Expect a new post here every week with full details on what to do. Posts will usually go live on Thursdays.
First a few housekeeping things before we get to the assignment itself. There’s a lot in this week’s post but there’s a lot to cover. It will be shorter after the first few weeks.
- You might find it helpful to subscribe to new posts for this site: use the e-mail sign-up form on the main page.
- If you’re new to the class, welcome! Be sure to carefully review class policies on the syllabus.
- Get copies of the required course book: Dr. Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies, 4th edition.. You will need it to do the reading assignments for the rest of the semester. You can also buy the book directly from the publisher at the list price. See links on the books page.
Please sign up for the class text message service run by Remind(.com) if you haven’t done so yet
- You can sign up online here or send a text message to (608) 467-4328 and type the following as the message: @aas166.
- Makes it easy for me to quickly send out important messages–like today when I was way too sick to run my classes
On the weekly Zoom sessions:
- The sessions will be recorded starting next week: still figuring out the best way to post them. Stay tuned.
- Sign-up info for both Zoom sessions is on the Zoom meet info page. I recommend saving the meeting ID and password in your calendar or elsewhere to easily join
- Lehman has emergency grants available to quickly provide money for housing, medical, food, transportation, and other needs. Details at the Student Affairs office.
- The Lehman Food Bank offers food assistance. Details here.
- Lehman has a very comprehensive page of students resources including laptop/tablet loans. Details here.
Audio tour of this website
If you missed the first class session, this short tour of the site and the syllabus should get you up to speed. Also see the FAQ page for more info. This lecture is optional: if you were in the Zoom session or can grasp the website, you can skip it.
[coming this weekend.]
Quick highlights from first class on 2/3:
- Course Intro & syllabus overview
- Zoom wait room music: Archie Shepp’s “New Africa“
- Musical selection: Dizzy Gillespie’s “Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac.”
- Reading of Dr. Leonard Jeffries Jr’s “The Essence of Black Studies” (handout and also on the Readings page). What’s his view of a Black Studies methodology (i.e. ways to analyze information and do research) and how should it approach the world?
- Screened first ~25 minutes of the Dr. John Henrik Clarke documentary A Great and Mighty Walk. It’s on YouTube if you want a refresher. (Consider sharing the link with your own intro to it on social media. Think about watching it with family members, your church group, tenants’ association, PTA chapter, etc.)
What to do for Week 2–February 8:
RE-READ Dr. Leonard Jeffries Jr’s “The Essence of Black Studies” (on the Readings page. Password hint: what year is it?).
WATCH the 90-minute documentary embedded below of the late scholar Dr. John Henrik Clarke
RESPOND to the questions at the bottom of this post and DISCUSS them with classmates and myself
ATTEND the weekly Zoom session @ 6 PM EST on Wednesday February 10
Things to think about while viewing and for discussion:
- What is Dr. Clarke’s view of history and how should we relate to it?
- Why study ancient African civilizations, especially Kemet and Nile Valley civilization, according to Dr. Clarke?
- How, according to Dr. Clarke, has the history of Kemet’s contributions to Greek civilization been erased?
- Consider sharing the link on your social media feed and watching it with friends, family, children or hosting a watch party for your PTA, church group, tenants’ association, etc.
Note: the video takes a sweeping view of history and Dr. Clarke includes an astounding amount of information. Don’t try to take down everything: focus on some key points or maybe a few figures to look at in more detail later. The goal is to gain a broad grasp of a key foundational figure in Africana Studies and think about his approach to history.
Highlight or underline key points in Dr. J’s essay. Write down notes as you read and watch the documentary. Write down questions of things you don’t understand for us to answer in class.
We’ll review highlights of the Dr. Clarke documentary, discuss Africana Studies methodology, and revisit Dr. J’s essay.
Comments on posts:
You’ll notice the “Let’s Talk” button is below. Here’s how it’ll work: you can use this to discuss points raised here. A few points:
- Your first comment will have to be approved by me: after that, you can comment without approval
- Comments section will only be open to enrolled students
- You have to leave your name (enter as first name and last initial only) so a) I can make sure only people in the class are commenting and b) you get credit for the comment
- Remember to be respectful, especially when responding to classmates
- The comments section closes 14 days after a post goes live
To ‘participate’ in the class, I’d like to see everyone 1) post a substantive comment of their own based on either the reading or my lecture using some of the questions raised or conversation prompts, and 2) to respond thoughtfully to someone else’s comment—not just agree/disagree, but add on evidence or ask a follow-up question. You can also ask a question–for me or others–but that doesn’t count toward your comment and reply needed for the grade. It’s fine with me if conversation continues in a thread as long as it does, but two responses showing a clear engagement with the reading will count for being ‘present.’ Does that make sense? You have two weeks to write those two comments for credit.
