The African Americans Search for Truth and Knowledge
By Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Jr.
Basic concepts are needed to understand the world and destroy myths and misconceptions that have persisted down through the ages in the inherited bodies of knowledge about the Human Experience. These myths, misconceptions and misinformation have been particularly evident in the description and portrayal of Africa and African peoples. Unfortunately, the history that has generally been utilized to educate people around the world has been European-centered and taught from a European American perspective and world view.
This concentration on the European American World Experience has been especially evident in our education systems over the past two hundred years. In short, our educational and cultural institutions and traditions have taught and perpetuated “history” and not the history of the World. These myths, misconceptions and misinformation have been institutionalized in the learning process of the Western World and limit the ability of people to pursue the truth about the past and present experiences of European American Peoples as well as other peoples.
The search for truth and the pursuit of knowledge should be broad-based and not limited to white European American ethnic group experiences. It must be global and include the various ethnic groups and races in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These non-European peoples make up nine-tenths of the world’s population and have had an enormous impact on the development of America. This work is designed to provide a truer picture of the interaction of African peoples in the growth of America and correct false images, misinformation, and errors about the history of African Americans.
This work is intended to shed a truer light on the history of African Americans and destroy many of the following concepts:
- Myths of Africa as the Dark Continent
- Misconceptions of African peoples as inferior to others
- Misinformation of African impact on Europe and America
- Erroneous facts about the Free African in America
- Misinterpretations about the African American role in the American Revolution
- Falsifications concerning the African American and the Civil War and Slavery
- Distortions about the significance of African Americans in the Reconstruction and National Development
- Omissions concerning the importance of African Americans to the Science and Technology of America
- Lack of understanding of the role of the African American as an ethical and moral barometer of the American Creed
- Faulty analyses of the place of African Americans in American society today
The purpose of this study is to present the African American Experience in America from the perspective of Black Culture, in order t see the patterns of development and responses, the continuities and contradictions, as well as institutional and group dynamics. It will look at how ethnic communities were established to help handle challenges and crises facing the nation and its peoples.
The study will attempt to clarify and correct the conflict between the ideals and realities of the American nation, whose political processes were compromised by the economic commitment to maintaining slavery. A primary purpose of this search for truth is to correct the negative presentations or omissions about the role of African Americans in the struggles to develop the United States. In the 1960’s the Kerner Commission Report on Civil Disorders, reached the conclusion that America was moving towards two societies, one White and one Black, separate and unequal. What are the roots of this development? It is a recent phenomenon? The causes of these conditions can be traced to the early contradictions upon which the American nation was founded. What were these contradictions and how have they impacted upon us over the past two hundred years?
The methods used in this presentation of Black America will help develop a systematic approach to understanding the inter-relationship of African Americans to the American System. It will present certain pattern that have developed in response to the crises and challenges of living in America. The major response of African Americans to the American experience has been a cyclical pattern of Accommodation, Separation and Rebellion. This pattern is very evident during periods of military struggle and their aftermath. The concepts of socialization, acculturation and political power will be highlighted. This approach will give a broader picture of the history of African Americans.
In order to appreciate the value of the Cyclical Pattern of African American response to the European American Experience as a framework of analysis, several case studies will be presented to provide the insights into the life of African Americans. These studies will center on the first generation in the colonial period; the Revolutionary War Era and the development of the Black Church and fraternal organization; the post-Revolutionary War Era, and the Black Exodus to Africa after exile in Canada; the Colonization Movement, Free Blacks and Liberia; Frederick Douglass and the Abolition Movement; the Slave Rebellions of Prosser, Vesey, Turner and the Haitian Revolution; Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation; the First Reconstruction and African American Political Participation; post-Reconstruction and African American contributions to science and industry; Black Rebellion and the N.A.A.C.P.; World War II and the Civil Rights Movement; The Second Reconstruction and African American Political Power; The African American Family and the Economic Crises.
The military experience has played an extremely important part in the development of the political culture of the Black Community. Its impact on the socialization process is enormous. This was true as far back as the Revolutionary War period, and continued to be so during the Civil War and World Wars. This work will relate the military experience and its aftermath, to the question of African American identity and socialization processes, to the African American Family and acculturation, to Black institution-building and organizational skills and to African American Community development.
How has the military affected these crucial aspects of African American life? What has been its impact on the decision-making process among African Americans? How does the military experience relate to economic and political power? Clearly, slaves, Free Blacks, and post-Reconstruction Freed Blacks were nurtured by a negative socialization process designed to create political and economic dependency on Whites. This dependence syndrome was crucial in maintaining control over the slave population, and imposing segregation and discrimination on African Americans since the Civil War up to the present day.
The military experience appears to break the dependency syndrome and to create an inter-dependency syndrome and to create an inter-dependency through re-socialization which implants a new self-image, a different understanding of the need of teamwork, leadership and organization, and a broader view of the world. In short, it seems to produce a new value system, different role models and patterns of behavior. For the most part, military experience tends to be a politicizing process which makes people conscious of their rights and their power.