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3 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Reverse racism bolstered by dubious history

5/10
Author: William J. Fickling (wfickling@sc.rr.com) from Columbia, South Carolina, USA
30 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This documentary consists almost entirely of the octogenarian, and totally blind from glaucoma, John Henrik Clarke talking to the camera, backed up by old film clips and still photos. We hear at length Mr. Clarke's ideas regarding black nationalism, pan-Africanism and the like while learning almost nothing about Clarke as a person. He tells us that he earned a Ph.D., but we don't learn from where, and that he taught, but we don't learn where. We don't even learn if Clarke was married, has children, where he has lived since age 18, or any of the usual stuff of documentaries. We learn of his admiration for Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Kwame Nkrumah and of his reservations about Martin Luther King (he thinks King was wrong to adopt non-violence as a philosophy). Clarke tells us that history has been dominated by a Eurocentric perspective (undoubtedly true), that black history has been egregiously neglected (undoubtedly true as well), that Africa was ravaged by the slave trade and colonialism (also undoubtedly true), and advocates a pan-African, black nationalist perspective. Fine--that is a respectable point of view, and he is certainly entitled to his opinion. What he is not entitled to do, however, is to distort history, which he does throughout this documentary. Here are some of his assertions, which are at best dubious and at worse demonstrable falsehoods:

1) He states that the civilization of ancient Egypt was a black civilization, but offers not one whit of evidence to support this. 2) He states that the ancient Carthaginian civilization, and Hannibal, were black, but again offers no evidence to support this. 3) He states that Egyptian civilization was the crowning glory of the ancient world, an assertion that is absurd by any reasonable standard. In fact, most people would have to strain to recall any lasting intellectual contributions made by the Egyptians, whose civilization was dwarfed intellectually by those of Greece and Rome. 4) He states that Carthage was conquered by "a group of thugs who weren't very well educated--the Romans." Absurd: he is talking about the civilization of Vergil, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, for any of whom there is no equivalent in the Carthaginian legacy. 5) In perhaps the most absurd, and demonstrably erroneous, assertion of all, he states that the fall of Rome was brought about in large part by the rise of Islam, and that Rome was defeated by the Arab Moslems when they invaded North Africa. Fact: Rome fell in 476 as a result of invasions from Gothic tribes from what is now Germany. Islam didn't originate until 632, and the Islamic conquest of North Africa didn't occur until the century after that, so Clarke is off by over 150 years. 6) Clarke states that W.E.B. DuBois was the greatest mind that America has ever produced. Well, he's entitled to his opinion, but he offers no evidence to support this point of view.

I could go on, but I'll stop here. The film has some merit in that it presents an alternative to Eurocentrism, but this merit is far outweighed by its outright distortions of fact. In all, a mediocre film at best. 5/10

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6 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

An Afrocentric re-telling of history

1/10
Author: zootipantz from Los Angeles, California
6 June 2002

This is documentary, narrated by actor Wesley Snipes, consists mostly of John Henrik Clarke, the late Chairman of the Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter Studies, attempting to rewrite history with an extreme, Afrocentric bent, all the while spewing his hatred and contempt for the white man. The scholarship of Mr. Clarke is dubious at best, often laughable, and downright dishonest much of the time. He takes little grains of truth about ancient history, especially where Egypt is concerned, and embellishes these truths to the point where real history as it happened becomes unrecognizable. If you're looking for a scholarly history lesson, it should be stated that 'John Henrik Clark: A Great and Mighty Windbag (er, uh, Walk)' is NOT a credible source to seek such knowledge and understanding. However, those seeking a good and hearty laugh need look no further. This documentary is guaranteed to provide a laugh a minute, if not more.

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