31 thoughts on “Spring 21 Week 2: Dr. John Henrik Clarke’s Great and Mighty Walk”
This documentary was really interesting. I like Dr. Clarke’s point of view on history. He explains that history tells people who they are, what they are, what they are not. Also, he discusses that history tells people where they must go and where they must be. I really enjoyed his explanation of the Egyptians and how Africa was not just a continent but was identified by many regions. He opened up my eyes that the first structural civilization was African in the North region of the Nile river. According to Dr. Clarke, this African civilization managed to flourish 24 dynasties without any contact from Europeans like the greek. This Nile civilization extended 4000 miles throughout the river into the deep parts of the African continent.
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Good points, Neyfi! Yes, the part about 24 dynasties gives a sense of the length and complexity of Nile Valley Civilization prior to contact from Europe. I also like Clarke’s idea of history as a “clock” that helps orient a person in time/space as you can probably tell from the course description.
Neyfi, your comment about the Nile civilization extending 4000 miles is such a dramatic illustration of what many of us have neglected in the history and scope of Ancient Egypt. That distance would take us from New York City to 1000 miles west of California in the Pacific Ocean–a huge expanse. And all along were settlements enriched by the benefits of the Nile and in contact with each other. The river was a communications channel too, from what I gather. I am eager to read more about it.
I also found interesting the way that the video started with such a powerful view of History. John Henrik Clarke reminds us of the importance of learning History, because history it’s what shapes the present and the future. I also found interesting how he compared the relationship of History to the people to the relationship of a mother to a son. As the mother has to pass on to his son the family traditions, culture, beliefs overall history for the son to understand where he comes from and be able to know where he is heading towards. It is important for the people to know their history to understand who they were who they are and who are they choosing to be in the future. In my opinion this was the highlight for me of the video because it spoke to me personally. In a way by knowing the history you obtain a power to know that you can change and make history if you choose to, you can make a change an impact but only if you know the history, because if you don’t then the people would not be able to understand what are they fighting for or if they want to make a change and fight for that. Overall your post was informative, organized and detailed, I was able to understand it and to learn from it.
When defining “history”, Doctor Clarke likens it to both a clock that displays the cultural and political time of day and, more importantly, a compass that shows where a people are, where they now must go, what they have been and what they must now become. One should relate to history as a child does to its mother. This eloquent analogy reminded me of the passage in Doctor Leonard Jeffries’ “The Essence of Black Studies” that goes: “I grew up nurtured in a Black community in Newark, New Jersey, of poor, working-class people with visions for themselves and their children that said that they were going to be somebody. As I analyze that experience, I see instinctively that the mothers knew that the only way to protect their youngsters from the larger environment was to fortify them with a certainty about themselves, with an allegiance to a concept of groupness and with a vision of doing something for the collectivity for the future…The parents on the block were the parents of all the children.” I find this juxtaposition of Clarke’s definition of history as a mother (or parent) to a child and the compass of what one was/what one must become in confluence with Doctor Jeffries’ description of the community he was raised in, which so immediately and vividly embodied Doctor Clarke’s definition of history very striking.
It is important for every person to be taught our (all human beings) Earth’s history, including the true origins and trajectories of all peoples and civilizations so that we can truly understand how things came to be as they are, and what we must do to improve upon them. As Dr. Jefferies says about protecting young people by fortifying them with a certainty about themselves, the true history of African civilization would serve to do just that.
Kemet’s recorded contribution to Greek civilization was first threatened when Alexander invaded, marking the beginning of the European invasion, whose aim was “destroying a civilization that it didn’t understand”. These invading Europeans literally began changing the complexion of the conquered, creating a “mulatto-cized population” as a result of their taking the female population for their pleasure while the male population is dwindling due to losses in battle. The most critical juncture of the corruption of history as pertained to African presence and contribution in most recorded history was Constantine’s rule, where he took great pains to reinvent a concept of Christianity that reflected a European make-over, removing African saints from the text and lightening the skin color of Christ and other key figures in Biblical history. This manipulated and falsified version becomes further propagated by celebrated works of influential art (i.e. Michael Angelo’s “The Creation of Adam”) that serve to influence others accepted ideas of history, Biblical or otherwise.
