Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Know John Henrik Clarke: He Took A Long & Mighty Walk

Dr. John Henrik Clarke
Dr. John Henrik Clarke

“History is a clock that people use to tell there political and cultural 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, where they are and what they are. Most important, history tells a people where they still must go, what they still must be. The relationship of history to the people is the same as the relationship of a mother to her child. " --Dr. John Henrik Clarke

Listen up. Today, the daddy is feeling John Henrik Clarke. Though we would not have such a day without historian Carter G. Woodson, we may not have succeeded in the civil rights movement as soon as we did without a strong, militancy movement to push Dr. King and civil rights movement at the same time. This Black power movement was so strong and so serious that it gave even more urgency to the White House and American government to change rather than prepare for violence throughout the central cities of America.

It also gave the leaders of the peace movement like Dr. King some cover. They could say "We're for peace, but it's becoming harder to keep these younger leaders in the ghetto under control. That's why we need to give Negroes all of their rights now. That's why we need to get out of Vietnam and wars abroad right now and work to get rid of poverty and provide jobs and better education for all Americans right now."

Many leaders of the Black power movement came to Clarke: Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown and many others. Foremost of those he influenced was Malcolm X. Clarke became Malcolm X's chief consultant and best friend. His work with Malcolm resulted in one of Malcolm's greatest speeches, indeed, one of the greatest 100 speeches made in America, "The ballot or the bullet." And he was helping Malcolm to start a new organization (Organization of African American Unity) during the time that Malcolm was murdered.

Now, to the daddy's knowledge, Clarke did not write an autobiography. But he did tell about the impact his teacher made on him. Clarke was born in Union Springs, Alabama on New Years Day, in 1915. His was a family of poor sharecroppers. But they soon moved to Columbus, Georgia when he was about four years old. There, he met a school teacher named Eveline Taylor. Clarke said Ms. Taylor told John that she saw something special in him. She saw a thinker. And she said to him:

"It's no disgrace to be alone. It's no disgrace to be right when everyone else thinks you are wrong. There's nothing wrong with being a thinker. Your playing days are over."

Here's a eulogy of him written by The Los Angeles Times:

John Henrik Clarke: Activist, Professor July 18,198

John Henrik Clarke never got around to writing his life story, which encompassed some of the more turbulent periods in American history.

But time will not forget the former history professor who died at the age of 83 Thursday at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York City after a heart attack. A pioneer in urging African and African American studies at Hunter College, where he taught from 1968 to 1985, he developed most of the department’s curriculum. He taught at a number of other schools, including Cornell University.

Clarke is remembered as someone who put the forgotten history of Africa back into the textbooks, and gave an analysis of history that wasn’t mainstream, said John Branch, director of the Afrikan Poetry Theater in New York City and Clarke’s friend of 20 years.

Descended from a family of sharecroppers, Clarke was born in 1915 in Union Springs, Ga. He left Georgia in 1933 and went to Harlem.

His political and community activism began quickly, when Clarke opposed the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930s. Later, he became a close friend of black activist Malcolm X.

Clarke was instrumental in drawing up the charter of the Organization of Afro-American Unity in the 1960s, said Andre Elizee, an archivist at the Schomburg Center for Research Into Black Culture in Harlem. And Clarke helped to forge a link between Africans and African Americans.

Clarke studied history and literature from 1948 to 1952 at New York University and later at Columbia University.

During his career, Clarke edited or wrote 27 books. His editing work included the classic “American Negro Short Stories” in 1966. He was the subject of a documentary film, “John Henrik Clarke: A Great, Mighty Walk,” narrated by Wesley Snipes."

Know your Black History. Know John Henrik Clarke. He took a long & mighty walk. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notable achievements:

--authored or edited more than 27 books;

--wrote more than 200 short stories;

--influenced generations of African American leaders, especially black leaders during the civil rights and black power movement era;

--pioneered the development of African heritage and black studies programs nationwide;

--was instrumental in helping launch the publishing careers of authors like Audre Lorde and Julian Mayfield, and in publishing the works of Cheik Anta Diop in English; --In the 1960s, served as director of the African Heritage Program of the Harlem anti-poverty agency known as HARYOU-ACT;

--was special consultant and coordinator for the Columbia University-WCBS-TV series Black Heritage (1968);

--was the first president of the African Heritage Studies Association; and

--was a founding member of the Black Academy of Arts and Letters and the African American Scholars' Council.

