The Myth of the Negro Past by Melville Herskovits

By Melville Herskovits

Virtually fifty years in the past Melville Herskovits got down to debunk the parable that black americans don't have any cultural previous. initially released in 1941, his extraordinary research of black background and tradition recovered a wealthy African history in non secular and secular existence, the language and humanities of the Americas.

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This may well be viewed as but fact, a reflection of the fact that deep beneath the differences between these varied civilizations of the Old World lie common aspects which, in generalized form, might be expected to emerge in situations of close contact between peoples, such as Europeans and Africans, whose specialized cultural the larger unity. It is in the endowments are comprehended within apparent that research into the problem of African survivals United States, when set in its proper context, carries the student into areas of importance for an understanding of the nature and processes of human civilization.

Imitativeness childlike is only one phase of what mind and his is written of as the cheerfulness. accompanying Though Negro's comparable statements are not often met in the more recent works, THE MYTH 22 the idea is sufficiently system, as presented. the Dowd citations: OF THE NEGRO PAST current to deserve One example of place in the mythological its view continues this point of The mind of the Negro can best be understood by likening it to that For instance, the Negro lives in the presert, his interests are William objective, and his actions are governed by his emotions.

46 That such statements are of themselves not to be taken seriously need scarcely be mentioned at the present time, since Tillinghast's THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AFRICANISMS 25 references to Spencer adequately date his conception of the role of natural selection in determining traits of social behavior. Nevertheless, in the light of the number of times this work has been quoted, it must be taken fully into account. U. B. Phillips, the best-known historian of slavery, phrases his manner estimate of the African scene in the following : The climate in fact not only discourages but prohibits mental effort of severe or sustained character, and the negroes have submitted to that prohibition as to many others, through countless generations, with excellent grace.

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