After watching and then re-reviewing several particularly probing segments of the Dr. Clarke documentary, “A Great and Mighty Walk”, the quote that most immediately and deeply struck me was as follows: “We have been hung up on the myth of The Conqueror and The Invader as the bringer of civilization. No people ever brought civilization to another people at no time and at no place in history–one of the most protracted lies we have ever listened to. Civilization is the art of being civil. The word ‘civil’ means being peaceful and there’s nothing peaceful about aggression.” This powerful and important statement, stark against the backdrop of a rich and sweeping history beginning at the dawn of civilization that can only be traced back to Africa, serves to perhaps elucidate the original impetus for subjugation and terrorization of Africans by Europeans, whose culture was far more developed than theirs and whose land was ripe with bounty. Essentially, being the first successful culture and society also meant having a target on their backs. As Doctor Clarke illustrates, “Africa has always been and still is the world’s richest continent. Africa has always had things other people wanted, that they couldn’t do without and didn’t want to pay for. So, therefore, there’s always been an excuse to invade Africa”.
– Julie W.
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Dr. John Henrik Clarke began A Great and Mighty Walk with four metaphors that describe the immense importance of history for any peoples or cultures. He posited that history acts as a timepiece that pinpoints a political and cultural present; it is a compass that can connect a diasporic community to a map of origins. History can function as an arrow that can draw from the past and aim toward the needs of the future. Finally, he compared history to a mother—perhaps the embodiment of ancestral peoples—who nurtures her child. Dr. Clarke then proceeded to demonstrate how histories can be excised or rewritten, to the grave disadvantage of those whose histories have been warped
History is essential for an understanding of one’s self and one’s place in the world. However, written history, historical narrative, is also a construction, a product of the world view of those who create it. And often the voices of colonial, imperial powers drown out all others. In the case of Africa, the same violent forces that kidnapped peoples and plundered the continent’s riches, have imprinted and disseminated narratives that continue to support a Eurocentric colonialist view. As Dr. Clarke recounted his path to a life-mission of filling historical gaps and telling hidden histories, he observed: “Looking back, we see that entire peoples have to be read out of the ‘respectful commentary of history’ in order to justify the slave trade and colonialism.” He offered multiple examples of how history has been distorted in the past and how certain preferred colonialist narratives continue, even in the present, to supplant more accurate ones.
Dr. Clarke recalled the Nile Valley Kemet civilization, perhaps the earliest and most artistically, intellectually, and technically sophisticated society, yet one whose African identity has often been overshadowed by the legacy of Alexander’s conquest in 332 BCE. The Macedonian king’s name echoes more loudly than the monotheist Pharaoh Ahkenaten or the peace-loving Imhotep, whose stories Dr. Clarke told. The 4000-mile-long Nile River’s regular cycles of flooding and alluvial deposits sustained life and also acted as a channel for the transmission and preservation of African culture along its length, including concepts of a social order comparable to those for which Karl Marx would much later gain fame. By the time of Alexander’s appearance, Egyptian civilization had flowered for more than twenty-four Pharaonic dynasties, yet the extraordinary history of this civilization has been simultaneously overshadowed by Greek and Persian conquerors and also set apart from the rest of Africa. In another example, Dr. Clarke noted that the Greek Hippocrates, whom Eurocentric history records as the “father of medicine,” studied in Egypt and learned the secrets of its medicine. Dr. Clarke observed that even Pliny the Elder, whose constant refrain in the Roman Senate, “Carthage must be destroyed,” also wrote of Egyptian medical genius. Yet, it is the Hellenocentric version of medical history that dominates modern understanding, rather than a more accurate rendering of the Egyptian contributions. Dr. Clarke recalled Senegalese scholar Cheikh Anta Diop, who introduced ideas of African imperialism and documented continuities between Egyptians and the other peoples of Africa—in sharp contrast with European historians. Diop’s writings and lectures were harshly criticized and his voice suppressed, to Dr. Clarke’s chagrin.
