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 Dr. John Henrik Clarke

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Nombre de messages : 8069
Localisation : Washington D.C.
Date d'inscription : 28/05/2005

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MessageDr. John Henrik Clarke

Dr. John Henrik Clarke

This page is dedicated to the memory of
Dr. John Henrik Clarke.
The life of John Henrik Clarke exemplifies those values upon which the victorious movement of our people depends. His work and his character together have created a symbol that inspires greatness.

Perhaps no other member of our community embodies the links of the Pan-African world as coherently John Henrik Clarke has lived Pan-Africanism, and in his personality, his work and his travels, he brings together people of African throughout the world. His concrete involvement in over a dozen international organizations, is a testament to his personal commitment to Pan-African unity and to the recognition and fellowship afforded him by Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora.

His life presents an image which has become a symbol of the qualities we wish to claim, to emulate, and to engender: commitment, self-reliance, communalism, intelligence, scholarly excellence, determination, discipline, conviction and achievement

Dr. John Henrik Clarke—20th Century Griot

By Marimba Anni
The life of John Henrik Clarke exemplifies those values upon which the victorious movement of our people depends. His work and his character together have created a symbol that inspires greatness.

Born in rural Union Springs, Alabama, he was reared in Columbus, Georgia at a time when American racism was not subtle, but overtly oppressive. His intellectual curiosity and initiative were resources which allowed him to circumvent the authorities In a society which denied to people of African descent library privileges which those of European descent enjoyed. This proved to be the beginning of a productive life in which there would be countless hours spent In libraries all over the world.

In these early days research into the African past was indeed an uphill struggle for several reasons:

As a Black man, he was denied access to most facets of the scholarly community
Africa herself was not considered worthy of serious study, (except perhaps by anthropologists in service to their colonial sponsors; but certainly not worthy of the attention of an historian)
Most African-Americans, philosophically, were not ready to embrace their Africaness.
It was in these times that courage, and determination were needed to study African history, and what kept young Brother Clarke going was the conviction that he had come from a great people and so was himself capable of great things. What better example for our students!

The life of John Henrick Clarke illuminates the special way in which stature and humility combine in African-American life. He reminds us that these characteristics are not opposites for us. His humble beginnings are for him a strength which has helped him through Harlem's own unique depression, as he and other Black writers lived a precarious existence during the decade of the late 30's and early 40's. He is special to us also because he has never "left" us to become part of a distant elite.

It is a testament to Brother Clarke's brilliance and intellectual independence that he has achieved such a formidable degree of learning primarily as a result of his own effort through informal means. His vast knowledge has come from intensely motivated research, long hours spent in libraries, and voracious reading. What better model for our students!

Inspired by the knowledge of a great past, he set out first to learn, then to teach others as he continued to learn. His success as an educator is an example for all of us who would seek to ignite the flame of a burning desire to know the truth among those whose minds and hearts are in our trust.

He has taught us that Pan-African scholarship does not have to be, indeed, cannot afford to be uncommitted . . . uninvolved. His life continues to be that of an impassioned warrior. It is because of his efforts along with those of a handful of other dedicated scholar-activists that African studies is now a part of the American academy. We must diligently work to establish it there permanently, if indeed we want to pay tribute to John Henrik Clarke

In this regard, his life also says something of greater importance. We see in his life his achievement that the system" academic or otherwise must not be allowed to define our standards or to limit our horizons. His life demonstrates to us what can be accomplished outside of the system as well. It says that we must always determine our own symbols, images and values. We must build our own institutions, and value them when they are deserving. He has shown us that while African Studies can be academic, in part its essence will never be.

Perhaps no other member of our community embodies the links of the Pan-African world as coherently John Henrik Clarke has lived Pan-Africanism, and in his personality, his work and his travels, he brings together people of African throughout the world. His concrete involvement in over a dozen international organizations, is a testament to his personal commitment to Pan-African unity and to the recognition and fellowship afforded him by Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora. At the same time he continues to spearhead struggles in his own community of Harlem. Indeed, he connects microcosm to macrocosm.

"Professor Clarke," as we call him, has always been and continues to be constantly accessible and responsible to those of us who need him. His home is open to those who seek his wisdom. His cooperation is available for those in the community who ask even to his own detriment, he has difficulty saying no. His life has been one of participation and involvement in the organizations, battles and continuous struggle of his people. And his personal being is an expression of African Humanism.

