How can comprehending the rise of Egyptian civilization enrich our understanding of African American history?
Ancient Egypt is often the first, and sometimes the only, great African civilization studied in American schools. Therefore, it has often been used to encourage and empower young people of African descent, in hopes that they may be inspired by Egypt’s incredible history and success. Historically, African Americans have been ignored (at best) or blatantly discriminated against in American culture. For that reason, there is an interest in making connections between modern-day Americans of African descent and what many see as their cultural predecessors, the Ancient Egyptians.
There is evidence to suggest that Egypt was primarily a black civilization. The artwork of the time shows many individuals with distinctly African features. In addition, the instruments used by Ancient Egyptians strongly resemble those used currently in traditional African music. Anecdotes from travelers from other nations also sometimes refer to Egyptians as black people. It should be noted that there is an equally strong and well-researched evidence supporting the claim that, on the contrary, Egypt was a multiracial society. However, the former claim is more powerful in connecting with African American history.
In either case, there is interest in placing Egypt strongly as an African culture, not a Middle Eastern one. This, too, has an effect on African American history. It is empowering and enlightening, offering a perspective on ancient history that integrates people rather than isolating them. By claiming Ancient Egypt as African and acknowledging Egypt as one of the first great civilizations, African Americans anchor their place in the study of history as a whole, refusing to view it as a side chapter.
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