Consisting mainly of correspondence, lecture notes, course outlines, writings, research material, organizational records and printed matter, the John Henrik Clarke papers are a unique archive for the study and interpretation of African and African-American history during the second half of the 20th century. As a sergeant-major in a segregated unit in Kelly Field, Texas, during World War II, Clarke helped train African-American enlisted men for mess and other maintenance duties. The collection partially records the lives of these men, changes in their personal and military status, and disciplinary procedures against them.
Biographical/historical: Born in 1915, the oldest son of an Alabama sharecropper family, John Henrik Clarke was a self-trained historian who edited and wrote over thirty books, and was a leading figure in the development of African heritage and black studies programs nationwide.
He was a co-founder of the Harlem Quarterly (1949-1951) and an associate editor of the journal Freedomways. During the 1960s, he served as director of the African Heritage unit of the anti-poverty program Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (HARYOU-ACT), and as special consultant and coordinator of the Columbia University-WCBS television series "Black Heritage." He joined the Department of Black and Puerto-Rican Studies at Hunter College in 1969. The founding president of the African Heritage Studies Association, he was a consultant to many projects, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition "Harlem On My Mind" and the Portal Press Springboards series, "The Negro in American History." He was awarded the Phelps-Stokes Fund's Aggrey Medal in 1994 for his role "as a public philosopher and relentless critic of injustice and inequality." John Henrik Clarke died in 1998.
Content: Consisting mainly of correspondence, lecture notes, course outlines, writings, research material, organizational records and printed matter, the John Henrik Clarke papers are a unique archive for the study and interpretation of African and African-American history during the second half of the 20th century. As a sergeant-major in a segregated unit in Kelly Field, Texas, during World War II, Clarke helped train African-American enlisted men for mess and other maintenance duties. The collection partially records the lives of these men, changes in their personal and military status, and disciplinary procedures against them.|||The author's voluminous correspondence is both personal and professional. Significant correspondents include Julian Mayfield, J.C. de Graft-Johnson, Adelaide Cromwell, Basil Davidson, Cheikh Anta Diop, Hoyt Fuller, Richard B. Moore, John G. Jackson, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Alice Walker, Elliott Skinner, E.U. Essien-Udom, Robert E. Lee, Calvin and Eleanor Sinnette, Alioune Diop and the editors of Presence Africaine, and L.H. Ofosu-Appiah of the Encyclopedia Africana project. The bulk of the correspondence is arranged chronologically.|||Curriculum material in the collection ranges from African history outlines developed in the 1960s for the HARYOU-ACT Heritage program and the Timbuctoo Learning Center, to core black studies courses at Hunter College, Cornell University, the New School for Social Research and Rider College in New Jersey. The lecture notes (1954-1979) are supplemented by conference material and other printed matter. The HARYOU-ACT series consists of academic and administrative files of the Heritage program, which was administered by the Community Action Institute, HARYOU's central training and orientation department.|||The Editing and publishing series consists of correspondence, manuscripts, reviews, research material and printed matter for the following books and publishing projects: "Malcolm X, the Man and His Times," "William Styron's Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond," "The Black Revolution, USA," "Anthology of American Negro Short Stories," "Harlem, USA," "Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa," the Columbia University-WCBS-TV series "Black Heritage," and the magazine Freedomways. The Garvey files include substantive correspondence with Amy Jacques Garvey. The Freedomways material relates in part to special issues edited by Clarke on Harlem, the Caribbean and the life of W.E.B. DuBois. Unfinished projects range from "A Treasury of American Negro Humor" (1957) to "Tales of Harlem" (1969) and a life of Patrice Lumumba. Clarke's own writings in this collection consist of early drafts of "Africa Without Tears," a book of travel writing; "Journey to the Fair," an early novel of hobo life; a compilation of short stories, and several files of articles and essays. The bulk of the author's writings are part of a posthumous addition to the collection.|||The main organizations represented in the collection are the African Heritage Studies Association, founded in 1968 when black scholars walked out of the African Studies Association and the Universal Ethiopian Student Association, a Harlem-based nationalist group opposed to the 1930s Italian invasion of Ethiopia. Other files relate to the African Heritage Exposition of 1959, the American Society for African Culture, 1959-1963, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, 1960, the Afro-American Scholars Council, 1972-1979, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 1970-1990. Also included are correspondence and writings by Shaleak ben Yehuda of the Original Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem, a community of African-American Jews facing deportation from Israel in the 1970s, and correspondence and publications related to Jacob Carruthers and his Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations.|||The collection is also the site of a number of outstanding unpublished manuscripts by authors like Yosef Ben-Yochannan, Frank Chapman, Jr., Lionel Hutchinson, Edward S. Lewis, Charles Seifert and John G. Jackson. There are also transcripts and other material from various African and Caribbean conferences. Also included are consultancy files for the exhibition "Harlem On My Mind," the Carver Federal Savings bank, and printed matter on Kwame Nkrumah, black nationalism, the 1978 Jonestown massacre in Guyana, as well as other subjects.