Like Dr. Clarke, Dr. Leonard Jeffries stressed the urgent need for Africana studies as a school of intellectual formation and as a way of correcting a historical record that has been grossly distorted by racism and Eurocentrism. In “The Essence of Black Studies,” Dr. Jeffries reported that “Africa is the origin of mankind…and those societies and cultures that moved into high culture and civilization were developed around African peoples.” Dr. Clarke argued that in general people define themselves by the land of their origins. Dr. Jeffries continued this theme, and affirmed his belief that for the global African diaspora, it is “an absolute imperative to identify completely and totally and unadulteratedly with our Africanness.” For him, “Black studies is African studies, about the African experience from the African perspective.” Dr. Jeffries also echoed Dr. Clarke’s historical perspective, and stressed that cultures and achievements had been “hidden from view because we didn’t have an African perspective from which we could look at history.” A Great and Mighty Walk compresses a sweeping but detailed argument about the contribution of the African peoples to global humanity and intellectual production. Dr. Jeffries emphasizes the necessity of Africana studies not only to reaffirm and “re-collect” an African identity among dispersed peoples, but to share what he describes as a “communal cooperative and collective value system, [a] humanistic, spiritualistic value system.” As I see it, these essential African values could well help heal our very broken world.
[I found an interesting scholarly book chapter detailing Ancient Egyptian contributions to Ancient Greek medicine as acknowledged by Greek physicians contemporaneously. The chapter also dissects the problem of Hellenocentrism in current historical narratives of Ancient Egyptian medicine. Jacques Jouanna, “Egyptian Medicine and Greek Medicine,” in Greek Medicine from Hippocrates to Galen, ed. Philip van der Eijk (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2015), pp. 3-20. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1163/j.ctt1w76vxr.6%5D
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PS I had two references in my original note, I added one above and neglected to add the other. Dr. Clarke published an appreciation of Cheikh Anta Diop that offered more detail about his contributions to the history of the Kemet–Nile Valley Civilization: John Henrik Clarke, “The Historical Legacy of Cheikh Anta Diol: His Contributions to a New Concept of African History,” in Présence Africaine , 1er et 2e TRIMESTRES 1989, Nouvelle série, No. 149/150, HOMMAGE à Cheikh Anta Diop (1er et 2e TRIMESTRES 1989), pp. 110-120, https://www.jstor.org/stable/24351980.
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Excellent resource: thanks for sharing! Yes, Diop’s a big part of the story that we’ll be getting into in the next few weeks.
You did an amazing job at explaining Dr. Clarke’s message. I agree with the idea of Africa being the origin of mankind and that people define themselves by the land of their origins. Having the perspective to see the world in an African way not only teaches us about a new way to see the world but also a new way to interpret our history and where we come from. I am glad you made this clear in your response.
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I didn’t see the “Let’s Talk” option so I am writing here. Apart from the fact that I enjoyed this method of learning, I found the documentary very interesting. Full transparency, I learned a lot, as we are not taught about the lives of Africans before slavery – which is heartbreaking. Dr. Clarke describes the Nile Valley as a cultural highway. The Nile is in the 24th dynasties like Europe is only emerging yet we are taught things in such a different order. I had no idea about the involvement of the Arabs. Looking forward to learning more throughout the semester.
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Hi Devan: good points re: Dr. Clarke and the documentary, particularly the Nile Valley as a cultural highway and lack of focus on pre-enslavement African lives.Both are key points! // Replying to a classmate’s comment is fine but you just needed to scroll further down the page to see the comment box. You’ll see it the end of this thread of comments titled “Leave a Reply.” (I might have called it something else in the post.
Thank you for the clarification, Professor Williams.
Dr. Clarke defines history as a “clock that people use to tell political cultural time of day.” It also works as a guide for us to find ourselves on the map of human geography and it gives us an insight of where we come from, where we are and where we must be.
The reasoning for studying ancient civilizations, especially Nile and Kemet is because many concepts came from them and they were never credited for it. The concepts of farming, social order and organized society came from the Nile Valley civilization. In fact they were the blueprint for many civilizations that came up after.
The contributions of the Kemet civilization to the Greeks have been erased because the Greeks took credit and Europeanize most of these contributions. The concept of spirituality was altered by the Europeans when they changed Christianity into European Christianity by depicting God and Jesus to be white. Spirituality was first brought up by Northern Africans but later on it was used as a way to control and manipulate them.
