Yesterday evening Galbreath Chapel overflowed with students and faculty. The pews were full, and the walls and entrance lined with people sitting and standing in anticipation of what was to be said.
As part of the 38th Annual Costa Lecture in History, Peniel Joseph delivered his lecture on “Reimagining the Black Power Movement in the Age of Obama and Black Lives Matter.”
A scholar in American and African American history with a focus on Black Power studies, Joseph has written various articles and books including the award-winning “Waiting Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black America and Dark Days.” He has also appeared as a commentator of race and civil rights on NPR, PBS’s “NewsHour,” and “The Colbert Report.”
Joseph presented a timeline of civil rights: from the Black Power Movement to the current movement of Black Lives Matter.
Joseph also offered insights into racial justice in contemporary times in relation to issues such as mass incarceration and the new era of Jim Crow. “The mess we are in right now is created by racial slavery that has been perpetuated for centuries,” Joseph said.
The lecture closed with an emphasis on the importance of understanding how all of the racial inequalities in American culture is connected and stems from the institution of slavery. Joseph explained that “the greatest injustice is that so many young people don’t know the history of the United States,” but also that “we are in a very extraordinary moment in American History,” because of the things that we have done for justice, and that we will continue to do in the future.
Freshman studio art student Joey Sackenheim attended the lecture as a part of the LINKS program. She expressed her satisfaction with the lecture and the insight that Joseph provided on race and the history and interconnectivity of the history of oppression with current issues today.
“[Joseph] said something about how people of color include white people because white is also a color, and that we are just as much a part in this fight as everyone else,” Sackenheim said. “It made me feel like I wasn’t such an outsider or seen as anything but an ally despite my being white and having not dealt with oppression.”
Joseph also led a seminar today for graduate students in History, International Studies, and undergraduates in African American Studies. They discussed his latest book, Stokely: A Life, a biography of black activist Stokely Carmichael.