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His article reminds us that persons of African ancestry resided across Europe. Their numbers ranged from a few hundred scattered across Germany, Scandinavia and Russia in the period between the 16th and 18th Centuries to approximatelyon the Iberian peninsula.
His discussion below is excerpted from a larger article written for the American Historical Society in There is a risk in asking 20th-century questions of earlier times because today's terms of discourse may not find a meaningful context there.
It is likewise problematic to project onto European history social and cultural constructs that have evolved in the United States, and perhaps nowhere else, in quite the same form. Such is the dilemma we face in considering the influence of blacks in European history for a primarily American audience.
A discussion of the influence of black Africans on Europe and on Europeans is complicated by the absence of a universal definition of black. In general, the designation black in Europe, unlike in the United States, has been reserved for those of dark color, not the broader definition based on known black African ancestry.
Consequently, awareness of a black population in Europe has been limited by the fact that when interracial marriage occurred, subsequent light-complexioned generations might never be referred to again as black. Consistent with the predominant European attitude, he emphatically rejected the notion that he was.
Besides, in his France —as in all the other European societies—class was far more important than color, at least until the 20th century.
The great Russian poetAlexander Pushkin, who took pride in his African ancestry, shrugged off aspersions cast on that score, but took great offense at those who did not respect the centuries of nobility on his father's side.
Is it legitimate, therefore, for a historian to count these two 19th-century literary giants as evidence of an African influence? Has racial thought in Europe had the same degree of significance as in the United States? Have blacks in Europe experienced a kind of positive " invisibility " in contrast to the destructive American type chronicled by Ralph Ellison?
On the surface the European racial definition seems more egalitarian. However, the history in question suggests also the possibility of an attempt to ignore or minimize the influence of a group considered sufficiently undesirable to have been excluded by law from European countries at various times.
For teachers and students of history a resultant practical problem is the absence of clear references to race in documents such as census data where it might be quite useful.
Moreover, among scholars, few have found the experience of blacks in Europe to merit special attention; and even those few of African descent who have achieved high status have done so by following the accepted conventions and by avoiding drawing attention to either their African heritage or to African characteristics in their societies.
This has been left to blacks in former colonies, not in Europe. This brief essay uses selected examples from continental European societies to discuss some of the issues that must be confronted in studying the influence of Africa and Africans on continental Europe. Africa and Africans have had an influence on European thought and culture far disproportionate to the size of the small black population which, for example, approachedin the Iberian peninsula in the 16th century, and by the 18th Century amounted to just several thousand in France, a few thousand in the Netherlandsand several hundred scattered through GermanyScandinavia, and Russia.
Only in the 20th century would the combined numbers reach the hundreds of thousands. The most striking example of that disproportionate influence can be seen in the 20th century, in Soviet Russia, which as part of its messianic role chose Black Africa and blacks in America as symbols for the Communist championing of the downtrodden; elected blacks as honorary members of the Moscow City Council; and named a mountain after Paul Robeson.
Three interesting examples of people of African ancestry who had distinguished careers in Germany, Russia and the Netherlands suggest the ways in which race is mediated in Modern Europe. The first, Anthony William Amogained fame in Germany for his philosophical studies.
A grant from the duke allowed Amo to be educated to a point where he was able to enter the universities at Halle, inand Wittenberg, inwhere he became skilled in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, German, and Dutch and concentrated on philosophy.
In he was awarded the doctorate degree from the University of Wittenberg with a dissertation on "De humanae mentis apatheia" "On Apathy in the Human Mind".
In his philosophical work he was a rationalist, devoting special attention to mathematical and medical knowledge in the context of Enlightenment thought.
He became a lecturer at the University of Halle and later at the University of Jena until the s. Among the few fairly prominent black figures in Dutch history who at least briefly caught the public eye, the earliest was the former slave Jacobus Capiteinso named because a Dutch captain brought him to Leiden, where he was put into school, mastered several European languages, and eventually became a predicant preacher after completing theological training at the University of Leiden in He became famous as author of a treatise that defended slavery as an avenue to redemption for Africans.
His portrait, circulated widely, advertising that blacks could be transformed by Christianity and Western civilization. Prior to going off to what was to prove a disastrous mission in his homeland on the Gold Coast, he preached a number of times in Holland to audiences who flocked to see this novelty.
The first black to attain high recognition in Russia was Abram Hannibalthe African slave who became a favorite of Tsar Peter the Great and was the maternal great-grandfather of Pushkin, the single most revered figure in all of Russian culture.Middle Ages; 16th and Early 17th Centuries; Restoration and 18th Century; The Romantic Period; The Victorian Age; The 20th Century & After.
The human history of Georgia begins well before the founding of the colony, with Native American cultures that date back to the Paleoindian Period at the end of the Ice Age, nearly 13, years ago. The Clovis culture, identified by its unique projectile points, is the earliest documented group to have lived in present-day Georgia.
History of Racism and Immigration Time Line Key Events in the Struggle for Racial Equality in President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation as the nation Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor influences public conscience about poor government treatment of Indians.
Slavery in America in the late 17th century, was the direct, Free Study Guides and book notes including comprehensive chapter analysis, complete summary analysis, author biography information, character profiles, theme analysis, metaphor analysis, and top ten quotes on classic literature.
Riots defined by "race" have taken place between ethnic groups in the United States since the 18th century and likely before. During the early-to-mid- 19th centuries, violent rioting occurred between Protestant "Nativists" and recently arrived Irish Catholic immigrants.
These reached heights during the peak of immigration in the s and s in cities . It is right to study, discover, and share facts about the complex lives of 19th century black Americans.
It is wrong to exaggerate, obfuscate, and ignore those facts in order to suit 21st century opinions.