12 Books by John Henrik Clarke

1. (1966) Black American Short Stories
2. (1968) William Styron's Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond
3. (1968) Harlem: City Within a City.
4. (1974) Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa
5. (1991)Malcolm X: The Man and His Times
6. (1992) Africans at the Crossroads: African World Revolution
7. (1995) The Middle Passage: White Ships Black Cargo
8. (1996) World's Great Men of Color
9. (1999) My Life in Search of Africa
10. (2001) Introduction to African Civilization
11. (2002) Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust
12. (2004) Who Betrayed the African World Revolution

Note: Don't forget to check out a video of him called "John Henrik Clarke: A Long & Mighty Walk."


SagaciousHillbilly said...

Daddy, Did you cover Carter G. Woodson? Just curious, as he is a WV hero as well. I see him as being the man who came before and really paved the way for Henry Louis Gates, Joe Trotter and Cornell West. He and W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington . . . hey, they ALL have WV connections. . . did I mention Leon Sullivan?
WV History IS Black History

MacDaddy said...

Sagacious: Alll the people you mention have had an influence on Black history. Booker T. Washington wasn't known as a historian but the leader of a group that accommodated the white house and whites at that time so blacks could get and education and own their own property. He had what they called that time a "lay your bucket down where you are" philosophy. He wasn't arguing for blacks to get the vote or integration. Dubois was just the oppositie. He sad that if blacks didn't fight for the vote, they would always be pawns in the hands of powerful white owners and white vigilantes. He called the most educated "the talented tenth," to help blacks to get their rights to vote. But he was known chiefly as a great sociologist. But he didn't have no movement. And a lot of blacks never knew him. Dubois and Washington often argued and debated, but Washington had the upper hand, because he had the support of whites.

Carter G. Woodson was an excellent historian. His book "The Miseducation of the Negro" reads like something that's still happening today. And it is. But there was not much of a political movement during his time.

You mentioned Lous Gates and Cornell West. All these people are owe black liberation leaders of the sixties and progressive blacks leaders during the early and middle sixties and late sixties for demanding equal education for Black and third world people. The person who gave them confidence to do that was, first and foremost, John Henrik Clarke academically and Malcolm X. And when Malcolm X died, he became something of a martyr to young black people and all the more powerful. But behind the words of Malcolm X was Elijah Muhammad and Dr. Clarke, Dr. Clarke in the latter part of his life. Even today, when you offer a quote from Dr. Clarke, everyone listens intently. As a historian, he was the man.

MacDaddy said...

Sagacious: I forgot to mention something else about Dr. Clarke: his accessibility. You see, many of these progressive leaders who stepped out in the late sixties either had been taught directly by Clarke in school, had known him from his work with them. People involved in community struggles, even Blacks doing sit-ins on major college campuses, could him and he would come and speak to them about sitting a black studies department or whatever they wanted to talk about.Like Dr. King, he wasn't just a talker. He was an activist.

rainywalker said...

Doctor Clarke and several other individuals you have listed in your blog in 1969 gave interviews on midnight KGO radio in San Francisco. I learned from those broadcasts each night, events going on in the black communities of California and not talked about in newspapers and news media. I still have great respect for several of them that history has not been kind to or twisted what really went on.

Solomon said...

I like what Ms. Taylor said to Clark,

"It's no digrace to be alone.It's no disgrace to be right when everyone else thinks you are wrong. There's nothing wrong with being a thinker. Your playing days are over."

This rings so true with some of my life's experiences.

Great story MacDaddy!

nicki nicki tembo said...

