Generosity of Asa Hilliard

 Generosity of Asa Hilliard


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



And, when the audience would gasp at some of the photos, a broad

smile came across his face and he added, “yep, you can believe it,

that’s  us.”  I was not the only one who was breathless at the end



 Books by Peggy Brooks-Bertram

Uncrowned Queens:  African American Community Builders  /  Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire (Book II)

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Books by Asa G. Hilliard, III


Teachings of Ptahhotep: The Oldest Book in the World The Maroon Within Us  / SBA: The Reawakening of the African Mind


African Power  / Young Gifted and Black: Promoting High Achievement


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The Exhilarating Generosity of Asa Hilliard

By Peggy Brooks-Bertram 



Hilliard seemed to have had a tidal wave effect on millions of black people. He probably has thousands of students whose beliefs and thoughts and way of life are his. It seems that beyond the respect for the man’s skills, training, accomplishments, and awards, Hilliard was a force.—Rudolph Lewis

Yes, Asa G. Hilliard was a force.  He was a gentle but powerful force.  He was soft spoken but his words and the substance of his words were forceful.  I had thought that the loss of this great man was so great for me that I could not even begin to write about what I thought about him for sometime.  However, I want to share these few words for now as your early morning musings have touched me. 

I met Asa G. Hilliard on November 11, 1988 and I shall never forget that evening.  For days, people who knew me in Buffalo had left messages on my phone and had slipped notices under my door.  They were telling me that Asa G. Hilliard was going to be speaking at the St. John Baptist Church and that I would want to be there.  I ignored them all until one flyer was pushed under the door and it was from a man who knew me from my work with the Buffalo Board of Education.  This final note was from a George Lewis who wrote in large writing.  “Dr. Bertram, Asa G. Hilliard is in town and I know you will want to be there.  Be there! ” 

So I went,  and 19 years later I remember that night vividly even the clothes I wore—the little  black, size 8,  pinwhale corduroy dress with the mutton leg sleeves and ruffles around the cuff, (I am a bit larger now)—and the seat I sat in at the St. John Baptist Church.  On that night a lot of other people thought that Hilliard was a force as well.  There was so much excitement to hear him speak that a voice came over the microphone stating that several people had left their car lights on with the doors open and the keys in the ignition.  I was bracing for a force. 

I was sitting in the sixth pew on the right hand side and I could see a large screen that had been set up and when the lights were dimmed just a bit the title of the lecture appeared:  STOLEN LEGACY followed by a wave of black faces I had never seen.  Most were the faces of the statues, drawings and mummies of the long dead and unknown black rulers of dynasties in ancient Kmet known as Egypt. 

Hilliard put a story to these faces and for two hours he walked us through the rise and fall of black african civilizations explaining what happened to our public school and university curriculum that would deprive African/African American people of the story of their early existence and their contributions to culture and civilization.  I was close enough to see the rise and fall of his chest as he became exhilarated once he saw the excitement of the audience. 

And, when the audience would gasp at some of the photos, a broad smile came across his face and he added, “yep, you can believe it, that’s us.”  I was not the only one who was breathless at the end as the masses lined up to just shake his hand and to ask questions.  I waited patiently for the line to disappear and the only words I could muster were, ‘What do I do now and where do I start?”  With a gentle laugh, I asked if he had a card.  He said no but he had a stamp.  He took out a strange looking stamp. 

I had no paper so I extended my hand and in the palm he placed that stamp with his home address and phone number and said, “that is the best I can do.”  Give me a call and I will tell you where to start.  I phoned the next day and he answered the phone.  I told him who I was, he remembered me—I had never seen myself as memorable—and he told me to read George G. M. James book, Stolen Legacy and call him when I finished. 

I did that.  I called again and he told me to read Chancellor Williams, Destruction of African Civilizations.  I called again and he said read John G. Jackson, Ages of Gold and Silver.  I did that and called again. He told me to read Cheik Anta Diop. I called again and he told me to read Ivan Van Sertima, They Came Before Columbus.  That is where I met the “last of the great sun kings, the ancient Cushites and I was hooked.  I called again and he told me to read, Drusilla Dunjee Houston, Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empires which set me on the path I am currently on of discovering the impact of the ancient Cushites on the origins of civilization and culture.  For nearly two decades a major force like Asa G. Hilliard kept in touch with the people he influenced. I was only one of them.   In all of us he tried to find a light that could move us forward.  It was nothing to receive a book in the mail from Asa G. Hilliard from anywhere in the country with a brief note saying, “You need to read this, tell me what you think.”  It was Asa G. Hilliard who encouraged me to continue to search for the life and works of Drusilla Dunjee Houston.