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I agree on your statement that the Greeks Europeanized most of the Africans contributions. I believe they did they because since the Africans were seen as minorities, the Greeks believed that they had the power to takeover creations that weren’t theirs.
Dr. Clarke opened the video with a very interesting question and a question that most of us one time or another also asked. What is the history of our people? For a lot of us the history of our ancestors began in shackles coming to a new world to do hard labor, enslaved savages, but as we now know our history happens to be richer and more complex than that. One of the most interesting facts that Dr. Clarke shares about our history is the information about the Nile Valley civilization where the actual concept and structure of a civilization was born. Dr. Clarke highlighted the importance of this civilization when speaking of Marcus Garvey “Once you are taking from your geography and forced to live in a state created by others you are still a slave of the man that controls the state”. Having an deep understanding of the history of these civilizations can help us move forward and brake the shackles, these are no longer physical in most cases, but mental and spiritual.
You post caught my attention because as you mention the video began with an important question that Dr. Clark asked “what is the history of my people”. Which for many of us is hard to learn about since the History is written by the winners, leaving aside important history other other people. Yet as he does his research more and more he starts to understand that in order to understand African History he needs to first learn the history of the people that enslaved them and the reason why they didn’t write about their history. What also impacted me from the video was the Dr. Clark as he grew and learned more he began to put together the different yet similar history of Blacks from different parts of the world, like South America, because they were all fighting for one thing freedom. As you mention the quote “Once you are taking from your geography and forced to live in a state created by others you are still a slave of the man that controls the state” on your post I also see this as a breaking point to make a change an impact in History. Because even if you learn your people history and you continue to live on a world still created by others and their rules than you are not causing a change or an impact for the future of your people. Overall I found your post well organized, easy to follow along and to understand important points of the video.
When Dr. Clarke discussed and explained the many regions of Africa, and explained the first structural civilization on the North region I was in awe. Hearing Dr. Clarke speak about history that I had no prior knowledge of, is one of the reasons I love this video. Another reason is because while certain things change, other things remain the same. “I grew up poor, I grew up in a very rich environment. Culturally rich, I grew up with a whole lot of love and affection, and a lot of laugh time and slap time, I wasn’t able to get away with too much.” When I heard him say this all I kept thinking was, that is the story of every one who grew up in the hood. Even if you were not poor but parents lived pay check to pay check that is your story. That is our story. The neighborhood became your family, from the bodega workers, to the supermarket employees and the fruit vendors, that village raised and shaped some of us.
I couldn’t agree with you more. This our story. I could too relate to what he was saying. The neighborhood became your family. Your experiences molded you to become who you are. I learned so much that I didn’t know from this documentary because its not what you typically see in a text book. It’s whats left out. I am so very appreciative for Dr.Clarke and his life’s story.
History is like clock that tell the political and cultural day. It is also a way for people to find an amount of geography. History tells people where have they been, where they are, most important history is a way to tell people where they must go, where they must stay, and what they must be.
When Dr. Clarke gave the definition of history as the clock that tells…, I thought that that was such a profound statement as I thought about it. Raquel I like you comment!
According to Dr. Henrik Clarke, his view of history stated that time is used a clock to keep track, of people’s political and cultural time. Also, he stated that humans use a compass to find themselves, on a map of human geography. It tells people, where they have been, where they are, and what they are.
The Kemet and Nile River is considered a socialization quo, according to Dr. Henrik Clarke. The reason why is because, the Nile River set a standard of farming creation in African Culture. It can be considered the world’s first cultural highway that, expanded to 4,000 miles in Africa.
After reviewing the documentary, I became more aware of African society, and how they never got credit for anything. A specific part, that stood out to me is when Dr. Clarke mentioned how Africans went through a spritual warefare. This stood out to me because Africans were forced to change their way of thinking and adapt to Europeans way of thinking.
I totally missed that “spiritual warfare” quote, I’m so glad you highlighted that. I think it’s really powerful and it’s just something I wasn’t aware had started that far back in time. I also didn’t realize until watching this documentary that the Nile extended 4,000 miles into Africa (geography has never been a strong suit of mine lol) and I think that’s a major piece of this puzzle and goes to further illustrate just how little credit and proper attention that American world history and even American art history has paid to the origins of African culture!
