Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


The American Negro Academy – Founded in the U.S. on March 5, 1897


Members of The American Negro Academy

March 5th (earlier this month) marked the 115th anniversary of the founding of The American Negro Academy, one of the oldest formal organizations in the history of African people in the United States dedicated to documenting and telling our story.

Below is a brief history of The American Negro Academy, as described on the website of The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Inc.

On March 5, 1897, in Washington, D.C., Rev. Dr. Alexander Crummell, the son of a West African Tribal Chief (Temme Tribe) and an American literary giant, founded an organization called the American Negro Academy (ANA). After ANA’s inception, five major objectives were instituted. Those objectives were:

  1. defense of the Negro against vicious assaults;
  2. publication of scholarly works;
  3. fostering higher education among Negroes;
  4. formulation of intellectual tastes and;
  5. promotion of literature, science and art.

It should be noted that ANA was the first and only body in America, at that time, to bring together Negro artists and scholars from all over the world. Eleven years after the founding of ANA, Alexander Crummell died (Sept. 12, 1908) and Dr. W.E.B. DuBois was elected president.

By 1918, ANA had produced in the literary market such scholarly works as “Civilization: The Primal Need of the Race and Attitude of the American Mind Toward Negro Intellect” by Alexander Crummell; “The Early Negro Conventions” by John W. Crommell; “Modern Industrialization and the Negro of the United States” by J.E. Moreland; “Comparative Study of the Negro Problem” by Charles C. Cook; “Disfranchisement of the Negro” by J.L. Lowe; “How the Black San Domingo Legion Saved the Patriotic Army in the Siege of Savanah 1799” by T.G. Steward; “Right on Scaffold or the Martyr of 1822” by A.H. Grimke; “The Negro and the Elective Franchise Symposium” by A.H. Grimke, Charles C. Cook, John Noge, John L. Love, Kelly Miller and Rev. Francis J. Grimke; “A Review of Hoffman’s Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro” by Kelley Miller; “The Status of the Free Negro from 1860-1870” by William Pickens; “Economic Contribution by the Negro to America” by Arthur Schomberg; “Status of the Free Negro Prior to 1860” by L.M. Hershaw; “The Message of San Domingo of the African Race” by T.G. Steward; “The Sex Question and Race Segregation” by A.H. Grimke. With 27 years of long tedious work and leaving a flaming torch burning for its successors, ANA cease to exist (in name only) in 1924.

And further putting the American Negro Academy in the larger context of scholarship in the African diaspora, and also the ever-evolving relationship between Africans in the diaspora and our family on the continent of Africa...

Crummell's American Negro Academy was an association of Africans from around the world. It was among the early societies of global Africans that would associate for progress of African people. The academy would advocate the “Talented Tenth” concept later articulated in the public writings of W.E.B. DuBois, one of the academy's founding members. Crummell's members in Liberia and Sierra Leone would pave the way for W.E.B. DuBois building associations between Blacks in America and Blacks in Africa.

Ultimately, there's a lot more to be read (to be learned) about the American Negro Academy, but it's going to take our willingness to do the homework. The best starting place is likely our going back to the papers that were produced during the Academy's flourishing period. Easy enough to go to the library, although a few of the papers are also available online and in ebook format if you look for them.

For starters, you can find a few of them Here… and Here.

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