Sunday, September 10, 2017

The African Influence on Western Architecture

The African Influence on Western Architecture

By Brother Yohance Bediako (And Brother Nkosi Diop)

African Design Principles

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By Brother Yohance Bediako
Brother Yohance have been working in the field of Architecture for 20 years and have developed over the years a diverse back ground and set of skills. He completed his education in architecture at Tuskegee University. Brother Yohance has studied many books written about African culture and traveled to many countries in Africa looking at and studying indigenous architecture. Brother Yohance has had the opportunity at a very young age to have relationships with some of the most dynamic African scholars in the country . Scholars such as Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan, Dr. John H Clarke, Dr. Jacob Carruthers, Dr. George Simmons, these are just a few of the scholars that brother Yohance was exposed to and had a relationship with at a very young age. It is from his relationship with these scholars that brother Yohance submersed himself into the studying of African architecture and African culture. Over the years brother Yohance has worked on a variety of projects that range from single family homes, institutional buildings to commercial buildings. But one of brother Yohance's biggest accomplishment is his Non-profit organization, Imhotep Architectural Youth Society.  Imhotep Architectural Youth Society is an organization that provides guidance and advice to African American youth about life decisions and also train them in the field of architecture. Brother Yohance also has an article about African cultures contribution to western architecture that has been published in The SAGE Encyclopedia of African Cultural Heritage in North America.
Note: Brother Yohance is a guest scholar writer and researcher on our Keeping It Real Blog. This posting is an abbreviated version of Brother Yohance research in which his original submission included graphs and photographic documentation that brings his work to greater LIGHT. Brother Yohance is also a Prince Hall Mason and he has a lot to offer our Craft.  I hope to one day soon may be present this same article as PDF to include the pictorial exhibits.

If we look at the Architect throughout history we will see that the Architect holds a very unique position in the society. The Architect is responsible for translating the values, ideas and culture of a society into physical reality through its special forms. This means that the Architect must have an understanding about every aspect of the society. The Architect cannot design a Temple or a Shrine for a deity unless He/She has an understanding about the spiritual and cosmological relationship of the society. The Architect cannot design a home unless He/She has an understanding of the day to day lives of the people in the society. The Architect cannot understand how to plan the arrangements and layout of the village unless He/She has a deep understanding of the cultural ways of the people
themselves. So the Architect must have His/Her finger on the very pulse of the society. The Architect must continue to develop and grow with the knowledge of the society, as the society evolves so should the Architect. 

The field of Architecture is one of the major areas of research for archeologist when studying ancient civilizations. It is through the Architecture of the ancient civilization that the archeologist comes to understand the life style of the ancient societies. Therefore Architecture intrinsically embodies the culture of the people.   


Culture is the product of the collective history of a people that is being constantly informed by forces of the seen and unseen; the collective personality of a people, including their unique cosmology, language, institutions, creative expressions, etc. It is the totality of values, beliefs, and actions that characterize a people. Culture consists of the behavioral patterns, symbols, institutions, and values of a society, and is unique to that society. It is the spiritual, ideational, and material composite that distinguishes one society from another. It shapes and is, in turn, shaped by events in the realm of the spiritual, ideational and the material. All inquiry and solution, truth and beauty, tradition and purity, meaning and reality are culturally relative. There are no culture-free or values-free human endeavors. Culture is not a static phenomenon. It continually evolves as a society evolves and develops. It is that composite of socially and historically determined behaviors that nourishes and thereby defines the intellectual and spiritual parameters within which the human individual develops and exists. As people evolve throughout history, they invariably organize their experiences and their reflections and elaborations on their experiences into various domains of knowledge. Those domains are necessarily linked to the historical nucleus of the culture, and are a consequence of that historical dynamic. Those domains include philosophy, morality, spirituality, ethics, politics, ideology, aesthetics, science, law and others. The several domains and the particular disciplines of knowledge serve as the fixed institutional foundations of the nation. It this case, the domain is architecture.


Cosmology is a system of thought arising out of a people’s history and culture that addresses issues of reality and creation, truth and value, meaning, process, and that people’s place within creation. It is the component of worldview that refers to the structure of reality from a particular racial-cultural perspective and/or experience. Also, it is the study of the origins and structure of the universe. Every culture has their own cosmology that relates to their understanding and explanation of how the universe works and interacts. As we shall address later, cosmology is embedded in architecture traditional African architecture.


Context is the visual relationship to the surrounding.  Spatial context can be any of the following: 1) the a specific building seen in the context of other buildings; 2) a specific building seen in the context of the surrounding landscape; 3) a specific element of the building seen in the context of all the other elements of the building; 4) the relationship between a building’s exterior and interior. Contextualism is the “fitting-in” of a building with surrounding buildings so that it is in harmony with them, especially in terms of scale, form, mass, and color. Contextual elements are history, local site, cultural past, continuity, material, culture, climate, environment, size, appearance, location and form, topography, society's ideas, its form of economic and social organization, its distribution of resources, authorities and beliefs, values. In the case of traditional African architecture, context relates to the physical environment, the available materials used for construction, amongst other criterion.


Architecture is the art and science of design and building structures. It is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction of physical structures. Architectural tradition is a set of architectural practices inherited from one generation and passed down to another. These practices may include methods of construction, patterns of architectural design, using particular building materials for certain cultural or religious purposes, amongst other possibilities. Adapting innovative methods of architecture are incorporated within the development of the architectural tradition.

The Western world has always been influenced by African culture. One of the major African cultures that influenced the Western world is ancient Egypt(Kemet) Nile valley high culture. The major domain of African culture that influenced Western culture is architecture. One of the most influential and enlightening concepts of African architecture that Western society learned from their first ancient educational experience in the African Nile Valley is that of Sacred Geometry and the natural ratio that appears in the growth patterns of nature. The Western society calls this number the Golden Ratio or the Golden Section and is represented with the Greek letter Phi. The Golden Ratio was used in ancient Greece and Rome. The knowledge of the Golden Ratio traveled from ancient Greece and Rome to other parts of Europe and throughout time to this very day. The Africans of the Nile valley used this special proportion in developing many of the sciences that were taught in the Nile valley. One of those sciences is Geometry. The African Nile Valley High culture was not only the first civilization to discover the Sacred Geometry and this universal ratio but, to them these concepts had spiritual power and significance. The ratio was not just a number but a symbol of the creative function, the reproductive power of the male, the fire of life.1(Secrets of The Great Pyramid, Peter Tompkins)  In the ancient African Nile valley culture Sacred Geometry and the Golden Ratio was incorporated and hidden in their iconography and architecture.
What is the Golden Ratio? The golden ratio is obtained when anything is divided in the following example; let’s take a line that is divided into two parts A and B in such a way that part A(The larger part) divided by part B(The smaller part) is equal to parts A+B divided by A. When this is done the ratio of the parts equals 1.618 which is the universal building block of the cosmos. (See figure 1)This ill rational number can continue on to infinity.  Because of its regenerative character the Golden Ratio mainly, but not only, has a spiral appearance, this spiral is found in all parts of the natural world, such as the spiral of a snails shell, the spiral of the horns of a ram, the spiral of a tornado, the spiral of the pedals of a pinecone and the spiral of the galaxy itself.

