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Writing in 1934 Dunjee-Houston cites scientific investigations

and the anthropological  record as the means to unravel the pedagogy

of lies and falsehoods designed to create a literature of conspiracy

to erase the record of African achievements

 

 

Book by Peggy Brooks-Bertram

Uncrowned Queens:  African American Community Builders  / Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire

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Drusilla Dunjee-Houston, Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire, Book II

Origin of Civilization from the Cushites Unearthed!!!

Review by Larry Obadele Williams

 

For those who are seeking to find an answer to the question, from whence did humankind spring? They should not fail to avail themselves of a copy of Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire, Book II: Origin of Civilization from the Cushites by the indomitable Drusilla Dunjee-Houston. Long thought to be lost in the mists of history and memory, it has been rescued by the painstaking research and detective work of Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram. Using research skills acquired through her study in the medical-health field, she surgically re-assembled the journalistic historic writings of Drusilla Dunjee-Houston. Her task was to find the keys to the 500 year room Ivan Van Sertima has said was locked containing many of the contributions African people gave to human culture and civilization.  In analyzing and assessing Dunjee-Houston’s life story, critical points were discovered. Why is Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire, Book II: The Origin of Civilization from the Cushites so important?

Peggy Brooks-Bertram is the ablest scholar/specialist on Drusilla Dunjee-Houston’s life and writings, placing them within the proper context of the times in which she lived. Bertram recovered materials interested historians had given up ever to gain accessibility. Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire, Book II: Origin of Civilization from the Cushites examines the early centers of global Cushite (African) impact. Asa G. Hilliard III, Fuller E. Calloway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University observed regarding Dunjee-Houston’s newly released work, “Dr. Brooks-Bertram has now placed Houston’s work in the bright light that it deserves. It is a tragedy that the better part of a century has passed with the world deprived of her great gifts of writing and her model of a visionary and fearless life of a warrior on behalf of African people and indeed humanity itself.”

Making her own assessment why she was charged to seek Dunjee-Houston’s lost historical works, Brooks-Bertram says,“The writings of Dunjee-Houston entered my soul from where they echoed the voices of our ancestors.” She splendidly brings to life Dunjee-Houston’s voice speaking truth to power when Houston cites the origin of her zeal in writing Wonderful Ethiopians, “My father was eaten up with the zeal for race service. It is the abiding passion of my life and of my brothers and sisters.” Captivated by the post emancipation leadership traditions developed by elite Black Women of the 1880s and1890s, Brooks asserts, “Dunjee-Houston used every means at her disposal to engage in state and national racial uplift activities.” African-American literary societies were crucial in spreading information found in Wonderful Ethiopians, Book II. While it was not placed or accepted in mainstream primary schools and universities, it was a topic of serious discussion among African-Americans seeking to know themselves. These literary societies not only read literature, but history was also a topic examined by inquiring minds. Through the pages of the Oklahoma Black Dispatch Newspaper, Dunjee-Houston had a journalistic platform for teaching racial uplift and race advocacy. 

In 1897 Martin R. Delaney challenged racist propagandists advocating the inferiority of the Black race by publishing Principia of Ethnology: The Origin of Races and Color. Delaney’s work was among the works that gave inspiration to Dunjee-Houston to further delve into published literature supporting the African Origin of Civilization. It brings to prominence African-Americans who were writing and publishing literature to counteract the negative portrayal of African peoples. Restoring a record of that publishing history is under-valued and must be encouraged. Having grown up witnessing Black independent towns, Reconstruction Common Schools founded by Blacks, the oncoming of the Garvey movement, the Harlem Literary Renaissance, the New Negro Movement and the birth-winds of Pan-Africanism, Dunjee-Houston critically assessed their place among the affairs of African-Americans.  She knew that until African-Americans truly knew their role as progenitors of civilization and culture they would never fulfill their destiny.