His life presents an image which has become a symbol of the qualities we wish to claim, to emulate, and to engender: commitment, self-reliance, communalism, intelligence, scholarly excellence, determination, discipline, conviction and achievement.

The life of John Henrik Clarke is one that should serve as an inspiration to students everywhere, and so we, on behalf of the Pan-African community, take this opportunity to establish a scholarship in his name, so that they may be reminded of the implications of his life and work for time to come.

—Read at the Luncheon Tribute to Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Saturday, September 13, 1983

Why Africana History? by Dr. John Henrik Clarke

Africa and its people are the most written about and the least understood of all of the world's people. This condition started in the 15th and the 16th centuries with the beginning of the slave trade system. The Europeans not only colonialized most of the world, they began to colonialize information about the world and its people. In order to do this, they had to forget, or pretend to forget, all they had previously known abut the Africans. They were not meeting them for the first time; there had been another meeting during Greek and Roman times. At that time they complemented each other. The African, Clitus Niger, King of Bactria, was also a cavalry commander for Alexander the Great. Most of the Greeks' thinking was influenced by this contact with the Africans. The people and the cultures of what is known as Africa are older than the word "Africa." According to most records, old and new, Africans are the oldest people on the face of the earth. The people now called Africans not only influenced the Greeks and the Romans, they influenced the early world before there was a place called Europe.

When the early Europeans first met Africans, at the crossroads of history, it was a respectful meeting and the Africans were not slaves. Their nations were old before Europe was born. In this period of history, what was to be later known as "Africa" was an unknown place to the people who would someday be called, "Europeans." Only the people of some of the Mediterranean Islands and a few states of what would become the Greek and Roman areas knew of parts of North Africa, and that was a land of mystery. After the rise and decline of Greek civilization and the Roman destruction of the city of Carthage, they made the conquered territories into a province which they called Africa, a word derived from "afri" and the name of a group of people about whom little is known. At first the word applied only to the Roman colonies in North Africa. There was a time when all dark-skinned people were called Ethiopians, for the Greeks referred to Africa as, "The Land Of The Burnt-Face People."

If Africa, in general, is a man-made mystery, Egypt, in particular, is a bigger one. There has long been an attempt on the part of some European "scholars" to deny that Egypt was a part of Africa. To do this they had to ignore the great masterpieces on Egyptian history written by European writers such as, Ancient Egypt. Light of the World, Vols. I & II, and a whole school of European thought that placed Egypt in proper focus in relationship to the rest of Africa.

The distorters of African history also had to ignore the fact that the people of the ancient land which would later be called Egypt, never called their country by that name. It was called, Ta-Merry or Kampt and sometimes Kemet or Sais. The ancient Hebrews called it Mizrain. Later the Moslem Arabs used the same term but later discarded it. Both the Greeks and the Romans referred to the country as the "Pearl Of The Nile." The Greeks gave it the simple name, Aegyptcus. Thus the word we know as Egypt is of Greek Origin. Until recent times most Western scholars have been reluctant to call attention to the fact that the Nile River is 4,000 miles long. It starts in the south, in the heart of Africa, and flows to the north. It was the world's first cultural highway. Thus Egypt was a composite of many African cultures. In his article, "The Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," Professor Bruce Williams infers that the nations in the South could be older than Egypt. This information is not new. When rebel European scholars were saying this 100 years ago, and proving it, they were not taken seriously.

It is unfortunate that so much of the history of Africa has been written by conquerors, foreigners, missionaries and adventurers. The Egyptians left the best record of their history written by local writers. It was not until near the end of the 18th century when a few European scholars learned to decipher their writing that this was understood.

The Greek traveler, Herodotus, was in Africa about 450 B.C. His eyewitness account is still a revelation. He witnessed African civilization in decline and partly in ruins, after many invasions. However, he could still see the indications of the greatness that it had been. In this period in history, the Nile Valley civilization of Africa had already brought forth two "Golden Ages" of achievement and had left its mark for all the world to see.

Slavery and colonialism strained, but did not completely break, the cultural umbilical cord between the Africans in Africa and those who, by forced migration, now live in what is called the Western World. A small group of African-American and Caribbean writers, teachers and preachers, collectively developed the basis of what would be an African Consciousness movement over 100 years ago. Their concern was with African, in general, Egypt and Ethiopia, and what we now call the Nile Valley.

