The Third Reconstruction – Dr. Peniel Joseph – Sept 9th

THE THIRD RECONSTRUCTION: America’s Struggle for Racial Justice in the Twenty-First Century


A Publishers Weekly Top Ten History Title for the Fall

The period of time between the election of Barack Obama in 2008 through the January 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. capitol was a pivotal era in American history defined by the turmoil of Donald Trump and MAGA’s rise; a global pandemic that changed the contours of daily life and revealed just how deeply economic disparities impact Black lives; and the explosion of Black Lives Matter, the largest social protest movement in American history. Taken together, these events mark nothing less than what Peniel E. Joseph calls our Third Reconstruction. In THE THIRD RECONSTRUCTION: America’s Struggle for Racial Justice in the Twenty-First Century (Basic Books; On sale: September 6, 2022), Joseph, a preeminent historian of race and democracy, argues that this century’s struggle for full citizenship and dignity for Black Americans is just as momentous as the movements that arose after the Civil War and during the Civil Rights era, and offers us new hope to finally achieve their aims.

THE THIRD RECONSTRUCTION navigates the through-lines that connect these three watershed moments in U.S. history. The Reconstruction Era in the wake of the American Civil War was defined by battles between reconstructionist supporters of a multiracial democracy and redemptionist advocates of white supremacy who papered over racial, class, and gender hierarchies. These dueling ideologies remain, manifesting in today’s all too familiar racial violence, political division, and narrative wars. The Civil Rights movement, our second reconstruction, was a time of intense hope and pain that saw both the end of enforced segregation in schools with Brown v. Board of Education as well as the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. While it’s celebrated as a time of racial progress, the failures of the Civil Rights era are all too apparent in de facto segregated schools across America, including in Joseph’s own schooling in Queens, NY.

Weaving together history, memoir, and cultural criticism, and emphasizing the leading role of Black women as political organizers and activists, THE THIRD RECONSTRUCTION reveals the clashing reconstructionist and redemptionist impulses that have shaped our nation since its origin. While America’s first and second Reconstructions failed to achieve their greatest aims, our Third Reconstruction, Joseph writes, offers a once-in-a-generation chance to achieve Black dignity and citizenship at last.

“In The Third Reconstruction, renowned historian Peniel Joseph expertly draws on his remarkable breadth of knowledge to tell a powerful and interwoven story about three watershed moments in American history. Brilliantly written and elegantly argued, this book is a gift to all Americans. It offers an honest and compelling account of how change happens, and it forces us all to consider how we might work together to win the fight for racial justice.”

—Keisha N. Blain, coeditor of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller Four Hundred Souls and award-winning author of Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America

“A noted scholar of political history offers a hopeful vision of a future in which Black Americans take their places as full, equal citizens of the U.S… Joseph successfully links episodes in the struggle for civil rights to form a continuum of injustice and resolution.”—Kirkus

Dr. Joseph will be in conversation with Dr. Joe Hower. This is a free event, but you must RSVP. Dr. Joseph will be available to sign books after the talk.


Sep 09 2022


7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Lark & Owl Booksellers


Lark & Owl Booksellers
205 6th St Suite 101, Georgetown, TX 78626