Tag Archives: Africa

Black History: Dr. John Henrik Clarke

16266194_1576646812351280_7451924563813283492_nJohn Henrik Clarke was one of the most brilliant, profound, and empowering educators of our time. He was born January 1, 1915, in Union Springs, Alabama and died July 16, 1998, in New York City. His mother was a washerwoman who did laundry for $3 a week, and his father was a sharecropper. As a youngster Clark caddied for Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley “long before they became Generals or President,” Clarke would later recount in describing his upbringing in rural Alabama.

Ms. Harris, his third-grade teacher, convinced him that one day he would be a writer, but before he became a writer, he became a voracious reader inspired by Richard Wright’s “Black Boy” about a veteran who enlisted in the army and earned the rank of Master Sergeant. After mustering out, Clarke moved to Harlem and committed himself to a lifelong pursuit of factual knowledge about the history of his people and creative application of that knowledge. Over the years, Clarke became both a major historian and a man of letters.

His literary accomplishments are very significant, but he was best known as a historian. He wrote over two hundred short stories with “The Boy Who Painted Christ Black” being his best known. Clarke edited numerous literary and historical anthologies including American Negro Short Stories (1966), an anthology which included nineteenth century writing from writers such as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Charles Waddell Chestnut, and continued up through the early sixties with writers such as LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) and William Melvin Kelley. This is one of the classic collections of Black fiction.

Reflective of his commitment to his adopted home, Clarke also edited “Harlem, A Community in Transition and Harlem, U.S.A”. Never one to shy away from the difficult or the controversial, Clarke edited anthologies on Malcolm X and a major collection of essays decrying William Styron’s “portrait” of Nat Turner as a conflicted individual who had a love/hate platonic and sexually-fantasized relationship with Whites. In both cases, Clarke’s work was in defense of the dignity and pride of his beloved Black community rather than an attack on Whites.

What is significant is that Clarke did the necessary and tedious organizing work to bring these volumes into existence. Thereby, offering an alternative outlook from the dominant mainstream views on Malcolm X and Nat Turner, both of whom were often characterized as militant hate mongers. Clarke understood the necessity for us to affirm our belief in and respect for radical leaders such as Malcolm X and Nat Turner. It is interesting to note that Clarke’s work was never simply focused on investigating history as the past; he also was proactively involved with history in the making.

As a historian Clarke also edited a book on Marcus Garvey and edited “Africa, Lost and Found” (with Richard Moore and Keith Baird) and “African People at the Crossroads”, two seminal historical works widely used in History and African American Studies disciplines on college and university campuses. Through the United Nations, he published monographs on Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois. As an activist historian, he produced the monograph Christopher Columbus and the African Holocaust. His most recently published book was “Who Betrayed the African Revolution?”

In the form of edited books, monographs, major essays and book introductions, John Henrik Clarke produced well over forty major historical and literary documents. Rarely, if ever, has one man delivered so much quality and inspiring literature. Moreover, John Henrik Clarke was also an inquisitive student who became a master teacher.

During his early years in Harlem, Clarke made the most of the rare opportunities to be mentored by many of the great 20th century Black historians and bibliophiles. Clarke studied under and learned from men such as Arthur Schomburg, William Leo Hansberry, John G. Jackson, Paul Robeson, Willis Huggins and Charles Seiffert. All of whom, sometimes quietly behind the scenes and other times publicly in the national and international spotlight, were significant movers and shakers, theoreticians and shapers of Black intellectual and social life in the 20th century.

From the sixties on, John Henrik Clarke stepped up and delivered the full weight of his own intellectual brilliance and social commitment to the ongoing struggle for Black liberation and development. Clarke became a stalwart member and hard worker in (and sometimes co-founder of) organizations such as The Harlem Writers Guild, Presence Africaine, African Heritage Studies Association, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the National Council of Black Studies and the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations.

Formally, Clarke lectured and held professorships at universities worldwide. His longer and most influential tenures were at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell in Ithaca, New York, and in African and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City. He received honorary degrees from numerous institutions and served as consultant and advisor to African and Caribbean heads of state. In 1997, he was the subject of a major documentary directed by the noted filmmaker Saint Claire Bourne and underwritten by the Hollywood star Westley Snipes.

