Celebrating Alexander Crummell

Celebrating Alexander Crummell


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



It is obvious that Crummell had virtually no respect for African cultural practices. Christianity and civilization were inseparable, and the African race had yet to come into contact with and embrace civilization in its various stages. Nineteenth-century West Africa was backwards because of its historical isolation from civilization.



Books by Wilson Jeremiah Moses

Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850-1925 (1988)  / The Wings of Ethiopia  (1990)

 Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent (1992)  / Destiny & Race: Selected Writings, 1840-1898  (1992) 

 Black Messiahs and Uncle Toms: Social and Literary Manipulations of a Religious Myth (1993)

Liberian Dreams: Back-to-Africa Narratives from the 1850s  / Afrotopia: The Roots of African American Popular History (2002)

Creative Conflict in African American Thought (2004) / Classical Black Nationalism: From the American Revolution to Marcus Garvey

*   *   *   *   *

Celebrating Alexander Crummell: Reform, Education, Liberation

Symposium University of Cambridge 22-23 September 2011


I saw Alexander Crummell first at a Wilberforce commencement season, amid its bustle and crush. Tall, frail, and black he stood, with simple dignity and an unmistakable air of good breeding. I talked with him apart, where the storming of the lusty young orators could not harm us. I spoke to him politely, then curiously, then eagerly, as I began to feel the fineness of his character,—his calm courtesy, the sweetness of his strength, and his fair blending of the hope and truth of life. Instinctively I bowed before this man, as one bows before the prophets of the world.—W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

*   *   *   *   *

Alexander Crummell, like Henry Highland Garnet, embraced the controversial belief that African Americans could, and should, return to Africa to colonize the nation of Liberia. The son of a slave father and a free mother, Crummell was born in New York City in 1819. Crummell was educated at the New York African Free School, and, as was the case with other graduates of the school, Crummell had difficulty gaining access to higher education. He attended schools in New Hampshire and Oneida, New York. He was ordained a minister at the age of 25. Unfortunately, race excluded him from equal commerce with white clergy in the United States, and he moved to England, where he received a degree at Queens College, in Cambridge.

Crummell spent over twenty years as a missionary to Liberia. In doing so, he occupied a thorny position—he came from a land which discriminated against his race, armed with the very beliefs in African inferiority that had made his own life so difficult. As a Christian minister, he sought to “civilize” Africans by bringing them Christianity to replace their own native customs and religious practices. In 1880, Crummell founded a school and a church in Washington, D.C.—NYHistory

*   *   *   *   *

According to Wilson Moses, “Classical black nationalism originated in the 1700s, reached its first peak in the 1850s, underwent a decline toward the end of the Civil War, and peaked again in the 1920s, as a result of the Garvey Movement.” John H. Bracey, Jr., August Meier, and Elliot Rudwick, in an excellent compilation of primary documents, Black Nationalism in America, offer a similar lineage of pre-twentieth-century black nationalistic thought. These authors identify racial solidarity, cultural nationalism, religious nationalism, economic nationalism, bourgeois reformism, revolutionary black nationalism, emigrationism, territorial separatism, and pan-Negroism (or pan-Africanism) as “varieties of black nationalism, of varying degrees of intensity.” —DeepBlue

*   *   *   *   *


Anglo-African and Negro-Saxons

Writing the History of Black Nationalism

Excerpts by Tracy K. Flemming

from his dissertation “Negro

 Travel and the Pan-African Imagination during the Nineteenth Century”


