The black experience in America—starting from its origins in western Africa up to 1961—is examined in this seminal study from a prominent African American figure. The entire historical timeline of African Americans is addressed, from the Colonial period through the civil rights upheavals of the late 1950s to 1961, the time of publication. “Before the Mayflower” grew out of a series of articles Bennett published in Ebony magazine regarding "the trials and triumphs of a group of Americans whose roots in the American soil are deeper than the roots of the Puritans who arrived on the celebrated Mayflower a year after a 'Dutch man of war' deposited twenty Negroes at Jamestown." Bennett's history is infused with a desire to set the record straight about black contributions to the Americas and about the powerful Africans of antiquity. While not a fresh history, it provides a solid synthesis of current historical research and a lively writing style that makes it accessible and engaging reading.
After discussing the contributions of Africans to the ancient world, “Before the Mayflower” tells the history of "the other Americans," how they came to America, and what happened to them when they got here. The book is comprehensive and detailed, providing little-known and often overlooked facts about the lives of black folks through slavery, Reconstruction, America's wars, the Great Depression, and the civil rights movement. The book includes a useful time line and some fascinating archival images.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What an insightful journey! Upon the beloved Lerone Bennett, Jr.' s passing on Valentine's Day of this year, I did what I had been intending to do for years- read this masterpiece. I opened it on a Friday and finished it on Sunday. I could not put it down. Before the Mayflower touched so many parts of my soul. I traveled many new roads and some parts of the history were recalled. It was truly a long journey in night, into light and mostly into illumination. Just think, this scholar did all of this research before the advent of the Internet which means he read many documents and labored many hours in libraries and centers of archives. I could go on and on, but as one reader wrote, every person of color should read it. Actually, anyone of letters who seeks true insight should read it. What a magnificent record!