– Julie W
Dr.Clarke in the documentary reminds us that history tell us as people who we are, what we are and what we are not. One of the highlight of the documentary is when Dr. Clarke highlight how African Civilization flourish 24 dynasties and had no contact from the Europeans. Another highlight was when he spoke of Africa as being the bread basket for the Roman Empire because it was not very rich and if it was not for Africa it would not be able to sustain itself.
Also according to Dr. Clarke the Nile River and the Kemet were deliberated as socialization quo. The river Nile was also thought out as the world’s cultural highway simply because it extend for as much as 4000 miles throughout the African continent.
A few years ago I watched this documentary and it was very satisfying to watch. To relish in pride of being black and to bare witness of the growth and overcoming from the generations of the past.
It also saddens me that for the sacrifices made, progress and respect is slow to accomplish. It hurts that with all the contributions to the betterment of all people we, black people just never see that everything is not for everybody and its ok not to share you genius. History has shown, that you will be robbed an pillaged for you greatness.
I like how this video coincided with Dr. Jefferies and his talk about a “Collective Value System” in “The Essences of Black Studies”. It reminded me of celebrating Kwanzaa and it’s principles. I took me to a place in time where I better not do this or that because such and such lives there and they know my grandparents. It reminded me of the matriarchal role of my grandfather and the grooming of a lady from his counterpart my grandmother. I remember hearing stories of when people weren’t scared and did what they did with purpose. Now I don’t promote violence but I do believe right is right and wrong is wrong and justice is justice,
When I was in like 5th grade Marcus Garvey was my hero, though he failed the idea or going back to where you came from was awesome. The unfortunate part is that the Africans don’t want you either (Recently Ghana was open to accepting Americans). I went to Nigeria and when I was there is saw that you are accepted by those who are richer than you and come to America for the Summers, but the locals are not so friendly. They accept you for your suitcase as colonialism and globalization has killed their economy. They think you (Black Americans) are cultureless and classless on how we treat each other especially our elders.
The last paragraph was to show follow up on the Marcus Garvey Hero thing and a little of my experience. The first 3 paragraphs are my response to the video and the reading.
I found the documentary interesting and different from others. John Henrik Clarke was a legend as the video descrives it and its unique technique of narrating a story or narrating anything overall it’s fascinating because it speaks to your soul. John Henrik Clarke was born in a farm in Union Springs Alabama in 1915, he also shares that even though he now has his BA, Masters, and PD, he educated himself in the library and by reading many books since he didn’t finish high school. The first person that inspired him was his 5th grade teacher, as he explains she was the foundation of everything after she told him to stop playing the fool. In search to impress her John Henrik Clarke started to research about his people and came across the book “A New Negro”. As he narrates how Harlem was back in those days you can almost feel and imagine how it ways by the details he states. You understand the history, the culture, the music and you can imagine it and feel it. He shares that his early years in Harlem his writing consisted on poetry, short stories and essays on aspects of History. As he continue to meet many writers like Claude Mckay, he finally meet Author Schomburg who was a mentor to many African Americans. Author Schomburg tought John Henrik Clarke the interrelation of African History to World History. As time went on and John Henrik Clarke came back from war he began to define pam-africanism as the union of African people from different parts of the world. I agree with what he said that if a billion of people from all around the world gets together it will make an positive or negative impact but it will be an impact. Overall the I enjoy the video because as John Henrik Clarke narrates his own personal journey he also highlights historical events that are happening at the time, his details make you understand and imagine it how it was back then. The pictures of the video and the explanation of historical events that the video also explains is helpful to hold into and learn.
According to Dr. Clarke, history is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. In my opinion, I believe he means people use history to introduce themselves and explain their story of life. He also says that history is a compass that ppl use to find themselves on the map of human geography and where they have been, what they are, where they still must go, where they still must be and where they are, which means history helps people discover who they really are in the world and what point they should be in their life. According to Dr. Clarke, the reason to study ancient African civilization especially Kemet and Nile Valley is because the Nile Valley had set a standard for farming and people refused to give the Africans credit for their creation. In Dr.Clarke’s eyes, the history of Kemet’s contributions to Greek civilization has been erased because the Greeks began to take credit for the things the African created and tweak them into their own ways.
I agree with your comments, whatever Blacks would do to introduce a new discovery or idea, i wouldn’t
matter because the Blacks were seen as inferior in the sense that they are not seen as intelligent and
should therefore remain inferior. Black history is more about struggle and perserverance.