As opposed to earlier treatments, recent scholarly investigations have correctly identified early black nationalists‘ conservatism. Wilson Jeremiah Moses has constantly noted the conservative and elite character of nationalism during the “classical” or “golden age of black nationalism.” His work on one of the most important African American black nationalist intellectuals, Alexander Crummell, remains the most authoritative treatment of any figure within this segment of black intellectualism. As Moses‘s fitting subtitle of his intellectual biography of Crummell suggests, “civilization and discontent” aptly describes the epistemological frameworks of several of the major black nationalists during the nineteenth-century. In the case of the Crummell, the Episcopalian minister‘s disdain for “slave religion” and culture led him to vehemently protest the Negro‘s subjugation to ignorant, quasi-Christian southern whites. “What the Negro needs is CIVILIZATION” lamented Crummell, a black man educated at the Queen‘s College (Cambridge University) who was well aware that a great number of whites, representative of all social and intellectual strata, regarded him simply, and at best, as an exception. Though he probably would have viewed such a comment as offensive to his “full-blooded African” lineage, Crummell knew that he was always considered to be a classically educated Victorian “Negro,” in the worst sense.302

The Case of Alexander Crummell

One of the most prolific black intellectuals during this period, was Alexander Crummell (March 3, 1819- September 10, 1898). He is one of the most important progenitor of twentieth-century black nationalism and pan-Africanism.303 Crummell‘s concern with Africa was not one-dimensional. Man‘s divine duty to partake in the grand march toward perfection or civilization was his primary concern. Inextricably bound to Man‘s duty was Crummell‘s belief in the divine purpose of the Negro race. Race, according to Crummell, entailed those individuals with similar or shared historical experiences. To Crummell, every race had a divine role, from the Anglo-Saxon to the Indian to the Teuton.304 Gregory Rigsby, who provided the first scholarly, full-length biography of Crummell, notes that Crummell believed “… these peculiar abilities were divinely predetermined for the betterment of all mankind‖ and that the African possessed ―spiritual tendency as its peculiar genius.” Crummell defined the African as a “man who has black blood flowing in his veins,” which Rigsby contends “was an appeal on behalf of [continental] Africa and not a scientific definition.” Crummell stated in an 1861 address:

For without a doubt, the black man, in the land of his thralldom, has been in the school of suffering; yea, tried in the fiery furnace, that being tried, he might secure therefrom the strength, the character, the ability which might fit him for a civilizer and a teacher. Not for death, as the Indian, for destruction, as the Sandwich islander, has the Negro been placed in juxtaposition with the Caucasian; but rather that he might seize upon civilization.305

Kwame A. Appiah has also commented on the concept of race found in Crummell‘s The Future of Africa. To Appiah, Crummell‘s view of the continent entailed a “single guiding concept—race,” which Crummell “learned in America and confirmed in England.” Appiah contends that Crummell‘s “racialism” was also “racist.” Distinguishing “extrinsic racism,” or notions of difference based on “moral” qualities (or lack thereof), from “intrinsic racism,” which derives from concepts of sheer racial differences regardless of “capacities,” Appiah argues that the latter type of racism more or less applies to Crummell. It should be noted that extrinsic racism is characterized as “false consciousness” that can be “given up or stubbornly held on to.” Extrinsic racism is essentially a “cognitive incapacity.” Crummell‘s intrinsic racism, his notion that “race is family” is deemed a “moral error” by Appiah.306

Fellow philosopher Lewis Gordon has challenged Appiah‘s description of Crummell as a “racist” by pointing out that Crummell‘s notions of race were indeed sociohistorical and derived from his Christian-centered conceptualizations of history and (just as important) progress.307 In short, it is clear that Crummell‘s Africa and Africans were those who either occupied the continent or their descendants. Obviously, these persons included the victims of “[il]legitimate commerce, . . . commerce then a robber, . . . marauder, . . . devastator, . . . thief, . . . murderer!” One should note that Crummell recognized and indicted the African agents of the trans-Atlantic slave trade as well as Europeans. Clearly, then, Crummell‘s view of those with physical characteristics commonly associated (then and now) with Africans also entailed a religious, sociohistorical, determinist dimension.308