John Henrik Clarke is in many ways exemplary of the American ethos of the self-made man. Indicative of this characteristic is the fact that Clarke changed his given name of John Henry Clark to reflect his aspirations. In an obituary, he penned for himself shortly before his death, John Henrik Clarke noted “little black Alabama boys were not fully licensed to imagine themselves as conduits of social and political change. …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 like his spunk and the social issues he addressed in ‘A Doll’s House.’ …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.”

Body and soul, John Henrik Clarke was a true champion of Black people. He bequeathed us with a magnificent legacy of accomplishment and inspiration born out of the earnest commitment of one irrepressible young man to make a difference in the daily and historical lives of his black people through knowledge. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Black History is American History
“Just a Season”

Why Patrice Lumumba Was Assassinated

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e hear a lot of talk about Liberty, Democracy, and Freedom, but it is usually only when it suits America’s interests. On 17 January 1961, Patrice Lumumba, the first legally elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was assassinated in what most would believe for the pursuit of those ideals. This heinous crime was a culmination of two inter-related assassination plots by the American and Belgian governments, which used Congolese accomplices and a Belgian execution squad to carry out the dreadful deed.

Most of us don’t know or remember this African leader but according to Ludo De Witte, a Belgian author of the best book on this crime qualifies it as “the most important assassination of the 20th century”. He noted the assassination’s historical importance lies in a multitude of factors, the most pertinent being the global context in which it took place, its impact on Congolese politics since then and Lumumba’s overall legacy as a nationalist leader.

For 126 years, the US and Belgium have played key roles in shaping Congo’s destiny. In April 1884, seven months before the Berlin Congress, the US became the first country in the world to recognize the claims of King Leopold II of the Belgians to the territories of the Congo Basin.

When the atrocities related to brutal economic exploitation in Leopold’s Congo Free State resulted in millions of fatalities, the US joined other world powers to force Belgium to take over the country as a regular colony. It was during the colonial period that the US acquired a strategic stake in the enormous natural wealth of the Congo, following its use of the uranium from Congolese mines to manufacture the first atomic weapons which resulted in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.

With the outbreak of the cold war, it was inevitable that the US and its western allies would not be prepared to let Africans have effective control over strategic raw materials; let long allow these resources to fall into the hands of their enemies in the Soviet camp. It is in this regard that Patrice Lumumba’s determination to achieve genuine independence and to have full control over Congo’s resources in order to utilize them to improve the living conditions of its people was perceived as a threat to Western interests. To fight him, the US and Belgium used all the tools and resources at their disposal, including the United Nations secretariat, under Dag Hammarskjöld and Ralph Bunche [a black man], to buy the support of Lumumba’s Congolese rivals, and hired killers.

In Congo, Lumumba’s assassination is rightly viewed as the country’s original sin. Coming less than seven months after independence on 30 June, 1960, it was viewed as a stumbling block to the ideals of national unity, economic independence and Pan-African solidarity that Lumumba had championed, as well as a shattering blow to the hopes of millions of Congolese for freedom and material prosperity.

The assassination took place at a time when the country had fallen under four separate governments: the central government in Kinshasa; a rival central government by Lumumba’s followers in Kisangani [then Stanleyville]; and the secessionist regimes in the mineral-rich provinces of Katanga and South Kasai. Since Lumumba’s physical elimination had removed what the West saw as the major threat to their interests in the Congo, internationally-led efforts were undertaken to restore the authority of the moderate and pro-western regime in Kinshasa over the entire country. These resulted in ending the Lumumbist regime in Kisangani in August 1961, the secession of South Kasai in September 1962, and the Katanga secession in January 1963.

No sooner did this unification process end than a radical social movement for a “second independence” arose to challenge the neocolonial state and its pro-western leadership. This mass movement of peasants, workers, the urban unemployed, students and lower civil servants found an eager leadership among Lumumba’s lieutenants, most of whom had regrouped to establish a National Liberation Council (CNL) in October 1963 in Brazzaville, across the Congo river from Kinshasa. The strengths and weaknesses of this movement may serve as a way of gauging the overall legacy of Patrice Lumumba for Congo and Africa as a whole.