In approaching this subject, I have given preference to writers of African descent who are generally neglected. I maintain that the African is the final authority on Africa. In this regard I have reconsidered the writings of W.E.B. DuBois, George Washington Williams, Drusilla Dungee Houston, Carter G. Woodson, Willis N. Huggins, and his most outstanding living student, John G. Jackson. I have also re-read the manuscripts of some of the unpublished books of Charles C. Seifert, especially manuscripts of his last completed book, Who Are The Ethiopians? Among Caribbean scholars, like Charles C. Seifert, J.A. Rogers (from Jamaica) is the best known and the most prolific. Over 50 years of his life was devoted to documenting the role of African personalities in world history. His two-volume work, World's Great Men of Color, is a pioneer work in the field.

Among the present-day scholars writing about African history, culture and politics, Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannan's books are the most challenging. I have drawn heavily on his research in the preparation of this article. He belongs to the main cultural branch of the African world, having been born in Ethiopia, growing to early manhood in the Caribbean Islands and having lived in the African-American community of the United States for over 20 years. His major books on African history are: Black Man of the Nile, 1979, Africa: Mother of Western Civilization, 1976, and The African Origins of Major Western Religions, 1970.

Our own great historian, W.E.B. DuBois tells us,

"Always Africa is giving us something new . . . On its black bosom arose one of the earliest, if not the earliest, of self-protecting civilizations, and grew so mightily that it still furnishes superlatives to thinking and speaking men. Out of its darker and more remote forest vastness came, if we may credit many recent scientists, the first welding of iron, and we know that agriculture and trade flourished there when Europe was a wilderness."

Dr. DuBois tells us further that,

"Nearly every human empire that has arisen in the world, material and spiritual, has found some of its greatest crises on this continent of Africa. It was through Africa that Christianity became the religion of the world . . . It was through Africa that Islam came to play its great role of conqueror and civilizer."

Egypt and the nations of the Nile Valley were, figuratively, the beating heart of Africa and the incubator for its greatness for more than a thousand years. Egypt gave birth to what later would become known as "Western Civilization," long before the greatness of Greece and Rome.

This is a part of the African story, and in the distance it is a part of the African-American story. It is difficult for depressed African-Americans to know that they are a part of the larger story of the history of the world. The history of the modern world was made, in the main, by what was taken from African people. Europeans emerged from what they call their "Middle-Ages," people-poor, land-poor and resources-poor. And to a great extent, culture-poor. They raided and raped the cultures of the world, mostly Africa, and filled their homes and museums with treasures, then they called the people primitive. The Europeans did not understand the cultures of non-Western people then; they do not understand them now.

History, I have often said, is a clock that people use to tell their political time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. History tells a people where they have been and what they have been. It also tells a people where they are and what they are. Most importantly, history tells a people where they still must go and what they still must be.

There is no way to go directly to the history of African-Americans without taking a broader view of African world history. In his book, Tom-Tom, the writer John W. Vandercook makes this meaningful statement: A race is like a man.

Until it uses its own talents, takes pride in its own history, and loves its own memories, it can never fulfill itself completely. This, in essence, is what African-American history and what African-American History Month is about. The phrase African-American or African-American History Month, taken at face value and without serious thought, appears to be incongruous. Why is there a need for an African-American History Month when there is no similar month for the other minority groups in the United States. The history of the United States, in total, consists of the collective histories of minority groups. What we call 'American civilization' is no more than the sum of their contributions. The African- Americans are the least integrated and the most neglected of these groups in the historical interpretation of the American experience. This neglect has made African-American History Month a necessity.

Most of the large ethnic groups in the United States have had, and still have, their historical associations. Some of these associations predate the founding of the Association For The Study of Negro Life and History (1915). Dr. Charles H. Wesley tells us that, "Historical societies were organized in the United States with the special purpose in view of preserving and maintaining the heritage of the American nation."

Within the framework of these historical societies, many ethnic groups, Black as well as white, engaged in those endeavors that would keep alive their beliefs in themselves and their past as a part of their hopes for the future. For African-Americans, Carter G. Woodson led the way and used what was then called, Negro History Week, to call attention to his people's contribution to every aspect of world history. Dr. Woodson, then Director of the Association For the Study of Negro Life and History, conceived this special week as a time when public attention should be focused on the achievements of America's citizens of African descent.

