The Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC) is one of the leading African Centered research and scholarly organizations in the African World that has become the foundation for the collective work of our African Centered students, activists, artists and scholars.
In December of 1977 one of the most profound, insightful, and challenging books of the twentieth-century was published by ASCAC. The title of the book is African World History Project: The Preliminary Challenge.
According to our late ancestor Dr. Jacob Carruthers, founding president of ASCAC and the conceptualizer of this project, it started “more than two centuries ago when Africans began to read and discuss the doctrines of the European philosophers of the eighteenth century. European thinkers such as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Hume, and Kant began to fabricate the doctrine of white supremacy and Negro inferiority, which led to the most brutal campaigns of cultural genocide known to humanity.”
Dr. Carruthers explained that, “Their philosophical discourses added fuel to the vulgar attitudes and reactions resulting from the encounters of Africans with Europeans in the context of the European slave industry.”
This process led to the writing of history that had its foundation in white supremacy and that was aimed at wiping out the contributions of African people to the world and humanity.
Even though many of our scholars, researchers and activists have resisted the imposition of this kind of white supremacy interpretation of history, African people still suffer from over 300 years of falsifying the truth about Africa and African people.
Dr. Carruthers first wrote, “A Memorandum on an African World History Project” and presented it at the Association of African Historians Conference, February 18-21, 1982 at the Center for Inner City Studies in Chicago. This memorandum began the process of clearly laying out the rationale for the African World History Project.
In this regard, Dr. Carruthers challenged, “The time has now come when Black scholars must come together and design a massive project which will culminate in a multi-volume history of the world… It should be noted that the Europeans have already developed such projects; witness the Cambridge and Oxford historiesof practically every area of the world. Unfortunately we have to rely on these sources all too often.”
Some people may ask the question “why are you so hung up on history when we have all these problems of crime, poverty, joblessness, broken families and general chaos in our communities.” I would answer by saying that the reasons why we have so many of these problems is because collectively as a people we don’t know our history.
There is an old African proverb that says: “To know where you are going, you must know where you have come from. If you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there.”
The African World History Project is rooted in African-centeredness, which places Africa (not Europe) at the center of our analysis of the world. It focuses on us centering ourselves as the core for examining our traditions, culture, and values as a people.
On February 26, 1984 over 500 Africans in America from all over the United States attended “The First Annual Ancient Egyptian Studies Conference in Los Angeles, California.” It was at this conference that Yosef ben-Jochannan, John Henrik Clarke, Asa G. Hilliard III, Leonard Jeffries, Maulana Karenga and Jacob H. Carruthers met and developed
the proposal for the development of
ASCAC. It was at that conference that ASCAC was founded.
ASCAC, under the leadership of Dr. Carruthers and its current president Dr. Mario Beatty, served and still serves as the vehicle for our scholars and researchers to collectively test their ideas through research papers, books, study groups, and presentations related to the African World History Project.
Since 1984 ASCAC has held regional, national and international conferences. These conferences led to the “Inaugural Meeting of the African World History Project” in Detroit, Michigan, February 1-11, 1996 convened by our ancestor Nzinga Ratibisha Heru, (who was at that time
ASCAC’s International President). The outgrowth of this meeting led to the division of labor that produced the book, African World History Project: The Preliminary Challenge.
The book is 399 pages and divided into four parts: Part 1, “The Challenge: Restoring the African Way” with a lead essay by Dr. Anderson Thompson; Part 2, “The African Historical Imagination: Developing a Conceptual Framework” with a lead essay by Dr. Jacob Carruthers; Part 3, “Patterns of African-Centered History: Applying the Vision” with a lead article by Dr. Asa G. Hilliard; and the final section, “African-Centered Perspectives: Continuing the Tradition – The Next Generation” with a lead article by Adisa A. Ajamu.
It is inspiring to read the African World History Project: The Preliminary Challenge, first premier book of the volumes to be produced. It is further inspiring to reaffirm that when African people set goals, work together for African interests, much can be accomplished.
As Dr. Carruthers instructed us in his first memorandum, “Such a project must be carefully planned and developed in stages so that effective utilization of resources and division of labor may be determined. The project would depend in the first place on the establishment of a broad range of consensus among leading African scholars.” In this first phase of the project, all of these criteria have been accomplished and more.
Dr. Conrad Worrill, Professor Emeritus, Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies (CCICS). New office location is at 1809 E. 71st Street, Chicago, Illinois 60649, 773-592-2598. Email: [email protected] Website: www.drconradworrill.com.