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Alexander Crummell: An Apostle of Negro Culture The American Negro Academy. Occasional Papers No. 20   By: (1873-1941)

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In William Henry Ferris' thought-provoking work, Occasional Papers No. 20, he delves into the life and significant contributions of Alexander Crummell, a remarkable figure often hailed as an apostle of Negro culture. Ferris skillfully explores the multifaceted aspects of Crummell's life, presenting a comprehensive biographical portrait that sheds light on not just the man himself, but also the wider context of the African American experience.

As an African American intellectual and clergyman during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Crummell played a pivotal role in shaping the narrative of Negro culture. Ferris deftly traces his journey from his humble beginnings in New York to his influential education at Cambridge University, providing valuable insights into the intellectual development that shaped Crummell's beliefs and ideology. Moreover, the author draws attention to Crummell's unwavering commitment to racial upliftment and his tireless efforts to challenge prevailing narratives of white supremacy.

One of the remarkable aspects of Ferris' narrative is his emphasis on Crummell's international outlook. The book aptly explores Crummell's travels to Liberia, where he sought to establish a model society for African Americans, and his encounters with prominent figures such as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington. These encounters allowed Crummell to navigate the complexities of race, identity, and culture in both the United States and Africa, showcasing his bold vision for a shared global African diaspora.

Moreover, Ferris meticulously analyzes Crummell's writings, sermons, and speeches, revealing the depth of his intellectual insight and his enduring legacy as a prominent advocate for racial equality. The author illuminates Crummell's ideas on education, religion, and the importance of African American cultural heritage, providing readers with a profound appreciation of his intellectual contributions.

While Ferris admirably presents a comprehensive account of Crummell's life, at times, the book's academic tone may pose a challenge for general readership. Some readers may yearn for a more engaging narrative style that brings Crummell's story and ideas to life with greater vibrancy. Additionally, Occasional Papers No. 20 primarily focuses on Crummell's intellectual and professional achievements, leaving some aspects of his personal life relatively understated.

In conclusion, Ferris' Alexander Crummell: An Apostle of Negro Culture is an essential read for anyone interested in African American history, intellectual thought, and the quest for racial equality. With meticulous research and attention to detail, Ferris presents a comprehensive examination of a truly transformative figure in American history. Despite some minor limitations in engaging storytelling, this book stands as a valuable contribution to the understanding and appreciation of Alexander Crummell's enduring legacy.

First Page:


American Negro Academy

Alexander Crummell An Apostle of Negro Culture



R. L. Pendleton Printer


A noted English lawyer author has declared that the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes is the final word of the world's philosophy; that no ancient or modern thinker has uttered a profounder word. And in the seventh verse of that chapter it reads, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

Metaphysicians tell us that through his five senses, man is in touch with and in relation to his physical environment and a physical world, and that through his reason, imagination, conscience, aesthetic and religious intuitions, man is in touch with and in relation to his spiritual environment and a spiritual world. They also tell us that at death, the soul and body merely part company and go their respective ways. The oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and other chemical elements in the body mingle with the material elements from which they came. And the soul of man, the ego, the center of self consciousness, recognitive memory and reflective thought, which has maintained its identity amid the changes of the physical organism, will survive the destruction of that organism and live on and on in the spirit world, embodied in whatever form and clothed with whatever garments its Maker so decreed... Continue reading book >>

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