Dr. John Clarke was an African American professor from Georgia who was instrumental in Black
culture. He basically said he grew up poor, he grew up in Agriculture as that was part of society in his
days growing up. He would basically spread his knowledge on Black studies and how far they have come.
I really enjoyed Dr.John Henrik Clarke’s documentary far more than I thought I would. I found myself listening closely as if I was a child listening to my grandparents tell a story about how things were for them growing. I really enjoyed the beginning of the documentary where he tells what it was like in Harlem back in his time. Being a Harlem Native who’s parents and grandparents were also it felt like I’ve heard it all before. I experienced many moments of joy watching this.
To get a better understanding of what Dr.John Clarke was saying I watched the documentary more than once. There was a lot of information to grasp all at once. What was Dr.Clarke’s view on history? Dr.Clark begins by saying ” History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day”. He goes on to say ” History is also a compass people use to find themselves on a map of human Geography, history tells the people where they have been, and what they have been, where they are and what they are, most important history tells the people where they still much go, what they still must be” WOW! This was so powerful. For me this meant history is then, now, and the future. History is your life, your story, your dreams, your experience. “History is the relationship of a mother to her child”. History is your pain, your struggle, your happiness, a part of you that is inseparable.
I believe It’s important to study Ancient African Civilization according to Dr.Clarke because that is the only way to learn about what is not talked about. What is left out. The Nile Valley was ” The first Cultural Highway”. It was ” a standard for farmers untouched by other civilizations of the world”.
I really enjoyed this documentary. While it felt long, there was a lot to learn, and I am appreciative for his experience and his story.
Hi Nubia. Similar to you, I found that Dr. Clarke’s definitions of history and the way he described it were great eye-openers to help us understand that history is a complex subject with lots of hidden grooves and pathways. We tend to only see history surface level, but history is deeper than that. History is where we are/were from, what our culture was like, the things we did, etc.
By being reminded of some of the great ancient African civilizations of the past and their advancements, as well as learning that there were Roman emperors and Pope’s of African descent, I now understand more vividly than ever that Africa and African people have had a larger role in history than we often realize.
Is this because of censorship of history, no one knowing, these facts deemed unimportant? Who knows? What I do know is that African/black history lies deep and most of us can trace some part of our history to Africa.
History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day”. This first statement coming from Dr. John Henrik Clarke resonated deeply within me from the beginning. Oftentimes, I’ve heard that history is only full of half-truths — it is written generally from one view, or a limited point of view. It has been written by winners, victors, oppressors. Most of us have only learned a piece of history, not the entire puzzle.
At a young age, Dr. Clarke heard that he/we (colored people) come from people with no history. To hear that your past has no history/no importance must be a wake-up call that something is not right. Everyone has a history. It is impossible to come from nothing.
I found this statement by Dr. Clarke: “Study the history of the people who enslaved you and find out why they found it a necessity to remove an entire people from the respectful commentary of the world” to be an eye-opening statement. He is stressing that the true history of the world, our true history, is one that has been diminished and hidden from the masses. He states that African history and Negro history are the missing pages of world history. This makes me feel that we are all slaves to the missing pages of history. We can only know what we are taught or experience. But, if we don’t know (for reasons such as trying to ignore a certain past), then we do not have a complete understanding of aspects of history. This actually made me feel a bit sad when I heard this because I am thinking about the amount of people from the past, the number of civilizations, etc, that have had their lives essentially erased or censored from the world view by the western/European anti-foreign world.
Dr Clarke stated in the documentary that eurocentric scholars, for centuries, rejected that Egyptian society, one of the most advanced ancient civilizations, was created and maintained by black Africans. It turns out that Western civilization was the product/follow-up of non-white innovation, technology, spirituality, etc.
When Egypt was in its 24th dynasty, Europe was emerging from its preliterate past. From Egypt to the Nubians, we learn from this video that advanced (for the time period) black civilizations existed even before the European world began to develop in some of the same ways as these ancient African civilizations.
African/Negro history are the missing pages of world history. By learning more of our past, we can begin to free ourselves from enslavement by common history. Common history is only a viewpoint of history.
I also found it interesting when Dr. Clarke stated that all conquerors used religion as methods of control, and the idea of a spiritual prison.
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