While W.E. B Dubois, James Weldon Johnson, and Alain Locke fostered political and literary arts during the Harlem Renaissance, Dunjee-Houston was delving into the foundations of civilization by the Cushites. Wonderful Ethiopians, Book II: Origin of Civilization from the Cushites was to create a sensibility and receptivity to Africa with a historical underpinning having utilized the latest findings of her day. It was a lesson she sought to teach generations of Blacks starting as early as the primary grades through pioneering curricula on the global contributions of the Cushites. While active in the Black women’s Racial Uplift Movement Bertram concludes that Dunjee-Houston researched and documented the vital cultural significance of the ancient African Matriarchy as a direct link to the historical importance of Black female leaders predating the women’s movement.

 Her sojourn in writing and seeking to make known the facts of her historical work Dunjee-Houston was angered by the absence of accurate Africana history in school and university curricula. Her views regarding educating the Black community about its own history and culture was deeply rooted in her ideas concerning Black self-reliance. In 1917 while teaching at the new Baptist Training School, Dunjee-Houston began formulating a curriculum. By1921, she finalized and produced a Curriculum Bulletin drawn heavily from her research on the ancient African history of the Cushites.

Writing in 1934 Dunjee-Houston cites scientific investigations and the anthropological record as the means to unravel the pedagogy of lies and falsehoods designed to create a literature of conspiracy to erase the record of African achievements. Science and archaeology continues to verify her conclusions. Dunjee-Houston even theorizes that the world would be a better place if whites learned the facts she uncovered. Dunjee-Houston seems to be asking in Book II: Origin of Civilization from the Cushites, “Would you denigrate or enslave or oppress your brother?” Her conclusion was that it would enlighten a closed un-informed mind.

As well as studying the work of historians, archaeologists and scholars of her day, Dunjee-Houston was able to partake of the research of William Leo Hansberry of Howard University. E.A. Hooten, the noted anthropologist, said of Hansberry, he knew of no one possessing the knowledge of African History as Hansberry. He was considered by his peers as the leading authority in the field of Africana studies. Hansberry answered her call when she criticized W.E.B Du Bois’ The Negro [1915]. Dunjee Houston writes, “I read Du Bois. His little book, The Negro, gives hints in an almost apologetic form of what the race must have been. As I read something seemed to reveal: There is more, MORE, MORE! I decided to dedicate my reading to this end for the rest of my life.”

It was through her further extended research of sources in the field of historical inquiry that she apprised herself of the researches of Hansberry as he taught a course at Howard titled, “The Ancient Civilizations and Cultures of Africa.” Years later, Ebony magazine would publish a series of articles captioned “Africa’s Golden Past”, its subtitle was appropriately titled, “Life could have begun in Kush.” This event seems to have foretold of Dunjee-Houston’s second volume of Wonderful Ethiopians, finally seeing the time of day through the efforts of Peggy Brooks-Bertram. They were times of immense excitement with discoveries in Egypt of King Tutankhamen’s intact tomb in 1922. Even scholars of the Western canon sought to call the founders of civilization “Caucasoid blacks” or Hamites. Dunjee-Houston’s view was that it was these ancient Blacks, progenitors of present day Blacks, who founded civilization.

Basil Davidson, Africanist English historian, has said of this controversy,

This theme portrayed Egypt of the pharaohs, ancient Egypt before conquest by the Arabs in the seventh century A.D., as a country of black origins and population whose original ancestors had come from the lands of the great interior, and whose links with inner Africa remained potent and continuous. To affirm this, of course, is to offend nearly all established historiographical orthodoxy. The ancient Egyptians, by that orthodoxy, were not only not black—in whatever pigmentational variant of nonwhite that nature may have provided—but they were also not Africans. To say otherwise must be so mistaken, one has gathered, as to be patently absurd.

But isn't Egypt, other issues apart, quite simply a part of Africa? That, it seems, is a merely geographical irrelevance. The civilization of pharaonic Egypt, arising sometime around 3500 B.C. and continuing at least until the Roman dispossessions, has been explained to us as evolving either in more or less total isolation from Africa or as a product of West Asian stimulus. On this deeply held view, the land of ancient Egypt appears to have detached itself from the delta of the Nile, some fifty-five hundred years ago, and sailed off into the Mediterranean on a course veering broadly toward the coasts of Syria. And there it apparently remained, floating somewhere in the seas of the Levant, until Arab conquerors hauled it back to where it had once belonged.

