Standing on the shoulders of African ancestors who valued scholarship and learning, Arturo Schomburg expressed an early interest in learning Africana history. Motivated by his 5th grade teacher’s erroneous assertion that Black people had no significant history, the Afro-Puerto Rican dedicated his life to collecting and documenting the achievements of Africans and their global descendants. His work laid the foundation for assembling one of the world’s greatest Africana library collections. Today, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture stands as tribute to a great African Diaspora bibliophile and collector.
In 1891, Schomburg emigrated to New York at the age of 17. He settled in Harlem at the dawning of its “Renaissance”—a time when the work of Black intellectuals, writers and artists reflected heightened Black self-regard. Like African Americans born in the United States, Schomburg experienced everyday racism. He fully embraced the common ties that bound people of African descent throughout the world. The inextricable connection to his diaspora family was at the heart of his activism and research.
To learn more about the legendary work of Arturo Schomburg—historian, activist, and collector—click here. Be reminded of what one person of African descent, firmly rooted in their African Diaspora history, can accomplish.