In the ancient Nile valley the Golden Ratio was expressed in many deferent geometric shapes, like squares, circles, triangles and rectangles. The Golden Ratio and sacred Geometry would be hidden into their iconography. One of the images in the African Nile valley culture is the Neter(Divine Spirit) Min, which is represented as a mummy with an erect phallus, but his phallus is located in the position of his navel. The location of Min’s phallus divides his body into the Golden Ratio.2 (The Temple In Man, R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz) This is also true about the human body, that the navel is the point which divides the human body into the Golden Ratio proportion.(Figure 3a) This knowledge was well known by the Africans of the Nile valley and it was expressed in the Neter(Divine Spirit) Min. In the temple of Ramses IV is the same image of the Neter(Divine Spirit) Min with his whole body leaning at a 3 4 5 right triangle and incorporating the same Golden Ratio proportions.3 (The Egyptian Miracle, R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, figure 3b) The ancient Africans of the Nile valley had a very deep understanding of this Ratio and it’s significance in nature and with the human body. In addition, in the building of the temples and the pyramids and Tekenu(Obelisk) of the African Nile Valley culture was the incorporation of the value of the Golden Ratio and the number Pi. The entrance to the temple of Auset(Isis)(Figure 4a), according to Schwaller de Lubicz, the Africans of the Nile valley constructed the entrance to the temple by using the Golden Ratio and Pi. In the construction of the entrances the architects started with a 1 to 2 proportion. In figure 4b de Lubicz shows how the different part of the entrance proportionately incorporates the Golden Ratio and Pi.
The Great Pyramid of the African Nile valley(Figure 5a), which is the most recognized and impressive structure in history, also has the Golden Ratio and sacred geometry hidden in its construction. The ancient Africans of the Nile valley believed in the sacred balance of proportion and harmony. The first aspect of sacred geometry that the ancient African architects hid in the Great Pyramid was the Golden Ratio or  Phi. The Great Pyramid was constructed in such a way that if you divide the base of the Great Pyramid in half, than take that half and divide it by the length of the face of the Great Pyramid you would get 1.618 the Golden Ratio and that relationship would automatically make the height of the Pyramid equal to the square root of the length of the face of the Great Pyramid.
The Great Pyramid also solves one of the most ancient sacred geometry issues and that is the squaring of the circle. The Great Pyramid base is a square whose perimeter is equal to the circumference of a circle whose radius is the height of the Great Pyramid.  So through science of sacred geometry the ancient Africans of the Nile valley was able to tie together three geometric shapes that work together in harmony, a triangle, a square and a circle, it squares the circle (Figure 6a). The Greeks would much later after the Africans of the Nile valley had already solved the issue, represent this geometric harmony by placing an image of a man inside a square and a circle.

The Greek civilization also used the Golden Ratio in the building of their temples as shown here in the Parthenon see figure 7.

There are many buildings in Washington DC that use this same proportions and ratio.

One of the popular twentieth century architects Le Corbusier, explicitly used the Golden ratio in a modulor scaling system for architecture proportions. Le Corbusier based this system on the human measurements. He then incorporated these proportions in his architecture.

Ancient Kemet’s Influence on Greek Architecture

Ancient Kemet’s architecture that remains today is breathtaking, monumental in scale and recognizable. It had a particular character that permeated the physical appearance. Distinguishing features marked each design which subscribed to the Kemetic architectural tradition. It also had a noticeable influence on many aspects of Western architecture. It heavily influenced Greek architecture in a multitude of ways. Columns; the colonnade; stylobates; trabeation; post [column] and lintel [beam] construction; the entablature with an architrave frieze and cornice; arches; and the use of stone as a building material are all aspects of construction that are renown throughout architectural history that were first used as  methods of construction along the Nile Valley in Ancient Kemet.

Western culture’s classic civilizations are Ancient Greece and Rome. They are the foundation of Western culture. Their influence on all aspects of Western civilization, including architecture, is abundant. Greek architecture has a definitive architectural vocabulary that continues to have a profound effect on present day Western architecture. Ancient Kemet was the origin of many architectural methods of construction and aesthetics that are commonly overlooked today.


A column is a relatively long, slender vertical structural member. Throughout history, columns have been integral in the construction process.  In Ancient Kemet, columns served as structural and aesthetic 1elements. There are over 30 types of Kemetic column forms that all vary in appearance, size and style. In most cases, the columns had a base, shaft and capital (the top most structural member of the column). Stylobates (a raised platforms supporting a colonnade) were used to reinforce the foundation of columns. Their influence on the Greek Orders is visibly apparent in several of the types.
Kemetic Proto-Doric or Fluted Column Influence on the Greek Doric Order

The Step Pyramid complex of Third Dynasty Pharaoh Djoser (ca. 2667 to 2648 BC) has the Proto-Doric or Fluted Column type with abacus (the uppermost member of the capital of a column), convex shaft and base. [see figures 11,12] It predates the Greek Doric Order. [see figures 13,14] Each type has fluted shafts. Although the Proto-Doric column sits on a base, the typical Greek Doric Order does not.
The Step Pyramid complex (ca. 2667 to 2648 BC) with abacus, fluted shaft and base.

Kemetic Volute Column Influence on the Greek Ionic Order

The Greek Ionic Order derives from Kemetic lotus flower used throughout Ancient Kemetic architecture. The volute (a spiral scroll) style developed through the cultural transmission between Kemet and the Ionian people of Greece. Ancient Kemet developed strong precedent for artistic influence and a historical and cultural context ideal for the transmission of artistic and architectural notions. As Ionians began to colonize portions of the Delta region of Anicent Kemet, significant innovations in Ionian temple architecture of this period began to greatly resemble long established and commonly implemented elements of the Kemetic architectural tradition. [See figures 15,16,17,18,19,20]
Volute Column

Karnak Temple Complex at Karnak, Egypt (3200 BC)

Kemetic Palmiform and Composite Column Influence on the Greek Corithian Order
The Greek Corinthian Order resembles the Palmiform and Composite capitals of Ancient Kemet.  The ornamentation depicted in the capitals of both derived from nature. Mostly notably, inspiration was drawn from the lotus and papyrus of the Nile Valley and acanthus leaves of Ancient Greece. The idea of using the locale vegetation as a decrative column ornimentation was taught to the Greeks by the African architects of the Nile valley.  [See Figures 21,22,23,24]
Composite Column

Temple of Auset, Philae, Egypt (380–362 BC)
The three orders of Ancient Greece columns (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian) were concepts based upon balance and proportion.  And as stated previously were concepts inspired by what the Greeks learned in the Nile valley. These architectural conventions influenced subsequent civilizations such as ancient Rome and Renaissance architecture.  They are archetypes of Western architectural beauty.  Ancient structures like the Parthenon [see figure 25] have influenced countless buildings within the Western hemisphere - specifically civic buildings. The White House (Ionic columns) [see figure 26], the US Supreme Court (Ionic columns) [see figure 27], the Lincoln Monument (Doric columns) [see figure28] and the US Capitol Building (Ionic columns) [see figure 29] are all in Washington, D.C.  Each edifice was inspired by the ancient Greeks who were inspired by the ancient Nile valley African people.
The Parthenon

A colonnade is a number of columns arranged in order, in intervals called intercolumniation, supporting an entablature and, usually, one side of a roof. In Ancient Kemet, the colonnade accompanied post and beam construction. [See figures 30,31,32] They were constructed throughout the dynastic era.

 Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Luxor, Egypt (1490-1460 BC)
Post and Beam Construction
The post and beam method of construction was practiced by the Greeks and is still used throughout the world today. But It was first achieved in monumental fashion throughout the Nile Valley. In the figures shown, post [column] and beam [entablature] construction, and the abacus that sits on top of the capital are demonstrated. [See figures 33,34] The lotus or papyrus capital columns carry the weight of the architrave above. This is the precedence of the Ancient Greek post [column] and beam [entablature] method of construction where the column carries the weight of the beam [entablature] which, in turn, transfers the weight of roof above.

Entablature with Architrave, Frieze and Cornice

The Ancient Greek entablature was an elaborate horizontal band and molding supported by columns. It was horizontally divided into three basic elements: architrave (the lowest member), frieze (the middle member), and cornice (the uppermost member). During the dynastic period of Ancient Kemet, the architrave was decorated with mdw ntr [hieroglyphs]. Its use predates that of the Greeks. A curved cornice often rested above the architrave as a decorative feature.


A clerestory is an upper zone of a wall pierced with windows that emit light to the center of a room. They were first used in Ancient Kemet. Specifically, at the Temple of Amon at Karnak, clerestories permit light inside the Hypostyle Hall. It was later used as a design feature during the later period of Ancient Greece and in some Roman basilicas of justice. Its use is well known in Romanesque and Gothic cathedral architecture. Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France is an example of the use of clerestories in Gothic period architecture. They are flanked by flying buttresses (a specific form of buttressing in which an architectural structure is built against or is projecting from a wall which serves to support or reinforce the wall) at the exterior of the building. Clerestories are still regularly used in Western architecture in different design capacities and applications. The term now refers to any row of windows above eye level that allow light to penetrate a space.
Mount Rushmore and the Lincoln Memorial
The rock cut Temple of Ramses II was carved into the side of a mountain from massive blocks of sandstone up thirty tons each. This was a literal display of using the site context as the material for the construction of the temple. The faces of Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt carved into Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota is an example of the Temple of Ramses II’s influence on Western architecture. Additionally, the statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC is a direct parallel to that of the massive replicas of Ramses II sitting at the entrance of the Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel. These type of African influances on western society are very seldom talked about.

The next group of African people that was a very strong influence on Western society was the Moors of North Africa. The Moors entered Europe in the early 700s AD by way of the invasion and Domination of Spain and some parts of Italy, France and southern Europe. The Moors became an extremely influential force and occupied southern Europe for over 700 years. The Moors reestablished the intellectual development and new construction methods in the early European societies, which sparked the renaissance movement of the medieval period. The Moors built the first stone masonry structures and became one of the main master craftsmen in the construction of European castles and cathedrals. The first universities and educational institutions of western society was established by the Moors. One of those early castles built by the Moors was Castillo DeAmenar in Spain.
Africa’s Influence On Modern Society

In today’s society you can see the influence of Africa in many buildings and places in the United States and around the world. The Buildings and places very from national monuments to institutional buildings to private and commercial structures.  The African influences in these structures are very clear as can be seen in the following images.
Further Readings
Armstrong, W., Chipiez (translator), C. Perrot, G. (1883). An ancient history of art in ancient Egypt 2 Volumes. New York: A.C. Armstrong and Son.
Badawy, A. (1965). Ancient Egyptian architectural design: A study of harmonic system. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.
Badawy, A. (1966). Architecture in ancient Egypt and the Near East. Cambridge, MA: The M.I.T. Press.
Basire, J. (1789). The rudiments of ancient architecture, in two parts, vol. 1 of 2. London: I. And J. Taylor's Architectural Library.
Browder, A. T. (1992). Nile Valley contributions to civilization: Exploding the myths (Vol. 1). Washington, DC: The Institute of Karmic Guidance.
Clarke, S., & Englebach, R. (1990). Ancient Egyptian construction and architecture. New York: Dover Publications.
Edwards, A. (1891). Egypt the Birthplace of Greek Decorative Art. Pharoahs fellahs and explorers (pp. 158-192). New York: Harper & Brothers.
Goodyear, W.H. (1887). The Egyptian Origin of the Ionic Capital and of the Anthemion. The American Journal of Archaeology and of the History of the Fine Arts, 3, 271-302.
Gwilt, J. (1982). The encyclopedia of architecture. New York: Random House Publishing.
Harris, C. (Ed.) (2000). Dictionary of architecture & construction. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Kostof, S. (1995). A history of architecture: Settings and rituals. New York: Oxford University Press.
Livingston, L (2000, December 12). Egyptian influence on Ionic temple architecture. Retrieved February 18, 2014 from
Lloyd, S., Muller. H., Martin, R. (1974). Ancient architecture: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Crete, Greece. New York: Harry N. Abrams.
Lockyer, N. (1894). The dawn of astronomy. London: Cassell and Company Limited.
Riley, J. (1996, May). A paradigm for Kemetic architectural design: The beginnings of a Kemetic architectural design language. Retrieved December 9, 2013 from
Schwaller de Lubicz, R. A. (1977). The temple in man: The secrets of ancient Egypt. Brookline, MA: Autumn Press.
Schwaller de Lubicz, R.A. (1985). The Egyptian miracle.  Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.
Smith, E. B. (1938). Egyptian architecture as a cultural expression. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., Inc.
Smith, W. S. (1958). The art and architecture of ancient Egypt. New York: Penguin Books Ltd.
Tompkins, P. (1972). Secrets of the Great Pyramid.  New York: HarperCollins.
Van Sertima, I. (1986). Golden age of the Moor. New Brunswick: Transaction Press.
Vignoloa, A. (Ed.) (1891). The five orders of architecture. New York: Wm. T. Comstock.
Wilkinson, J. (1850). The architecture of ancient Egypt. London: Murray, J.








Monday, May 22, 2017


By Fahim A. Knight-El

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Black history for me as many of my reading audience, perhaps already know, is a very passionate​ subject in which I take very serious. Some years ago, my three sons were in the public school system as students. My middle son ran into some obstacles about his love for black history (I taught all of my children​ to love their blackness and to embrace their culture and heritage) and on this one occasion a mis-educated and hankerchef head Negro teacher was attempting to deter him from writing a paper on a non-traditional African American leader. The teacher had a shallow perspective on African American history and our contribution to civilization.

This school district constituted Negro teachers and white teachers (both of them shared the same mindset) I took on these Uncle Tom Negro teachers and educators. I wrote a book titled, A Children Manual in African American History, in defense of my son and in defense of every black child in that school district. I wanted to let them know that there were many more historical African American leaders other than George Washington Carver, Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. I highlighted twenty so-called African American personalities in that book such as: David Walker, Harriet Tubman, Phillis Wheatley, Marian Anderson, Yahweh Ben Yahweh, Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, Sojourner Truth, Kwame Ture, Oba Adefumi, Louis Farrakhan, Carter G. Woodson, Noble Drew Ali, Mary Church Terrell, Elijah Muhammad, W.E.B Dubois, etc.