The acceptance of the facts of African-American history and the African-American historian as a legitimate part of the academic community did not come easily. Slavery ended and left its false images of Black people intact. In his article, "What the Historian Owes the Negro," the noted African-American historian, Dr. Benjamin Quarles, says:

"The Founding Fathers, revered by historians for over a century and a half, did not conceive of the Negro as part of the body of politics. Theoretically, these men found it hard to imagine a society where Negroes were of equal status to whites. Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, who was far more liberal than the run of his contemporaries, was never the less certain that "the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government."

I have been referring to the African origin of African-American literature and history. This preface is essential to every meaningful discussion of the role of the African-American in every aspect of American life, past and present. I want to make it clear that the Black race did not come to the United States culturally empty-handed. The role and importance of ethnic history is in how well it teaches a people to use their own talents, take pride in their own history and love their own memories. In order to fulfill themselves completely, in all of their honorable endeavors it is important that the teacher of history of the Black race find a definition of the subject, and a frame of reference that can be understood by students who have no prior knowledge of the subject. The following definition is paraphrased from a speech entitled, "The Negro Writer and His Relation To His Roots," by Saunders Redding, (1960): Heritage, in essence, is how a people have used their talent to created a history that gives them memories that they can respect, and use to command the respect of other people. The ultimate purpose of history and history teaching is to use a people's talent to develop an awareness and a pride in themselves so that they can create better instruments for living together with other people. This sense of identity is the stimulation for all of a people's honest and creative efforts. A people's relationship to their heritage is the same as the relationship of a child to its mother. I repeat: History is a clock that people use to tell their time of day. It is a compass that they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It also tells them where they are, and what they are. Most importantly, an understanding of history tells a people where they still must go, and what they still must be.

Early white American historians did not accord African people anywhere a respectful place in their commentaries on the history of man. In the closing years of the nineteenth century, African- American historians began to look at their people's history from their vantage point and their point of view. Dr. Benjamin Quarks observed that "as early as 1883 this desire to bring to public attention the untapped material on the Negro prompted George Washington Williams to publish his two-volume History of The Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880. The first formally trained African-American historian was W.E.B. DuBois, whose doctoral dissertation, published in 1895, The Suppression Of The African Slave Trade To The United States, 1638-1870, became the first title to be published in the Harvard Historical Studies. It was with Carter G. Woodson, another Ph.D., that African world history took a great leap forward and found a defender who could document his claims. Woodson was convinced that unless something was done to rescue the Black man from history's oversight, he would become a "negligible factor in the thought of the world. " Woodson, in 1915, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson believed that there was no such thing as, "Negro History. " He said what was called "Negro History" was only a missing segment of world history. He devoted the greater portion of his life to restoring this segment.

Africa came into the Mediterranean world, mainly through Greece, which had been under African influence, and then Africa was cut off from the melting pot by the turmoil among the Europeans and the religious conquests incident to the rise of Islam. Africa, prior to these events, had developed its history and civilization, indigenous to its people and lands. Africa came back into the general picture of history through the penetration of North Africa, West Africa and the Sudan by the Arabs. European and American slave traders next ravaged the continent. The imperialist colonizers and missionaries finally entered the scene and prevailed until the recent re-emergence of independent African nations.

Africans are, of course, closely connected to the history of both North and South America. The African-American's role in the social, economic and political development of the American states is an important foundation upon which to build racial understanding, especially in areas in which false generalization and stereotypes have been developed to separate peoples rather than to unite them. Contrary to a misconception which still prevails, the Africans were familiar with literature and art for many years before their contact with the Western World. Before the breaking-up of the social structure of the West African states of Ghana, Mali and Songhay and the internal strife and chaos that made the slave trade possible, the forefathers of the Africans who eventually became slaves in the United States, lived in a society where university life was fairly common and scholars were held in reverence.

To understand fully any aspect of African-American life, one must realize that the African-American is not without a cultural past, though he was many generations removed from it before his achievements in American literature and art commanded any appreciable attention. Africana, or Black History, should be taught every day, not only in the schools, but also in the home. African History Month should be every month. We need to learn about all the African people of the world, including those who live in Asia and the islands of the Pacific.

In the twenty-first century there will be over one billion African people in the world. We are tomorrow's people. But, of course, we were yesterday's people, too. With an understanding of our new importance we can change the world, if first we change ourselves.

