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Ivan Van Sertima was born in Guyana, South America. He was educated at the School of Oriental and African Studies (London University) and the Rutgers Graduate School and holds degrees in African Studies and Anthropology. From 1957-1959 he served as a Press and Broadcasting Officer in the Guyana Information Services. During the decade of the 1960s he broadcast weekly from Britain to Africa and the Caribbean.

He is a literary critic, a linguist, an anthropologist and has made a name in all three fields.

As a literary critic, he is the author of Caribbean Writers, a collection of critical essays on the Caribbean novel. He is also the author of several major literary reviews published in Denmark, India, Britain and the United States. He was honored for his work in this field by being asked by the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy to nominate candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature from 1976-1980. He has also been honored as an historian of world repute by being asked to join UNESCO's International Commission for Rewriting the Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind.

As a linguist, he has published essays on the dialect of the Sea Islands off the Georgia Coast. He is also the compiler of the Swahili Dictionary of Legal Terms, based on his field work in Tanzania, East Africa, in 1967.

He is the author of They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America, which was published by Random House in 1977 and is presently in its twenty-ninth printing. It was published in French in 1981 and in the same year, was awarded the Clarence L. Holte Prize, a prize awarded every two years “for a work of excellence in literature and the humanities relating to the cultural heritage of Africa and the African diaspora.”

He also authored Early America Revisited, a book that has enriched the study of a wide range of subjects, from archaeology to anthropology, and has resulted in profound changes in the reordering of historical priorities and pedagogy. Professor of African Studies at Rutgers University, Dr. Van Sertima was also Visiting Professor at Princeton University. He is the Editor of the Journal of African Civilizations, which he founded in 1979 and has published several major anthologies which have influenced the development of multicultural curriculum in the United States. These anthologies include Blacks in Science: ancient and modern, Black Women in Antiquity, Egypt Revisited, Egypt: Child of Africa, Nile Valley Civilizations (out of print), African Presence in the Art of the Americas (due 2007), African Presence in Early Asia (co-edited with Runoko Rashidi), African Presence in Early Europe,African Presence in Early America, Great African Thinkers, Great Black Leaders: ancient and modern andGolden Age of the Moor.

As an acclaimed poet, his work graces the pages of River and the Wall, 1953 and has been published in English and German. As an essayist, his major pieces were published in Talk That Talk, 1989, Future Directions for African and African American Content in the School Curriculum, 1986, Enigma of Values, 1979, and in Black Life and Culture in the United States, 1971.

Dr. Van Sertima has lectured at more than 100 universities in the United States and has also lectured in Canada, the Caribbean, South America and Europe. In 1991 Dr. Van Sertima defended his highly controversial thesis on the African presence in pre-Columbian America before the Smithsonian. In 1994 they published his address in Race, Discourse and the Origin of the Americas: A New World View of 1492.

He also appeared before a Congressional Committee on July 7, 1987 to challenge the Columbus myth. This landmark presentation before Congress was illuminating and brilliantly presented in the name of all peoples of color across the world.

Van Sertima retired in 2006. He died on 25 May 2009 aged 74. He was survived by his wife and four adult children. His widow, Jacqueline Van Sertima, said she would continue to publish the Journal of African Civilizations. She also planned to publish a book of his poetry.


  • They Came Before Columbus, New York: Random House, 1976
  • Essay in Malegapuru William Makgoba, ed., African Renaissance, Sandton and Cape Town, South Africa: Mafube and Tafelberg, 1999
  • Runoko Rashidi and Ivan Van Sertima, ed., African Presence in Early Asia, New Brunswick, NJ: The Journal of African Civilizations, 1985 (reprint 1995). He edited the following books, compilations of articles published in The Journal of African Civilizations, and contributed about one essay per volume.
  • Ivan Van Sertima, ed., "African Presence in Early Europe", The Journal of African Civilizations,, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1985
  • Black Women in Antiquity, New Brunswick, NJ: The Journal of African Civilizations,New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1988
  • Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern, New Brunswick, NJ: The Journal of African Civilizations, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers,1983
  • Early America Revisited, New Brunswick, NJ: The Journal of African Civilizations, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1998
  • Egypt Revisited, New Brunswick, NJ: The Journal of African Civilizations, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1993
  • The Golden Age of the Moor, New Brunswick, NJ: The Journal of African Civilizations, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1992
  • Great African Thinkers, Cheikh Anta Diop, New Brunswick, NJ: The Journal of African Civilizations, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1986
  • Great Black Leaders: Ancient and Modern, New Brunswick, NJ: The Journal of African Civilizations, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1988
  • Cheikh Anta Diop, New Brunswick, NJ: The Journal of African Civilizations, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1988
  • "Van Sertima before Congress: The Columbus Myth", United States. Congress. House. Committee on Post Office and Civil Service. Subcommittee on Census and Population; Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission. Highland Park, NJ: Audio Division,Journal of African Civilizations, 1988.

