Still Speaking: An Intellectual History of John Henrik Clarke
Jared A. Ball
Thesis DT 3.5 2001 B357
vii, 158 leaves; 29 cm.
Numerous scholars and intellects have sought the production of scholarship meant to address the problem presented by voluminous academic assaults on non-European, non-Western and oppressed classes by Eurocentric historiography whose sole purpose is and has been the justification of the historical and continuing oppression of exploited "races" and classes. John Henrik Clarke would be introduced to, use and later teach a tradition of African-centered activist/scholarship whose immediate purpose was the restoration of a world history made all but obsolete under the weight of Eurocentric historiography.
This tradition is traced from the 19th century to the present where Clarke is shown as an exemplar and conduit for this paradigm and methodological tool used to interpret historical and contemporary phenomena. This tradition is identified as the tradition and is defined as containing four central tenets: a pan-African outlook, an autodidact emphasis, a recognition of the antiquity of African civilization, philosophy and religion and finally, an importance placed on the bibliophile.
In order to identify and develop the definition of the tradition an overview of 19th century African American history is conducted marking the earliest signs of scholarship produced under each tenet of the tradition. Subsequent chapters describe the tradition as it develops in the context of the global historical events that shape and further it in order to illustrate precisely where this tradition was as it was passed to John Henrik Clarke during his first years in New York City circa 1933. This requires some time devoted to the definition of the tradition, those who first brought it into practice, how it was transmitted and the global occurrences that helped determine its making and use.
Finally, the life of John Henrik Clarke is explored in relation to the tradition through his many writings and those of his intellectual ancestors, contemporaries and descendents. His life is traced as societal factors such as the Great Migration, both World Wars and global resistance to enslavement, imperialism, capitalism and colonialism all culminate to affect the form the tradition would take and, therefore, its interpretation and application by Clarke. This allows for an illustration of how Clarke's own analysis developed and how this analysis would transform Clarke into one of the most influential scholar/activists of the 20th century.
In the end what is shown is an intellectual lineage. This lineage is followed as it is passed to and though John Henrik Clarke for the purpose of redefining the condition and history of the world's people. It is this process of redefinition that is considered primarily, but not solely, in relation to its necessity as a result of an ignoble Eurocentric historiography meant to justify a European/American hegemony. For ultimately what is discussed is the human development of those whose humanity has been and continues to be denied.