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APA Newsletters Volume 02, Number 2 Spring 2003 NEWSLETTER ON PHILOSOPHY AND THE BLACK EXPERIENCE FROM THE EDITORS, JOHN MCCLENDON & GEORGE YANCY ARTICLES JOHN H. MCCLENDON Introduction to Drs. Anton Wilhelm Amo and Charles Leander Hill CHARLES LEANDER HILL William Ladd, the Black Philosopher from Guinea: A Critical Analysis of His Dissertation on Apathy GEORGE YANCY Gilbert Haven Jones as an Early Black Philosopher and Educator JAMES G. SPADY AND GILES R. WRIGHT Jean Harvey Slappy s Philosophy and the Tradition of Marcus Garvey and Thomas W. Harvey JOHN MCCLENDON On Assessing the Ideological Impact of Garveyism on Nkrumaism: Political Symbolism Contra Theoretical Substance STEPHEN C. FERGUSON II C. L. R. James, Marxism, and Political Freedom J. EVERET GREEN Philosophy Born of Struggle Conference Series BOOK REVIEWS Clarence Shole Johnson: Cornel West & Philosophy REVIEWED BY FLOYD W. HAYES III George Yancy, Ed.: The Philosophical i: Personal Reflections on Life in Philosophy REVIEWED BY DAN WARNER Rodney C. Roberts, Ed.: Injustice and Rectification REVIEWED BY NAOMI ZACK Smokey D. Fontaine and Earl Simmons: E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX REVIEWED BY JAMES G. SPADY 2002 by The American Philosophical Association ISSN: APA NEWSLETTER ON Philosophy and the Black Experience John McClendon & George Yancy, Co-Editors Spring 2003 Volume 02, Number 2 FROM THE EDITORS The editors would like to express their thanks for all of the positive feedback that they received on their first jointly edited volume of the Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience. We will continue to provide critical and diverse philosophical thought within the continuum of Africana philosophical thought. In this issue we highlight the Pan-African scope of philosophy and the Black experience. This year (2003) is a landmark year for several important developments in the history of Africana philosophy. First, it is the tri-centennial of the birth of William Anthony Amo who was the first person of African descent to receive a doctorate in philosophy. Second, one hundred years ago W.E.B. Du Bois wrote his classic study, The Souls of Black Folk and Thomas Nelson Baker became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy from an institution in the United States. For those interested in knowing about Baker, you should consult George Yancy s pioneering article on Thomas Nelson Baker, which first appeared in this Newsletter in 1992 (Vol. 95, no. 2). Third, Everett Green a decade ago began his annual Philosophy Born of Struggle conferences. In this issue of the Newsletter, he provides us with a summary of its history and an announcement about its forthcoming tenth anniversary meeting. Green s significant undertaking remains as the most consistent and sustained effort to institutionalize, in a national conference format, the ongoing discussion of Africana philosophy. We urge that you who are engaged in Africana philosophy, as well as all students and nonprofessional philosophers, participate in the upcoming conference. We begin this issue with John McClendon s Introduction to Drs. Anton Wilhelm Amo and Charles Leander Hill with select bibliographies, which are followed by Charles Leander Hill s 1955 article on Amo, William Ladd, The Black Philosopher from Guinea: A Critical Analysis of His Dissertation on Apathy in The A.M.E. Review 72 (186). Hill s article is the first English translation of Amo s work. George Yancy offers another groundbreaking article on an early Black philosopher with an essay on Gilbert Haven Jones. Jones received his doctorate in philosophy in Yancy traces Jones s life and provides a brief, though engaging, account of his life and philosophy, particularly his educational philosophy. Historians and cultural theorists James G. Spady and Giles R. Wright in Jean Harvey Slappy s Philosophy and The Tradition of Marcus Garvey and Thomas W. Harvey present an engaging tribute to the fortitude and historical and cultural agency of Jean M. Harvey Slappy. In contextualizing her identity formation, Spady and Wright insightfully reveal Slappy s Black internationalist consciousness, womanist sensibilities, Garveyite being-in-theworld, and the powerful influences of her great-grandmother and her father, Thomas W. Harvey. John McClendon s article, On Assessing the Ideological Impact of Garveyism on Nkrumaism: Political Symbolism Contra Theoretical Substance explores the philosophical divergences between Nkrumah and Garvey s respective philosophies of Pan-Africanism. Although Garvey s influence on Nkrumah is quite apparent with respect to political symbolism, McClendon argues that there is a vast difference in their theories about African traditional culture, the function of diasporan leadership within the Pan-African movement and in their conceptions about the role of the political economy of imperialism in Africa. Next we have Stephen C. Ferguson, II s article C.L.R. James, Marxism and Political Freedom, which explores Pan-Africanist