I explained to my son during this process that if we do not like​ what Negro and white educators are writing and presenting then it is our responsibility and obligation to write and record our own history (this became one of those true teachable moments). But if you dare take this type of non-compromising position, you must be willing to often pay a huge personal price, because there are consequences that comes along when you dare to speak truth to power, I paid and my children paid a heavy price for standing up and challenging white supremacy and their Negro overseers. If had to do it all over again I would do it the exact same way.

The teaching of Black History in the public schools should be considered an academic mandate to be taught as part of the overall curriculum and incorporated as an extension of American History (required beyond just being a student elective) that should serve as a prerequisite for all U.S. public school students. Moreover, which will create culture diversity in learning and foster better understanding about the social, political and economic plight of African American people and their descendents, and the contribution they made in American history and on the stage of world civilization.

Also Black History could be used in the classroom to build positive self-esteem and self-awareness amongst African American students and improve academic achievement. This writer finds this research important because my late grandparents and my Elders informed me that during the Jim Crow (Plessy v. Ferguson 1896) and segregation era in America, in particular in the old south black history was taught in the segregated black school districts and classrooms as a required mandate, it instilled racial pride and connected blacks to the social progress they made prior to slavery, during slavery and up until civil rights movement of the 1950s (Brown v. Board of Education 1954) and 1964 Civil Rights Act were only social progression steps of attempting to legally remedy the political, economic and social challenges that were confronting black people in the 1950s and 1960s (but if we as so-called African Americans​ were honest with ourselves, it is enough clear evidence that has been rendered over the last sixty years to prove that integration has failed us as a people).

This writer will use various scholars, historians and social scientist (mainly secondary sources) to build a scholarly case of why it is important to include the teaching of Black History in the public school classrooms by analyzing and assessing the historiography in which to allow the evidence to substantiate the necessity of Black History being inclusive as part of the pedagogy of the American public educational process.

This research also will briefly look at the systemic effects of Chattel Slavery, Jim Crow and the positive and negative impact segregation had on the educational development of class curriculum (fostering educational disparities) and the roll black history need to continue to play. I would argue that the teaching of Black History could benefit all races, colors and nationalities when it comes to creating a learning environment that promotes educational diversity and an inclusionary teaching dynamic that could increase tolerance amongst students and people who may come from different socio-economic backgrounds and culture experiences. Yet, this writer, will address the critics and opponents of black history who do not view the teaching of black history in the classroom as needing to be mandatory within the American educational curriculum. This writer must be forthcoming and admit that based on the research length this thesis will have limitations in scholarly scope, but nevertheless, will attempt to expand the conversation and discussion relative to the value and importance of having black history being taught in the public systems school classrooms​.

Dr. James Standifer in the 1987 edition of "Journal of Negro Education" argues the importance of educational diversity and inclusion. Standifer argued that the present day teachers with out doubt have been better trained in the application of teaching methodology, which is a step in the right direction. But argued that there should be more training and attention around creating healthier learning environments that stems from working to better understand cultural diversity. And strengthen human relations by synthesizing and infusing into the educational curriculum an appreciation for the culture of ethno-marginalized people such as Asian-American, African American, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, etc. Standifer argued the above mentioned multicultural approach of ethnic inclusion was more valuable to a society that is in a social, political and economic transition and the curriculum should dictate this by moving away from any previous or present educational models or curriculums that negated multicultural diversity 

Standifer places tremendous value and focus on creating a curriculum that gives way to infusing learning more into a melting pot in which culture was seen as a vehicle to expand student’s worldview and enhance learning, as opposed to allowing culture to serve as a stagnate and divisive antagonistic contradiction. I think that Standifer was a visionary who understood thirty years ago that culture bias, stereotypes, racism, etc., could be eradicated by providing unlimited culture exposure to students; the ultimate goal was building tolerance on the academic level. Standifer argued four major goals and objectives of supporting educational inclusion. 1). To help students develop positive and realistic self-concepts regardless of race, sex, or culture background; (2) to help students understand that both sexes and diverse racial/cultural groups have valuable contributions to the heritage of the United States of America and that this rich diversity enriches and strengthen our country; (3) to help students understand that all persons are members of the human race and have common needs, feelings, and problems, while stimulating their appreciation for the uniques of each individual and culture group; and (4) to help students develop positive interpersonal and intergroup communication techniques as well as motivation to play an active role in the solution of societal conflicts." (James A. Standifer. “The Multicultural, Nonsexist  Principle: We Can't Afford to Ignore It”; The Journal of Negro Education: A Howard University Quarterly Review Issues Incidents to the Education of Black People volume 56 (1987): 471-474 print).

After the 2008 presidential election of America's first so-called black President Barack Obama there was talk that the United States as a nation had transitioned into a post-racial era, which early on some believed that the social and the racial dynamics inside the United States had forever changed with his election of Obama as U.S commander-in-chief. But there were some public intellectuals who were skeptical of this notion such as Dr. Eric Michael Dyson, Dr. Boyce Watkins, Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley and black nationalist leader Minister Louis Farrakhan who attempted to caution us about the so-called post racial era being ushered in with President Barack Obama becoming the first African American president (they argued that according to the NAACP and the U.S. Justice Department the racial divide was acerbated after 2008).

Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) known as the Father of Black History understood that the so-called American Negro had a long and worthy history that had been systematically covered up and distorted. It would be the work of Woodson in a formal way in 1926 establishing Black History Week and early on in 1916 founding the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History that brought attention to the need of treating black history as being totally inclusive of United States history and creating a broader level of academic respectability for it as a discipline in and outside the classroom.

Yet, his contemporary Dr. W.E.B. Dubois (1868-1963) who was the first African American in 1895 to receive a Ph.D in history from Harvard University ​and would play a major intellectual role in writing scholarly defenses and re-counting ancient and modern African civilizations that predated American slavery. Dubois and Woodson produced bodies of historiography, which meticulously redefined the historical meaning of black history and how it would be viewed for decades to come, in particular in the world of academia. Dubois and Woodson were professional historians whose scholarship stood as empirical models​ and served as an indication that blacks played a major role on the stage of human civilization. Dr. Carter G. Woodson first published the Mis-Education of the Negro in 1933, and was the second African American to receive a Ph.D in history from Harvard University in 1912 behind W.E. B. Dubois who was awarded a Ph.D from Harvard in 1895 (and wrote the dissertation titled, Suppression of the African Slave Trade).

He explored and critiqued the historical effect American education has had on the so-called American Negro. Woodson maintained that American education was rooted in a Eurocentric and European historical paradigm where European history was viewed as superior to other people's cultures and having falsely thought of themselves as being the citadel of civilization. Thus, African Americans were taught that they were inferior and were urged to admire European historical accomplishments over the contributions that African people had made on the stage of human civilization. The text books were written to reflect the social, political and economic views of the dominant white culture. It was perhaps this negation that has historically fostered the need for African Americans to establish and develop schools and academies that gave recognition to their contributions to world civilizations and American history other than their contributions as slaves. Thus, due to very little official records were being recorded and kept on the African slaves, most of the early history of the black experience had to be pieced milled together from U.S. Census reports and most it was not recorded—it was a crime against humanity because so-called African-Americans have a difficult time trying to retrace our history back to our native home and land of Africa, which often ends in a dead end (oftentimes when we attempt to reconstruct our genealogy roots or family tree, it only allows us to trace our history back to the American slave plantations). Woodson argued that educated blacks have received a mis-education and it has had a negative impact on their worldview and failure to become economically, politically and socially sovereign and autonomous as a free people. He further argued that American blacks will not come to a true historical realization until they know and embrace their own history and culture prior to Chattel slavery and come to know the great African civilizations of Egypt, Mali, Ghana and Songhai (Carter G. Woodson. Mis-Education of the Negro. New York: Tribeca Books, 2013).

