Food For Thought: Before Columbus
of the New World
By Legrand H. Clegg II
Every October Americans pause to celebrate Columbus Day. Children are taught that the Italian navigator discovered America. Parades are held in his honor and tributes tell of his skill, courage and perseverance. Historians, archeologists, anthropologists and other scientists and scholars now know that Columbus did not discover America. Not only were native Americans present when he reached the New World, but also Africans, Asians and Europeans, among others, had been sailing to the Americas thousands of years before Columbus ventured across the Atlantic. Of the various people who reached America before Columbus, Black Africans appear to have made the most contacts and to have had the greatest impact. During the 19th and 20th centuries, several scholars wrote books and articles about this subject and urged the academic establishment to change primary and secondary curricula across the country to reflect the great contributions of African people to early America. Unfortunately, such pleas fell on deaf ears; so again this October our children are being taught the myth that Columbus discovered America. In August of this year, a group of 13 African Americans participated in a study-tour of numerous Mexican archeological sites. Led by the renowned Black historian and architect, Mathu Otir, and two Mexican guides, we visited numerous museums, temples, pyramids and cities, most of which reflected the genius of the native American Mayas and Aztecs. Toward the end of the tour, in southern Mexico, we began to see the remains of an ancient Black presence. Evidence of the early Africans is widespread and varied. Dozens of majestic stone heads have been found at ancient sacred sites, such as La Venta and Tres Zapotes in southern Mexico (See photograph). Ranging up to 9 feet and 4 inches in height, with a circumference of 22 feet, and weighing 30 to 40 tons, these colossal statues depict helmeted Black men with large eyes, broad fleshy noses and full lips. They appear to represent priest-kings who ruled vast.....territories in the ancient New World from provinces near the Gulf of Mexico.
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