As a high school student in New York City, I had been around Orientals, mainly Chinese people, with some regularity. Hanging out in the Mott Street area of China Town with Chinese classmates was indeed an education. The first thing that’s crystal clear to any visitor is the unmistakable surrounding of most things Chinese, on the streets, in shops and everywhere inside their small apartments.

Most of my friends’ parents spoke little English and had very little schooling in China. However, every one of my Chinese friends was a high achiever in school. How does this happen? Culture is how. They were grounded in their language, history and customs, handed down by parents and grandparents.

Colonialism’s plantocracy, through the Trans-Atlantic African Slave Trade, made certain to control its free labor source by ensuring only family ties that produced desired breeding and no cultural and other educational affiliation. Spirituality was disallowed save for indoctrination of the slave-masters’ religion.

While it’s been 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation that freed black and brown people on paper, the double-cross that Black Reconstruction became and the subsequent brutal Black Codes that finally gave way to terrible Jim Crow, so-called freedom, justice and equality is yet an illusion. Discrimination is a rampant reality.

How do black and brown people get out of this induced quagmire of fear and ignorance that has bred a sub-culture of mass poverty, impropriety and underachievement? Certainly, without knowledge of self there is absolutely no chance for growth and development of the black and brown masses in America.

Knowledge is power. Self knowledge is transformational group power! We must know the truth about who we are. What is our history before slavery? What have been our contributions to the world? Where is this knowledge and how do we get it? Today, ancient African history is not difficult to get. This knowledge is in books, people, and it is said of us that if you want to hide something from us, put it in a book. It is time to dispel that myth.

With a little effort, every household can have this knowledge. Through the following six books whole black and brown communities can become transformed. People must bring just three other things to this endeavor: a dictionary, dedication and time.

Get these six books!

 The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, by Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop. All evidence shows that ancient Egypt, the first civilization history records, was black in origin.

Introduction to African Civilizations, by John G. Jackson. “Most Western historians [white] have not been willing to admit that there is an African history to be written about, and that this history predates the emergence of Europe by thousands of years.”

 The Destruction of Black Civilization:  Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D., by Chancellor Williams. “The New Approach: The first period would begin with ‘prehistory,’ primarily because Nowe, one of the oldest cities on earth, was begun by Blacks before recorded history.”

 Stolen Legacy, by George G. M. James. “The Greeks were not the authors of Greek Philosophy, but the people of North Africa, commonly called the Egyptians.”

 The Ruins of Empires, by C. F. Volney. “…There a people, now forgotten, discovered, while others were yet barbarians, the elements of the arts and sciences. A race of men, now rejected from society for their sable skin and frizzled hair, founded on the study of the laws of nature, those civil and religious systems which still govern the universe.” (Written in 1793.)

 They Came Before Columbus: The African presence in Ancient America, by Ivan Van Sertima. “Ivan Van Sertima . . . reveals to us a compelling, dramatic and superbly detailed documentation of the presence and legacy of Black Africans in Ancient America.”

No one has to be a scholar or even a high school graduate in order to grasp this knowledge and be able to impart it to others, especially the children. For those who want to dig even deeper I suggest a few more great books:  Ancient Egypt the Light of The World Vol. I and Vol. II, by Gerald Massey; Precolonial Black Africa, by Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop; Civilization or Barbarism, by Cheikh Anta Diop; Black Women in Antiquity Edited, by Ivan Van Sertima; and, African Origins of the Major Western Religions, by Yosef A. A. ben-Jochannan.

Al Calloway is a longtime journalist who began his career with the Atlanta Inquirer during the early 1960s civil rights struggle. He may be reached at