The most positive aspect of this legacy was manifest in the selfless devotion of Pierre Mulele to radical change for purposes of meeting the deepest aspirations of the Congolese people for democracy and social progress. On the other hand, the CNL leadership, which included Christophe Gbenye and Laurent-Désiré Kabila, was more interested in power and its attendant privileges than in the people’s welfare. This is Lumumbism in words rather than in deeds. As president three decades, later, Laurent Kabila did little to move from words to deeds.

More importantly, the greatest legacy that Lumumba left for Congo is the ideal of national unity. Recently, a Congolese radio station asked whether the independence of South Sudan should be a matter of concern with respect to national unity in the Congo. The answer was since Patrice Lumumba has died for Congo’s unity; the people will remain utterly steadfast in their defiance of our national unity. We need to know our history! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

This information was derived from a writing by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja a professor of African and Afro-American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History.


The Lost Tribes Of Africa

14322609_851080958325216_7970212250761441595_nLet me remind you that black people of African descent are part of the lost tribes of Africa. It is a fact that the human species was born on the continent of Africa. Now the authors of His-Story will dismiss this idea; people like Cecil Rhodes. Therefore, it is fair to say that mankind would not have existed; if not for the creation and innovations of the original man.

I have often said, “The people stolen from Africa by the Europeans and those of others are a nation created a people living in a land without a nationality.” Sometimes people respond negatively to that statement, in spite of being the greatest purveyors of that ideology we know is rooted in the concept of White Supremacy. The problem with people who don’t agree is that it is the so-called African American who does not know that he or she is lost. For most people of this distinction, most of their waking hours are spent trying to assimilate into that with those who do not want to accept you.

Upon our backs, these stolen souls are laden with the stripes of punishment for what they believed was for discipline in spite of our loyalty, diligence, and tenacity – the Negro loved America and oftentimes more than ourselves. Even when America refused to allow these people of African descent to walk in the shadows, we followed, believing that someday we would come to be accepted and be treated like men and women. Actually, just to be viewed as human beings. Unfortunately, that dream has yet to come and contrary to the thoughts of white folk and some black people too “We have not overcome”!

We wanted integration and what did we get “interrogation”! What we got was more poverty because without money or the means – you are still segregated. Just look at the New York City schools, for example, they are more segregated now than any school in Mississippi back in the day, and it has been reported almost every urban school district is the same. Oh yes, but they say you can live anywhere you want! This then returns to the economics of what you are allowed to afford. On top of that, and more shameful, we went beyond the pale when we allowed our children to be turned over to the White America’s educational system run by the people who suppressed these people on the first place. No wonder we’re lost!

It has been nearly four hundred years since that day in August when the first of millions of stolen souls were dragged onto the shores of this place the slaves called “merica” to be beasts of burden to build this nation. Today, we are in virtually the same position as we were when they identified these stolen souls as colored and three-fifths human. In fact, I believe black people are in as bad of a position because we have been “hoodwinked” and like fools bamboozled. I remind you that the Constitution’s language has not been changed.

We resisted the messages of trouble-making Blacks like Washington, Delaney, Garvey, Bethune, Tubman, and Truth for fighting and dying on the battlefield for us all. No, the people of this lost nation did not listen to Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Dubois, the Panthers, H. Rap Brown, Carmichael, nor Dr. King. Today all of the above mentioned would be and are ashamed of whom they fought for and died. Yet, Mr. Lynch’s message and White Supremacy reigns supreme.

In today’s business environment, we do not support each other and just keep doing business with the larger dominant community or in fact any other community. Some say we, as a people, were very successful after slavery ended or even as recently as the 1960s. But we know, what happens when you began to build your communities and do business with one another – you’re pitted against one another and destroy ourselves.

From slavery through segregation and under every Apartheid-like system since this lost nation of people survived; all while we bought into the “divided and conquered” mentality and fought against our interests. The great Curtis Mayfield called us “the people who are darker than blue.” This race is maligned everywhere on the planet and viewed as less than, when in fact, the African and people of African Descent are “greater than.”

My pain comes from this nation of people subjecting its children to the same miseducation leaving them helpless and used long after we are gone. So when you speak to your children; tell them how not proud you are that they cannot look forward because it appears that at least another 50 years will be more of the same – despair.

We can change that by simply understanding that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. Otherwise, the people stolen from Africa will remain the lost tribe of the place we were born!