Now what is one to make of this unlikely view of the case, coming as it has from venerable seats of learning? Does its strength derive from a long tradition of research and explanation? Is it what Europeans have always thought to be true? Have the records of ancient times been found to support it? As Martin Bernal has now most ably shown in his Black Athena, the remarkable book about which I am chiefly writing here, the answer to such questions is plainly and unequivocally in the negative. That the ancient Egyptians were black (again, in any variant you may prefer)—or, as I myself think it more useful to say, were African—is a belief which has been denied in Europe since about 1830, not before. It is a denial, in short, that belongs to the rise of modern European imperial­ism and has to be explained in terms of the "new racism," specifically and even frantically an anti-black racism, which went together with and was consistently nourished" by that imperialism.

I say ”new racism” because it followed and further expanded the older racism which spread around Europe after the Atlantic slave trade had reached its high point of "take-off" in about 1630. Was there no racism, then, before that? The point is complex and can be argued elsewhere; essentially, however, the answer to this is also in the negative. Before the Atlantic slave trade, and before its capitalism, there was plenty of ancient xenophobia, fear of "blackness," association of blackness with the Devil, and so on and so forth; but none of this was the racism that we know. The racism that we know was born in Europe and America from the cultural need to justify doing to black people, doing to Africans, what could not morally or legally be done to white people, and least of all to Europeans.1

Davidson foreshadows the need to look back to settle the controversy.

When Dunjee-Houston’s first volume was published (1926), many asked, “Where are her footnotes, references?” Maurice Dieulafoy writing in The Acropolis of Susa may have been one of her sources states, “Toward 2300 BC. The plains of the Tigris and Anzian Susinka were ruled by a dynasty of Negro Kings.”2  Earnest A. Hooten in Up From the Ape concludes, “A large share of responsibility for the great civilization of India must be assigned to Negroes since there is unquestionably a very strange Negroid strain in the Indian population.”3 Both Maurice and Hooten brings weight to Dunjee-Houston’s thesis of the exploits of the Cushites. Mathew Flinders Petrie, famed English archaeologist, affirmed Houston’s view of the Nubian origin of pre-dynastic Egypt when it was stated in 1939, “The pioneer among British Egyptologists, Sir Flinders Petrie, who excavated in the Thebaid, was convinced that the basic elements of Egyptian pre-dynastic cultural development came into Egypt from the southeast, near the Red Sea, but that the rulers of the highly creative old Kingdom dynasties were of Nubian origin."4 Brooks-Bertram has tracked down those references along with those of Book II in a truly superb job. One seeks to ponder what is their destiny or task in life. Brooks-Bertram’s task has been to unearth and give rebirth to the legacy of a pioneer Africana scholar, Drusilla Dunjee-Houston. May her example be the paradigm for teaching Black children to see beauty in themselves and that the future is limitless when you know who you are.

Dunjee-Houston’s pedagogy can be summed up thusly:

Cushites were the founders of world culture and civilization.

Cushites were a global people.

The Matriarchy was a central component of African civilization.

Teaching African history is necessary for balanced human progress.

Contemporary scientific finds continue to validate Dunjee-Houston’s thesis. Mitocondrial DNA traces man’s origin to an African woman. Recently a team of anthropologists led by an Ethiopian found a 3.3 million year old fossil child linking her to Dinkinesh of 3.0 million years earlier. Dunjee-Houston’s Book II is not the ranting of an un-informed armchair scholar. It is the work of an informed, nurtured, tested student of history, having access to the latest documents of history, regardless of academic denials. Knowing the prejudices of her day Dunjee-Houston bought many of her books she needed in her quest for accuracy, as well as, utilizing her father’s library of 2000 to 3000 volumes. Dunjee-Houston went on to tackle the malady of gender bias.

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham in her article, “African-American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race (1995, p. 17) records the type of issues Dunjee-Houston confronted,  “On the other hand, we should challenge both the overdeterminancy of  race vis-a-vis social relations among blacks themselves and conceptions of the black community as harmonious and monolithic. The historic reality of racial conflict in America has tended to devalue and discourage attention to gender conflict within black communities and to tensions of class or sexuality among black women. The totalizing tendency of race precludes recognition and ac­knowledgment of intragroup social relations as relations of power. With its implicit understandings, shared cultural codes, and inchoate sense of a common heritage and destiny, the metalanguage of race resounds over and above a plethora of conflicting voices. But it cannot silence them.”