James s magnum opus, Notes on Dialectics: Hegel-Marx-Lenin (1948). James s contribution to Marxist philosophy is the focus of Ferguson s critical investigation. James s long neglected work is one of the first Marxist philosophical texts written by a person of African descent. Ferguson employs an internal critique of James and delineates what are the problems attached to James s conception of dialectics. Stephen C. Ferguson, II is now completing his doctoral dissertation in philosophy at the University of Kansas. Everett Green s Philosophy Born of Struggle Conference Series is an overview of the conference activities of the last decade and a call for the upcoming tenth conference, which will be held at Rutgers, Newark Campus, NJ on October 24 & 25, Prof. Green, a former student of the late African-American philosopher Roy D. Morrison, III, teaches philosophy at Rockland Community College and New School University. In our first book review, political theorist Floyd Hayes, North Carolina State University, provides an informed and critical review of Clarence Shole Johnson s groundbreaking work Cornel West & Philosophy: The Quest for Social Justice. In the second review, Dan Warner, who wrote his Honors Thesis at the University of Virginia on W.E.B. Du Bois and Arendt, and is currently a graduate student at Duquesne University, explores the tapestry of multiple philosophical voices contained in George Yancy s most recent edited book The Philosophical i: Personal Reflections on Life in Philosophy. Next, philosopher Naomi Zack, University of Oregon, provides an insightful overview of Rodney C. Roberts s edited book Injustice and Rectification, which attempts to come to terms with such questions as What is injustice, and what does justice require when injustice occurs? Lastly, cultural theorist and historian James Spady, author of Street Conscious Rap and editor of 360 Degreez of Sonia Sanchez: Hip Hop, Narrativity, Iqhawe and Public Spaces of Being, philosophically explores issues of identity formation, consciousness, being and agency that emerge in the life of rapper DMX. Spady s review of E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX rejects the from ghetto to riches scenario and provides us with DMX s struggle to find meaning in human existence. APA Newsletter, Spring 2003, Volume 02, Number 2 Please take note of the following erratum: In the previous issue of the Newsletter in George Yancy s article on Jacquelyn Grant, on page 56, column 2, 3 rd line from the bottom, the sentence should have read: This does not mean that Grant is a prisoner of deep pessimism, and committed to a worldview where God is dead. We are requesting that all articles and reviews for the Fall 2003 issue of the Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience be submitted by August 15, Articles should be sent to John H. McClendon, African American Studies/ American Cultural Studies, Bates College, 223 Pettengill Hall, Lewiston, ME or by electronic submission to and book reviews to George Yancy, 6324 Crombie Street, Pittsburgh, PA or by electronic submission to Electronic submissions are strongly encouraged. ARTICLES Introduction to Drs. Anton Wilhelm Amo and Charles Leander Hill John H. McClendon Assoc. Prof. of African American and American Cultural Studies, Bates College This year (2003) marks the tri-centennial of the birth of Anton Wilhelm Amo. The first person of African descent to receive a doctorate in philosophy, Amo s extraordinary scholarly and intellectual accomplishments took place during the eighteenth century. All the more remarkable given the fact that the African slave trade was the basis for his sojourn to Europe. Captured as a slave, from what is today Ghana in West Africa, as a young child he was taken to Amsterdam and later went to Germany. Amo was a student at the University of Hallé, where he began his studies in Amo started his graduate studies in 1730 at the University of Wittenberg and submitted his inaugural dissertation to the faculty there in In addition to writing and speaking six European languages, Amo completed work in logic, metaphysics, astronomy, law, politics, theology, medicine and physiology. His teaching career involved serving on the faculties of Hallé and Jena (Bemile 2002). Amo s accomplishments as an intellectual in eighteenth century Germany stand as a stark challenge to the hegemonic and racist presumptions about Black intellectual inferiority. It is no surprise that abolitionists found in Amo s experiences the ammunition to fight against the ideological justifications for slavery. Abolitionist Lydia Maria Child s text, An Appeal in Favor of Americans Called Africans (1833), was one of the first works to cite Amo s astonishing example as a refutation of white supremacist justifications for slavery. Over the past two centuries, historians of African descent have not neglected the true meaning and measure of Amo s life. For his life radiates not only as a source in the ideological battle against white supremacy but also as an affirmation of pride in