The late Dr. John Henrik Clarke, a pre-eminent African-American historian, author of several volumes on the history of Africa and the Diaspora, taught inthe Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Originally published in THE BLACK COLLEGIAN Magazine (1997).

"Concept of Deity” by Dr. John Henrik Clarke

To hold a people in oppression you have to convince them first that they are supposed to be oppressed.
When the European comes to a country, the first thing he does is to laugh at your God and your God concept. And the next thing is to make you laugh at your own God concept. Then he don't have to build no jails for you then, cause he's got you in a jail more binding than iron can ever put you.

Anytime you turn on your own concept of God, you are no longer a free man. No one needs to put chains on your body, because the chains are on your mind.

Anytime someone say's your God is ugly and you release your God and join their God, there is no hope for your freedom until you once more believe in your own concept of the "deity."

And that's how we're trapped. We have been educated into believing someone else's concept of the deity, and someone else's standard of beauty. You have the right to practice any religion and politics in a way that best suits your freedom, your dignity, and your understanding. And once you do that, you don't apologize.

Nothing the European mind ever devised was meant to do anything but to facilitate the European's control over the world. Anything that you get from Europe that you are going to use for yourself, remake it to suit yourself.

Where did we go wrong educationally? After the Civil War, the period called reconstruction, a period of pseudo-democracy, we began to have our own institutions, our own schools. We had no role model for a school... our own role model. So we began to imitate White schools.

Our church was an imitation of the White church. All we did is to modify the old trap. We didn't change the images, we became more comfortable within the trap. We didn't change the images, we changed some of the concepts of the images, but the images remained the same. So the mis-education that gave us a slave mentality had been altered. But it remained basically the same.

The late Dr. John Henrik Clarke, a pre-eminent African-American historian, author of several volumes on the history of Africa and the Diaspora, taught in the Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York.


On January 1, 1915 when I was born in Union Springs, Alabama, little black Alabama boys were not fully licensed to imagine themselves as conduits of social and political change. I remember when I was about three years old, I fell off something. I do not know what it was but I remember Uncle Henry putting some water on my head and I really do think that instead of the "fall" knocking something out of me, it knocked something into me. In fact, they called me "Bubba" and because I had the mind to do so, I decided to add the "e" to the family name "Clark" and change the spelling of "Henry" to "Henrik", after the Scandinavian rebel playwright, Henrik Ibsen. I liked his spunk and the social issues he addressed in "A Doll's House."
I understood that my family was rich in love but would probably never own the land my father, John, dreamed of owning. My mother, Willie Ella Mays Clarke, was a washerwoman for poor white folks in the area of Columbus, Georgia where the writer Carson McCullers once lived. My mother would go to the houses of these "folks" and pick up her laundry bundles and, pull them back home in a little red wagon, with me sitting on top. At the end of the week, she would collect her pay of about $3.00. My siblings are based in the varied ordering and descriptives that characterize traditional African diasporic families. They are Eddie Mary Clarke Hobbs, Walter Clarke, Hugo Oscar Clarke, Earline Clarke, Flossie Clarke (deceased), Alvin Clarke (deceased), and Nathaniel Clarke (deceased). Together, in varied times and forms, we have known love. My loving sister Mary has always shared the pain and pleasure of my heartbeat in a unique and special way. We have sung our sad and warm songs together. But, we have all felt the warm rains of Spring, and felt the crispness of the fallen leaves in Fall together. As the eldest son of an Alabama sharecropper family, I was constantly troubled by a collage of North American southern behaviors and notions in reference to the inhumanity of people. There were questions that I did not know how to ask but could, in my young, unsophisticated way, articulate a series of answers. My daddy wanted me to be a farmer; feel the smoothness of Alabama clay and become one of the first blacks in my town to own land. But, I was worried about my history being caked with that southern clay and I subscribed to a different kind of teaching and learning in my bones and in my spirit.

I am a Nationalist, and a Pan-Africanist, first and foremost. I was well grounded in history before ever taking a history course. I did not spend much formal time in school—I had to work. I caddied for Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley long before they became Generals or President, for that matter. Just between you and me, Bradley tipped better than Eisenhower did. When I was able to go to school in my early years, my third grade teacher, Ms. Harris, convinced me that one day I would be a writer. I heard her, but I knew that I had to leave Georgia, and unlike my friend Ray Charles, I did not go around with Georgia on My Mind. Instead, my best friend, Roscoe Chester use to sit with me spellbound, as I detailed the history of Timbuktu. I soon took a slow moving train out of Georgia because I did not want to end up like Richard (Dick) Wright's Black Boy.

