Dr. John Henrik Clarke
John Henrik Clarke (b. January 1, 1915 - d. July 16, 1998) was a historian and educator who is considered a pioneer in the field of Africana studies. He helped to change the way in which Africa and people of African descent were viewed in society. Clarke was born on Jan 1, 1915, in Union Springs, Alabama.
His father worked as a sharecropper and his mother washed clothes for others. He was born John Henry Clark, but he altered the spelling of his name in adulthood. Clarke relocated to Harlem, New York, during the 1930s, and he was able to start developing his abilities as a writer and lecturer.
While living in Harlem, Clarke also began to study and learn more about the continent of Africa. The more he learned, the more Clarke was determined to bring the study of Africa to the forefront. He became a prominent figure during the Black Power Movement by advocating for studies on the experience and placement of Africans in world history. Through his advocacy Clarke was able to transform how African history was studied and taught.
He built a reputation for being a trusted historian and this allowed him to accept positions at the New School for Social Research. Clarke also took a position working at Hunter College and Cornell University as professor of African studies. While at Hunter College, he pushed for the creation of the Black and Puerto Rican Studies Department.
Clarke also spent time traveling where he connected with one of his former mentees, Kwame Nkrumah. During this time, he started working as a journalist for the Ghana Evening News. In 1968, Clarke founded the African Heritage Studies Association.
It is a professional organization that is committed to researching, analyzing and promoting the heritage and legacy of the African continent and Diaspora.
In addition to his role as an educator and historian, Clarke authored several books. Clarke’s written works include Africans at the crossroads (1991), African People in World History (1993) and Who Betrayed the African World Revolution? (1994).
John Henrik Clarke dedicated his life to readjusting the way society viewed people of African descent and influenced classrooms and college campuses across the world. He died on July 16, 1998 at the age of 83.