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Dr. John Henrik Clarke

 
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his face in another direction, regretfully, as if something he had said had betrayed an understanding
between him and the principal.
Presently the principal stepped forward to defend the school’s prize student.
“I encouraged the boy in painting that picture,” he said firmly. “And it was with my permission
that he brought the picture into this school. I don’t think the boy is so far wrong in painting Christ black.
The artists of all other races have painted whatever God they worship to resemble themselves. I see no
reason why we should be immune from that privilege. After all, Christ was born in that part of the world
that had always been predominantly populated by colored people. There is a strong possibility that he
could have been a Negro.”
But for the monotonous lull of heavy breathing, I would have sworn that his words had frozen
everyone in the hall. I had never heard the little principal speak so boldly to anyone, black or white.
The supervisor swallowed dumbfoundedly. His face was aglow in silent rage.
“Have you been teaching these children things like that?” he asked the Negro principal, sternly.
“I have been teaching them that their race has produced great kings and queens as well as slaves
and serfs,” the principal said. “The time is long overdue when we should let the world know that we
erected and enjoyed the benefits of a splendid civilization long before the people of Europe had a written
language.”
The supervisor shook with anger as he spoke. “You are not being paid to teach such things in this
school, and I am demanding your resignation for overstepping your limit as principal.”
George Du Vaul did not speak. A strong quiver swept over his sullen face. He revolved himself
slowly and walked out of the room towards his office...
Some of the teachers followed the principal out of the chapel, leaving the crestfallen children
restless and in a quandary about what to do next. Finally we started back to our rooms...
A few days later I heard that the principal had accepted a summer job as art instructor of a small
high school somewhere in south Georgia and had gotten permission from Aaron’s parents to take him
along so he could continue to encourage him in his painting.
I was on my way home when I saw him leaving his office. He was carrying a large briefcase and
some books tucked under his arm. He had already said good-by to all the teachers, and strangely, he did
not look brokenhearted. As he headed for the large front door, he readjusted his horn-rimmed glasses,
but did not look back. An air of triumph gave more dignity to his soldierly stride. He had the appearance
of a man who had done a great thing, something greater than any ordinary man would do.
Aaron Crawford was waiting outside for him. They walked down the street together. He put his
arms around Aaron’s shoulder affectionately. He was talking sincerely to Aaron about something, and
Aaron was listening, deeply earnest.
I watched them until they were so far down the street that their forms had begun to blur. Even
from this distance I could see they were still walking in brisk, dignified strides, like two people who had
won some sort of victory.

- John Henrik Clarke
(abridged)
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"...you have to take a people out of history if you are going to rationalize their oppression.  You can not easily oppress a consciously historical people.  When you want to oppress a people you have to make them ahistorical, you have to remove them from history and you have to make them believe that they do not deserve to be in history."

Dr. John Henrik Clarke
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Benjamin Banneker: The Black Man Who Designed Washington DC


In the Stevie Wonder song “Black Man,” the Motown marvel sings of Benjamin Banneker: “first clock to be made in America was created by a black man.” Though the song is a fitting salute to a great inventor (and African Americans in general), it only touches on the genius of Benjamin Banneker and the many hats he wore – as a farmer, mathematician, astronomer, author and land surveyor.

Like a lot of early inventors, Benjamin Banneker was primarily self-taught. The son of former slaves, Benjamin worked on the family tobacco farm and received some early education from a Quaker school. But most of his advanced knowledge came from reading, reading and more reading. At 15 he took over the farm and invented an irrigation system to control water flow to the crops from nearby springs. As a result of Banneker’s innovation, the farm flourished – even during droughts.

But it was his clock invention that really propelled the reputation of Benjamin Banneker. Sometime in the early 1750s, Benjamin borrowed a pocket watch from a wealthy acquaintance, took the watch apart and studied its components. After returning the watch, he created a fully functioning clock entirely out of carved wooden pieces. The clock was amazingly precise, and would keep on ticking for decades. As the result of the attention his self-made clock received, Banneker was able to start up his own watch and clock repair business.
Benjamin Banneker a Multi-Genius

Benjamin Banneker’s accomplishments didn’t end there. Borrowing books on astronomy and mathematics from a friend, Benjamin engorged himself in the subjects. Putting his newfound knowledge to use, Banneker accurately predicted a 1789 solar eclipse. In the early 1790s, Banneker added another job title to his resume – author. Benjamin compiled and published his Almanac and Ephemeris of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland (he would publish the journal annually for over a decade), and even sent a copy to secretary of state Thomas Jefferson along with a letter urging the abolition of slavery.

Impressed by his abilities, Jefferson recommended Banneker to be a part of a surveying team to lay out Washington, D.C. Appointed to the three-man team by president George Washington, Banneker wound up saving the project when the lead architect quit in a fury – taking all the plans with him. Using his meticulous memory, Banneker was able to recreate the plans. Wielding knowledge like a sword, Benjamin Banneker was many things – inventor, scientist, anti-slavery proponent – and, as a result, his legacy lives on to this day.

http://ugandansatheart.org/2012/12/08/benjamin-banneker-the-black-man-who-designed-washington-dc/
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David Walker's Appeal

David Walker's Appeal, arguably the most radical of all anti-slavery documents, caused a great stir when it was published in September of 1829 with its call for slaves to revolt against their masters. David Walker, a free black originally from the South wrote, ". . .they want us for their slaves, and think nothing of murdering us. . . therefore, if there is an attempt made by us, kill or be killed. . . and believe this, that it is no more harm for you to kill a man who is trying to kill you, than it is for you to take a drink of water when thirsty." Even the outspoken William Lloyd Garrison objected to Walker's approach in an editorial about the Appeal.

The goal of the Appeal was to instill pride in its black readers and give hope that change would someday come. It spoke out against colonization, a popular movement that sought to move free blacks to a colony in Africa. America, Walker believed, belonged to all who helped build it. He went even further, stating, "America is more our country than it is the whites -- we have enriched it with our blood and tears." He then asked, "will they drive us from our property and homes, which we have earned with our blood?"

Copies of the Appeal were discovered in Savannah, Georgia, within weeks of its publication. Within several months copies were found from Virginia to Louisiana. Walker revised his Appeal. He died in August of 1830, shortly after publishing the third edition.
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