I came to New York, via Chicago and then I enlisted in the army and earned the rank of Master Sergeant. Later, I selected Harlem as the laboratory where I would search for the true history of my people. I could not stomach the lies of world history, so I took some strategic steps in order to build a life of scholarship and activism in New York. I began to pave strong roads toward what I envisioned as a mighty walk where I would initiate, inspire and help found organizations to elevate my people. I am thinking specifically of The Harlem's Writers Guild, Freedomways, Presence Africane, African Heritage Studies Association, Association for the study of Negro Life and History, National Council of Black Studies, Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization. I became an energetic participant in circles like Harlem Writer's Workshop studied history and world literature at New York and Columbia Universities and at the League for Professional Writers. And, much like the Egyptians taught Plato and Socrates what they eventually knew, I was privileged to sit at the fee for great warriors like Arthur Schomburg, Willis Huggins, Charles Seiffert, William-Leo Hansberry, John G. Jackson and Paul Robeson.

Before I go any further, let me assure you that I always made attempts at structuring a holistic life. My three children are products of that reality. My oldest daughter who kind of grew up with me, became a warm and wonderful young woman. Unfortunately, she preceded me in her passage. Part of my life's mission has been to deliver a message of renewal, redemption and rededication for young people all over the world and I hope the walk has afforded me that claim. So, now and in my traditionally fatherly way, I appeal to my two younger children, Sonni Kojo and Nzingha Marie to appreciate my commitment to them and the rest of the world. Sonni, in forming your identity, I called upon the spirit of Sonni Ali, the great Emperor of the Sudanic Empires to anoint you; and, Nzingha, my second daughter, I reached back for the spirit of the warrior Queen Nzingha to lay her hands upon you. I have always felt blessed by the many nieces and nephews who have surrounded me: John H. Clarke, Charlie Mae Rowell, Walter L. Hobbs, Lillie Kate Hobbs, Wanda D. McCauley, Angela M. Rowell, Maurice Hobbs, Vanessa Rowell, Calvin T. Rowell, Michael J. McCauley, Madalynn McCauley and a host of other extended family and friends. Lillie, I have always loved and needed the special touches of our relationship; without you this walk could not have been completed-I have not left you.

When the European emerged in the world in the 15th and 16th centuries, for the second time, they not only colonized most of the world, they colonized information about the world, and they also colonized images, including the image of God, thereby putting us into a trap, for we are the only people who worship a God whose image we did not choose! I had to respond to this behavior. I could not live with this nonsense and contradictions and I challenged these insidious concepts and theories. While I have not finished my work and I remain worried about who will replace Dr. Ben and me, I am not displeased of my progress of 83 years. As we all would agree, the struggles is continuous. I have utilized several avenues: I wrote songs and while most of you are familiar with the boy Who Painted Christ Black, I wrote some two hundred short stories. I question the political judgement of those who would have the nerve to paint Christ white with his obvious African nose, lips and wooly hair. My publications in the form of edited books, major essays, and book introductions are indeed important documents and number more than thirty. Africa, Lost and Found with Richard Moore and Keith Baird, and African People at the Crossroads are among the major publications used in History and African American Studies disciplines on college and university campuses.

I am also honored to have edited books on Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey. Through the United Nations, I published monographs on Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois; and, to clarify the historical record, I was compelled to publish a monograph on Christopher Columbus and the African Holocaust. One of my latest works, Who Betrayed the African Revolution? was a very painful project, indeed. And, when I think of William Styron's error with Nat Turner and our response to it, I feel convinced that Nat was able to return to his rest in peace. Among the paths of my journey, I have had a chance to engage in dialogue at the major centers of higher education throughout North and South America, Africa dialogue at the major centers of higher education throughout North and South America, Africa and Europe. I am humbled by these opportunities and, I have been blessed as the recipient of a number of honorary degrees. My professorships at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University (where my portrait hangs at the artistic genius of Don Miller) was very important for the young men and women I taught there, and the work that I did with African and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College between 1965 and 1985 was highly significant.