Molefi Asante (born Arthur Lee Smith Jr. in August 14, 1942) was born in Valdosta, Georgia, the fourth of sixteen children. His father, Arthur Lee Smith, worked in a peanut warehouse and then on the Georgia Southern Railroad and his mother worked as a domestic. During the summers Asante would return to Georgia to work in the tobacco and cotton fields in order to earn tuition for school. He was influenced to pursue his education by an aunt, Georgia Smith, who gave him his first book: a collection of short stories by Charles Dickens.

As an adolescent, Smith attended Nashville Christian Institute, a Church of Christ-founded boarding school for black students, in Nashville, Tennessee, from which he earned his high school diploma in 1960. While still in his high school years, he became involved with the civil rights movement, joining the Fisk University student march there in Nashville. After graduation, he initially enrolled in Southwestern Christian College of Terrell, Texas, another historically black institution with Church of Christ roots, where he met a Nigeriannamed Essien Essien, whose character and intelligence inspired Smith to learn more about Africa.

The first member of his family to graduate from college, Smith received his B.A. fromOklahoma Christian College (now University) in 1964, going on to earn his M.A. fromPepperdine University in 1965 with a thesis on black Church of Christ preacher Marshall Keeble. Smith earned his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1968 in communication studies. He was appointed a full professor and head of the Department of Communication at the age of 30 at SUNY Buffalo.

Shortly before assuming his new position in 1976, Asante chose to make a legal name change because he considered "Arthur Lee Smith" a slave name.

At SUNY Buffalo, Asante advanced the ideas of international and intercultural communication publishing, with colleagues, the first book in the field, Handbook of Intercultural Communication. Asante was elected president of the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research in 1976. His work in intercultural communication made him a leading trainer of doctoral students in the field. Asante has directed more than one hundred Ph.D. dissertations.

Asante wrote his first study of the black movement, Rhetoric of Black Revolution, in 1969. Subsequently, he wrote Transracial Communication, to explain how race complicates human interaction in American society. Soon Asante changed his focus to African American and African culture in communication with attention to the nature of African American oratorical style.

Asante wrote Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change (1980) to announce a break with the past where African Americans saw themselves on the margins of Europe without a concept of historical centrality. He then wrote on the conflict between white hegemonic culture and the oppressed African culture and on the lack of victorious consciousness among Africans, a theme found in his principal philosophical work, The Afrocentric Idea (1987). Additional works on Afrocentric theory included Kemet, Afrocentricity and Knowledge (1990), and An Afrocentric Manifesto (2007).

The Utne Reader identified him as one of the 100 leading thinkers in America, writing:

“Asante is a genial, determined, and energetic cultural liberationist whose many books, including Afrocentricity and The Afrocentric Idea, articulate a powerful African-oriented pathway of thought, action, and cultural self-confidence for black Americans.”

Asante proposed the first doctoral program in African American Studies to the administration at Temple University in 1986. This program was approved, and the first class entered the doctorate in 1988. More than five hundred applicants had sought admission to the graduate program. Temple became known as the leader among the African American Studies departments and held its leadership for ten years before a doctoral program was introduced at the University of Massachusetts in 1997. Students from the Temple program are found in every continent, many nations, and many direct African American Studies programs at major universities.

Asante published the book Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change in 1980. This book initiated a discourse around the issue of African agency and subject place in historical and cultural phenomena. Asante maintained in the book that Africans had been moved off-center in terms on most questions of identity, culture, and history.Afrocentricity sought to place Africans in the center of their own narratives and to reclaim the teaching of African American history from the margins of Europe.