While retrieving the lost archives of Dunjee-Houston where Origin of Civilization from the Cushites was carefully placed in a pink box for a scholar with the probing eye of a doctoral mind to restore to modern investigation, we should note the following. The Cushitic background and origin of the ancient Egyptians recorded by Dunjee-Houston has been confirmed by Cheikh Anta Diop’s 12 categories of evidence of their African origins. Fifty years before Martin Bernal’s Black Athena (1984) and a generation before George G.M. James Stolen Legacy (1954) while predating Diop’s African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality? (1974) by 40 years; Dunjee-Houston pioneered African-centered historiography. 

While operating “Outside Academia” as Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers noted, Dunjee-Houston was not limited by the fetters of racism that lanquished in university halls seeking to suppress the historical greatness of a people. Multi-dimensional, Multi-disciplinary scholars, seminary students, curriculum specialists and biographical researchers all have the daunting task of further studying Drusilla Dunjee-Houston’s historical endeavors. Dunjee-Houston is indeed the foremother of Africana historical writing and research. She sought to burst asunder vestiges of notions of the “Dark Continent” in both academia and among the lay populace. Wonderful Ethiopians Book II: Origin of Civilization from the Cushites created a wedding between the adherents of the Garvey movement and the Harlem Literary Renaissance. It shared its birth with the Negro Society for Historical Research, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the global researches of Arthur A. Schomburg, Joel A. Rogers and Willis N. Huggins.

Book II was a precursor to the findings of Bruce Williams at Chicago’s Oriental Institute. Williams’ findings make the claim that Nubia was the birthplace of pharaonic civilization several generations before the rise of the first historic Egyptian dynasty. Even more startling is the fact that advanced political organization, i.e., kingship, the monarchy, and religion was not believed to have come to Nubia, or anywhere south of Egypt, for another 2,500 years. Nubia preceded Egypt by 300 years. Ivan Van Sertima, founder of the Journal of African Civilizations, has said of Nubia, “The discovery of a black kingdom in the Nile Valley, which precedes by several generations the first dynasty in Egypt and in which were found the main religious and royal symbols that were to dominate Egypt throughout its history, crowns all the efforts of all Afrocentric historians of the past century. This Black kingdom, the first in the Nile Valley, dated 3,300 B.C. is also the first to develop the hieroglyphic system. There is no doubt about whether civilization came from the north or up from the south.”5

 Drusilla Dunjee-Houston was keenly aware of bias against women as she sought a career as a historian. Brooks-Bertram outlines some of those struggles in her editorial comments. Dunjee-Houston’s book should not be categorized as “Vindicationist.” Dunjee-Houston was re-establishing the “missing pages of world history,” as Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Dean of Africana Studies, often remarked. In the introduction Asa G. Hilliard III again best encapsulated Dunjee-Houston in saying, “One can only imagine this great scholar with the benefit of the internet, computers, graduate assistants, and networks of colleagues with similar interests and priorities at her disposal.”6

Finally, Dunjee-Houston was among intellects across the African Diaspora who made it their primary mission to defend the integrity and historical legacy of Africa from anti-African propaganda and false scholarship. So inspiring was the Cushites of old, Paul Elizabeth Hopkins in her novel One Blood serialized in the Colored American Magazine, from March 1901 and November 1903, gave a fictionalized account of them. It was Dunjee-Houston who delved into the writings of George Rawlinson, Arnold Heeren and John D. Baldwin to document their historical record. It is also possible that Dunjee-Houston may have examined Edward Wilmot Blyden’s seminal article, “The Negro in Ancient History,” published in the Methodist Quarterly Review in January 1869. One wonders what other Black female historians of the past will we be able to unlock from the recesses of lost memory and time. Dunjee-Houston’s Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire, Book II: Origin Civilization from the Cushites is long overdue. It seeks to document the record of African people in World history.

