My daughter is 11 years old and a straight A student. One of her classes this year was ‘Ancient World History.’ I read the table of contents and downloaded the lesson plan, etc. I think they glossed over a lot of information. In my opinion, she is old enough and smart enough to start supplementing her one-sided and incomplete American public school education with information I want her to also know about. Most of the stuff I now know regarding the history of the world and the people in it, I never learned in school, I had to discover it on my own.
Sure, George Washington Carver was a great inventor, but there are so many other people and topics that aren’t typically covered in American schools, that I think people should know about when they are gathering information and forming opinions of themselves and other people. It is important to tell school administrators what other information should be included, but in my opinion, it is more important to fill in the gaps myself rather than wait on someone else to do it for me.
This summer, her reading assignment will be a book by a not widely known author, journalist and historian Mr. Joel Augustus Rogers. The title of the book is: ‘Nature Knows No Color Line: Research into the Negro Ancestry in the White Race’ (New York: J. A. Rogers, 1952 – 242 pages)
(**The picture on the front of the book is of Charlotte Sophia – Queen of England; Consort of George III of England, and grandmother of Queen Victoria. (Portrait by Thomas Frye) She was a German Princess. J. A. discusses this on pages 93 & 94.)
The book is only 242 pages long but in my opinion, EVERYONE who wants to be more knowledgeable about human history in Africa, Europe, and the rest of the world, should consider adding this book to their classrooms or collections. (*There is an elementary school in Kansas City named after J.A. Rogers. http://www.kcpublicschools.org/domain/319)
According to J.A. Rogers, the purpose for the book is not to prove who was/is greater. The purpose of the book is to show that Africans have been contributing to societies all over the planet, BEFORE “slavery,” etc. Before it is completely written out of any history books, he wanted to show and document that many Africans were accepted into the highest levels of European society. They married, had children, these were not people who were merely only “slaves.” Throughout the book, he shows pictures of official royal family and European government crests from the 15th, 16th, 17th centuries with images of “Africans” on them. As Rogers explains throughout the book, these images are not on the official documents because they were making fun of the people. In fact, the opposite is truer; these people were on there because they wanted to show their connections to them! In my opinion, the analogy that best comes to mind so people can understand this today, is the habit of wearing sports team jerseys. No one buys and wears a jersey of a player that they hate. They proudly wear the name and jersey of the player(s) they admire, want to emulate.
In this book, J.A. Rogers also goes about the business of showing that the concept of race as it relates to a person’s skin color is a newer, more contemporary concept. He references the work of French anthropologist, Topinard, who noted that neither Aristotle (Father of Natural History) nor Hippocrates (Father of Modern Medicine) ever mentioned the word “race” though both studied anatomy and the then known varieties of the human race. The King James Bible of the 17th century does not mention the word “race.” (page 10)
The best the thing I like about this book – and all of J.A. Rogers other books and research – is that #1 he paid for all of it himself! He did not really ask anyone else to pay for or support his project. He traveled to Europe, visited castles, libraries, museums, etc. #2 when he says something; he has footnotes throughout the book that shows you where he found the information. He is VERY thorough in his notes. You can check his research for yourself if you want to!
J. A. Rogers was a member of professional associations such as the Paris Society of Anthropology, the American Geographical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Academy of Political Science.
If you have never heard of J. A. Rogers, you can begin your research at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Augustus_Rogers
Joel Augustus Rogers (September 6, 1883 – March 26, 1966) was a Jamaican-American author, journalist, and historian who contributed to the history of Africa and the African Diaspora, especially the history of African Americans in the United States. His research spanned the academic fields of history, sociology and anthropology. He challenged prevailing ideas about race, demonstrated the connections between civilizations, and traced African achievements. He was one of the greatest populizers of African history in the 20th century.
Rogers was a meticulous researcher, astute scholar and concise writer. He traveled tirelessly on his quest for knowledge, which often took him directly to the source. While traveling in Europe, he frequented libraries, museums, and castles, finding sources that helped him prove African ancestry and history. He challenged the biased viewpoint of Euro-centric historians and anthropologists.
Rogers articulated ideas about race that were formed by anthropology and biology, rather than social convention. He used vindicationism not as end in itself, but as a tool to underscore his humanist beliefs, and to illustrate the unity of humanity as a people. He discarded the non-scientific definition of race and pursued his own ideas about humanity’s interconnectedness. Thus, although the work of Rogers has often been relegated to the controversial genre of Afro-centric history, his main contribution to African scholarship was his nuanced analysis of the concept of race.
Rogers was a member of professional associations such as the Paris Society of Anthropology, the American Geographical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Academy of Political Science.
After reading the book, maybe your first thought will be; “How come I never learned any of this in middle and high school?” My daughter will never have to ask that question.
Michael James Brown is the writer /producer of ‘Other Awareness Project – 95% Guilt & Anger Free!‘ A now 11 year project that looks at why intelligent people – using current information – still call themselves arbitrary and poorly defined “racial” categories. Categories that are not supported by science, religion, or any legal systems. Categories that a person’s ancestors NEVER called themselves prior to European contact! Are we solving any problems – real or perceived – by continuing this dialogue along these lines? Previous career titles include: Marketing Operations Manager, Creative Services Manager, and Director of Operations. In his spare time, Michael rides his motorcycle around to real cities, having real conversations with real people. He is already aware that the OAP presentations and topics do not fit the expected mold and therefore he will never be invited to speak on any national media shows! 🙂