What is important about Appiah and Gordon‘s debate is that it reveals not only efforts to reveal the “imagined communities”309 that nationalisms frequently rest upon, as well as (in this case, differing) acknowledgments of Crummell‘s European intellectual influences, but that this conversation is also reflective of our intellectual climate. After all, Appiah and Gordon are actively engaged in discussions about the utility of race as an analytical and social category.310 Both scholars rightly point out Crummell‘s manipulation of racial theory as well as his Victorian progressivism. Such observations allow us to understand an important example of the European, conservative, and elite dimensions of early black nationalism. But neither argument, I think, is complete. While it is certainly true that Crummell‘s final verdict entailed one becoming an English-speaking Christian, Lewis Gordon‘s opinion that Crummell ultimately did not “care what race any one was” does not appear to be the best way to view Crummell‘s perception of Africa and the Negro. Crummell‘s ambivalence regarding Africa and his hopes for the Negro were never fully reconciled with his “civilizationism.” According to Crummell:

I mean by [civilization] the clarity of the mind from the dominion of false heathen ideas, . . . the conscious impress of individualism and personal responsibility, . . . recognition of the body, with it‘s desires and appetites and passions as a sacred gift, and as under the law of divine obligation, . . .  the honor and freedom of womanhood, allied with the duty of family development, … the sense of social progress in society, . . . entrance of new impulses in the actions and policy of the tribe or nation, . . . the elevated use of material things and a higher range of common industrial activities, . . . the earliest possible introduction of letters, and books, and reading, and intelligence to the man, his family, and his social circles. All this I maintain is the secondary obligation of the [Christian] missionary endeavor among heathen people.311

As can be discerned from the above citation, Crummell‘s religious determinism and puritanical conceptualization of humanity are definitely not representative of a cultural relativist. Again, this is not surprising when we consider his historical context. Noteworthy is the fact that by the time of Crummell‘s birth, civilization—“the idea that history could be divided into stages or phases, the idea that human society was in the process of improvement”—was central to European social thinking. Crummell and several other black nationalists echoed and reshaped European racial theories into their own respective ideologies. Hence, both Gordon and Appiah fail to assess Crummell‘s concern with the “Destined Superiority of the Negro” which is arguably just as critical to understanding his complex epistemological framework—in which “he voiced with eloquence and force several issues that dominated Anglo-African thought and writing during the nineteenth century”—as is recognizing his significant impact on his contemporaries and later thinkers.312

Crummell‘s Christian-centered, sociohistorical philosophy entailed a “suffering” Negro race, “tried in a fiery furnace.” Africa was a backwards continent in which “darkness covers the land, and gross darkness the people.” This darkness stemmed from the lack of exposure to Christianity and resulted in “great evils, . . . Fetiches [sic], human sacrifices, and devil worship.” Crummell lamented:

Africa has remained, during the whole of the Christian era, almost entirely unvisited by the benignant rays, and the genial influences of our Holy Faith . . . [I]f we strive to penetrate the long lapse of ages, . . . we meet vista upon vista of the deepest darkness, stretching out to the earliest dawn of the world‘s being. So far as Western Africa is concerned, there is no history. The long, long centuries of human existence, there, give us no intelligent disclosures.313

It is obvious that Crummell had virtually no respect for African cultural practices. Christianity and civilization were inseparable, and the African race had yet to come into contact with and embrace civilization in its various stages. Nineteenth-century West Africa was backwards because of its historical isolation from civilization. Crummell, partially relying on the work of German historian Georg Barthold Niebuhr, believed that “the civilization of all races has been conditioned on contact . . . There is not in history the record of a single indigenous civilization; there is nowhere, in any reliable document, the report of any people lifting themselves up out of barbarism.”314

Prior to respective displays of civilization, all great civilizations “became cosmopolitan thieves . . . stole from every quarter [and] pounced . . . upon excellence wherever discovered.”315 Interestingly, Crummell characterized Egypt‘s empire as one marred by “vile and infamous” cultural practices, while acknowledging her technological superiority and impressive but “frowning pyramids.” Even more intriguing, however, is his argument that the “superior” knowledge gained by the biblical Moses was derived from the Pharaohs. From the splendor of Egypt to the “intellectual greatness” of Greece to the “LAW AND GOVERNMENT” of Rome, the Egyptians, the Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans contributed to civilization. These groups possessed their own “racial genius” according to Crummell.