African culture and history. After the demise of slavery, our pioneers in Africana history sustained the struggle against white domination. From William Simmons in 1887 (Simmons 1968), and Attoah Ahuma in 1905 (Ahuma 1905) to John Edward Bruce in 1910 (Bruce 1910), Black scholars continued to bring to the broader public the feats of Amo. For while the slave trade and slavery were now at an end, the ravages of capitalism and racism assumed the forms of colonialism and segregation at the turn from nineteenth to the twentieth century. In as much as colonialism and segregation were most alive and well in Africa and its diaspora, Amo s example, throughout the African world, was a critical resource for the needed moral and intellectual fiber in the ongoing confrontation with imperialist assaults and brutality. Later, we discover that in 1939 Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois summoned Amo s exemplary scholarly contributions as a source of inspiration (Du Bois 1939) and Beatrice Fleming and Marion Pryde in 1946, under the auspices of Dr. Carter G. Woodson s Associated Publishers, would also inform a new generation of post-world War II youth about the Amo legacy (Fleming and Pryde 1946). Cultural imperialism with its tentacles in Africa and its diaspora had its countervailing force in the cultural resistance of African peoples worldwide. During this period (from the mid 1930s to the mid 1940s), Kwame Nkrumah, as a young philosophy student and later instructor, found in Amo not only a fellow Nzima, of the former Gold Coast, but also a symbol of how the African philosopher must be engaged in practical struggle for liberation. Amo s De Jure Maurorum in Europa in 1729 was one of the first works to defend the Rights of Moors (Black People) in Europe. Nkrumah had hopes of translating and publishing Amo s compilation of lectures, which he entitled Tractatus De arte sobrie accurate philosophandi (1738). Nkrumah was told that unfortunately, the work was destroyed in the Nazi bombing of the British Museum (Nkrumah 1971: 185). The first English translation of Amo s work had to await the efforts of the African American philosopher Dr. Charles Leander Hill (Hill 1955). While the earlier historians chronicled the context of Amo s intellectual contributions, Hill provides us with the philosophical content of Amo s inaugural dissertation, Dissertation de huminae mentis apatheia. Undoubtedly, the historical road to Hill s philosophical studies was a very difficult one for African American philosophers. Academic racism remained as a not so subtle reality. This was especially the case with philosophy, as it became a professional and institutionalized discipline within the academy. It was precisely 200 years after Amo s birth that Thomas Nelson Baker received his doctorate in philosophy from Yale University, thus establishing Baker as the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in philosophy from an institution in the United States (Yancy 2001). Patrick Francis Healey beforehand earned his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Louvain in 1865 and went on to become the president of Georgetown University in 1874 (Davis 1990). From 1865, when Healey followed Amo, to 1938, the year Hill received his doctorate in philosophy from The Ohio State University, few African Americans entered philosophy holding the Ph.D. degree. In fact, only Gilbert Haven Jones from the University of Jena in 1909, Alain Locke at Harvard in 1918, Albert M. Dunham from the University of Chicago in 1933, Marquis Lafayette Harris at The Ohio State University in 1933, and William T. Fontaine from the University of Pennsylvania in 1936, a total of seven, came before Hill. However, I should point out that even though Lewis Baxter Moore s doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1896 was in classics, his training considerably engaged him in the philosophy curriculum. Subsequently, he established the philosophy department at Howard University of which Alain Locke developed into one of the premier departments in the country (Harris 1983: xiii). In many ways, the year 1938 was a banner year for Black doctorate holders in philosophy. Along 42 Philosophy and the Black Experience with Hill, there were two other recipients of the doctorate that year, namely Marc Marion Moreland at the University of Toronto and Forest Oran Wiggins from the University of Wisconsin. A native of Urbana, Ohio, Charles Leander Hill ( ) graduated magna cum laude from Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio. After earning the B.D. and S.T.M. from Hamma Divinity School, he did graduate study at the University of Berlin from It was at this time that he discovered Amo s inaugural dissertation. Consumed with his research on Philip Melanchthon, the co-reformer with Martin Luther, Hill not only wrote a dissertation on Melanchthon but also became an internationally renowned scholar of Melanchthon (Flack 1962; Hill 1944; Stokes 2000). Hill returned to his work on Amo during his presidency at Wilberforce University