The Destruction of Black Civilization by Dr. Chancellor Williams is one of the most powerful books I have ever read.
In fact, I learned more about Black history in 14 chapters than I did in 12 years of public schooling.
Ask any influential member of our community and they will agree that this book is the gateway to Black Consciousness.
When we look at the world today, we would be forgiven for believing that Blacks had no history before the arrival of whites.
That is because when we look at Africa, we see a continent that is behind the rest of the world. In Sub-Saharan Africa, archaeological records are hard to find at best.
And the one place on the continent with a treasure trove of ancient knowledge – Kemet – is occupied by Arabs.
But this was not always the case.
We know from The Destruction of Black Civilization that much of the African archaeological record was destroyed by white invaders. We know that Black civilization was interrupted by waves of invasion, interracial warfare, and slavery. And we also know that the founders of Kemet were as Black as the night sky.
But, as Dr. Chancellor Williams asks, “what happened? How was this highly advanced Black Civilization so completely destroyed that its people, in our times and for some centuries past, have found themselves not only behind the other peoples of the world, but as well, the color of their skin a sign of inferiority, bad luck, and the badge of the slave whether bond or free?”
The Destruction of Black Civilization was Dr. Williams’ answer to those questions.
Dr. Chancellor Williams Biography
But he had to master history, for to be ignorant of history is simply to be ignorant. In your study of world history, pay particular attention to the institution of slavery through the ages and the forces behind it. Study white slavery, too, he told himself, for white people pretend to forget that they themselves have been slaves and try to use black slavery as proof of racial inferiority. – From “The Second Agreement With Hell,” by Chancellor Williams.
Chancellor James Williams (born December 22, 1898) was the son of a former slave. He was born during a period in American history when slavery and the Civil War was fresh in the memories of many Black men and women.
His interest in African history began early in life. In his own words: “… I read everything by Booker T. Washington, DuBois and George Williams’ “The African Abroad.’ And I wasn’t reading just for fun, I was looking for answers. And in my own mind I was a participant in debates between Booker T. and DuBois. And I sided with Booker T.”
To escape the poverty and racism of the South, many Blacks began migrating north in search of new opportunities. Places like New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. became new Black meccas that gave birth to political, cultural, and intellectual movements.
Chancellor Williams was swept up in those times when he was moved from his hometown in South Carolina to Washington D.C. at the age of 12.
In 1930, he graduated from the famed historically Black Howard University where he received a master’s degree in history from Howard. He later received a doctorate in sociology from American University.
He would teach for the rest of his life, while also founding a bakery and building other streams of income for himself and his extensive family.
When Dr. Chancellor Williams made his transition back to the ancestral realm on December 7, 1992, he left behind 14 children, 36 grandchildren, 38 great-grandchildren, and 10 great-great-grandchildren.
Other Chancellor Williams books include:
But of all the intellectual works that Dr. Williams produced (and he produced many) none were as world-changing and inspiring as the Destruction of Black Civilization.
His book is widely read in prisons, home schools, and in community organizations. Even members of our organization are required to read the Destruction of Black Civilization as part of our foundational curriculum.
The Destruction of Black Civilization Summary and Book Review
“What became of the Black People of Sumer?” the traveller asked the old man, “for ancient records show that the people of Sumer were Black . What happened to them?” “Ah,” the old man sighed . “They lost their history, so they died .” – The Destruction of Black Civilization Opening Quote
I grew up believing that “Egypt” was an Arabic country. I was taught that Greeks or some light skinned Asiatic group built the pyramids. My miseducation was confirmed when I watched movies like Cleopatra – the 1963 movie featuring an all white cast.
Then I read the Destruction of Black Civilization.
This book taught me the truth: that the Blacks of Kemet (Egypt’s proper name) built and led the greatest dynasties in history. And when white and Arab invaders swept into Kemet, the Blacks of the Nile were pushed further south.
Dr. Williams writes “the Arabs were spreading out and penetrating formerly forbidden borders of Black states. They could therefore enter Black territory from which Whites were barred.These Arabs confused African leaders everywhere, increased the tensions and tribal wars among them, and helped mightily in destroying the independence of African states.”
Despite being pushed South, we continued to build empires like Kush, Axum, and preserved the practice of pyramid building throughout Nubia.
