A recent issue of U.S. News and World Report magazine contained an article that attacked the teaching of African history in our public schools. The author, John Leo, criticized such noted black scholars as Asa Hilliard and Leonard Jeffries. And John Leo is not alone. In recent months a number of white scholars and prominent people around the country have been trying their best to discredit the teaching of African history or any attempt at telling the truth about the black man's contributions to world civilization.
Leo speaks of "a fantasy history" filled with "bizarre theories." He accused Jeffries, a noted black scholar, of being a racist. He dismisses the idea that Egypt was a black nation.
As long as those in power can convince the world that they are the superior race, then they alone can lay claim to historical greatness. Then they feel their continued place in power is assured. The white scholars and writers who have attacked the teachings of African history as a curriculum of lies have yet to produce well-defined and well-documented research to prove that Hilliard, Molefi Ashante and numerous other black scholars are wrong. If white scholars truly believe that we have twisted the facts of African history, then let them come forth and prove us wrong once and for all.
Africa had a rich history of mathematical, scientific and literary accomplishment suppressed and stolen by white folks. Black scholars were not the only ones to write about this fact. It was a white German scholar named Leo Frobenius who wrote a number of books and articles about the contributions that Africa made to world civilization. Frobenius stated quite openly in Germany, in the early 1900s that "the concept of the barbaric Negro was a creation of the European."
And although Frobenius, the author of 60 books and many articles on Africa, acknowledged the genius of the African in his writings, he too, was a thief. He removed countless valuable pieces of African art work from the land of Ife, which was in the land of the Yoruba.
I say that the real fantasy history and the greatest tragedy of the world has been the deliberate coverup of the truth. And we don't need to go all the way back to Africa to find hidden truths and outright lies. Just take a close look at American textbooks.
I continue to meet people who educate our children in classrooms across this country who know absolutely nothing about the contributions of blacks in America. As a child, I remember quite clearly sitting in a fifth-grade social studies class and learning nothing about what my people really achieved. I never learned about the black inventors, scientists, journalists or poets. And what about the real truth of slavery? The picture that was painted for me was that all of the slaves were docile and submissive and accepted the condition of slavery.
There was no mention of Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner or Gabriel Prosser, who led slave revolts. Herbert Aptheker, author of "American Negro Slave Revolts," listed hundreds of revolts and conistory
spiracies in America. The first occurred 94 years before the Mayflower.
At the same time, my textbooks gave me a heavy dose of Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Edison and everyone else who was white. Where was the fairness in that? And where is the fairness today?
The truth is that there are a number of whites who feel threatened because African-American people are finally standing up to reclaim their own history.
Despite the media hype, blacks are not all on drugs or in prison. There are a large number of people like myself who research, read and teach and write the truth. We will not lose sleep if the textbooks are not all changed to include our story. We will teach each other. There are more black scholars across this country, teaching and writing, than ever before.
African-Americans are hungry for the truth. They are reaching out for a real connection with Africa. All you have to do is look at the T-shirts we wear with pride that feature our heroes such as Malcolm X, Dr. King and Marcus Garvey. Black people are creating their own symbols, styles, books, reading materials and music that connect us to Africa.
We will continue to seek the truth and knowledge, and we believe as the great historian, John Henrik Clarke: "History is a clock that people use to tell their time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are and what they are."
EVA M. DOYLE lives in Buffalo and is a columnist for the Buffalo Criterion.