Remembering a true historian, Dr. John Henrik Clarke
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Dr. JOHN HENRIK CLARKE: A Great and Mighty Teacher
By Daa’iyal Sanusi
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
For decades Prof. John Henrik Clarke taught about his people in Harlem and in the university that “We were in the beginning of time and we will be in the end of times.” These words and many kind deeds were remembered by Dr. James Turner, Alton Maddox, Prof. Marimba Ani, Prof. James Conyers, former political prisoner Bro. Shep, Amb. Dudley Thompson, and sung by Peggy Washington, and poetized by young Autumn Ashante.
State Senator Bill Perkins, who paid his respect, acknowledged that he will create a scholarship to insure that the contributions of John Henrik Clarke will be taught to the young. Dr. Clarke made his transition ten years ago to the very day of the tribute. He was 83.And so, the people’s philosopher was then remembered at the Schomburg Center Sunday, with over one hundred people turned away from the celebration. The people swelled the auditorium and the stage behind the illustrious leaders and teachers who came to speak about Prof. Clarke.
At 91 years of age, Dr. Ben, the closest ally of Prof. Clarke sprang to the podium to pour his libation of love out to the throng of attendees. “I pray that each of your deities is respected. The person we honor and love here tonight is Dr. John Henrik Clarke.” “He was sent to us as a guiding light and he taught us, ‘Go back to the source and know where you came from,’” reminded Mother Sybil Wiliams-Clarke, his widow. Mother Clarke paid honor to Mother Kefa who was among the people.
Nana Camille Yarbrough led the audience in the libation, remembrance of the ancestors and praise to the creator. And the nightlong tribute and honors were commenced with great joy. Chief Howard Dodson set the stage with heartfelt remembrance, “It was to this place that Dr. Clarke came, from down south to up south. And here he met Arturo Schomburg. You wanted to come here today, you knew it was necessary, I join with you in that honor.”
Gil Noble the master of ceremonies embraced the audience and cautioned, “I love Harlem. Join in the battle to save Harlem.” And then he introduced the “great fighter” Solomon Goodrich, chairman of Dr. John Henrik Clarke House. Solomon Goodrich said, “I was friends and ally to Dr. Clarke since 1967. We understood that we must ‘Seek ye the political kingdom and then economic kingdom.”
Freedom fighter Dr. Donald H. Smith introduced the spokesperson for African America, Regent Adelaide Sanford, who presented the keynote address with a timely oath for each and every person, written by Lisa Delpit:
1. Dispel the myth of white supremacy.
2. Erase the notion of Black inferiority.
3. Develop an alternate value system. One that puts aside materialism, individualism, and emphasize the We.
“My beloved ones,” the esteemed elder began, “at this dangerous time we are at a crossroads. African education is at the crossroads. Education is more than schooling and the curriculum is at the heart of the problem. We were the first scientists. We were the first mathematicians and the first to be human beings. I remember what it means when you say, Be.”
“We must embrace our own deep spirituality,” she continued. “We must have absolute cultural knowledge and cultural practice. We are faced with major health issues, but we can not honor our health if we don’t have education about our bodies, our health, ourselves. We must understand fiscal education and wealth building. These crossroads mean choice, to be successful we must use patience, courage and fortitude.” And in an uncommon rap style Regent Sandford concluded to a standing ovation, “I’ll be lovin’ you.” Dr. Turner reminded, “Dr. Clarke struggled to stay in the community, his home should be a national shrine.”
On July 27, 2008 at 5pm the celebration will continue at the Clarke House, where the Honorable Charles Barron will bring a special message and presentation. The John Henrik Clarke Memorial Tribute journal will be available. Please make your request via email: Bashlefi @ aol.com.
Plan to attend, help support BEPAA and The John Henrik Clarke House, and call Angenetta L. Robinson at 1.973.809.4604 or 1.888.388.8241 for additional information.
Video of his life
John Henrik Clarke : A great and mighty walk