Asante’s book The Afrocentric Idea was a more intellectual book about Afrocentricity than the earlier popular book. After the second edition of The Afrocentric Idea was released in 1998, Asante appeared on a number of television programs such as The Today Show, 60 Minutes, and the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour to discuss the idea.

According to Asante's Afrocentric Manifesto, an Afrocentric project requires a minimum of five characteristics: (1) an interest in a psychological location, (2) a commitment to finding the African subject place, (3) the defense of African cultural elements, (4) a commitment to lexical refinement, and (5) a commitment to correct the dislocations in the history of Africa (Asante, An Afrocentric Manifesto, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007


• African American History: A Journey of Liberation (Peoples Publishing Group, 2001, 1995)
• Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change (African American Images/Africa World Press, 2003, 1988)
• An Afrocentric Manifesto: Toward an African Renaissance (Polity Press, 2007) ISBN 978-0745641034
• Cheikh Anta Diop: An Intellectual Portrait (University of Sankore Press, 2007)
• Classical Africa (National Press Books, 1994)
• Contemporary Black Thought: Alternative Analyses in Social and Behavioral Science(Sage, 1980)
• Contemporary Public Communication: Applications (Harper & Row, 1977)
• Culture and Customs of Egypt (Greenwood Press, 2002)
• Egypt vs. Greece and the American Academy (African American Images, 2002)
• Encyclopedia of African Religion (Sage, 2009)
• Encyclopedia of Black Studies (Sage, 2004) ISBN 978-0761927624
• Erasing Racism: The Survival of the American Nation (Prometheus, 2009, 2003)
• Handbook of Black Studies (Sage, 2006) ISBN 978-0761928409
• Handbook of Intercultural Communication (Sage, 1979)
• Handbook of International and Intercultural Communication (Sage, 1989)
• Kemet, Afrocentricity, and Knowledge (Africa World Press, 1990)
• Language, Communication, and Rhetoric in Black America (Harper & Row, 1972)
• Malcolm X as Cultural Hero and Other Afrocentric Essays (Africa World Press, 1993)
• Mass Communication: Principles and Practices (Macmillan, 1979)
• Maulana Karenga: An Intellectual Portrait (Polity Press, 2009)
• 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia (Prometheus, 2002)
• Race, Rhetoric, and Identity: The Architecton of Soul (Humanity Books, 2005)
• Rhetoric of Black Revolution (Allyn & Bacon, 1969)
• Rooming in the Master's House: Power and Privilege in the Rise of Black Conservatism (Paradigm Publishers, 2010)
• Socio-Cultural Conflict between African American and Korean American (University Press of America, 2000)
• Spear Masters: An Introduction to African Religion (University Press of America, 2007)ISBN 978-0761835745
• The African American Atlas: Black History and Culture (Macmillan, 1998)
• The Afrocentric Idea (Temple University Press, 1998, 1987)
• The Book of African Names (Africa World Press, 1991)
• The Egyptian Philosophers: Ancient African Voices from Imhotep to Akhenaten(African American Images, 2000)
• The Global Intercultural Communication Reader (Routledge, 2008)
• The History of Africa: The Quest for Eternal Harmony (Routledge, 2007)
• The Painful Demise of Eurocentrism: An Afrocentric Response to Critics (Africa World Press, 1999) ISBN 978-0865437432
• The Scream of Blood: Desettlerism in Southern Africa (Sungai Books, 1998)
• Thunder and Silence: The Mass Media in Africa (Africa World Press, 1992)
• Transcultural Realities: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Cross-Cultural Relations(Sage, 2001)
• Transracial Communication (Prentice-Hall, 1973) ISBN 978-0139295058
Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan
Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan

Dr. Yosef A. A. Ben-Jochannan
Dr. Yosef A. A. Ben-Jochannan, affectionately known as "Dr. Ben" was born December 31, 1918, to a Puerto Rican mother and an Ethiopian father in what is known as the "Falasha" Hebrew community in Gondar, Ethiopia.

Dr. Ben's formal education began in Puerto Rico. His early education continued in The Virgin Islands and in Brazil, where he attended elementary and secondary school. Dr. Ben earned a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering at the university of Puerto Rico, and a Master's degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Havana, Cuba. He received doctorial degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Moorish History, from the University of Havana and the University of Barcelona Spain.

