic period’ of the civil rights movement, is both timely and relevant. […]Joseph explores how Carmichael thought and how he was perceived in each moment of his philosophical evolution. He is particularly interested in restoring the memory of Carmichael as a master speaker, a ‘professorial rhetorician’ and ‘public intellectual,’ in addition to the ‘symbol of defiance’ that popularized Black Power. [… It] should surely be considered required material for a fuller understanding of a critical, and ongoing, American struggle.” — Publishers Weekly, full review at

“Joseph introduces a Stokely Carmichael (1941–1998) few white people ever knew in the 1960s, a man who dared to speak truth to power. […] Reform was never enough for Carmichael; he was fighting the systemic phenomenon of institutional racism. This is a man who stood out in the civil rights movement, the man who defined Black Power and whose quest for Pan-African democracy led him to express radical ideas that successfully frightened the powers that be. Joseph showcases the brilliance of the man, his exceptional ideals and his pursuit of an equality that was years ahead of his time.” — Kirkus, full review at

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