And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


In Case You Forgot

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Any of these immoral systems can come to pass again. Fight the power! And that’ my thought provoking perspectives… 


Commentary: The Real Bad Hombre

5I was taught very early in my life that you never debate a fool which sure could have been the mantra last night at the final presidential debate. Of the many ridicules claims this fool has made was the one where Trump claimed the black people of Detroit, Chicago, and Philadelphia are rigging the election.

Dude most black folk don’t want to vote for you or anyone else because we know regardless who is elected “we will get no more than we always got.”

Yes, Clinton presented a dark, divisive vision that threatens the character of his version for America. When you think of his most dangerous person to run for president in modern history; it is Trump and I tend to agree! Trump has demeaned and insulted every category of people in the country, and they call him a patriot because he promised to take back “their” country. But low and behold when he showed himself to be a pervert and his history of sexually assaulting white women – all things changed. His campaign had spiraled downward since the first debate seeming to hit a low point following a string of recent accusations of sexual assault.

Trump dismissed the sexual assault allegations as he has done say “It was lies, and it was fiction… Nobody has more respect for women than I do.” It was a fitting debate’s setting, Las Vegas, seemed the perfect place for an election defined by a raucous, carnival-like and at times grotesque atmosphere suited of a con-man.

The clashes came late in a debate that began on its most substantive note yet – with the candidates, both subdued, elaborating on clear differences on abortion, gun laws, and immigration. In my view, he lost on each point! But the battle turned harder-edged as the night went on. At one point Trump interrupted Clinton, spitting out, “Such a nasty woman.” That alone is un-American – insulting a white woman!

Indeed, the most memorable moment came debate was when the moderator asked whether he would accept the election’s results he said, “I will tell you at the time… I am going to leave the country in suspense.” When suggesting that he might defy long-standing tradition and extend the rancor of a divisive election year.

To most this was a horrifying and absurd comment, which drew a sharp repute accusing Trump of denigrating American democracy – “We’ve been around for 240 years, we’ve had free and fair elections, we’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.”

More disgusting in than Trump himself is the long list of segregates that spew out the most insane misogyny and defend his bigotry. It looks like the KKK is the big loser in him losing! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Cultural Bandits

6History has shown that the black culture has influenced every aspect of American and, dare I say, white life. History has proved that white folk has stolen everything as their own; research it and you will agree. They are unequivocally drawn to the vibrant threads of black culture. Such people like Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, Marvin Gaye, Tupac Shakur, Spike Lee, Thurgood Marshall and the work of every black musician; they hijacked the true storyline of people like these and cooped it as their own. All of these men were viewed by white America as the most vial while they lived!

Although they will never admit it because it was a rickety bridge that I will say is due to racism, which is why they will not connect the chasm between whites and blacks. Affixing a footnote, which is true; black people created Rock and Roll; men like Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry, yet they claim it was Elvis Presley and Mick Jagger! But aside from the one or two black friends they may have they tolerated much of this hateful vitriol, seeing it merely as harmless and distasteful, rhetoric to deny it was copied. It is their belief that they have the right to everything.

In essence, because most still believe they own black people. If you are in a privileged group, it is a policy to uphold and maintain the rules of white supremacy. To do this only means they are a parasite or to be politically correct cultural bandits. Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden once said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Wooden stood tall in the face of an unapologetically racist society during his early life. He would not compromise his principles, even pulling his entire team from a tournament in the 1940s because his one black player was not permitted to attend. Not many white folk throughout history would take this kind of principled stand!

Most whites, then and now, dare not denounce disapproval of verbal attacks, police killings of black people, or the unfairness of the justice system’s impact on minority groups made from the comfort of our homogeneous social circles. This can be uncomfortable ground that many may not be ready or willing to walk. They know all of this is true but fear ostracization.

I would argue that they cannot take the potential retaliation from those around them who have had their ingrained stereotypes and viewpoints challenged. For fear of being buried for attempting to bring other whites a sense of compassion and understanding to the plight of minorities. Minorities, especially black, in their eyes exist for their monetary gains?