However, we should never overlook early black nationalist race leaders such as Paul Cuffee, Martin Delaney, Henry Highland Garnet, Bishop Henry McNeil Turner, Noble Drew Ali, Elijah Muhammad and perhaps the greatest of them of all was Marcus Mosiah Garvey who popularized the Back to Africa Movement and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N I.A.) it would be Garvey' s teaching of black nationalism and Pan-Africanism that redefined what it meant to be black and African—he pointed us to Africa by redefining African history, the symbolism, imagery, and created a sense of black racial pride that has been unmatched in American in history. Garvey also published a magazine called the "Negro World" which published rare black history and accomplishments made by Africans in the Diaspora and on the African continent. Edward Wilmont Blyden in his writings also made a tremendous contribution to exposing the world to the extensiveness of African contributions to world civilization. This writer cited the above scholars and activist as an attempt to argue against the white supremacy agenda who has always attempted to negate the historical contributions of black people, perhaps this racist phenomenon has been detrimental to the collective social progress of the people of the United States. This writer sees the potential benefits of implementing African American history as a subject matter to be taught in the public schools as being a first step and positive redress to rewriting the narrative. This type of critical thinking and analyzing possess the potential of producing positive effects by imploring a curriculum and subject to further create cultural sensitivity and diversity in schools amongst all students. My research assessment will also argue that the educational classroom could be used to alter damaging and negative societal and educational stereotypes such as racism, discrimination, and demeaning images.

This writer find it necessary even in 2017 to reflect back on the historical effect that Chattel Slavery (1555-1865) created and produced, it was perhaps one of the greatest crimes ever committed against humanity. Blacks were kidnapped and snatched from their native lands and countries, denied the right to speak their native Bantu languages, stripped of their names, culture, religion, mores, folkways, etc., during the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Middle Passage. Moreover, sold into Chattel Slavery in which on the plantation, it caused for families to be divided and sold from plantation to plantation.

The former Yale University professor Dr. John Blassingame in his seminal work titled, The Slave Community, analyzed​ the effect that Chattel Slavery had on black slave families and the shaping of the slave personality. Black slaves were prohibited from being allowed to read and write, in which learning was illegal and against the rules and laws of the institution of slavery.

African Slaves could be flogged and whip or even killed, if caught with a book. Kenneth Stampp in his work titled, Peculiar Institution, he surveyed almost every facet of American slave plantation life and he too argued that it was an inhumane and denigrating system (both economically and racially inspired and maintained). The black slaves were eventually allowed to be preached to and taught a Biblical Christian education and initially this was the only allowable formal education approved for the slave. This quasi educational process was initially conducted by the white slave master and later a trained black overseer. The Christian education was steeped in white supremacy ideological theories where blacks were taught that they were the descendants of the Biblical Ham and was a cursed people and they were taught to obey their masters, this social engineering process created a social and psychological models of white superiority and black inferiority (this was the devastation of the white Christian missionaries had on teaching us a slave doctrine in which Tariq Nasheed in his documentary titled, Hidden Colors 4 explores the intent and effect of white Christianity teachings of indoctrination.

Dr. Naim Akbar was a former professor of psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee Florida. A former columnist for the "Muhammad Speaks" newspaper  under the Honorable Elijah Muhammad known back then as Brother Luther X. Weems (published a powerful little book titled, The Community of Self) and host of other books: Know thyself, Visions for Black men, Akbar's Papers in African Psychology, Light from Ancient Africa, Chains and Images of Psychological Slavery, etc. He became the National Representative of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed and the American Muslim Mission in the late 1970s and because of his political, and cultural views on black nationalism he had a very short tenure with this apolitical Islamic organization. He also was the former president of the Association of Black Psychologist and member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations. and became one​ of the premier scholars of the African-centered movement. Akbar as I stated above had written numerous books relating to the black experience. Akbar argued as a social scientist and as an Afrocentric mental health expert that the 300 years dehumanization process imposed on African Americans by Chattel Slavery left a people psychologically and historically scarred. Akbar continues to argue that the images (created lasting false complexities of superiority among white Americans and inferiority complexities among black Americans or ex-slaves). Dr. Joy DeGruy in her book titled, Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, she substantiated Akbar' s contentions relative to the collective damage that slavery had on past, present and on the possible future psyche of those descendants who share the African DNA (DeGruy argues that the black slaves were never allowed to heal). Akbar stated that this phenomenon was more devastating than the physical bondage imposed on blacks under Chattel Slavery in which white supremacy schools of thought created racial and culture disparities. It led to​ unlevel learning fields that supported educational discrimination, stereotypes and attributed to racism being taught in public and private schools. He pointed out that even the image of the Divine (God and Jesus) was represented and portrayed as being white skinned Caucasian (and European).

The American educational system was built on a curriculum of lacking inclusion (Western Civilization in some instances outright lied and distorted history to the detriment of indigenous people) in which they taught that all the major contributions made in world civilization were made by Europeans and lacked respect and appreciation for indigenous people's culture and heritage (this led to white supremacy, genocide, land thievery, exploitation of natural resources and raping and robbing throughout the planet). This in my opinion justifies the need to teach black history in the public school system in order to right the wrong. Akbar states that white supremacy images, symbols, folkways, rites, sacraments, rituals, etc., taught to African Americans during slavery have created a mental bondage in which caused invisible chains that even in 2017 in some instances it has hindered social progress and has proven to be more devastating than the actual physical chains imposed by Chattel Slavery. Akbar also argued that African Americans have to free their minds from Eurocentric culture and ideals. He counters with a solution with putting forth African centered education that promotes positive self-images and working from a psychological perspective to teach black people the knowledge of self. His perspectives were in ideological line with Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad views on education (Naim Akbar. Breaking the Chains and Images of Psychological Slavery. Tallahassee, Florida: Mind Productions and Associates, Inc. 1996).   

The author Curtis Alexander hails in his book title, Elijah Muhammad on African American Education: A Guide for. African American and Black Studies Program , that Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam had it right, in particular building and establishing their own parochial schools (Muhammad University of Islam), which gave them the latitude to devise a black nationalist centered curriculum. The teaching of black history was essential to the Black Muslims pedagogy and was the center of their ideological educational framework (although this was taking place within a private educational setting, nevertheless, I equally believe that this impacted the course of public education as well). Alexander, although, was not a member of the Nation of Islam, he seemed to be moved by Muhammad's do-for-self, and black independence philosophy, which allowed this group to build self-regulating institutions and controlled the curriculum. This gave the Black Muslims an autonym to control the educational destiny of their schools and children. I think Alexander's research allows us a glimpse into the role black nationalism and religious nationalism has played in shaping and defining the importance of black history relative to American education in the United States. The author further defines the ideological foundation of the Black Muslim program in which they were ostracized, ridiculed and condemned for implementing and teachings the importance of black history in a society that had historically created a white supremacy educational worldview (Curtis E. Alexander. Elijah Muhammad on African American Education: A Guide for. African American and Black Studies Program. Chesapeake, Virginia, 1989).