Dr. Ben was adjunct professor at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, for over a decade (1976–1987). He has written and published over forty-nine books and papers, revealing much of the information unearthed while he was in Egypt. Two of his better known works include, Black Man of the Nile and His Family and Africa: Mother of Major Western Religions.

In 1939, shortly after receiving his undergraduate degree, Dr. Ben's father sent him to Egypt to study first hand the ancient history of African People. Since 1941, Dr. Ben has been to Egypt at least twice a year. He began leading educational tours to Egypt in 1946. When asked why he began the tours, he replied "because no one knew or cared about Egypt and most believed Egypt was not in Africa." According to Dr. Ben, Egypt is the place to go to learn the fundamentals of living. Over five decades have passed and Dr. Ben, a preeminent scholar and Egyptologist, remains focused on Nile Valley Civilization.

Dr. Ben is a 360° Mason of The Craft.


  • Black Seminarians and Black Clergy Without a Black Theology
    by Yosef Ben-Jochannan
  • The Need for a Black Bible
    by Yosef Ben-Jochannan
  • The Myth of Exodus and Genesis and the
  • Exclusion of Their African Origins
    by Yosef Ben-Jochannan
  • Black Man of the Nile and His Family
    by Yosef Ben-Jochannan
  • African Origins of Major "Western Religions"
    by Yosef Ben-Jochannan
  • Africa: Mother of Western Civilization
    by Yosef Ben-Jochannan
  • A Chronology of the Bible: Challenge to the Standard Version
    by Yosef Ben-Jochannan
  • We the Black Jews
    by Yosef Ben-Jochannan
  • New Dimensions in African History
    by John Henrik Clarke (Editor), Yosef ben-Jochannan

Gates was born in Keyser, West Virginia in September 16, 1950 , to Pauline Augusta Coleman and Henry Louis Gates, Sr. He grew up in neighboring Piedmont, the inspiration for his best-selling memoir Colored People. At the age of 14, Gates was injured while playing touch football, fracturing the ball and socket joint of his hip, resulting in a slipped epiphysis. The injury was misdiagnosed by a physician who told Gates's mother that his problem waspsychosomatic. When the physical damage finally healed, Gates' right leg was two inches shorter than his left. Because of the injury, Gates uses a cane to help him walk.

Gates graduated from Piedmont High School in 1968 and attended Potomac State College in Keyser, West Virginia before earning his undergraduate B.A. degree at Yale University, summa cum laude, in History. The first African American to be awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, the day after his undergraduate commencement Gates set sail on the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 for England and theUniversity of Cambridge. There he studied English literature at Clare College.

Gates married Sharon Lynn Adams in 1979.[3] They had two daughters.[4] They later divorced. After a month at Yale Law School, Gates withdrew from the program. In October 1975 he was hired by Charles T. Davis as a secretary in the Afro-American Studies department at Yale. In July 1976, Gates was promoted to the post of Lecturer in Afro-American Studies with the understanding that he would be promoted to Assistant Professor upon completion of his dissertation. Jointly appointed to assistant professorships in English and Afro-American Studies in 1979, Gates was promoted to Associate Professor in 1984.

After being denied tenure at Yale, Gates accepted a position at Cornell University in 1985, where he taught until 1989. After a two-year stay at Duke University, he was recruited to Harvard University in 1991. At Harvard, Gates teaches undergraduate and graduate courses as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, an endowed chair he was appointed to in 2006, and as Professor of English.[5] Additionally, he serves as the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.

As a literary theorist and critic, Gates has combined literary techniques of deconstruction with native African literary traditions; he draws onstructuralism, post-structuralism, and semiotics to textual analysis and matters of identity politics. As a black intellectual and public figure, Gates has been an outspoken critic of the Eurocentric literary canon. He has insisted that black literature must be evaluated by the aesthetic criteria of its culture of origin, not criteria imported from Western or European cultural traditions that express a "tone deafness to the black cultural voice" and result in "intellectual racism."[2] In his major scholarly work, The Signifying Monkey, a 1989 American Book Award winner, Gates expressed what might constitute a black cultural aesthetic. The work extended application of the concept of "signifyin(g)" to analysis of African-American works; it thus rooted African-American literary criticism in the African-American vernacular tradition.

