Dr. Van Sertima was a Guyanese born historian, linguist, anthropologist and poet. He was a professor of African Studies at Rutgers University and a member of UNESCO’ss (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) International Commission for Rewriting the Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind.
Dr. Van Sertima was a “Jegna”, or cultural warrior, dedicated to illuminating the African essence and influence worldwide. He described his work as recovering the fragments of the African “shattered diamond” around the world.
Dr. Van Sertima was also an author who was best known for his 1977 book, They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America and as editor of the Journal of African Civilization. He was a co-convener of the Nile Valley Conference that was held at Morehouse in 1984 and was recognized as one of the primary leaders of the African Centered Education Movement.
Dr. Van Sertima led study tours to Mexico and provided evidence establishing links between the Olmec culture in the Americas and Nile Valley civilizations. He also wrote and lectured extensively on the little known or acknowledged African advances in metallurgy, astronomy, mathematics, architecture, engineering, agriculture, navigation, medicine and writing.
He also appeared before a Congressional Committee on July 7, 1987 to challenge the Columbus myth. This landmark presentation before Congress was illuminating and brilliantly presented in the name of all peoples of color across the world.
The Ivan Van Sertima Cultural Circles were established in 2009 to honor the work and legacy of this great scholar.