Wilson Moses reminds us that “this progressive view of history in which  ‗the race in the aggregate [was destined] to go forward and upward,‘ was pervasive in Victorian Christianity.”316 Thus, within this grand march towards perfection, Anglo-Saxon Europe occupied the highest state of civilization that the world had yet to witness, for Christianized western Europe had effectively subdued the rest of the world in her quest for greatness. This and especially the Anglo-Saxon‘s technological and intellectual achievements, expressed in the “fine harmonies and grand thoughts of the English tongue,”—the “speech of Chaucer and Shakespeare, of Milton and Wordsworth, of Bacon and Burke, of Franklin and Webster”—served as adequate confirmation to Crummell of civilization‘s current stage. Taking this into consideration, the historian Tunde Adeleke‘s suggestion that Crummell believed that the origins of civilization rested in Europe is obviously an inaccurate analysis.317

It should now be clear that Crummell‘s ambivalent conceptualization of Africa and her peoples was not one of absolute contempt, nor was it, as Adeleke has suggested, reflective of “renunciation of African cultural values.” Although Crummell surely did not appreciate African customs, as Sterling Stuckey has correctly pointed out, Crummell‘s lack of respect in this regard was applicable to all non-Christians.318 However problematic Crummell‘s ideas regarding Africa‘s dire need for Christian redemption, as Adeleke has rightly identified, it would be extremely incorrect to suggest that Crummell was not sincerely committed to advancing the social, economic, and political situation of Africa and persons of African descent. Crummell, then, does not seem to have been “at odds” with his concern for the Negro race, for he was a firm believer in the idea that Christianity always obliterates barbarism.319 Appiah‘s contention that Crummell was “racist” is somewhat misleading, for as Rigsby strongly reminds us, Crummell‘s “[b]lack unity is not racism in the modern sense of that word, but merely a stage toward the final grand rendezvous when all men shall be brothers.” Indeed, Crummell pointed out that one of the gravest mistakes of the Negro race was his lack of unity:

But whence arises the weakness of our Race? Alas! for us, all along through this reign of terror, our afflicted people have been at sea! We have no coherence of race, we have had no unity of policy! We have shewn no resistance to outrage! We have no organized maintenance of our rights! … Like the leaves of the forest our poor people, in divers sections, were scattered abroad at the fierce breath of their enemies!320

The story of Alexander Crummell is one that will undoubtedly remain central to any serious investigation of nineteenth-century African American social and intellectual history. Crummell‘s significant intellectual presence was frequently acknowledged (favorably or not) by his contemporaries as well as by later personages. Indeed, his contribution to the foundations of nineteenth century and twentieth century black nationalism is clear within the thoughts of W.E.B. Du Bois, William Ferris, and Marcus Garvey. Yet Crummell‘s influence on later individuals indirectly contributes to the manner in which some presentist scholars evaluate him. This means that in many cases Crummellian philosophy is rightly viewed as an antecedent, but erroneously categorized as “less progressive.” Crummell lived in a world vastly different than the ones experienced by current scholars. This is not to suggest that all scholarly treatments of Crummell fail to take into account his historical context.

Crummell‘s involvement in colonial schemes in Liberia does not solely mean that he, for instance, “… anticipated, and possibly set the stage for, the content and character of colonial education.” Nor does it necessarily mean that he was simply “a champion of the wretched of the earth.”321 Crummell‘s ambivalence regarding Africa, and his hopes for the Negro, were never fully reconciled with his civilizationism. Perhaps the one of the most “severe case[s] of double-consciousness,” as Kevin K. Gaines points out, can be found in one of Blyden‘s protégés, William H. Ferris. In his The African Abroad, or His Evolution in Western Civilization, Tracing his Evolution under Caucasian Milieu, Ferris stated:

This colored race is no longer a pure Negro but a mixed Caucasian and Negro race, no longer a savage but a civilized race that is fast becoming cultured . . . We colored people in America create a race problem in by calling ourselves by a name that ethnologically and psychologically suggests that what one side of our ancestors were three hundred years ago. Negrosaxon [sic] … suggests what we actually are to-day.322

*   *   *   *   *


302 Moses, Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989); Gregory Rigsby, Alexander Crummell: Pioneer in Nineteenth Century Pan-African Thought (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987); J.R. Oldfield, Alexander Crummell (1819-1898) and the Creation of an African-American Church in Liberia (Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellon Press, 1990).