Dr. Earl Thorpe was a former professor of history at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina who also taught at Harvard University alongside authoring Black Historians: A Critique he published nine books and over twenty-five scholarly articles (another one of his acclaim books was titled, The Central Theme of Black History).Thorpe's thesis was an evaluation and historical assessment of various timesframes of black historians and/or professional African American historians who wrote scholarly writings and taught black history and history in general, mainly on the college and university level (all of the black historians reviewed by Thorpe had a scholarly passion towards teaching and promoting black history as a curriculum). Thorpe was an advocate of black scholars having the responsibility of creating a scholarly environment that was rooted in empirical objectivity and as a discipline black history would have met the rigorousness of scholarly scrutiny to justify its importance and value to the overall field of American history. Moreover, Thorpe surveyed the historical time frames: 1800-1896, 1896-1939, and 1930-1960. Thorpe cited various scholars and their works to the field and study of black history in which gives the readers an understanding of the intellectualism behind the historiography that helped shape and mold black history. There is no doubt we are standing on the foundation of black scholars such as W.E.B Dubois and Carter G. Woodson and contribution they made to the study of black history (Earl E. Thorpe. Black Historians: A Critique. New York, New York: William and Morrow and Company, 1958.

Dr. John Hope Franklin retired as a professor Emeritus of history at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Perhaps one of the most well respected historians of the 20th century. His book From Slavery to Freedom is the most widely read and used black history text books in the world in which many editions have been published in various languages. Dr. Franklin wrote as a professional historian who seemed more concerned with presenting information that met the academic standards of being scientific and presenting black history as a scholarly discourse. Some might argue that his approach to analyzing black history was more of being in line with bourgeoisie values and with a non-threaten approach to appease the white world of academia. Yet, in the beginning of the book Dr. Franklin surveyed the powerful and great African kingdoms and gives the readers a glimpse into African civilizations prior to European colonialism and imperialism. He argues that black history was essentially American history and should be treated beyond just being an insignificant footnote or an afterthought in United States history. Dr Franklin meticulous surveyed and documented over 250 years of black history from when the first slave ships docked in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 to the Emancipation Proclamation (1862) and the enactment of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution that so-called freed the slaves (1865). No one scholar makes a better argument of the importance of recording and teachings black history than Dr. John Hope Franklin (John Hope Franklin. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans. New.York, : Alfred A. Knopf, 1980). 

Willis G.Huggins and John G. Jackson published this book A Guide to Studies in African History in 1934, in which Huggins was an Assistant Teacher of Social Studies at Bushwick High School, New York. Dr. John G. Jackson was known for his most popular work titled, Introduction to African Civilization. This small book standout because Huggins was a social studies teacher in the public school. These two scholars perhaps like Joel Augusta Rogers researched and found African presence and contributions in the so-called 'New World' before the arrival of Europeans. For example, in Latin America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Santa Domingo, etc., blacks were there even before the Columbus expeditions in 1492, and prior to other European conquistadors venturing into the Americas, but for black students what one perhaps will find astonishing about this work was the historical impact the Nubian Moors in the 8th Century under Tarik Ibn Zaid had on southern Europe, in particular on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). The Moors in 711 AD had conquered Spain and introduced pave streets, public and private bathing facilities, lit streets, etc., in Cordova, Seville, and Barcelona some of the Moorish architecture history is well preserved. It was these black Nubian Moors that after the Dark Ages brought civilization throughout European society. Jackson and Huggins desired to prove that black people had a worthy history that was worth mentioning and give it the scholarly recognition it deserved. This research was taking place during the period of Jim Crow and the Harlem Renaissance; and like Dubois, Woodson, Hansberry, Franklin, etc; they all wrote with a passion to uncover facts about the so-called American Negro and yet to equally prove to their white historian counterparts that they possessed the ability to be empirical and objective as black social scientist (Jackson, John G. Jackson and Willis N. Huggins, . A Guide to Studies in African History. New York, New York: The Federation of History Club, 1934).

Dr. Molefi Asante was a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia in history and black studies. Perhaps in the late 1980s and 1990s a group of black intellectuals surveyed academia and determined that African (black people) were not receiving the scholarly attention for their contributions to civilization. The Afrocentric movement created a new level of excitement in African history, traditions, cultures, etc., it was a semi-intellectual explosion, moreover, this movement was being led by the likes of Dr. Leonard Jeffries, IvanVan Sertima, Asa Hilliard, Mualana Karenga, John Henrik Clarke, Amos Wilson, Khallid Abdul Muhammad, Marimbe Ani, Cheikh Anta Diop, etc. This movement as stated above created a reinvigoration for the need to bring black history back into the schools, because Eurocentric scholars had omitted pertinent factual historical information about African and black people in world history and had systematically disseminated lies, distortions and half-truths about African people's contributions to human civilization. Asante did not offer anything new because prior to Afrocentric thoughts and theories Pan-Africanist and Black Nationalist leaders have argued for over a century the need to redefine the history of African people to reflect a historical narrative beyond Chattel Slavery and beyond the Europeans interpretations. Yet, the difference was Afrocentric thought had moved into the world of academia and for the first time on a large scale, it was forcing a different type of debate amongst the scholarly community relative to inclusion (Molefi Kete Asante. Afrocentricity. New York, New York: Africa World Press, 1988). 

Dr. Mary Lefkowitz in her book titled, Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History wrote the anti-thesis as a historical critique to Afrocentricity, which Dr. George G.M. James, Cheikh Anta Diop, Dr. Molefi Asante, John Henrik Clarke, Yosef A. A. Ben Jochannan, etc., argued that western theoreticians had always viewed Africa as an object rather than a subject and saw Africa as the Dark Continent who made no contribution to world civilization. Dr. Lefkowitz was a Humanities professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. (she led some of the scholarly attacks against Dr. Tony Martin who authored the book titled, The Jewish OnSlaught: Dispatches From Wellesley Battlefront). She argued against Egypt (Kemet) being black and Nubian and attributed Egypt (Kemet) greatness to having historical relations with Greek society where by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc., have received the credit as being great enlightened master teachers, but George G.M. James in his book titled, Stolen Legacy argued that Greek Mythology was essentially Egyptian Philosophy and they stole their knowledge from the Nubian blacks of Kemet. This writer viewed Lefkowitz contentions as being a scholarly insult because it quasi sought to denigrate the intellectualism of black people as being incapable of introducing world civilization to Europeans and others around the world. The building and construction of the pyramids has mystified Europeans for centuries in which Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop posed the question in the title of his book African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality and unlike Lefkowitz, he made the case that Africa from North Africa down to South Africa was black. Although, Diop understood that due to outside invasions from the Persians, Turks, Arabs, Semites, Greeks, Romans, Assyrians, etc., which led to the  miscegenation in Kemet. However, there was little doubt that the original people that occupied Egypt were black skinned Nubians. This alone beckons the need for black history to be taught in the public schools system.(Lefkowitz, Mary. Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History. New York, New York: Basic Books, 1997).

