Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, by Lerone Bennett, Jr. *****

When I was working on my MA with the goal to teach history in the upper grades, I expressed my frustration to my professor. I asked where I could find the actual history of Africa. Everywhere I looked (in conventional sources, such as the university library and trade journals) it said, “See Europe”. I didn’t WANT to read about the colonizers. But of course, when conquerors succeed in occupying another land militarily and politically, the next thing to be done is to eradicate the culture as it exists, and to pretend there WAS no history before the conqueror arrived (aside, perhaps, from a brief reference to how bad it used to be).

Mr. Bennett gives voice to Black Americans, and to the cultures they brought with them. Through impeccable research, he has uncovered history and culture that was not readily available those many years ago. This book was published and available at almost the same time I finished my degree. I found it later when I had the luxury of being able to read what I wanted, rather than that which was assigned, and have used it to some degree in home schooling my son (though it is too difficult for most high school students). Highly readable and enormously enlightening.

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