303 Crummell is regarded as “the greatest nineteenth-century black intellectual,” for instance by Cornel West. See West, “Black Strivings in a Twilight Civilization,” The Cornel West Reader (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999), 109.

304 For an informative evaluation of this component of Crummell‘s philosophy, see Moses, Afrotopia, 96-105.

305 Rigsby, Pioneer, 64.98; Crummell, “The Progress of Civilization along the West Coast of Africa,” in Moses, Classical Black Nationalism, 185.

306 Kwame Anthony Appiah, In My Father‘s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992, 13-22.

307 Lewis R. Gordon, Her Majesty‘s Other Children: Sketches of Racism From a Neocolonial Age (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1997), 127-28. Gordon also challenges Appiah‘s apparent misinterpretation of not only Crummellian philosophy but of Paul Gilroy‘s concepts of “raciality” and “raciology.” See especially chapter 6, 123-24.

308 Crummell, “The Progress of Civilization,” 174; Appiah, In My Father‘s House.

309 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983).

310 African-American Philosophers: 17 Conversations, George Yancey, Editor (New York: Routledge, 1998), 85-199; Lewis Gordon, Her Majesty‘s Other Children and Existenia Africana: Understanding Africana Existential Thought (New York: Routlege, 2000); Appiah, “Du Bois and the Illusion of Race” and “The Conservation of Race” in In My Father‘s House.

311 Alexander Crummell, “Civilization as a Collateral and Indispensable Instrumentality in Planting the Christian Church in Africa” from Addresses and Proceedings of the Congress on Africa Held under the Auspices of the Stewart Missionary Foundation for Africa … (Atlanta, GA: Gammon Theological Seminary, 1896), 119-24. Reprinted in Alexander Crummell, Destiny and Race: Selected Writings, 1840-1898 edited with an introduction by Wilson Jeremiah Moses (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1992), 272.

312 Moses, Golden Age , 20-25; Alexander Crummell, 276-301. For example, Crummell and Blyden developed “their own brand of racial chauvinism” based on “theories of organic collectivism” attributed to the German, Johan Gottfried von Herder. See also Stuckey, Ideological Origins of Black Nationalism. Crummell influenced several black intellectuals, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, William H. Ferris, and John E. Bruce.

313  Crummell, “Civilization as a Collateral,” 171.

314  Crummell, Ibid., 172. Appiah, In My Father‘s House, 23.

315 Crummell, “The Destined Superiority of the Negro,” in Destiny & Race, 202.

316 Moses,  Alexander Crummell, 108-09. 151

317 Moses, “Civilizing Missionary,” 237; Crummell, “Our National Mistakes and the Remedy for Them,” in Destiny & Race, 191; Tunde Adeleke, UnAfrican Americans, 80.

318 Adeleke, Ibid., 119.

319 Crummell, “Indispensable Instrumentality in Planting the Christian Church in Africa,” 274. According to Crummell, the relationship between civilization and Christianity is “intrinsic,” rather than “causal,” and “is not the result of an accident” nor “historical coincidence.” Crummell, Ibid., 275.

320 Crummell, “The Discipline of Freedom,” 246; Appiah, In My Father‘s House, 13-17; Rigsby, Alexander Crummell, 38.

321 Adeleke, UnAfrican Americans, 89; Rigsby, Alexander Crummell, 181

322 Kevin K. Gaines, Uplifting the Race, 104; William Ferris, The African Abroad, or His Evolution in Western Civilization, Tracing his Evolution under Caucasian Milieu. 2 volumes. (New Haven, Connecticut: Tuttle, Morehouse, and Taylor Press, 1913) 310.