from (Hill 1955: 20). Hill was more than prepared to carry out the tasks of providing a critical commentary and translation of Amo. His work on Melanchthon was precisely that kind of undertaking, where Hill s knowledge of Latin, Greek and German in combination with his extensive study of the history of philosophy proved to be immeasurable assets. In fact, Hill s expertise in the history of modern Western philosophy had already resulted in the publication of a text in Unable to find a suitable text for classroom instruction, Dr. Hill produced A Short History of Modern Philosophy from the Renaissance to Hegel. With Hill s publication of a book in the history of modern philosophy, he became the first African American philosopher to accomplish this feat (Hill 1951). A theologian as well as an ordained minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Dr. Hill was widely known for his great oratorical skills and inspiring sermons (Hill 1960; Stokes 2000). Therefore, it is no surprise that he submitted his article to The A.M.E. Review. His essay, William Ladd, The Black Philosopher from Guinea: A Critical Analysis of His Dissertation on Apathy appeared in the 1955 October-December issue (Hill 1955). Since Hill s pioneering research on Amo, a number of scholars, philosophers as well as Africana Studies professionals, have further contributed to the scholarship on Amo. A cursory observation indicates that the same tradition of Pan-African interests still prevails today. African philosophers along with their African American counterparts, not to mention others of African descent in various disciplines, are moving in new directions concerning Amo s life and works. To aid the reader who may desire to do further study, I have included a select bibliography on both Drs. Amo and Hill. Indeed, I submit that we who are Black philosophers have a special duty, in this the tri-centennial of Amo s birth, to continue Hill s legacy of philosophical research on the first African to covet the doctorate in philosophy and more generally on philosophers of African descent. I think Hill lucidly conveys this point when he states, [W]hile the scholar who is a Negro must devote to an objective, dispassionate search for truth like any other scholar, he would seem to me to be confronted with the additional responsibility of making known to the world of scholarship, any great mind that was lodged by accident of birth in a black body. This special or additional responsibility I gladly accept, and the results of the assumptions of this duty, you will read in the following pages (Hill ). I want to thank Dr. Dennis Dickerson, the Editor-Publisher of The A.M.E. Church Review and the Commission on Publications of the African Methodist Episcopal Church for granting the APA Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience the rights to re-publish Dr. Hill s invaluable essay on Anton Wilhelm Amo. I must add that The A.M.E. Church Review is a crucial source for those philosophers interested in the history of Africana philosophy. I also want to thank Ms. Jacqueline Brown, the archivist at Wilberforce University, for her priceless assistance with my previous research in the Charles Leander Hill Collection at Wilberforce University and to Dr. Arthur P. Stokes, Professor Emeritus of History at Wilberforce University, for his time and insights into Dr. Hill s life and work. Last but surely not least, I want to thank my father John McClendon, Jr. who first introduced me to Dr. Hill s legacy embodied in the erudite man who always spoke just above a whisper. Anton Wilhelm Amo: Select Bibliography of English Sources Abraham, W. E The Mind of Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press The Life and Times of Anton Wilhelm Amo. Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 7: Ahuma, Attoah Memoirs of West African Celebrities Liverpool: D. Marples & Co. Bemile, Sebastian K. Anton Wilhelm Amo, From a Ghanaian Slave- Child to a German Professor and Philosopher [www.afrst.uiuc.edu/ Seminar/Bemile.rtf] 2002 Bruce, John Edward Short Biographical Sketches of Eminent Negro Men and Women in Europe and the United States. Yonkers: Gazette Press. Child, Lydia Maria An Appeal in Favor of Americans Called Africans. Davis, Cyprian The History of Black Catholics. New York: Crossroad Publishing Co. Du Bois, W.E.B Black Folk, Then and Now; An Essay in the History and Sociology of the Negro Race. New York: Henry Holt. Fikes, Robert Black Scholars in Europe During the Renaissance. Negro History Bulletin (July, August, September): Fleming, Beatrice J. and Marion J. Pryde Distinguished Negroes Abroad. Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers. Frimpong, Chief Yaw First Black Philosopher was a Ghanaian. The Independent, March Gates, Henry Louis Figures in Black. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Harris, Leonard, ed Philosophy Born of Struggle: An Anthology of Afro-American Philosophy. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt. Heckmann
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