John Henrik Clarke

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Dr. John Henrik Clarke was an author, historian, educator, poet, civil activist and -autodidact leader. Born John Henry Clark on January 1, 1915, in Unions Springs, Alabama to John Clark, a sharecropper, and Willie Ella Mays Clark, a laundress. Although he was born in Alabama, he grew up in Georgia. “Clarke decided to add an “e” to his family name Clark and changed his middle name to “Henrik” after the Scandinavian rebel playwright Henrik Ibsen” (Markoe, 120). He grew up during an era where Jim Crow was pervasive in which “equal but separate” became the custom and repressive law for African Americans. Clarke was recognized by his teachers as being a smart and creative young African American; however, because of poverty and other circumstances, he did not complete high school discontinuing his education during the eighth grade to find work. In 1933 at the age of 18 Clarke migrated to Harlem, New York with the hope of becoming a writer. …show more content…

This allowed him to build new contacts which assisted him in furthering his education through the exposure of new concepts and books. Clarke always had a fascination with reading. In fact, when he was younger he would forge white people signatures to check out library books since it was illegal for blacks to do so. One reason for his thirst for knowledge may have stemmed from being told that black people had no history. Clarke said “My mind would not accept that. I continued to search”. In his search for the truth, he came across an essay entitled “The Negro Digs up His Past” by Artur Schomburg’s and this confirmed his belief that Africans indeed had a

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