Time and time again the same theme played out: we are displaced by invaders, we re-settle and re-build, and are once again displaced.
The Mossi Prophecy
The only circumstances where African nations were able to protect and preserve themselves was when the Great Mossi Prophecy was respected:
In short, the Mossi saw Islam and Christianity as the white man’s vehicles of conquest . It was the only Black nation in time, to see this. Indeed, Mossi prophecy held that when the first white man appeared in the land the nation would die .
The Mossi policy of excluding whites or rigidly limiting the number and controlling their activities in the
country further illuminates an African experience that is already so clear that it should require no additional light: All African states that began to develop again after the great dispersion, rebuilding and expanding, were prosperous and advancing as Black states as long as they barred the relentless, aggressive whites from their countries; and their destruction became certain only when they abanloned this policy and let the Asians and Europeans in.
On this the record is entirely clear . The Mossi held on steadfastly to their own African religion and African institutions and survived over five hundred years, into the 20th century.
Liberation and Organization
[The liberation of our minds is] Task Number One. The present-day confused outlook of the African people -is the result of centuries of Caucasian acculturation, a quite natural process wherever one people come under the economic, political and social domination of another people. – The Destruction of Black Civilization Quotes
In the chapters “The Liberation of Our Minds” and “Organizing a Race for Action”, Chancellor Williams breaks down how whites, Arabs, and increasingly Asians can easily control suppressed Black communities even after they are set free.
This is achieved by using mental manipulation, religion, and most importantly ideologies.
On page 331 it is written that “The ideologies and value system of the oppressors quite unconsciously become those of the oppressed, even when the result is demonstratively against themselves. But all other oppressed peoples, whether Indian, Chinese or Japanese, were able to hold on doggedly to their own racial pride and cultural heritage as the last resource for survival as a people. Unlike the Blacks, they were never completely cut off from this sustaining life-line of every people.”
Unlike other races – we Blacks remain VOLUNTARY SLAVES even after being set free because we were taught to believe in a system of white values, and we have subordinated our culture to that of other groups. It is only after we break this belief system that we begin to raise our collective racial esteem.
Breaking white supremacist belief systems and thus changing our attitudes can only happen by re-educating the Black masses.
Dr. Williams writes the following:
“Re-education will be required for the two mandatory changes in attitude : one toward each other in terms of mutual respect, and the other, a change in attitude about efficiency, expertise in business management and financial responsibility and administration . Unless we begin to develop and expand these first, a great survival movement will fail just as many other noble efforts failed because the rush neglected the necessary foundation.”
Such is the power of books like The Destruction of Black Civilization – it doesn’t just inform; it corrects the damage caused by miseducation, re-educates the reader, and inspires the kind of change in attitudes that lay the foundation for our rebirth.
The Shape Of Things To Come: A Master Plan To Unite The Clans
“…Although the African people may continue their present course of weakness on into the future with thousands of un-unified organizations, powerless and dependent like half-men unable to use their own brains, (with this master plan), we can never again say that nobody has studied the principle problems and the obstacles to their solutions based on history, and then offered an overall plan as one of the possible lines of march out of chaos.” – The Destruction of Black Civilization Quotes
The last and most important chapter of the book gives us a blueprint for the rebirth of African civilization.
Every since the birth of Pan-Africanism, thousands of “Black” organizations have come and gone.
Chancellor Williams argues that these organizations fail because they do not include the whole race, and have no clear plan for long term action and organization.
Black organizations tend to be organized around one of the following:
- Religious organizations like the Nation of Islam
- Activist organizations such as the Black Lives Matter Movement
- Political organizations like the African National Congress
But these types of organizations focus on narrow subsets of problems and exclude Blacks who do not ‘drink the Kool-Aid’. If you refuse to accept a religious leader as God on Earth, or if you disagree with party politics, you are excluded from the group.
Instead, Dr. Chancellor Williams teaches us to build ‘race based organizations’ that prioritize race before religion, sexual orientation, or political party.
“Race organization” here means a nation-wide organization of Blacks only…the organization should be so structured through all elements of Black population that it reflects the voice of Black america as a whole. No such organization ever existed amongst us; hence, no real unity exists amongst us.”
He goes on to say;
“Far from being a separatist movement, our organization would be cooperative. For the Black masses are not going to give up their 400 years of investment in blood and labor that was used to build up America. they are not about to separate or migrate anywhere, leaving all those centuries of toil as a free gift to the whites.” He also points out some things that should be understood:
The unity we seek cannot be achieved by organization alone.
