Arthur Schomburg: contributing to African unity
AUTODIDACT 17 | 1/21/2021, midnight
This Sunday marks the 147th bornday anniversary of renowned activist, historian, writer, Arthur Schomburg. Born Jan. 24, 1874, in Santurce, Puerto Rico he encountered intense racism while growing up, prior to becoming a key Pan-Africanist as an adult.
Inspired to ‘Dig Up Africa’s Past’ after his 5th grade teachers claimed that “Black people have no significant history, no heroes or great achievements,” he set out on a lifelong quest gathering precious artifacts from throughout the globe.
“The fable of Aesop, the cherished and enjoyable book of our youth, was originally related as folk-lore by a Negro from Aethiopia to the Greeks, who in turn published them,” Schomburg stated.
The Afro-Borinqueño relocated to Harlem April 17, 1891, and became a member of the Prince Hall Lodge and meticulously studied Black history. He published “Is Hayti Decadent?” , “Placido a Cuban Martyr” , and “The Negro Digs Up His Past” to get the word out.
“He is the preeminent researcher and historical figure that pointed the right path for all of us Afro-descendants to follow,” indicated historian Dr. Georgina Falu., adding that he was a unifying force then.
In 1911 he and John E. Bruce founded the Negro Society for Historical Research. Its intent was to “support the research efforts of Black United States, African and Caribbean scholars.” He was elected president of the American Negro Academy in 1922.
“Though it is orthodox to think of America as the one country where it is unnecessary to have a past, what is luxury for the nation as a whole becomes a prime social necessity for the Negro,” Schomburg stated.
He also noted that in the course of history, the Black people have to be “an active collaborator, and often a pioneer, in the struggle for his own freedom and advancement.”
Throughout the Harlem Renaissance he united intellectual forces with such revered individuals as Carter G. Woodson, Claude McKay and Marcus Garvey.
Following dental surgery, Schomburg fell ill and passed June 8, 1938 at Brooklyn’ Madison Park Hospital, he is interred in Cypress Hills Cemetery. After his passing his historical trove of artifacts were preserved at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Blvd.)
Up in the Bronx, P.S. 163 Arthur A. Schomburg, (2075 Webster Avenue) bears his name, and the Schomburg Center is a state-of-the-art research center with over 10 million items associated with the African diaspora.
There is always a campaign for the co-naming of the intersection of Nostrand Avenue and Kosciusko Street “Arthur Schomburg Place,” contact Facebook.com/arthur.schomburg.