From an article entitled “History’s Black Hole” from the January 10, 2016 global edition of the New York Daily News, Arthur Browne opines, “Across every field of endeavor, from the ministry to medicine and from education to entrepreneurship, book merchants balk at memorializing black experience and accomplishments.” Essentially, this book is a celebration of black accomplishments—over centuries and across continents—and seeks to fill a portion of that “black hole.”
Of the roughly 7 billion people who inhabit this planet, some 1.5 billion are classified as white, and blacks account for 1.1 billion. (The remaining over 4 billion are somewhere in the middle.) Yet, throughout the years, a paucity of written materials have recorded the positive influences and myriad contributions that the great number of black citizens have made toward global peace, progress, prosperity, and pleasure.
Primarily, black people live on three continents: Africa and North and South American. In the United States, having endured slavery and triumphed over Jim Crow laws, black people are largely still considered separate and unequal. Internationally, people of African descent—albeit those with political power—have overcome apartheid in South Africa, shaken off the cloak of colonialism, and unseated minority oligarchies throughout the diasporas; yet, they are not fully integrated with equal rights. Across all countries, we find that black persons are in the games, but not the team owners; borrowers, but not lenders; and employees, but not employers.
The psychosocial underpinnings of this reality are incalculable. For many across the globe, at least psychologically, benign embraces of second-class citizenship are endured. Only when the coin is flipped does one realize that though unequal in power, prestige, and influence, blacks prove to be equal to all others in ideas, intellect, and ingenuity.
Some of the greatest exploits of human endeavor were spawned from the hearts and minds of black folk, yet they are still underrepresented within mainstream compilations of achievers. For instance, the Nobel Prize has been awarded to some eight-hundred persons since its inception in 1901, but only fourteen honorees are black. Among the fourteen black recipients, eleven won for peace, two for literature, and one for economics—none for medicine, physics, or chemistry.
It is that “black hole” that gave birth to this publication. In an effort to showcase leading pioneers, movers, and shakers within the global black community—past and present—this book was written. Contributing to peace, progress, prosperity, and pleasure, these individuals positively changed the world for everyone; they inch us closer to an elaboration of those ancient and immutable ideals of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We must note that, conceptually, this book adds to the earlier works of others, such as Molefi Kete Asante’s 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia (2003). We thought to expand our search to the global village.
This work, no doubt, will attract some criticism and perhaps, even some controversy. No problem, because these observations suggest that conversations have been ignited. In time, hopefully, criticism and controversy will give way to dialogue and debate. Until our vision—amidst differences and distinctions, pushes of history and pulls of the future—becomes clear, we seek to promote a shared patrimony among mankind and an opening of once-blinded eyes to a newer, kinder humanity.
This book chronicles the accomplishments and contributions of mountain movers who, above all, were able to shape the course of human events and advance the refrain of ebony pride. Ultimately, this book is a clarion call for mankind everywhere to move beyond the superficiality of skin pigmentation and rise toward Bobby Kennedy’s ageless exhortation to “seek a newer world.” Not just to seek it, but if need be, to build it.