Source: DeepBlue


posted 2 November 2010 


*   *   *   *   *


The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough

An American Journey from Slavery to Scholarship

Edited with an Introduction by Michelle Valerie Ronnick

The Works of William Sanders Scarborough

Black Classicist and Race Leader

Edited by Michele Valerie Ronnick

 The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough  / The Works of William Sanders Scarborough

*   *   *   *   *

Howard  is the only historically black college that has had a classics program since its inception . . .—A Shift in Direction at Howard

*   *   *   *   *

Frank Snowden Now An Ancestor

Major Scholar of Blacks in Antiquity


Frank M. Snowden Jr. passed away on February 18 of this year in Washington, D.C., after a long and celebrated life in a variety of professional vocations—instructor, scholar, administrator, diplomat. The classics world can justifiably claim that it has lost one of its giants. Professor Snowden graduated from the Boston Latin School in 1928 and proceeded to Harvard University, where he was awarded his bachelor’s (1932), master’s (1933), and doctoral (1944) degrees in classics.

He began his professional career as an instructor in Latin, French, and English at Virginia State College (1933–1936) and then moved to Spelman College and Atlanta University, where he was an instructor in classics (1936–1940). From then until 1990 he was a member of the faculty at Howard University  . . . . —WashingtonPost

*   *   *   *   *

UnAfrican Americans

Nineteenth-Century Black Nationalists and the Civilizing Mission

By Tunde Adeleke

Passionate and well written, Adeleke’s stunning reexamination of three 19th-century African Americans is bound to be controversial. But the truth must be told, and the Nigerian-born director of Africana studies at Loyola University is up to the task. It’s hard to believe that this is Adeleke’s first book: with fresh lucid prose and wry wit, he brings to light the historic ironies and philosophical hypocrisies that continue to shape African and African American lives. Martin Delany, Alexander Crummell and Henry McNeal Turner were three who lost faith with the struggle for freedom and franchise in this country and shifted toward what became a reactionary escapist plan to migrate.

Africa was the goal, a place dictated by birthright for black Americans to rule and civilize. When wealthy blacks refused to finance the schemes, European and American governments and robber barons were courted. Delany, considered the father of black nationalism, accumulated data in Africa that facilitated British colonization. Crummell, enamored with European culture, used religious rhetoric to excuse slavery here and to revile African culture. Turner, a former reconstruction legislator, appealed to the U.S. government for $40 billion in reparations to finance the mass relocation. Adeleke builds a solid case to support his charge that the so-called pan-Africanism of these men was actually a very destructive narrow nationalism. Their contempt for African people and their indigenous cultures led to support of imperialist intervention at a time when nation-states were forming. Opportunistically, the men abandoned the call when political tides turned for blacks in the U.S., but the colonial wheel has already been set in motion.—Publishers Weekly

*   *   *   *   *

Classical Black Nationalism

From the American Revolution to Marcus Garvey

By Wilson Moses

Black nationalism in the U.S. for most Americans is represented by the image and words of such persons as Stokely Carmichael or, better yet, Malcolm X. Moses situates the first expressions of black nationalism in the colonial period and ends them in the 1920s with Marcus Garvey, the fiery and charismatic black nationalist leader who was jailed and later deported on the questionable charges of J. Edgar Hoover. One can see the strong presence of Garvey in the black imagination in the character of Ras the Destroyer in Ellison’s Invisible Man.

Some noteworthy essays include Thomas Jefferson’s rumination on the possibility of mass deportation of the black population, Abraham Lincoln’s discussion of the advantages of establishing a colony of U.S. blacks in Central America, excerpts from David Walker’s An Appeal in Four Articles (a staple of black studies courses in the ’60s), a wonderfully arcane essay from Freedom’s Journal (the nation’s first African American newspaper), and nationalist-oriented works by W. E. B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglass, and Alexander Crummell. Moses has brought us history both rousing and reflective.—Bonnie Smothers, Booklist

*   *   *   *   *

The State of African Education (April 200) / Attack On Africans Writing Their Own History Part 1 of 7

Dr Asa Hilliard III speaks on the assault of academia on Africans writing and accounting for their own history.

