“History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are, but more importantly, what they must be.” – John Henrik Clarke
Why are there are Black communities all over the world, from southern Russia to southeast Asia, from South America to the islands of the South Pacific? Some of them are no longer around, but we know they were there. They were everywhere.
But who were these people? Where did they come from? How did they get to distant outposts like Easter Island, Tierra del Fuego, and even the frigid regions of northern Europe, Canada, and Siberia? And what role did these people play in establishing the world’s first cultures and civilizations? Finally, what happened to them?
These are the questions we’ll answer in this book. In this book, you’ll learn about the history of Black people. I don’t mean the history you learned in school, which most likely began with slavery and ended with the Civil Rights Movement. I’m talking about Black history BEFORE that. Long before that. In this book, we’ll cover over 200,000 years of Black history.
For many of us, that sounds strange. We can’t even imagine what the Black past was like before the slave trade, much less imagine that such a history goes back 200,000 years or more.
Can you imagine what that does to a person? To grow up believing their people started out as slaves? Perhaps some of us know a little about Africa, but how much do we really know? How much do we know about the extent of the ancient Black empires that spanned far beyond continental Africa? Chances are, very little. In this book, we’ll tell the stories you haven’t been told.
We’ll talk about the Black migrations that settled the world. We’ll talk about the Black people who founded the first cultures and civilizations of Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, the Pacific Islands, and North and South America. No exaggeration. This book covers more than 200,000 years of Black history across every square inch of the Planet Earth. We’ll rediscover a past when the world was Black. As we learn the history of our ancestors, we’ll learn more and more about ourselves.
Why are ancient Black civilizations important? What do they have to do with us nowadays? Could this information serve as anything more than a source of inspiration? Or are these stories mere reminders of the greatness that once was?
I could answer those questions myself, but it makes sense to draw on the wisdom of those who came before me. People like historian John Henrik Clarke, who said the profound words quoted above. Or Senegalese scholar Cheikh Anta Diop, who said, “Intellectuals out to study the past, not for the pleasure they find in so doing, but to derive lessons from it.”[i]
This is what Malcolm X meant when he said in his 1963 “Message to the Grassroots”:
Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research. And when you see that you’ve got problems, all you have to do is examine the historic method used all over the world by others who have problems similar to yours. And once you see how they got theirs straight, then you know how you can get yours straight.
He was echoing the sentiments of his teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who said in the classic Message to the Blackman:
The acquiring of knowledge for our children and ourselves must not be limited to the three R’s – ‘reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. It should instead include the history of the Black nation, the knowledge of civilization of man and the universe and all the sciences. It will make us a greater people of tomorrow. We must instill within our people the desire to learn and then use that learning for self.[ii]
Later in the book, he connects the study of history with the pursuit of self-knowledge:
I am for the acquiring of knowledge or the accumulating of knowledge – as we now call it; education. First, my people must be taught the knowledge of self. Then and only then will they be able to understand others and that which surrounds them. Anyone who does not have a knowledge of self is considered a victim of either amnesia or unconsciousness and is not very competent. The lack of knowledge of self is a prevailing condition among my people here in America. Gaining the knowledge of self makes us unite into a great unity. Knowledge of self makes you take on the great virtue of learning. [iii]
What they’ve been telling us is that history is a rich subject because it can illuminate the problems of the present, and present solutions that have already worked for such problems.
History can also highlight the failures of the past, to help us see what not to do again. The past is like an alternate universe that obeys the same laws as our own, where we can see what happens when different things are attempted.
Studying the past also allows us to see how our present-day conditions came to be. Both our strengths and our weaknesses are born from the triumphs and tragedies of our collective past. Thus, if we want a better present and future, we must come to understand the past.
In writing this book, I gave myself the daunting task of covering all the cultures and civilizations of the world, going back as far as the earliest evidence of human settlement, and extending up to the point of European contact. That’s quite a lot of history. Thus, this book had to be split into two parts.
Part One covers history from 200,000 to 20,000 years ago. These were the “prehistoric” cultures of the Paleolithic Age. This might make them sound “primitive,” but we’ll soon see that these cultures were actually highly advanced.
Part Two covers history from 20,000 years ago to the point of European contact. This is the time that prehistoric cultures grew into ancient urban civilizations, a transition known to historians as the “Neolithic Revolution.”
Right now, you’re looking at Part One. In this book, you’ll learn:
This book is, of course, not the first to explore the subject of ancient Black history. And it will certainly not be the last. What makes this book different is its scope, its depth, and its approach.
This book covers the Black history of Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas, whereas most texts focus on a very specific area, typically limited to popular regions like the Nile Valley. This book is also different because of how much work it took to put it together.
To summarize, here are ten reasons why this book was so insanely difficult to research and write:
This book is also different because we don’t resort to fantastic claims without proof. That’s just something we don’t do, even if readers nowadays tend to let other authors get away with it. We want to teach critical thinking, so we lead by example. If it’s an extraordinary claim, it requires extraordinary evidence. If we can’t back it up, we won’t say it. If it’s just a theory, we’ll say that, and we’ll identify all that facts that suggest our theory is plausible.
Finally, we are big on reality. The facts are amazing by themselves. We don’t need to make it seem like Black people built civilizations all over the world with magic or psychic powers. Doing so makes the accomplishments of the past seem effortless, and that sets us up for failure today – because nation-building nowadays is certainly not effortless. Doing so also requires no explanation of the process by which nation-building occurs, so you’re left with some fun stuff to believe in, but nothing you can actually use. We actually consider this kind of “teaching” to be a form of exploitation, and advise you to keep your eyes out for the people who peddle this kind of fantasy to those who deserve better.
The following guidelines should make it easier to read and understand this book:
 It should, of course, be noted that Malcolm X also consulted heavily with others, including Dr. John Henrik Clarke and Queen Mother Moore.
 They say “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but Rome was copied off nearby Black civilizations that took thousands of years to establish. So what took Rome so long?
[i] Cheikh Anta Diop. (1974). African Origin of Civilization. Lawrence Hill Books.
[ii] Elijah Muhammad. (1965). Message to the Blackman. Elijah Muhammad Books.
[iii] Elijah Muhammad. (1965).