I have walked majestically with kings and queens and presidents and other heads of states. My special destiny with Africa, early on in this walk, afforded me the opportunity to mentor Kwame Nkrumah when he arrived in the United States as a student. The reciprocity of our relationship was manifested in my sojourn to post-independence Ghana as a young journalist. Without question, my walk has been sweeter because I have shared the path with Kwame Nkrumah, Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X, Zora Neale Hurston, Jimmy Baldwin, Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Wright, Julian Mayfield, John G. Jackson, Cheikh Anta Diop, John O. Killens, Hoyt Fuller, Chancellor Williams, Drucella Dundee Houston. Well, what do you know, I am transitioning with all of these giants now and the process is much easier because all of you are here with me. This walk has been anointed by God and the list of walkers is endless, and all of you have touched me deeply. I humbly acknowledge Dorothy Calder, Diane James, Doris Lee, Adalaide Sanford, Ruby Dee and Ozzie Davis, Barbara Adams, Judy Miller, Gil Noble, James Turner, Howard Dodson, Mari Evans, Haki Madhabuti, Selma White, William and Camille Cosby, Irving Burgess, Pat Williams and others too numerous to mention.

As all of you must know, I made an early commitment to transfer my library to Black institutions in an effort to demonstrate my unlimited trust and respect to the black community. So, it is to the Atlanta University Center and to the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture where I have donated the majority of my books and documents. I entrusted this task to members of the Institute for African Research the Foundation which will perpetuate those objectives for which I dedicated my life. This has really been a long marathon and there have been caregivers at my dehydration stations that kept vigil and in the spirit of love and devotion, I thank you for your deeds. Ann Swanson and Barbara True, your work with me has been unconditional and I ask you now to accept my gratitude and know that my spirit will always be your protective shield. Chiri Fitzpatrick and Derrick Grubb, you are very familiar with the parameters of this run and with me; you are of long-distance caliber. Jim Dyer, Andy Thompson, Les Edmond, and Debbie Swire, I thank you for walking in step with me and bracing me with your strength. In you I observed the ingredients of African kings and queens. Iva Elaine Carruthers and Bettye Parker Smith, I know that I have raised you the right way and you must now move with winds of my spirit wings. You know my literary agenda and you are obligated to manage that knowledge. The ancestors have stretched out their arms and I see them beckoning now at a distance. And, like Langston Hughes has known rivers, I have known love and bliss. Sybil Williams Clarke, whom I have known for over fifty years and now my wife of ten months and my companion and friend eleven years, has made this journey with me and made my life complete. But, Sybil, your loving touch, notwithstanding, your arms were not long enough to bow with the eminent moment. But, while I must make this physical departure, spiritually, I will not leave you and God will take care of you. When you feel a cool breeze blow across your face every now and then, just know that it comes from the deep reservoir of love that I hold for you. Oh, by the way, Christ is Black; I see him walking at distance with Nkrumah. I think they are coming over to greet me.

My feet have felt the sands
Of many nations,
I have drunk the water
Of many springs.
I am old,
Older than the pyramids,
I am older than the race
That oppresses me.
I will live on...
I will out-live oppression.
I will out-live oppressors.


Dr. John Henrik Clarke
July 16, 1998

The late Dr. John Henrik Clarke, a pre-eminent African-American historian, author of several volumes on the history of Africa and the Diaspora, taught in the Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

The Impact of Marcus Garvey

By Dr. John Henrik Clarke

When Marcus Garvey died in 1940 the role of the British Empire was already being challenged by India and the rising expectations of her African colonies. Marcus Garvey's avocation of African redemption and the restoration of the African state's sovereign political entity in world affairs was still a dream without fulfillment.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, the United States would enter, in a formal way, what had been up to that date strictly a European conflict. Marcus Garvey's prophesy about the European scramble to maintain dominance over the whole world was now a reality. The people of Africa and Asia had joined in this conflict but with different hopes, different dreams and many misgivings. Africans throughout the colonial world were mounting campaigns against this system which had robbed them of their nation-ness and their basic human-ness. The discovery and the reconsideration of the teachings of the honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey were being rediscovered and reconsidered by a large number of African people as this world conflict deepened.

