A Great & Mighty Walk: Dr. John Henrik Clarke

A Great and Mighty Walk (1996)
This video chronicles the life and times of our noted African-American historian, scholar and Pan-African activist Dr. John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998). Both a biography of Dr. Clarke himself and an overview of 5,000 years of African history, the film offers a provocative look at the past through the eyes of a leading proponent of an Afrocentric view of history. From ancient Egypt and Africa’s other great empires, Dr. Clarke moves through Mediterranean borrowings, the Atlantic slave trade, European colonization, the development of the Pan-African movement, and present-day African-American history.


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Dr. John Henrik Clarke
Jan. 15, 1915 to Jul. 16, 1998

The following article by excerpted from larger work originally published;
Los Angeles Times, 3/03/1991, Part E, Page 1, “Elder Statesmen An Era Is Passing for Five Authors Known for Reclaiming the Role of Blacks in History,” by Yemi Toure

John Henrik Clarke was born in Union Springs, Alabama on New Years Day, 1915. His family came from a long line of sharecroppers.

Clarke noticed that although many bible stories “unfolded in Africa…I saw no African people in the printed and illustrated Sunday school lessons,” he wrote in 1985. “I began to suspect at this early age that someone had distorted the image of my people. My long search for the true history of African people the world over began.”

That search took him to libraries, museums, attics, archives and collections in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and Africa.

What he found was that the history of black people is worldwide; that “the first light of human consciousness and the world’s first civilizations were in Africa”; that the so called Dark Ages were dark only for Europe and that some African nations at the time were larger than any in Europe; that as Africa sends its 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 universities were; and that slavery, although devastating was neither the beginning nor the end of Black people’s impact on the world.

Clarke gathered his findings into books on such figures as the early 20th century mass movement leader Marcus Garvey, into articles with titles like “Africa in the Conquest of Spain” and “Harlem as mecca and New Jerusalem,” and many books including American Heritage’s two volume “History of Africa.”

While he was teaching at Hunter College in New York and at Cornell University in the 1980’s, Clarke’s lesson plans became well known for their thoroughness. They are so filled with references and details that the Schomburg Library in Harlem asked for copies. Clarke plans to provide them, he said, “so that 50 years from now, when people have a hard time locating my grave, they won’t have a hard time locating my lessons.”

In 1985, the year of his retirement, the newest branch of the Cornell University Library- a 60 seat, 9,000 volume facility- was named the “John Henrik Clarke Africana Library.”




Bonus lessons by Dr. Clarke,
Just browse the player menu.


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