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John Henrik Clarke, a historian, and professor who lived from January 1, 1915, to July 16, 1998, was a pioneer in the development of Pan-African and Africana studies and academic institutions beginning in the late '60s.
“Although many stories in the Bible unfolded in Africa...I observed no African people in the written and illustrated Sunday school classes,” stated Clarke in 1985.' “At this young age, I started to worry that someone had corrupted the perception of my people. I started a thorough investigation into the real history of Africans worldwide.”
His search led him to collections throughout Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, and Africa, as well as libraries, museums, attics, and archives. The so-called Dark Ages were only dark for Europe, and some African nations were larger than any in Europe at the time. In the same way that Africa sends children to Europe to study because that is where the best universities are, early Greece once sent its children to Africa to study because that was where the best civilizations were.
Marcus Garvey, a mass movement leader in the early 20th century, was one of the figures Clarke researched for books. He also wrote articles like 'Africa In The Conquest Of Spain' and 'Harlem As mecca And New Jerusalem,' as well as numerous books, including American Heritage's two-volume 'History Of Africa.'
In the '80s, while John Henrik Clarke was a professor at Cornell University and Hunter College in New York, Clarke's lesson plans earned a reputation for being in-depth. The Schomburg Library in Harlem requested copies because they are so dense with citations and information. 'So that people won't have a hard time finding my lessons in 50 years from now when people have a hard time finding my tomb,' stated Clarke of his intention to make them available.
The 'John Henrik Clarke Africana Library' was the name of the Cornell University Library's newest branch, 60-seat space with 9,000 volumes, which was opened in 1985, the year he retired.
John Henrik Clarke's estimated net worth is $10 million. His primary occupation as a historian has brought him a significant fortune.
John Henrik Clarke's annual income is not known.
John Henrik Clarke's height is not known.
John Henrik Clarke was 83 years old when he passed away.
He was the youngest child of sharecropper John Clark and washerwoman Willie Ella Clark, who passed away in 1922. He was named John Henry Clark on January 1, 1915, in Union Springs, Alabama. To be closer to a mill, his family moved to Columbus, Georgia, where they hoped to make sufficient to purchase land rather than sharecrop.
In 1933, Clarke left Georgia by freight train for Harlem, New York, against his mother's wishes for him to become a farmer. He was moving northward as a part of the Great Migration of black rural residents from the South. He pursued action and scholarship there. In honor of dissident Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, he changed his name to John Henrik and added an 'e' to his last name to make it 'Clarke.'
During World War II, he also enlisted in the American Army. Cheikh Anta Diop significantly impacted Clarke, who wrote 'The Historical Legacy of Cheikh Anta Diop: His Contributions to a New Concept of African History' as a result. According to Clarke, the recognized Greek philosophers derived a significant portion of their beliefs and ideas from interactions with Africans, who impacted the early Western world.
The mother of Clarke's daughter Lillie was his first wife. However, they split up.
Nzingha Marie and Sonni Kojo, the couple's children from their 1961 marriage to Eugenia Evans in New York, were born to Clarke and Evans. The union broke up in divorce. John Henrik Clarke wed Sybil Williams, his longtime love, in 1997. On July 16, 1998, at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City, he passed away after a heart attack. He was laid to rest in Columbus, Georgia's Green Acres Cemetery.
Dr. John Henrik Clarke was a Pan-Africanist author, historian, lecturer, and forerunner in establishing academic institutions for Africana studies beginning in the late '60s. African People in World History, 'A New Approach To African History,' and 'The Boy Who Painted Jesus Black' are only a few of the many books by Clarke.
From 1969-1986, Clarke taught Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he also served as the department's first chairman. Additionally, He worked as the Carter G. Woodson Senior Visiting Professor of African History at Cornell University's Africana Studies and Research Center. He also established the Black Caucus of the African Studies Association and the African Heritage Studies Association in 1968.
The activist's promotion to professor emeritus at Hunter College, according to The New York Times' obituary, was 'extraordinary... without the advantage of a high school education, let alone a Ph.D.' 'Nobody said professor Clarke wasn't an academic original,' it acknowledged. After receiving a bachelor's degree from the non-accredited Pacific Western University in Los Angeles (now known as California Miramar University) in 1992, Clarke returned there in 1994 to pursue a doctorate.
The Great Migration and other demographic developments had caused a concentration of African Americans in Harlem by the '20s. Many musicians, writers, and artists who participated in the Harlem Renaissance created a synergy. To help develop newcomers and young people, they started putting support systems like study groups and informal seminars in place. Clarke moved to Harlem in 1933 when he was 18 years old, and throughout the years of the Great Depression, he established himself as a lecturer and writer.
He joined study groups like the Harlem Writers' Workshop and the Harlem History Club. He took classes on and off at the League for Professional Writers, Hunter College, New School of Social Research, and New York University. He was an independent learner, and Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was one of his mentors. In the United States Army Air Forces, Clarke served as a non-commissioned officer from 1941 to 1945, rising to master sergeant.
New artistic movements emerged following World War II, and short-lived small presses and journals were established. Writers and publishers continued to launch new businesses. Clarke was a feature writer for the black-owned Pittsburgh Courier and a co-founder of the Harlem Quarterly (1949–1951). He was also the book review editor of the Negro History Bulletin (1948–1952) and the associate editor of Freedomways.
From 1956-1958, Clarke was a professor at the New School for Social Research. He mentored Kwame Nkrumah as a student in the US, whom he met when traveling in West Africa in 1958–1959, and was then given a job as a journalist for the Ghana Evening News. Additionally, John Henry gave lectures at the University of Ghana and other African institutions, notably the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.
Clarke sponsored research on the African-American experience and the historical significance of Africa becoming well-known during the Black Power movement of the '60s, which started to promote a type of black nationalism. He questioned the opinions of academic historians and contributed to a change in how African history was researched and taught. According to Clarke, a scholar who was 'dedicated to redressing what he viewed as a systemic and discriminatory suppression and distortion of African history by traditional scholars,' charged that those who opposed him held Eurocentric viewpoints.
Six scholarly books and numerous scholarly articles were among his works of writing. In addition, he compiled collections of his own short stories and edited anthologies of writing by African Americans. Clarke also authored essays of public interest. In one contentious instance, he organized and contributed to an anthology of writings by African Americans that criticized white author William Styron and his novel The Confessions of Nat Turner for their fictional representation of the African American slave College and Cornell University, Clarke established organizations for professionals to promote the study of black culture.
He and Leonard Jeffries established the African Heritage Studies Association, which supported scholars in the disciplines of history, art, literature, and culture. He also served as the organization's first president. He was a founder of the Black Academy of Arts and Letters and the African-American Scholars' Council, two organizations supporting works in black culture.
The Clarke Library was named in his honor by the Africana Studies and Research Center faculty at Cornell University in 1985. The Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History awarded the Carter G. Woodson Medallion in 1995. Dr. John Henrik Clarke was named one of the 100 Greatest African Americans by Molefi Kete Asante in 2002. Dr. Clarke's brief lecture is on the 2011 album Immortal Technique, The Martyr. The track is number thirteen, titled 'The Conquerors.'
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