Actual unity will be achieved, not by preaching, pleading, or exhortations, but almost unconsciously as people work together for mutual benefits to each other and the advancement of the race as a whole. Meaningful, practical activities which involve even children in attacking the problems of their race will be the cement which we call unity.
Economic activities are fundamental in any truly upward movement.
Slave mentality causes millions of us to shy away from this rule of life itself because it requires more initiative, training, and work, and less talk than politics [or preaching]. The result is that the rest of the world sees us as a race of dependent job seekers, ourselves unable to engage in the large scale production of any of the necessities of life, whether they are the shoes we wear or the food we eat. Hence, the billions of dollars we spend each year, just in these categories, we eagerly give back to the whites to strengthen their power over us while becoming richer and richer at the same time. Economic development activities are direct survival activities.
All community enterprises, contrary to capitalism, will be owned and operated by people.
Members in the community will be the shareholders, and all the trained personnel in each store, plant or any other enterprise will be shareholders (and therefore, part owners) of such establishments, that all profits will belong to the people, but the full responsibility for the first class service will be that of elected managers, and not the general membership.
Could A Race Based Organization Work?
Chancellor Williams outlines a number of reasons that only a race movement can be successful.
The significance of a nation-wide organization, he writes, is that it can influence American foreign policy regarding important matters affecting African nations “just as effectively as American Jews can influence this country’s relations with Israel. “
A racial organization would change standards of living and expenses for all Black men and women. “Higher rents and higher prices are paid for goods and services in “inner cities” than those paid in affluent white suburbs. This open yet silent war against Blacks is being accepted because we are helplessly disorganized” Dr. Williams writes.
“Such a race movement would be superficial indeed if it proceeded without its principal foundation, which is the ownership of vast tracts of farm and timber land in various parts of the country (the Nation of Islam is already up on this, buying huge parcels of farmland and real estate nationwide). Land is for production. And its ownership and use will become more and more necessary for survival since even now 75 percent of the American population is concentrated on only 2 percent of the land in cities and towns. ”
A race movement can have on behalf of the African diaspora a Central National Bank as the people’s national depository. Blacks are arbitrarily denied protection or are charged much higher rates than those paid by whites.
During the lead up to the financial crisis of 2006, banks pushed minority borrowers into subprime loans, even when many of them qualified for prime loans.
Wells Fargo had perhaps the most horrifying practices in this department, calling the subprime loans that they pushed in poor, Black neighborhoods “ghetto loans.”
A race organization can give new hope and a new sense of direction to the thousands behind prison walls and, in time, practically empty the prisons of those convicted of crimes for which the whites go free.
The men and women coming out of prison would have something to come to: training or retraining for their much needed services in helping to build and advance their race and themselves.
Most importantly, Black children, who have been badly cheated by this white power structure, [who] know that their parents are actively a part of a great Race movement will be inspired to participate in the struggle as well.
How To Build A Race Based Organization
The Destruction of Black Civilization includes a blueprint for building the kind of organization our people need.
He suggests that this organization consist of several specific departments, including:
- The Department for Promotion of Community Cooperative Enterprises
- The Department of Finance, Banking, and Credit Unions
- The Institution of Technology and Personnel Training
- Central Office of Accounting and Finance Control
- Department of Land Reclamation and Farming
- Transport and Distribution Agency
- Central Purchasing and Supply Agency
- Division of Political Action
- Division of Public Education
- Division of Community Services (including community clinics)
- Division of Youth Activities
- Division of Pan African Affairs (to coordinate our efforts abroad)
- Division of Intelligence and Security
- The Commission for Spiritual Life and Assistance (to build connections between the scattered religious philosophies of the diaspora)
“With the development of a movement of this magnitude, the Black people may begin to learn at last how utterly futile it is to grasp the ideologies developed by the white world for the people of the white world. What is needed now, therefore, is neither “Black Capitalism” or “Black Communism” – but what is needed is an ideology of Black Africanism, operating within original values”
The full blueprint is included in the book. If you are a member of an organization or are building one yourself, there is no need to recreate the wheel. Instead, stand on the shoulders of this giant so that we can make the dreams of our ancestors a reality for our children.
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