Each time I discovered something new I would drop him a line and he would respond, sometimes with a single word that kept me going, “Awesome.”  Some scholars are notoriously stingy with their time and their work.  Not so with Asa G. Hilliard.  It was nothing for him to send a CD with hundreds of photos he had taken throughout the Nile valley asking only that you use them and share them with everyone. 

It was nothing to get a phone call from airports around the country and other parts of the world with Asa G. Hilliard on the line saying, “I’m running but how is that work on Drusilla coming along.”  I was not the only one. He did this with thousands of people and somehow most of us got connected with one another and when we did we shared our Asa G. Hilliard stories and it was glorious, each of us beaming because we were in touch with “the force.” 

And there were the older brothers who knew and worked with him.  And if you knew Asa, you could be connected with them as well.  My world was widened further with the friendship and association with those who knew and loved him and included people I will never forget such as Larry Obadeli Williams, Ivan Van Sertima, Anderson Thompson in Chicago, Jacob Carruthers of the Kmetic Institute in Chicago, Hunter Adams, III, and Rosalyn Jeffries,  Runoko Rashidi, Charle Finch, and I could go on.  In April of this year, Asa G. Hilliard wrote the Commentary for my book on the lost manuscript of Drusilla Dunjee Houston, Origin of Civilization from the Cushites.  At his urging mostly by short phone messages and emails, he expressed his delight that the world would finally see Houston’s second contribution to the Wonderful Ethiopian series.  His actual words were, “Awesome.”  I have to stop now but only because there is so much more to tell like the travel stories in Egypt for those of us who traveled on his study tours to Egypt, England, France and elsewhere where he shared all he knew.  We were privileged to see his presentations move from thousands of slides on slide projectors that had a mind of their own to amazing powerful presentations with lap tops and powerful projectors. 

I have to go now but perhaps I can continue. 

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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

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Uncrowned Queens Institute series

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 1  African American Women Community Builders of Western New YorkSpacer Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Author and editor Barbara A. Seals Nevergold – Author and editor

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 2  African American Women Community Builders of Western New YorkSpacer Barbara A. Seals Nevergold – Author and editor Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Author and editor

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 3  African American Women Community Builders of Western New YorkSpacer Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Author and editor Barbara A. Seals Nevergold – Author and editor

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 4  Afrrican American Women Community Builders of OklahomaSpacer Barbara A. Seals Nevergold – Author and editor Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Author and editor

Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire  Origin of the Civilization from the CushitesSpacer Drusilla Dunjee Houston – Author Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Editor

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Uncrowned Queens:  African American Women 

Community Builders of Western New York, Volume I 

Written and Edited by

 Peggy Brooks-Bertram, Dr. P.H., Ph.D. and Barbara Seals Nevergold, Ph.D. 

Uncrowned Queens: African American Women Book Review

Drusilla Dunjee-Houston’s

Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire, Book II

Edited and Introduction by Peggy Brooks-Bertram

Origin of Civilization from the Cushites Unearthed!! (Review)

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Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

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Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

By John D’Emilio

Bayard Rustin is one of the most important figures in the history of the American civil rights movement. Before Martin Luther King, before Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin was working to bring the cause to the forefront of America’s consciousness. A teacher to King, an international apostle of peace, and the organizer of the famous 1963 March on Washington, he brought Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence to America and helped launch the civil rights movement. Nonetheless, Rustin has been largely erased by history, in part because he was an African American homosexual. Acclaimed historian John D’Emilio tells the full and remarkable story of Rustin’s intertwined lives: his pioneering and public person and his oblique and stigmatized private self.

It was in the tumultuous 1930s that Bayard Rustin came of age, getting his first lessons in politics through the Communist Party and the unrest of the Great Depression.

A Quaker and a radical pacifist, he went to prison for refusing to serve in World War II, only to suffer a sexual scandal. His mentor, the great pacifist A. J. Muste, wrote to him, “You were capable of making the ‘mistake’ of thinking that you could be the leader in a revolution…at the same time that you were a weakling in an extreme degree and engaged in practices for which there was no justification.”

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper’s wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man’s turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners’ plans to give him a “necktie party” (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by “the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn’t operate in his own home town.” Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson’s magnificent, extensively researched study of the “great migration,” the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an “uncertain existence” in the North and Midwest.

Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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Sex at the Margins

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By Laura María Agustín

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“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

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By W. E. B. Du Bois

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Ancient African Nations

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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

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

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13 June 2012




Home  Wilson Jeremiah Moses Table   Tributes Obituaries Remembrances  Uncrowned Queens Project Table  

Related files: The Exhilarating Generosity of Asa Hilliard    On the Passing of Asa Hilliard  Asa Hilliard Obituary  If I Ain’t African  Britannica Negro 1910 

 Pan-African Nationalism in the Americas  Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire, Book II    Life And Times of John Henrik Clarke (Review)  

The Global Perspective of John Henrik Clarke

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