Black Power Encyclopedia: From “Black Is Beautiful” to Urban Uprisings. Edited by Akinyele Umoja, Karin L. Stanford, and Jasmin A. Young. Movements of the American Mosaic. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2018. 2 vols. Acid-free $189. (ISBN 978-1-4408-4006-7). E-book available (978-1-4408-4007-4), call for pricing.

The Black Power Movement was largely a youth-led effort that broke from past thinking and methods of confronting American society and marked an important evolution in how African Americans continued their struggle in the wake of hard-fought landmark legislation such as the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. There is no shortage of reference works on the Civil Rights Movement and African American history in general that include entries on facets of the Black Power Movement. Even subsets of the movement have reference works dedicated to a topic, such as Asante and Mazama’s The Encyclopedia of Black Studies (Sage, 2005). However the encyclopedia under review, covering roughly the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, appears to be the only work dedicated to coverage of the entirety of the Black Power Movement.

The work consists of over 150 well-written and researched entries on major people, groups, events, and other relevant categorical topics from “Assassinations” and “Black Power Abroad” to “Kiswahili” and “Reparations.” Supporting the encyclopedic portion is a solid introduction to the subject as well as five topical essays ranging from “Armed Resistance in the Black Power Movement” to “Gender, Black Women, and Black Power.” Furthermore, there is a chronology, some illustrations, a thorough index to both volumes, and a selection of primary resources placed in context at the end of the appropriate entries.

One criticism of the encyclopedia is that some major influencers of, and figures within, the movement were not fully fleshed out with their own entries but rather lumped into broader categories. For example, individuals such as Marcus Garvey and Nina Simone are placed under “Pan-Africanism” and “Black Music,” respectively. This criticism could be leveled at nearly any encyclopedia; editors have to make choices and can never include an entry for every deserving subject, but it is noticeable in this work.

Overall, this is an important resource for all college and university libraries to consider adding to their collections.—Brent D. Singleton, Coordinator for Reference Services, California State University, San Bernardino, California


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ALA Privacy Policy

© 2019 RUSA