School of African American History Flashcards

Terms Definitions
Negro History School
• It is considered the school of contributions because its goal was to show the accomplishments and contributions of blacks.

• Cater G. Woodson said that he felt that the NAACP fits into the NHS because the NAACP believes that because of Negro contributions to America’s greatness, they should be integrated into American society.

• I, Too Am an American - A poem by Langston Hughes (a Harlem Renaissance writer) and a song by Robeson.
W.E.B. Du Bois
(1868-1963)
• He was born is Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
• Dubois dissertation is the first publication in the Harvard Historical. The series was on the trans-Atlantic slave trade—though he wanted to do if on a major slave rebellion).
• He founded the NAACP, though later he disagreed with the direction the group was taking.
• Although he began in the NHS, you can tell by reading his writings that he gradually progressed through the BHS, to the MHS.
John Hope Franklin
(1948)
• The most famous of the NHS scholars.
• His book, “From freedom to Slavery” is still used to teach Negro history today.
• He was criticized by the black historians over the title of his book because:
1. Black historians felt that blacks were still not free.
2. That there was freedom before slavery.
Benjamin Quarles
• Quarles focused on the contributions and achievements made to America by the black history, the role of Negroes, and the black participation in the abolitions movement.
• He believed that if the truth were told it would help everyone—whites would be less full of themselves and blacks would feel less inferior.
• He wrote The Bridge to Intergroup Harmony, which is what all Negro historians strive to find.
J. A. Rogers
(1880 or 83 – 1966)
• He was a street scholar born in Jamaica.
• He the most famous of the street scholars.
• He wrote 100 Amazing Facts about the Negro.
• Because so much that he did is so diametrically different, he might also be placed in the BHS.
• While living in Chicago, he worked as a Pullman porter (a stevedore) on a train.
• He based the character of the porter in his book, From Superman to Man, on himself and his own experiences.
• The central plot of the book revolves around a debate between a Pullman porter and a white racist, Southern politician. In essence, the porter is Roger’s alter ego. The debate is over issue of white supremacy and history. Eventually, it is revealed that the plantation owner believes himself a “Superman” based on writings from the WHS. Rogers responds with information from the NHS and eventually convinces the plantation owner that his is incorrect and that his beliefs are based on falsehoods.
Arthur Shomburg
• He was a black Puerto Rican street scholar.
• He founded the Negro Historical Society (NHS) in 1912
• He was a collector of all information concerning the Negro.
• Eventually, the Shomburg Collection of rare books and manuscripts is taken over by the NY Public Library in Harlem.
• Major research by street scholars is still done today using the Shomburg Collection
George Washington Williams
1814-1882)
• He wrote a book about the Negro called Matchless Patriotism.
• He was the first person to pinpoint the date of 1619 as the starting point.
• His concern was that with the abolition of slavery, the Negro was merely a white man in a black skin.
Carter G. Woodson
(1875-1950)
• Considered the Father of Negro History.
• He was the second (after W. E. B. Du Bois) to earn a PhD from Harvard University.
• He started the Journal of Negro History (today called The Journal of African American History).
• Woodson’s goals were to record and save the accomplishments of the Negro so that the Negro would never become a negligent factor in the history of the world.
• He also began The Negro History Bulletin for high school teachers and students which is where he felt the groundwork needed to be laid.
• Woodson’s philosophy: Build self-esteem in blacks and inform whites of the truth.