While Gates has stressed the need for greater recognition of black literature and black culture, he does not advocate a "separatist" black canon. Rather, he works for greater recognition of black works and their integration into a larger, pluralistic canon. He has affirmed the value of the Western tradition, but has envisioned a more inclusive canon of diverse works sharing common cultural connections:

"Every black American text must confess to a complex ancestry, one high and low (that is, literary and vernacular) but also one white and black...there can be no doubt that white texts inform and influence black texts (and vice versa), so that a thoroughly integrated canon of American literature is not only politically sound, it is intellectually sound as well."

Gates has argued that a separatist, Afrocentric education perpetuates racist stereotypes. He maintains that it is "ridiculous" to think that only blacks should be scholars of African and African-American literature. He argues, "It can't be real as a subject if you have to look like the subject to be an expert in the subject,"[6] adding, "It's as ridiculous as if someone said I couldn't appreciate Shakespeare because I'm not Anglo-Saxon. I think it's vulgar and racist whether it comes out of a black mouth or a white mouth."[7] However, Afrocentrics such as Molefi Asante and others have never claimed that the study of Africa should be exclusively Black, but moreover that the weight and the approach of Afrocentricity is critical for setting up black people as agents of their own history.

As a mediator between those advocating separatism and those who believe in a fixed Western canon, Gates has faced criticisms from both sides. Some critics suggest that the additional black literature will diminish the value of the Western canon, while separatists say that Gates is too accommodating to the dominant white culture in his advocacy of integration of the canon.[citation needed] Gates is occasionally criticized as non-representative, and a detractor, of Black people by many prominent African-American scholars such as John Henrik Clarke, Molefi Asante andMaulana Karenga

As a literary historian committed to preservation and study of historical texts, Gates has been integral to the Black Periodical Literature Project, an archive of black newspapers and magazines created with financial assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities.[13] To build Harvard's visual, documentary, and literary archives of African-American texts, Gates arranged for the purchase of "The Image of the Black in Western Art", a collection assembled by Dominique de Mιnil in Houston, Texas. Earlier, as a result of his research as a MacArthur Fellow, Gates discovered Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson, written in 1859 and thus the first novel in the United States written by a black person. He followed this discovery by acquiring and authenticating the manuscript of The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts, a novel from the same period that scholars believe may have been written as early as 1853, which would give it precedence as the first known novel by a black person. It was first published in 2002 and became a bestseller.

As a prominent black intellectual, Gates has focused throughout his career on building academic institutions to study black culture. Additionally, he has worked to bring about social, educational, and intellectual equality for black Americans. His writing includes pieces in The New York Timesthat defend rap music and an article in Sports Illustrated that criticizes black youth culture for glorifying basketball over education. In 1992, he received a George Polk Award for his social commentary in The New York Times. Gates's prominence in this field led to his being called as a witness on behalf of the controversial Florida rap group 2 Live Crew in an obscenity case. He argued that the material the government charged was profane, had important roots in African-American vernacular speech, games, and literary traditions, and should be protected.

Asked by NEH Chairman Bruce Cole to describe his work, Gates responded, "I would say I'm a literary critic. That's the first descriptor that comes to mind. After that I would say I was a teacher. Both would be just as important."[6] After his 2003 NEH lecture Gates published his 2003 book, The Trials of Phillis Wheatley.


  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (1987). Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the "Racial" Self (First ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.ISBN 019503564X.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (1988). The Signifying Monkey (First ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195034635. American Book Award
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (1992). Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars (First ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195075196.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (1994). Colored People: A Memoir (First ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0679421793.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.; Cornel West (1996). The Future of the Race (First ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 067944405X.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.; McKay, Nellie Y (1996). The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (First ed.). W. W. Norton.ISBN 0393040011.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (1997). Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (First ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 0679457135.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (1999). Wonders of the African World (First ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0375402357.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (2000). The African American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Century (First ed.). New York: Free Press. ISBN 0684864142.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (2003). The trials of Phillis Wheatley: America's first Black poet and her encounters with the founding fathers. New York: Basic Civitas Books. ISBN 0465027296.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (2007). Finding Oprah's Roots: Finding Your Own (First ed.). New York: Crown. ISBN 9780307382382.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past (Crown, 2009)
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. Faces of America: How 12 Extraordinary Americans Reclaimed Their Pasts (New York University Press, 2010)
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. Tradition and the Black Atlantic: Critical Theory in the African Diaspora (Basic Civitas Books, 2010)


