Author to discuss Africa’s role in shaping modern society on October 21
Africa’s important contributions to Western society are often overlooked, if not deliberately erased, in modern history, according to educator, journalist and author Howard W. French.
French will discuss his new book, “Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War,” with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dele Olojede at a virtual Book Festival event history at 5 p.m., Thursday October 21 via Zoom.
A question-and-answer session will follow the authors’ discussion.
In a grand tale spanning 600 years, French tells the story of medieval and emerging Africa, demonstrating how Europe‘s economic ascendancy, the realization of the ideals of the Enlightenment and the anchoring of democracy in America were all born out of Europe’s dehumanizing commitment. with the “darkest” continent.
“Born in Blackness” dramatically recovers the lives of major historical figures whose stories have been erased repeatedly over the centuries, the incredibly wealthy African emperors who traded with Asia, and the Kongo rulers who heroically fought the 17th century European powers to the once enslaved people who freed Haitians from slavery.
French tells the story of gold, tobacco, sugar, cotton and the greatest “commodity” of all: the millions of people brought in chains from Africa to the New World.
French is a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He wrote for the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Olojede is the first African winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He won the award in 2005 while working as an Africa correspondent for Newsday, for his series of articles on Rwanda a decade after rape and genocidal massacre ravaged the Tutsi tribe. Olojede is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and sits on the Board of Trustees of Earth University in Costa Rica.
The program is free, but pre-registration is required. To reserve a place, go to historybookfestival.org.
Copies of “Born in Blackness” are available on Browseabout Books at Rehoboth Beach, the official bookseller of the History Book Festival. Biblion in Lewes also has copies of the book for sale. Books purchased in either store are accompanied by a signed archival bookplate.
The main sponsors of the 2021 History Book Festival are Delaware Humanities and the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty. In addition to the Lewes Public Library, the festival’s online programs are supported by the Delaware Division of Libraries and Sussex County Libraries.
The History Book Festival, now in its fifth year, is the first and only book festival in the United States devoted exclusively to history.