Dr. John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998) was a Pan-Africanist American writer, historian, professor, and a pioneer in the creation of Africana studies and professional institutions in academia starting in the late 1960s.
He was Professor of African World History and in 1969 founding chairman of the Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York. He also was the Carter G. Woodson Distinguished Visiting Professor of African History at Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center. In 1968 along with the Black Caucus of the African Studies Association, Clarke founded the African Heritage Studies Association.
In recognition and celebration of Dr. Clarke and Black History Month, I present these words he wrote about what History is.
“History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell there political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. History tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most important, history tells a people where they still must go, what they still must be. The relationship of history to the people is the same as the relationship of a mother to her child.”