  • Appiah, Kwame Anthony; Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (1998). The Dictionary of Global Culture. Vintage. ISBN 978-0679729853.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (1999). Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (First ed.). New York: Basic Civitas Books. ISBN 0465000711.
  • Crafts, Hannah; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (2002). The Bondwoman's Narrative (First ed.). New York: Warner Books. ISBN 0446690295.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.; Hollis Robbins (2004). Searching for Hannah Crafts: Essays in the Bondwoman's Narrative. New York: Basic/Civitas.ISBN 0465027148.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.; Hollis Robbins (2006). The Annotated Uncle Tom's Cabin. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 9780393059465.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (2008). The African American national biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 9780195160192.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.; Yacovone, Donald (2009). Lincoln on Race and Slavery. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.ISBN 9780691142340.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., and Kwame Anthony Appiah, Encyclopedia of Africa: Two-Volume Set (Oxford University Press, 2010)

PATRICIA CARTER SLUBY is a Registered Patent Agent and is a former United States primary patent examiner. She is also a lecturer and freelance writer who has appeared on television and radio shows to discuss minority inventors. She is the past president of the National Intellectual Property Law Association. Her book Creativity and Inventions: The Genius of Afro-Americans and Women in the United States and Their Patents (1987) details the inventive nature of minorities in America.


The Inventive Spirit of African Americans

In this important study, former United States primary patent examiner Patricia Carter Sluby pays homage to the inventive spirit of African Americans. Beginning with ancient African innovations to the contributions of enslaved Africans brought to American shores, Sluby traces the path of inventors and patent holders through time from all fields up to and including the leading edge of today’s technology. Along with more recognizable names, like George Washington Carver, Dr. Percy Lavon Julian or Madame C. J. Walker, readers will discover little known or forgotten pioneers of devices such as a tobacco substitute, a home security system, and a camera that traveled to the moon, with particular attention given to women inventors and scientists.

Sluby details the plight of inventive slaves during the antebellum and Civil War eras and juxtaposes their efforts with those of free blacks of the same period. Reconstruction saw significant agricultural and industrial innovations by African Americans, some of which would permanently change American industry. Military inventions during the course and aftermath of both world wars showcase the diversity of African American ideas in an age of rapid technological advances. Products to ease domestic life, promote the efficiency of industrial processes, and improve the safety of leisure activities all bear the hallmarks of these creative minds. The reader is guided to the leading edge of technology and medical fields at the vanguard of the twenty-first century.

This work contains a comprehensive roster of African American inventors and their United States patents from 1821 to the present, and includes patent illustrations and photos of inventors as well.

"An excellent examination of African American inventors and problem-solvers who turned obstacles into opportunities. Pat Sluby is to be commended for her painstaking research and lucid writing style in exploring the history of African American inventors and patent-holders."

Maceo Crenshaw Dailey Jr. Director, African American Studies
Associate Professor of History, University of Texas, El Paso

"Bringing the eye of a patent examiner to the record of American innovation, Patricia Sluby gives us the fullest picture yet of African American inventiveness. It is a stirring account, showing the toughness of the human creative spirit in the face of a hostile environment."

Arthur Molella Director Lemelson Center, Smithsonian Institution


He is the author/coauthor of six books and frequent national and international lecturer on an array of historical topics. He has appeared several times on the History Channel, French and Belgian television, and wrote, researched and narrated "Sketches in Color," a 13-part companion series to the PBS series, "The Civil War" for WHUT-TV, the Howard University television station.

The Smithsonian Institution's Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture features Gibbs among its scholars at the museum's Online Academy website. In 1989, he founded the African History and Culture Lecture Series whose scholars continue to provide free presentations at libraries, churches, and other locations in the Washington-Baltimore area. In 1997, he led 26 people across Africa.

In 2009, the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust honored Gibbs for his more than three decades of articles, exhibits and presentations on the military heritage of Africans and African Americans.

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