Endnotes

[1] Davidson, Basil. (1994). “The Ancient World and Africa: Whose Roots?” in The Search for Africa History, Culture, Politics, New York: Random House, pp. 319-320.

2 Dieulafoy, Maurice. (N.D.). L’Acropolede Suse, pp. 27, 46, pp. 102-115.

3 Hooten, E.A. (1931). Up From The Ape, New York, p. 592.

4.Flinders Petrie, Mathew. (1939). The Making of Egypt, London: Sheldon Press, Chapter 8, The Dynastic Conquest, pp. 65-68; Chapter 12, “The Pyramid Age,” pp. 105-112.

5 Van Sertima, Ivan. (1982). “Editorial,” Egypt Revisited: Journal of African Civilization, Vol.4, No. 2, p. 6.

6 Bertram, Peggy Brooks. Editor. (2007). Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire, Book II: Origin of Civilization from the Cushites, Introduction, p. xiii.

posted 15 June 2007

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Peggy Brooks-Bertram has given us all a gift.  She has resurrected the life and work of Drusilla Dunjee Houston, a remarkable and brilliant writer, journalist, and historian during a time when few women of any race or ethnicity could claim such success.  Brooks-Bertram's passionate research has uncovered Dungee's notable life story as a "race woman," restoring Dungee's voice, long lost through years of neglect fostered by both racism and sexism.  Dungee's many contributions to the educational, political, and social landscape of early 20th century are now revealed in Brooks-Bertram's captivating introduction, a fascinating lead-in to Dungee's enduring and seminal  research on ancient African civilization in Origin of Civilization from the Cushites. This book is a must for any reader interested in African, African American, and women's history –  pure joy!Kate Clifford Larson, Ph.D., Dept. of History, Simmons College

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Bio- Sketch

Drusilla Dunjee Houston (1876 – 1941) was a multi-talented African American woman whose major efforts were directed toward the redemption of the role of Africans in the development of world civilization. The daughter of Lydia Taylor and John William Dunjee, Drusillas was born in Winchester, Virginia in 1876. her father counted among his friends Frederick Douglass and Blanche K. Bruce. Houston lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota and finally settled down in Oklahoma. In McAlester, Oklahoma she opened the McAlester Seminary—an educational institution which she maintained for a dozen years. Although history was her first love, Houston worked with her brother Roscoe Dunjee (1883-1965), the editor of The Black Dispatch—an Oklahoma City weekly newspaper.

While her only known published work is Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire (1926), Houston was a prolific writer. In addition to Wonderful Ethiopians, she wrote many others, several of which may be lost. Nonetheless, she was probably the only woman or man who wrote a multi-volume history of the ancient Cushites of Ethiopia. Some of her other works that were never published include Origin of Civilization, Origin of Aryans, Astounding Last African Empires, and a number of other volumes which she called the "Wonderful Ethiopians Series.” Book I of Wonderful Ethiopians was republished in its entirety in 1985 by Black Classic Press, supplemented with an introduction, afterword, and commentary by Coates, Asa G. Hilliard III and James G. Spady, respectively.

The "Final Word" of Book I of Wonderful Ethiopians  concludes as follows:

So fascinating and vital has the world considered these classic stories that they are still the commanding literature of Aryan college life everywhere; for strange as it may seem the most powerful branches of the so-called Aryan race, as can be indisputably proven, are as well as the African Ethiopians, descendants of Cushite Ethiopian blood. Another volume of this work (Book II) gives more authentic information upon this subject than any other book extant, in it has been interwoven the undeniable proofs of the Cushite origin of western Europe, linked with the intense drama that was the foundation of the Greek legends

Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram, 81 years later, has made Book II of Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire, a reality.

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Uncrowned Queens Institute series

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

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 4  Afrrican American Women Community Builders of Oklahoma
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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 Cushites
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Drusilla Dunjee Houston - Author
Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Editor

Or

To order a copy of Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire,

call: (716) 829-6047 (daytime) / (716) 832-7928 (evenings)

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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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ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)  

 

 

 

 

 

update 31 March 2012

 

 

 

Home  Wilson Jeremiah Moses Table    Uncrowned Queens Project Table   Education & History    Black Librarians 

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   Recollections of Ivan Van Sertima