Lastly, this writer thinks it would be a positive step in the right direction to mandate and include black history as part of the curriculum in United States publc schools with the educational objective of contributing to enhancing racial diversity and helping tear down artificial barriers such as cultural biases, racism, stereotypes and all forms of discrimination in the public school system and outside. Moreover, the teaching of black history has the potential of creating a level of tolerance​ and sensitivity amongst all people who may differ in national origin, ethnic and racial, religious and/or culturally. Finally this writer believes that it could also be used to inspire African American students to be more motivated to achieve academically.

Fahim A. Knight-El Chief Researcher for KEEPING IT REAL THINK TANK located in Durham, NC; our mission is to inform African Americans and all people of goodwill, of the pending dangers that lie ahead; as well as decode the symbolism and reinterpreted the hidden meanings behind those who operate as invisible forces, but covertly rules the world. We are of the belief that an enlightened world will be better prepared to throw off the shackles of ignorance and not be willing participants for the slaughter. Our MOTTO is speaking truth to power. Fahim A. Knight-El can be reached at

Monday, May 1, 2017


By Fahim A. Knight-El

Image result for kaepernick AND BLACK POWER

Thesis Statement: Colin Kaepernick's protest, dissention and refusal to stand for the playing of the United States National Anthem must be viewed outside of the superficial question of patriotism and understood as an act of free speech, which was protected under the United States Constitution.


This research will attempt to frame a current event issue of social justice involving Colin Kaepernick an African American professional football player, in particular by assessing and evaluating in a limited way race, police brutality, patriotism and social justice within a non quantitative scope. This writer must admit from the outcome that this will not be an exhaustive research, it will have some scholarly and journalistic limitations and shortcomings, but this writer will make every attempt to remain objective and empirical throughout the essay. 

Kaepernick's political position created a sizable amount of controversy during the 2016-2017 NFL football season, because he stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem in protest of the killings of unarmed black men by white law enforcement officers. This writer will seek to distinguish patriotism, Americanism and what is deemed subversive action and place Kaepernick social protest beyond the question of an act of sedition and treason.[1] 

11                                                  Kaepernick: Right to Dissent

Kaepernick protest action whether or not we viewed his behavior as being distasteful and/or un-American or viewed him as a hero and/or a true American patriot. It really did not matter because this writer after assessing and analyzing the data has come to the conclusion that Kaepernick social protest on the football field must be protected as free speech and under his First Amendment Right to dissent.[2]

His political stance gained national attraction in which other NFL players, college athletes and even high school athletes joined on to Kaepernick stance to expand the conversation about race, police brutality and justice. My research will only serve as a microcosm to a much larger and extensive problem in the United States, which is the unresolved question of race and racism.[3]

Colin Kaepernick as stated above is a National Football League (NFL) professional athlete and quarterback of the San Francisco Forty Niners. Let me try to historically and presently make an attempt to contextualize my argument by briefly bringing an understanding of the social, political and economic landscape of the United States of America from 2012 thru 2016. Moreover, by given brief attention into recent political events, which have impacted African Americans relative to addressing the issues of police brutality and the judicial system. The scholar Michelle Alexander in her book titled, The New Jim Crow, explores the systemic outcomes of a judicial and criminal justice apparatus that have been race based and has led to mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex. 

III                                  Treyvone Martin Speaking From the Grave

It was perhaps the Treyvone Martin's case in Florida that involved a young black teenager who was walking from the store and entered into his father's neighborhood where he was deemed suspicious based on racist biased stereotypes and possibly from those stereotypes, it was determined that Martin had criminal intent on his mind in which this led to Martin being followed, accosted and was eventually murdered by George Zimmerman (a white security guard).[4]

The Florida judicial system found Zimmerman not guilty of murder and acquitted him based on citizens living in Sanford, Florida having the right to defend ones self under a law called stand your ground law. The legal exoneration of Zimmerman created emotions on both sides (was it a racist murder or self-defense justifiable homicide).[5] Thus, once again for some this incident was a microcosm into America’s racial history, which led to the argument of the impact of race, justice and fairness within the judicial system relative to people of color.[6] 

Many in the African American community felt that Martin was unjustly murdered and this was historically consistent with black men being killed by white police officers and law enforcement agents throughout American History. It would be this judicial case that became the impetus for the establishment of the Black Lives Matter movement in which this grassroots protest organization brought national attention to police brutality and the high incidents of unarmed African American men being killed by white law enforcement officers across America

 IV                                                     Black Lives do Matter

The Black Lives Matter movement begin spearheading large mass protest demonstrations throughout America via marches, boycotts and in some cases outright confrontations with law enforcement ensued. This was typified in Ferguson, Missouri when Michael Brown was gunned down by a white police officer and in Baltimore, Maryland where Freddie Gray was killed while in police custody.[7]  The political momentum extended to the colleges and universities campuses where students joined on to the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement demanding responsible policing and holding law enforcement officers accountable when they break the law. This type of mobilization was best highlighted by students at the University of California at Berkeley, a white prestigious university who stood in defiance and in rebellion and the University of Missouri football team who also stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and agenda.

We do not live in a vacuum (nor a bubble) and this writer thinks that Colin Kaepernick, although, he is wealthy and privileged as a professional athlete begin seeing the world outside of the bubble, and sought to engage himself within a social issue that had extended far beyond the comfort of his personal wealth status, which he himself being a black man in America could easily identify. Perhaps being exposed to the mass medium reports, both electronic and print about the high profile killings of unarmed African American men resonated with Kaepernick. It possibly led him to question the social internal contradictions and was the premises of these law enforcement murders more rooted in the unresolved question of race and racism in America

V                 America was Founded on Racism and White Supremacy

This writer maintains that these incidents sensitized Kaepernick to the agony, pain and suffering of black mothers and fathers having to bury their sons and daughters prematurely (it sprung him into becoming proactive). Race as an antagonistic contradiction in American history has been in existence since the inception of this nation's early development; this was best analyzed by professor Derrick Bell in his book titled, Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism [8] and Cornel West in his book titled, Race Matters also deals with how intertwined race has been as a social phenomenon, throughout American history impacting every facet of our social, political, and economic fiber since our sojourn in America beginning with Chattel Slavery (1619-1865); this social dilemma continues to have lasting effects on race relations in the United States even as I write this essay. 

Also, Andrew Hacker in his book titled, Two Nations: Black and White Separate, Hostile, Unequal, In this thesis he examines the racist and white supremacy mindset that evolved along side the first white settlers who arrived in the so-called 'New World' during the early 1600s (colonial America) and encountered the Native Americans (race therefore after would become a problem).[9]

VI                            Kaepernick Protest was About Speaking Truth to Power

Kaepernick was not considered a Black Nationalist or an activist, but he felt obligated as a black American to address the killings of unarmed black men by white law enforcement officers by using his high profile position and status as a professional athlete to condemn, rebuke and stood with those who were deemed victims of an unjust system. But beneath Kaepernick's tactic and strategy of not to stand and salute the American flag and the national anthem, was him having the fundamental and Constitutional right to exercise lawful dissension.