In 1945, when World War II was drawing to a close the 5th Pan-African Congress was called in Manchester, England. Some of the conventioneers were: George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, W.E.B. Dubois, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya. Up to this time the previous Pan-African Congresses had mainly called for improvements in the educational status of the Africans in the colonies so that they would be prepared for self-rule when independence eventually came.
The Pan-African Congress in Manchester was radically different from all of the other congresses. For the first time Africans from Africa, Africans from the Caribbean and Africans from the United States had come together and designed a program for the future independence of Africa. Those who attended the conference were of many political persuasions and different ideologies, yet the teachings of Marcus Garvey were the main ideological basis for the 5th Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England in 1945.

Some of the conveners of this congress would return to Africa in the ensuing years to eventually lead their respective nations toward independence and beyond. In 1947, a Ghanaian student who had studied ten years in the United States, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah returned to Ghana on the invitation of Joseph B. Danquah, his former schoolmaster. Nkrumah would later become Prime Minister. In his fight for the complete independence for the Gold Coast later to be known as Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah acknowledged his political indebtedness to the political teachings of Marcus Garvey.
On September 7, 1957, Ghana became a free self-governing nation, the first member of the British Commonwealth of Nations to become self-governing. Ghana would later develop a Black Star Line patterned after the maritime dreams of Marcus Garvey. My point here is that the African Independence Explosion, which started with the independence of Ghana, was symbolically and figuratively bringing the hopes of Marcus Garvey alive.

In the Caribbean Islands the concept of Federation and Political union of all the islands was now being looked upon as a realizable possibility. Some constitutional reforms and changing attitudes, born of this awareness, were improving the life of the people of these islands.
In the United States the Supreme Court's decision of 1954, outlawing segregation in school systems was greeted with mixed feelings of hope and skepticism by African-Americans. A year after this decision the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Rides and the demand for equal pay for Black teachers that subsequently became a demand for equal education for all, would become part of the central force that would set the fight for liberation in motion.

The enemies of Africans, the world over were gathering their counter-forces while a large number of them pretended to be sympathetic to the African's cause. Some of these pretenders, both Black and White, were F.B.I. and other agents of the government whose mission it was to frustrate and destroy the Civil Rights Movement. In a different way the same thing was happening in Africa. The coups and counter-coups kept most African states from developing into the strong independent and sovereign states they had hoped to become.

While the Africans had gained control over their state's apparatus, the colonialist's still controlled the economic apparatus of most African states. Africans were discovering to their amazement that a large number of the Africans, who had studied abroad were a detriment to the aims and goals of their nation. None of them had been trained to rule an African state by the use of the best of African traditional forms and strategies. As a result African states, in the main, became imitations of European states and most of their leaders could justifiably be called Europeans with black faces. They came to power without improving the lot of their people and these elitist governments continue until this day.

In most cases what went wrong was that as these leaders failed to learn the lessons of self-reliance and power preparation as advocated by Marcus Garvey and in different ways by Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. Africa became infiltrated by foreign agents. Africans had forgotten, if they knew at all, that Africa is the world's richest continent, repository of the greatest mineral wealth in the world. They had not asked themselves nor answered the most critical question. If Africa is the world's richest continent, why is it so full of poor people? Marcus Garvey advocated that Africans control the wealth of Africa. He taught that control, control of resources, control of self, control of nation, requires preparation, Garveyism was about total preparation.

There is still no unified force in Africa calling attention to the need for this kind of preparation. This preparation calls for a new kind of education if Africans are to face the reality of their survival.

Africans in the United States must remember that the slave ships brought no West Indians, no Caribbeans, no Jamaicans or Trinidadians or Barbadians to this hemisphere. The slave ships brought only African people and most of us took the semblance of nationality from the places where slave ships dropped us off. In the 500 year process of oppression the Europeans have displaced our God, our culture, and our traditions. They have violated our women to the extent that they have created a bastard race who is confused as to whether to be loyal to its mother's people or its fathers people and for the most part they remain loyal to neither. I do not think African people can succeed in the world until the hear again Marcus Garvey's call: AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS, THOSE AT HOME AND ABROAD.

We must regain our confidence in ourselves as a people and learn again the methods and arts of controlling nations. We must hear again Marcus Garvey calling out to us: UP! UP! YOU MIGHTY RACE! YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH WHAT YOU WILL!

The late Dr. John Henrik Clarke, a pre-eminent African-American historian, author of several volumes on the history of Africa and the Diaspora, taught in the Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Le Mensonge peut courir un an, la vérité le rattrape en un jour, dit le sage Haoussa
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