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 Africans are no less culpable than Americans and West Indians of dream-weaving, no less involved

in the creation of African utopianism.  Ethiopia has yet to unfurl her noble wings.



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)

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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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To Thabiti AsukileOn the Passing of Asa Hilliard

By Wilson J. Moses Ph. D.


The passing of the late Dr. Asa Hilliard, death by malaria, like most grand symbolic events, can be read respectfully in more than one way. Those who were his devotees will interpret the passing of this great prophet of the "Présence Africain" as the ultimate sacrifice, and the proof of their beloved leader's dedication to the redemption of our Fatherland.   Other sympathetic, but less partisan pan-Africanists will view his passing from a West Africa contracted disease as an ironic demonstration of a dreamer's devotion to an African Eden that never did and never can exist.  There is much truth in each these perspectives. Like all the majestic mythologies symbolizing the course of human events, Hilliard's life and death symbolize the transcendental unity of opposite and equally undeniable truths.

I am a strong believer in living outside the American plastic bubble.  I think little is gained by short tours that take us to Accra one week and Nairobi the next.  In order to get a feel for a place, one really needs to spend a year or two.  At least that was my experience with England.   It took me one year to suspect, and two years to understand how differently the English and the Americans speak what superficially seems to be the same language.   I had read about these linguistic differences in books, but it took me two years of total immersion to understand what the books were trying to tell me. 

I have been to Africa only twice, and spent a total of a mere six weeks on the continent.  That is a pathetically short time.  I once met a beautiful young Afro-American woman in the Liberian rain forest, with tears in her eyes as she began to understand the dark lies of the cannibalistic Tolbert regime, and realized she was stranded at Cuttington College for a year.  More recently I had a beautiful young Euro-American woman tell me she wanted to spend four months in Senegal because she was interested in the prehistory of Olduvai Gorge.  I had to remind her that the distance from Dakar to Nairobi is greater than the distance from Fairbanks to Mexico City. 

The reason for going to Africa should be educational, but that is my bias, of course.  I would recommend to any scholar in Africana studies that they try spending at least an academic semester in some African location, particularly one of the West African cities.  I would also recommend an introduction to the grammar of one West African language. 

Yesterday, while surfing the net, in order to avoid serious work, I came across an article on a short story, "Murder in the Cassava Patch," by the late Bai T. Moore, a Liberian author.  The author chose to interpret the story in terms of incest and sexual abuse.  Like her, I missed the point of this novel, until Bai T. Moore explained it to me over a dinner in 1980.   The story, which was based on an actual murder case, was based on domestic slavery.  The protagonist fell in love with a member of his own household, but she was not his sister, as the African American critic supposed.  She was the daughter of his master.  She could never think of him as anything but a "nigger," even after she became a degraded street-walking prostitute.  She still saw him as her inferior, and that was why in a fit of unrequited love, he murdered her.  So much, says Bai T. Moore, for the "benevolent" domestic slavery system.  I believe Achebe was equally condemning of indigenous slavery. 

Crummell and Delany engaged in rhapsodies over what the redemption of Africa could mean for the redemption of, not only black folk, but the entire human race, as they navigated the beautiful rivers of Liberia, during Delany's visit of 1859.  They had no illusions about "domestic slavery" however.  Crummell unlike Blyden was unwilling to apologize for the abuses of the women's cults and such practices as female genital mutilation.  "Darkness covers the land." said Crummell.  Ceremonial spirit possession must be rooted out, was Delany's position.

But the Afrocentrists do not want to entertain the idea that traditional African societies, like all civilizations, contained the seeds of their own destruction.  I think that was the difference between Crummell's and Blyden's view of Egypt.  Both believed that Egypt was a great cradle of civilization with ties to the rest of the continent, but Crummell (like David Walker) believed that all the ancient civilizations had deadly flaws that led to their decline.  They also believed that these flaws were present in Euro-American civilization. No human civilization could escape from the depravity of a fallen world unless (in Walker's, Crummell's, Garvey's, or even Blyden's view) it accepted the redeeming power of civilizing Christianity.  Thus, as Garvey often said, the West was in extreme danger of a collapse.  Du Bois agreed with Garvey on this. 