They stole Jazz music, stole R&B, and today, they have stolen Rap Music just like they did with Rock and Roll! I am only taking about music but we know they stole the land and most innovative productions of nearly everything created but always there for the monetary benefit! On a broader notion, anywhere you look in history – it all points back to Africa! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The Truth Is: It’s All Lies

3The way white folk tell the story of history it always makes him the hero, which is why it’s called His-Story. The truth of the matter is that very little of what he told is true! We can start with Columbus who was the original robber and murderer! Then we can ask the native people of America how they were treated. When it comes to Black people history is clear the crimes inflicted upon this race. But they say that “all men are created equal”. This was the biggest lie ever told!

Minister Malcolm asked a profound question before he was taken from us. Having seen racism, known Jim Crow and witnessed segregation I’ve pondered and sought the answer to a question brother Malcolm asked and I presume most black people have done as well; “How can so few rule so many?”

After I became a man, I learned the answer was right before my eyes in the place where all the lies are buried – the LIBRARY. Perhaps, this is the reason black people were killed for learning how to read. These people knew if the oppressed could read they would learn everything told and taught to them in terms of history was a lie, which means the actual truth was never told and one of amoral behavior and pure evil perpetrated in the name of God.

The story of the conquerors begins with a criminal who got lost and stumbled upon an island he called the new world, never reaching the shores of America but given credit for discovering it. Upon his arrival, he raped, murdered, and pillaged becoming their hero. Others followed with the same criminal intent to take the land where people resided and all the resources claiming under the guise of “Manifest Destiny,” which means God himself, said they were entitled to it.

They told us how they were welcomed with a story of Thanksgiving where the people helped them survive only to be slaughtered. The same thing occurred in a place called Jamestown, where again they received help from the inhabitants during a time called “the starving times”; their gratitude was stealing the land and annihilating the people who helped them survive.

The country was taken officially with acts of terror and revolution in the name of “Liberty for all” and something called a Constitution. To this point, they had already, for a half a century, used the enslavement of human beings taken from Africa to build wealth and a nation. To cement their supremacy, this document said, the people of African descent they claimed were not human to justify the abuse. Further, to justify this, they said these human beings were nothing more than chattel property – merely a beast of burden used for prosperity.

They convince the African people after being reduced to lifelong servitude to celebrate the Fourth of July and the liberty it granted, albeit only for them. It is important to note, shortly after the stolen nation was formed, the first law passed was the “Naturalization Act of 1790,” which said that “only free white people can be citizens of this country”. For the purpose of understanding, when you hear the coded phrase “we want our country back” speaks directly to this law meaning for white people, who they call the real Americans!

Then it was the most brutal act of their conscience, which was having the slave fight a war against itself, the Civil War, to see who would have the right to benefit from black people being slaves. More whites died in this conflict than in any of America’s wars. Ironically, they called it a “Civil War”. Frankly, there is nothing civil about this type of insanity. In the end, they told the Colored’s they were free, and Lincoln emaciated them. In fact, Lincoln never emaciated anyone. A precursor to the war was a significant Supreme Court ruling in the case of Dred Scott, who challenged the government for his freedom. The court ruled, “There are no rights a Negro has that a white man is bound to respect”.

What followed was something called Reconstruction. This was not successful by design and racism reared its ugly head more viciously ushering in a new system of control – Separate but Equal leading to segregation and Jim Crow, which was nothing more than Apartheid. Of course, even in modern times when there is news footage of the horrors of racism; lynching’s, brutal attacks, fire hoses, or death. Most white people ignore it as if somehow the abused black people were at fault.

As I close with this shameful summation, let me say that it was the use of religion and a marvelous story, mostly myth, used as a cover for the ungodly acts to support these dreadful horrors against mankind. To that point, no one knows what Jesus actually looked liked but the picture representing him looks like Massa with blonde hair and blue eyes. It was also the Massa who taught and gave knowledge of this religion to the slave, which has enslaved trillions of minds to this very day. Therefore, laws were created by white people for white people to be used as a weapon against black people and have been detrimental since the slave-holding so-called forefathers who designed it that way.

In short, we are taught a feel-good Disney-style version of history to promote patriotism and the Willie Lynch Syndrome to continue racism. Both combined results continued wealth for a few, which is why so few can rule so many. He who has the gold, therefore, makes the rules. Therefore, the only way to make a change is to choose not to spend your money with those who oppress you!

Minister Malcolm also said of America’s dirt “The chickens come home to roost”! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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