• Woodson said that in celebrating American’s heroes we should not dim the glory of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, but at the same time, we should shine the spotlight on Frederick Douglas, Benjamin Banniker, and the black heroes who fought in the American Revolution.
• In 1924, Woodson single-handedly pioneered the celebration of "Negro History Week", for the second week in February, in order to coincide with the birthday celebrations for Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The week was later extended to become Black History Month to the entire month of February.
• Wrote the book, The Mis-education of the Negro, written in 1933. The thesis of Dr. Woodson's book is that African-Americans of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools. This conditioning, he claims, causes African-Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. He challenges his readers to become autodidacts and to "do for themselves", regardless of what they were taught.
• In this book, Woodson mention what he calls “backdoor syndrome,” which he identifies as a black inferiority complex based on information taught to blacks through the WSS of history. A black, who approaches a large, nice house, would automatically go to the back door (the door used by servants). If there were no door there, Woodson claims that the black man would sit around trying to figure out how to make a back door, rather than just entering.
• Woodson and Du Bois did not get along because Du Bois was a public activist scholar and Woodson felt that mixing public activism with scholarship disrupted your objectivity as a historian.
• Therefore, Woodson didn’t want to be associated with Du Bois because he felt it would endanger his white financial backing.
White Supremacist School of Black History
• They were white, 19th century classicists.
• They developed theories that Egyptians were white.
• Seligman argued that Egyptian culture actually came from Asia—Asians came in and planted the seeds of civilization.
• They do not deny that Egypt was a great civilization; they just claim that it came from outside of black culture.
Every other school is responding to Hart, Burgess, and the others. They write in response to what has already been written.
J.W. Burgess
(1910)
• He felt that Negroes were about irrationality and passion while whites were about reason.
• He said, “A black skin means membership in a race of men who have never created a civilization of any kind because they cannot subject their passion to reason”.
Albert Bushnell Hart
• He was a teacher at Harvard and an abolitionist. He was W.E.B. Dubois' teacher
• He said, “The negroes as a people have less self control, are less affected by ultimate advantages, are less controlled by family ties and standards of personal morality, than the average even of those poor white people, immigrants or natives, who have the poorest chance… Race measured by race, the Negro is inferior, and his past history in Africa, and America leads one to believe that he will remain inferior.
Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager
• Authors of the widely used college text The Growth of the American Republic (1940).
• They wrote, “As for Sambo, whose wrongs moved the abolitionists to wrath and tears, there is some reason to believe that he suffered less that any other class in the South from its “peculiar institution.” The majority of the slaves were adequately fed, well cared for, and apparently happy….Although brought to America by force, the incurably optimistic negro soon became attached to the country, and devoted to his “white folks.”
Charles Gabriel Seligman
1873-1940)
• He was a British ethnologist.
• His book The Races of Africa supports the Hamitic hypothesis, which held that all civilizations in Africa were the result of a resident population of Caucasians, arguing that Egyptian culture actually came from Asia—Asians came in and planted the seeds of civilization.
Black History School
• Based on criticism and indictment of the WSS of history.

