Destiny and Race

DESTINY AND RACE is a collection of essays, letters, and sermons from the pen of nineteenth century African American scholar and minister Alexander Crummell (1819-1898). An informative introduction by Wilson Jeremiah Moses and the famous eulogy delivered by W.E.B. Du Bois at a Tuskegee in 1899 are included. Alexander Crummell, born in New York City, was ordained a minister in 1844 after being denied an education at the General Theological Seminary because of his race. The first black to graduate from Cambridge University in England, he spent the following twenty years in Liberia, West Africa. Returning to the United States, he established St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in 1879 in Washington, D.C. In 1897 he founded the American Negro Academy.

DESTINY AND RACE contains writing in chronological order from all periods of Crummell’s fascinating life. Letters on his early educational tribulations and his work and travel in Africa illustrate Crummell’s political and moral ideas, which influenced Du Bois, John E. Bruce, and Francis J. Grimke. Crummell’s autobiographical vignettes about America and Africa are fresh and powerful. His emphasis on the importance of Africa to African American identity is particularly insightful. His sermons and essays express early concepts of black self-empowerment for both black men and women, while his ideas on Afrocentrism and militant black separatism foreshadow the concerns of later figures such as Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X. Crummell’s African American consciousness and black Protestant ethic provides a fascinating introduction to nineteenth century African American thought.