Some viewed his kneeling protest as an act of sedition and treason. Kaepernick critics were equating patriotism with a false flag waving mindset and failed to understand that the U.S. Founding Fathers in the language of the Preamble to the constitution for saw and imposed language that would lead us more toward a perfect democracy.

VII                                   Black Athletes Who Stood For Social Justice

Yet, he was not the first high profile African American athlete to take up the cause of social justice, perhaps one of the most well known black athletes to do so was former 1960 U. S. Olympic gold medalist[10] and heavy weight boxing champion of the world Muhammad Ali who had joined the Nation of Islam and had become a Muslim under Elijah Muhammad who in the 1960s refused to be inducted into the United States arm forces citing himself as a religious conscience objector.[11] 

Ali condemned the United States military industrial complex and openly refused to fight in Vietnam. His stance brought international attention to the political validity (relative to imperialism and aggression) of the United States being militarily involved in Southeast Asia and using black men as political tools and as cannon fodder in achieving American reactionary foreign policy objectives.[12]

Also, at the 1968, Mexico City Olympic Games in which John Carlos and Tommy Smith, two American track and field athletes who received the silver and bronze medals respectively, but at the medal ceremony, they both raised their black gloved fists in solidarity with the Black Power movement of the 1960s that was being led by the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.[13] There was a revolutionary mood in America in the 1960s with black nationalists personalities such as Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Stokley Carmichael, H.Rap Brown, Angela Davis, Elaine Brown, George Jackson and the Soledad Brothers, etc. 

I do not think we could equate Kaepernick's protest intentions and motives of possessing and having the political implications of the above mentioned Black Power advocates, but yet they shared a similar political thread, which was addressing injustice and police brutality in the black community. The Black Panther Party in their "Ten Point Plan" (‘What the Panthers Want, What We Believe’) was critical of police brutality and believed the people had a right to defend themselves by any means necessary against such brutality.[14]

VIII                     Patriotism, Americanism and Citizenship: What does this Mean?

Kaepernick was not advocating arm resistance or any form of violence against the United States Government; he like many in the African American community sought to dramatize police brutality by creating a larger conversation about race and policing, as well as drawing attention to injustice. His refusal to stand when U.S. National Anthem was being sung went much deeper into the social and political complexities of Americanism and how has this been applied to a marginalized people who have been referred to as hyphenated Americans (African-Americans). 

Dr. W.E.B. Dubois in 1903, confronted this social dilemma in his monumental book titled, The Souls of Black Folk, what he referred to as "twoness" the duplicity and ambivalence of being a the so-called American Negro and torn between being American and African in the United States.[15] This in my opinion was the social dichotomy which rested the foundation of Kaepernick's civil disobedience and refusal to acknowledge the American flag and national anthem; his kneeling served more as a denunciation and exposing the perceived hypocrisy of what they stated it meant to be an American citizen as conveyed in the 1776 Declaration of Independence; “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain in unalienable rights among these are  Life,  Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”.[16] 

Yet, African Americans being unjustly gunned downed and murdered by white law enforcement officer left a lot to be desired relative to the question of patriotism and Americanism from Kaepernick's vanish point.  These racially motivated incidents of killing unarmed black men left the impression that blacks were not being treated with justice and therefore, the flag and American patriotism were being defined differently by Kaepernick because of these injustices. 

This much this writer applauded Kaepernick social justice stance and for using his large public stage to expose and draw attention to the systemic practices of racism and police brutality in America. Kaepernick pundits and critics did not understand and was intentionally overlooking that Kaepernick protest was protected under the First Amendment Right to the United States Constitution, which guarantees and protects every American to having the right of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. 
His failing to stand during the playing of the national anthem did not violate U.S. law, it has to be received as protected free speech. We have to understand that the real litmus test to free speech is how do we receive speech that we disagree on and do we allow it to co-exist along side speech that we find agreeable.

IX                      Final Thoughts on Race, Racism, Policing and Free Speech

Lastly, Kaepernick is the epitome of what it means to be a patriot, in which the Founding Fathers created and established a democracy that would be rooted in a check and balance governmental system. They allowed for dissention to be an alternative to tyranny, oppression and injustice and the legality of such would be protected under the United States Constitution. Kaepernick refusal to stand at the raising of the United States flag and singing of the national anthem was definitely an act of dissent, but it wasn't necessarily un-American and should have never been viewed as a question of patriotism or treason. Some of us in the Kaepernick argument failed in the fundamental understanding of what Constitutional intent was conveying pursuant to what is referred to as protected free speech in which Kaepernick was exercising. 

There was no doubt Kaepernick's involvement as a high profile celebrity in the above mentioned social justice cause has drawn attention to the question of race, racism and police brutality aimed at black men in which in my opinion his involvement expanded the conversation. However, he did lose some credibility when he revealed that he did not vote in the last presidential election and his critics viewed this overt political neglected as the highest level of hypocrisy because part of change can be determined at the ballot box. Yet, this did not sway me away from seeing the larger picture of Kaepernick's social activism and the importance of his involvement. 

Yet, this writer thinks and understands by this being a contemporary issue, it is entirely too early for social scientist and historians to assess and evaluate relative to making a scientific judgment on the long term benefits and shortcomings of Kaepernick activism. The historiography is still developing and will perhaps be many years before we could make a true scholarly assessment of the personalities and events surrounding Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter movement and the impact they had on reshaping the conversation relating to race and policing in present and future America

This writer is also fully aware that Kaepernick's daring to engage in such controversial social justice issue could have a negative adverse consequence on his career as an athlete. He essentially was challenging the status quo in which the National Football League is a powerful and influential corporation whereas it generates huge amounts of profits and revenue. They have the power to 'black ball' Kaepernick as away of serving notice on other black athletes who would dare to engage in controversial social justice issues. Athletes are viewed as gladiators who are paid handsomely to entertain and to always think inside the box[17].


[1] John McWorter.Colin Kaepernick Had No Choice but to Kneel”; Internet article September 22, 2016.      
[2] Nancy Armour. How national anthem protests bring out the worst in people”; Internet article USA TODAY Sports  September 25, 2016.      
[3]Ibid, Armour.
[4]Ta-Nehisi Coates. “Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice”; Internet article the July 15, 2013.  
[5]Author William P. Benjamin, African Americans in the Criminal Justice. (New York: Vantage Press, 1996) vii- vii.  
[6]Ibid, Benjamin.  
[7]Marc Lamont Hill, Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond. (New York: Atria Books, 2016).
[8] Derrick Bell, Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism. (New York: Basic Books, 1992) xiv-xv.
[9]Andrew Hacker, Two Nations: Black and White Separate, Hostile, Unequal. (New York: Scribner Publishing, 2003) 3-4.   
[10]Karl Evanzz,  The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad. (New York: Random House, 1999) 330-331. 
[11]Ibid, 331.
[12]Ibid, 330-331.   
[13] Edna and Art Rust. Jr., Art Rust’s Illustrated History of the Black Athlete. (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1985) 358-559.    
[14]Hugh Pearson, The Shadow of the Panther: Huey P. Newton and the Price of Black Power in America. (New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1994) 109-110.    
[15] W.E.B Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk. (New York: Signet Classic, 1903) 45.
[16]Ibid, McWorter.  
[17]William C. Rhoden, Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete. (New York: Random House, 2006) 2-3.


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