• If a person is critical of a founding father, they belong to the Black History School and indict (charge) the Negro History School for even raising up the white heroes.

• BHS historicists over-emphasize the black uprooting, chains, and slavery of the African.

• Prince, Princesses, Pomp, Pageantry, Power. This is a major theme in the BHS, especially by street scholars. A Black or Marxist historian says that you can only believe in the 5p’s if you were lucky and born into royal blood.

• The classic example of the BHS interpretation is the Jefferson/Hemmings situation.

• The Afro-Centrist movement falls under the BHS.

• An example of BHS thinking is Du Bois’ train scenario. He said that black people have been waiting so long to be allowed to leave the train platform and get on the train that nobody ever bothered to ask where the train was headed and was this somewhere that the blacks wanted to go anyway, maybe America is something you do not want to integrate into. He was equating the people on the platform with the NAACP and the train represented white controlled American society.
M. Asante
(b. 1942)
• He is contemporary African American scholar in the field of African studies and African American Studies. He is currently Professor in the Department of African American Studies at Temple University, where he founded the first PhD program in African American Studies.
• Professor Asante is known for his theories of Afrocentricity and transracial, intercultural, and international communication.
• He is the founding editor of the Journal of Black Studies.
• Started his own Afro-Centrist program at Temple University.
James Baldwin
(1924-1987)
• He was an American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist, and civil rights activist.
• Most of Baldwin's work deals with racial and sexual issues in the mid-20th century United States.
• His novels are notable for the personal way in which they explore questions of identity as well as for the way in which they mine complex social and psychological pressures related to being black and homosexual well before the social, cultural or political equality of these groups could be assumed.
• He said, “It is not permissible that the author’s of a devastation should be so innocent. It is that innocence which constitutes the crime.”
Basil Davidson
(b. 1914)
• An acclaimed British historian, writer and Africanist.
• The tone of his writing was critical of WSS history.
• After writing a piece (in the 1950s) based on the WSS thought, he does a complete turnaround when he is criticized by an African because of the writings inaccuracies, and begins to write from the BHS philosophy.
• His writings have emphasised the pre-colonial achievements of Africans, the disastrous effects of the Atlantic Slave Trade, the further damage inflicted on Africa by European colonialism and the baleful effects of the Nation State in Africa.
C. A. Diop
(1923 – 1986)
• He was a Senegalese historian and anthropologist who studied the human race's origins and pre-colonial African culture. He has been considered both one of the greatest African historians of the 20th century, and a racialist scientist.
• He said that what most people believe they know about history is really historical interpretation.
• He said that the cultural essence of Africa began in the Sahara (inner Africa) and when the desert dried up, people spread from there.
Frederick Douglas
(1818 – 1895)
• He was an American abolitionist, editor, orator, author, statesman and reformer.
• He said that “Abe Lincoln was the president for white men”.
• He said that Lincoln’s values, perspectives, and decisions show that he only had white interests at heart.
Frantz Fanon
(1925-1961)
• He was an author from Martinique, essayist, psychoanalyst, and revolutionary. He was perhaps the preeminent thinker of the 20th century on the issue of decolonization and the psychopathology of colonization. His works have inspired anti-colonial liberation movements for more than four decades.
• He said “To plunge into the chasm of the past is the condition and the source of freedom.”
George James
• Wrote Stolen Legacy a book written in 1954, which claimed that the Greeks were not the authors of Greek philosophy, that so-called Greek philosophy was mainly based on ideas and concepts that were borrowed, without acknowledgement, or indeed stolen from the ancient Egyptians.
Wilma King
Professor of African American history, University of Missouri, Columbia.
She wrote the first book about slave children, Stolen Childhood.
Chancellor Williams
(1898 – 1992)
• A writer, university professor, and historian, he was the author of The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race Between 4500 B.C. and 2000 A.D., a book which has become a cornerstone of the field of academics known as Afrocentricity.
• He argued that Egypt was continually distorted by invasion from the East, which served to change it.
Urban History Writers
They were trying to tell history from the bottom up. The history of those who cannot speak for themselves. People who are not members of the black bourgeoisie or intelligentsia have a history too. If they haven’t given us written records then we need to learn it from memory.

The classic example is:
George Rawick –
(1929-1990)
He wrote From Sundown to Sunup.
The book was about what blacks did when the whites weren’t around – they created black culture, families, etc.
Alan Spear – Black Chicago
Gilbert Osofsky – Black Manhattan
John Blasingame – Black New Orleans
Marxist History School
• The Marxist History School argues that the worst thing blacks could do was to kill Indians because this was doing the dirty work of the white men.

• MHS ideology claims that social existence = social relationships of economic production (dialectic materialism).

• How men in the natural world react (with the 5 senses). Social existence leads to social relationships/economic production which creates ideas and thinking about class systems (master/slave).

• MHS followers claim that the American Revolution wasn’t really a revolution based on the above paradigm because the rich men were still rich and poor were still poor afterwards. Therefore, it wasn’t a revolution in the purest sense of the word because the last did not become first.

• African American history is really about understanding these concepts.

• Because in any single time, space, and period there is an explicit social existence, relationship (master and slave) and production (slaves were the major producers in New England).

• Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction looked at class struggle as well as race struggle. In the last chapter, Du Bois says that pre 1930s historians are not writing history, they are writing propaganda.
Herbert Aptheker
(1915-2003)
• He was an internationally known American Marxist historian and political activist.
• He authored over 50 volumes, mostly in the fields of African American history and general U.S. history.
• Most notably, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), a classic in the field of African American history.
• This book was a response to Phillips’ book, American Negro Slavery, written in the 1940s.
• American Negro Slave Revolts claimed that the caricature, Sambo, is the sentiment that is conveyed in Phillips’ book.
• Aptheker says that there is a dialectic (tension between conflicting ideas) of opposites that clash in America (class struggle) and this clash is what creates historical change.
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