Where Du Bois differed from Garvey, was in the belief he shared with Nkrumah, Awolowo, Azikewe, Robeson, Nyerere, Mboya, and (before they became cynical) the young Kenyatta and Sekou Touree, was in their belief in what Padmore called African Socialism.  Senghor, Diop, Price-Mars, Hayford, and Césair, among others, believed in something similar.  These visionaries were commendable, but their views were pulverized, by an indigenous African venality, without which neocolonialism would have been a joke.  Richard Wright, for all the naivety of his observations on Africa was closer to the truth than he realized; not because Africa was alien to the West, but, as Achebe understood, because it was subject to the same human frailties. 

Africa, no less than Europe, is a construct of the human mind.  Appiah, seems to think that the image of Africa reveals some uniquely African-American fantasy, but I think not.  Where I disagree with Appiah and Tunde Adeleke, is in my belief that Africans are no less culpable than Americans and West Indians of dream-weaving, no less involved in the creation of African utopianism.  Ethiopia has yet to unfurl her noble wings.

Back in the classical period, Martin Delany, Henry Highland Garnet, along with other members of the African Civilization Society, believed that they could make Africa into a "grand center of Negro civilization."  That once Africa had been redeemed everything else would fall into place. Africanus Horton and Samuel Ajai Crowther shared their dreams.  Delany, who contracted "the fever," both literally and figuratively in 1859, apparently survived with no ill effects and apparently tempered his African romanticism.   Garnet never got over his, breathlessly confessing his exaltation to Alexander Crummell on the eve of his departure for Liberia in 1881.  Six weeks after his arrival, he contracted "the fever," presumed to be malaria, and died swiftly on the continent he had so long idealized.

Let us all go to Africa, at least once.   Let us maintain our commitment to Africa's suffering population and to all her scattered children.  But let us remember, in those words drafted by George Schuyler, in parody of Du Bois, much ironic truth is still contained. For now, as in the days of old,

"The Goddess of the Nile weeps bitter tears at the foot of the Sphinx." 

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Thabiti Asukile received his B.A. in Africana Studies at Cal-State Dominguez in 1995, M.A. in African-African Studies from Temple University in 1998, and his Ph.D. in American History from University of California-Berkeley in 2007. He currently teaches in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Cincinnati. His historical interests are varied but they include African History; African American History; African Diaspora History; African American Intellectual History; African American Music history; and World Biography.—BlackPast

posted 16 August 2007

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

John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk

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#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

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Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War

By Tony Horwitz

Plotted in secret, launched in the dark, John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry was a pivotal moment in U.S. history. But few Americans know the true story of the men and women who launched a desperate strike at the slaveholding South. Now, Midnight Rising portrays Brown's uprising in vivid color, revealing a country on the brink of explosive conflict. Brown, the descendant of New England Puritans, saw slavery as a sin against America's founding principles. Unlike most abolitionists, he was willing to take up arms, and in 1859 he prepared for battle at a hideout in Maryland, joined by his teenage daughter, three of his sons, and a guerrilla band that included former slaves and a dashing spy. On October 17, the raiders seized Harpers Ferry, stunning the nation and prompting a counterattack led by Robert E. Lee. After Brown's capture, his defiant eloquence galvanized the North and appalled the South, which considered Brown a terrorist. The raid also helped elect Abraham Lincoln, who later began to fulfill Brown's dream with the Emancipation Proclamation, a measure he called "a John Brown raid, on a gigantic scale." Tony Horwitz's riveting book travels antebellum America to deliver both a taut historical drama and a telling portrait of a nation divided—a time that still resonates in ours.

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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

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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.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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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)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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


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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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update1 April 2012




Home  Wilson Jeremiah Moses Table   Tributes Obituaries Remembrances  

Related files: John Hope Franklin   Benjamin Quarles Bio  Historiography and African Americans: Benjamin Quarles The Exhilarating Generosity 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