Introduction to Africana Studies
Reaction Paper #5
Clarke: The Influence of Arthur A. Schomburg on My Concept of Africana Studies
In “The Influence of Arthur A. Schomburg on My Concept of Africana Studies,” by John Henrik
Clarke, the author relays the profound impact that Arthur Schomburg had on his understanding
of African history and ultimately his decision to become a teacher of African World History.
Furthermore, Clarke laments that the present generation of Africans, African Americans, and
Puerto Ricans are unaware of Schomburg’s impact on Africana studies. At age 15, Clarke read an
essay by Schomburg titled, “The Negro Digs Up His Past,” that deeply affected Clarke’s search
for the role that African people played in history. Reading the essay confirmed Clarke’s suspicion
that the historical image of African people was incomplete and inaccurate.
Clarke met Schomburg in person in 1934, and the two maintained a close relationship until
Schomburg’s death in 1938. The first piece of advice Schomburg gave Clarke was that he must
study the history of his oppressor in order to understand the history of Africans and why the
latter was omitted from history books. Throughout the following years, Schomburg continued to