Awesome piece or perhaps I'm just biased toward Professor Clarke and his contributions - nawwww.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Daddy, Thanks for the analysis. I really learn from your blog.
History is such a deeply layered onion and peeling away those layers gives us clarity and power.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this piece.....Wow, teaching is such a noble
calling....Thank God for great teachers!!!!


judy said...

You're a thinker too, Daddy. In one of those weird coincidences that sometimes happens, I was reading your latest post and the radio was on in the background, and John Ridley came on to talk about why Black History Month still matters.

Here's what he said:

Thank you for all your teaching, Daddy.

MacDaddy said...

Judy; Thanks for Riley's website. And I went to it. He made some very good points about Black History Month. I may contact him and ask him if I put his post on my blog. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

hen I read dr. clarke’s book on his search for africa that was all the bio I really needed: how he praised his teachers...

Our book club just read "Who Betrayed the Afrikan World Revolution?" a few months ago where he, along with Drusilla dunjee Houston, put all of their references in the body of the text and he so much so that I have taken 3x5 cards and compiled a list of books from his sources.

The afrikan proverb says that as long as we call your name you will never die. I will never forget the love he shared for Malcolm when he cried in the documentary “Great and Mighty Walk.”

He also reminded spike lee that he had offered to share the real life of Malcolm with him instead of the hollyweird version that made it to market. Spike somewhat corrected that error in the miracle of Santa Anna...

And happy Afrikan heritage month to you. A luta continua, the struggle continues, bro. kwasi

“Events which have transpired 5,000 years ago; 5 years ago; or 5 minutes ago, have determined what will happen 5 minutes from now; 5 years from now; or 5,000 years from now. All History is a current event”.
--Dr. John Henrik Clarke

Verna Monson said...

I hope someone writes his autobiography. I love how you mentioned Eveline Taylor, and the quote from her to -- how wonderful you highlight what a difference the words of ONE teacher can make on a young person.

What a lot Clark accomplished -- and back then there was no label of "first-generation college student," the way the kids (who are first-generation) are labelled now. Makes me wonder about the wisdom of that label . . .

Thanks for getting me thinking, Daddy. You're always sooo good at that . . . .Warm wishes,

MacDaddy said...

Nate: It's great to hear of a book club studying John Henrik Clarke.

Verna: Yes! Can you put a price on the difference that one teacher make? This is a story that many of my readers can tell: one teacher made a difference.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

they dont make historians like him any more, well francis berry is still around and John Hope Franklin

Anonymous said...

I note the kind of reverence that many Afrikan express about the late scholar and I suspect this should motivate them to want to explore more deeply his contributions, his research, and his ideas.

If you forgive the modesty (this is something Dr. Clarke would have said), there is a new study on the late scholar titled John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History: Africalogical Quest for Decolonization and Sovereignty (Africa World Press, 2009). ISBN: 1-59221-627-7.

It's my study. And it is the first book-length academic study of the late scholar.

Rather than primarily a biography of the great sage, this fascinating read explores Dr. Clarke's intellectual contribution to U.S. and global African thought and culture, including African and African American history, Black Studies, liberation, and the concept of Afrocentricity.

Adorned with a magnificently attractive cover design, this book is ideal for those who are interested in learning more about Africana intellectualism and cultural thought in the 19th and 20th centuries.

It explores Dr. Clarke's academic training in Harlem, his role as one of the major architects of Black Studies, and his contribution to African thought and culture in the United States, Africa, and the world.

I would welcome your review of the work.

Ahati N. N. Toure, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Africana History and Black Studies
Department of History, Political Science, and Philosophy
1200 N. DuPont Highway
Dover, DE 19901-2277

MacDaddy said...

Anon: He is my favorite historian. I would love to do a review of the book. How can I get a copy? If you have several, could you send me a copy? If so, let me know and I'll send you my address.

Please consider signing up as a follower of this blog on the top of the sidebar. That way, others can come to the blog and purchase the book. Also, I'd be happy to remind people of the book. But you'll need to sign in and let people know your real name. Thanks for contributing to our knowledge about Dr. Clarke.