Since 1619, when Africans first came ashore in the swampy Chesapeake region of Virginia, there have been many individuals whose achievements or strength of character in the face of monumental hardships have called attention to the genius of the African American people. This book attempts to distill from many wonderful possibilities the 100 most outstanding examples of greatness. Pioneering scholar of African American Studies Molefi Kete Asante has used four criteria in his selection: the individual's significance in the general progress of African Americans toward full equality in the American social and political system; self-sacrifice and the demonstration of risk for the collective good; unusual will and determination in the face of the greatest danger or against the most stubborn odds; and personal achievement that reveals the best qualities of the African American people. In adopting these criteria Professor Asante has sought to steer away from the usual standards of popular culture, which often elevates the most popular, the wealthiest, or the most photogenic to the cult of celebrity. The individuals in this book - examples of lasting greatness as opposed to the ephemeral glare of celebrity fame - come from four centuries of African American history.
Each entry includes brief biographical information, relevant dates, an assessment of the individual's place in African American history with particular reference to a historical timeline, and a discussion of his or her unique impact on American society. Numerous pictures and illustrations will accompany the articles. This superb reference work will complement any library and be of special interest to students and scholars of American and African American history.