Despite the promising candidacy of Barack Obama, black Americans are becoming ever more pessimistic in their assessment of how much has actually been achieved since the dawn of the Civil Rights era. Nearly four-fifths of blacks (compared to only one-third of whites) believe that blacks will either never or not in their lifetimes achieve racial equality in the United States. In Desperation and Hope in Black Politics, renowned political scientist Michael Dawson argues provocatively that African Americans have reason to despair at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Blacks and whites have always occupied two very different civil societies in America. But black civil society has become increasingly fractured in recent years, as the strength of voluntary associations-including churches, Masonic halls, and business groups-erodes. As a consequence, African Americans are less able than ever to compel their viewpoints onto a national agenda defined primarily by white interests. A sobering examination of the state of black politics at the advent of the twenty-first century, Desperation and Hope in Black Politics offers a clarion call to African Americans to seek political power not through the symbolic hope represented by black candidates but rather through the hard work of political organization.