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Giving the eminent historian and anthropologist J.A Rogers his due

Herb Boyd | 2/27/2014, 9:48 p.m.
J.A. Rogers

There was nothing new about these assertions because he had made similar claims in other publications, more notably in “Your History,” a book beautifully illustrated by George Lee and one that approximates what Fatunla is currently doing.

This book was republished in 1983 by W. Paul Coates and his Black Classic Press. Coates, in the book’s introduction, does a good job of elucidating Rogers’ legacy, particularly the role his wife, Helga, played in keeping his self-published books in print. “Today, J. A. Rogers is being rediscovered by a new generation,” Coates wrote. “The Black stride for self-awareness prominent in the 1960s and 1970s and favorable reappraisal of Rogers and his work are largely responsible for this rediscovery.” Among the books Black Classic Press has reissued are “The Ku Klux Spirit” and “The Real Facts About Ethiopia,” as well as the abovementioned “Your History.”

Rogers seemed most enthusiastic about “Nature Knows No Color Line: Africa’s Gift to America, Sex and Race,” which is three volumes, and “100 Amazing Facts About the Negro,” and for many years, all of these books have been popular among African American readers.

Six years after Rogers’ death in 1966, the late Dr. John Henrik Clarke summarized his mentor’s incomparable contributions in the closing paragraph of his introduction to “World’s Great Men of Color, Vol. 2.” Rogers, Clarke wrote, “in more than 45 years of travel and research (two generations), he, more than any other writer of his time, attempted to affirm the humanity of the African personality, and to show the role that African people have played in the development of human history. This was singularly the major mission of his life; it was also the legacy that he left to his people and the world.”