Dr Hilliard is A teacher, psychologist, and historian.

Part 2 of 7  /  Part 3 of 7  / Part 4 of 7  / Part 5 of 7 / Part 6 of 7  /  Part 7 of 7

*   *   *   *   *

Basil Davidson obituary—By Victoria Brittain—9 July 2010—Davidson [(9 November 1914 – 9 July 2010) a British historian, writer and Africanist] was enthused early on by the end of British colonialism and the prospects of pan-Africanism in the 1960s, and he wrote copiously and with warmth about newly independent Ghana and its leader, Kwame Nkrumah. He went to work for a year at the University of Accra in 1964. Later he threw himself into the reporting of the African liberation wars in the Portuguese colonies, particularly in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. . . . In the 1980s, with most of the African liberation wars now won—except for South Africa’s— Davidson turned much of his attention to more theoretical questions about the future of the nation state in Africa.

He remained a passionate advocate of pan-Africanism. In 1988 he made a long and dangerous journey into Eritrea, writing a persuasive defence of the nationalists’ right to independence from Ethiopia, and an equally eloquent attack on the revolutionary leader Colonel Mengistu and the regime that had overthrown Haile Selassie. Guardian

Basil Davidson’s  “Africa Series”

 Different But Equal  /  Mastering A Continent  /  Caravans of Gold  / The King and the City / The Bible and The Gun

West Africa Before the Colonial Era: A History to 1850 / African Slave Trade: Precolonial History, 1450-1850

John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Raising Her Voice

African-American Women Journalists Who Changed History

 By Rodger Streitmatter

Little research exists on African-American women journalists, even in studies of the black press. To address this gap, Streitmatter presents eleven biographies of journalists from the early nineteenth century to the present.—Journal of Women’s History

[Streitmatter] finds that their attraction to journalism cam from their desire to be advocates of racial reform, that they were courageous in the face of sexism and financial discrimination, and that they used education as their entry into journalism and subsequently received support from African-American male editors.—Journal of Women’s History

An historical chronology of eleven interesting and determined black female journalists.—Washington Times

Rodger Streitmatter is a journalist and cultural historian whose work explores how the media have helped to shape American culture. He is currently a professor in the School of Communication at American University and is the author of seven previous books.

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

*   *   *   *   *


Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.

“Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

The African American Press

With Special References to Four Newspapers, 1827-1965

By Charles A. Simmons

Of the 4,000 or so black-owned newspapers that Simmons informs us have existed in American history, he selects four well-known publications for detailed analysis. They are the Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier, Oklahoma City Black Dispatch, and Jackson (Mississippi) Advocate. Following a summary of the black press in the abolition and Reconstruction eras, the author jumps into the four papers’ editorial philosophies in the 1910s and 1920s, the start of the great northward migration, instigated, some say, by the Defender. Throughout the history of black journalism, argues Simmons, the large question was what balance should be struck between militancy and accommodation, and what balance between sensationalism and straight news. During World War II, the uncompromising Courier became the top-circulating newspaper. Simmons concludes with the four papers’ reporting of the civil rights movement, in which the Advocate comes off poorly, having possibly been bribed into advocacy for the segregationist status quo. A pricey book, but one covering an important aspect of black history.



*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






update 24 June 2012




Home  Wilson Jeremiah Moses Table  Miriam DeCosta-Willis Table 

Related  files: The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough   The Works of William Sanders Scarborough  Practice and Perception of Black Classicism 

Classicism within Black Consciousness   Frank Snowden Now An Ancestor  Ten Vital Principles for Black Education   Black Nationalism in America 

Albert Murray on Ralph Ellison Aesthetics   What America Would Be Like Without Negroes  The Omni Americans

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.