Professor George G. M. James, author of Stolen LegacyA pair of month back, I review a blog that elevated questions around the fatality of Professor George G. M. James, author of the controversial work of history Stolen Legacy. The writer of the blog include that soon after the publication of Stolen Legacy James had died under mysterious perhaps even violent circumstances. So searching for sources I checked Wikipedia. The article on James confirmed he had passed away violently however did so without citation, a common shortcoming of this ar based digital encyclopedia. The short article on James may in truth have been the blog writer’s resource or perhaps the blog writer added to the article. In any case, both to be reporting that James had died violently under secret circumstances. When I stumbled upon that blog, ns was already working on a history of the “Vindicationist School” of black color Historians, i beg your pardon in enhancement to James has Joseph Ben Jochannan, john G. Jackson, man Henrik Clark, and also Cheikh Anta Diop. Previously I had often wondered without follow up what came to be of James so I chose to carry out a preliminary investigation into his death.

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The blog writer’s theory appeared plausible, at least on the challenge of it. At the time of his death, James to be on faculty in ~ Agricultural, mechanical & common (AM&N) college in jaw Bluff, an HBCU. It was the mid 1950s, and the polite Rights motion was acquiring momentum. The U.S. Supreme Court had actually made its historical ruling in Brown v. Board of education and learning of Topeka Kansas the exact same year that Stolen Legacy to be published, and also Arkansas was around to take the nationwide stage together the test bed for college desegregation. Top top the defensive against integration, White southerns were exhilaration with boosted hostility towards African Americans, specifically in the deep south. A year ~ Brown and a year before Jackson died, in Money, Mississippi, Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam lynched 14-year old Emmett Till, a cherub-faced african American young from Chicago visiting the deepest south for what would certainly be his last time. His around the world publicized torture and death followed carefully on the heels that the publishing of what would certainly be James’ magnum opus.

The deaths the James and also Till are not directly connected, yet the alleged offense that price Till his life, supposedly having whistled at the wife of Roy Bryant, cut versus the exact same lily-white “Ubermensch” ideas that James assailed in Stolen Legacy making them akin. Viewed as literature, Stolen Legacy was itself similar to Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor has actually No Clothes in that it wagged a perspicacious finger in ~ western intellectuals on the topic of the beginning of Greek philosophy, simply as the child had actually pointed a perceptive finger at the Emperor pull on in his birthday suit in Andersen’s fairy tale. In his version, James had averred that the structure of Greek ideology was Egyptian philosophy, and that in as much as Egypt was in Africa, Egyptian philosophy was an African development that western intellectuals had falsely attributed come the Greeks. James had struck a blow at the foundation of western human being which rests ~ above the twin pillars that Greek background and Greek philosophy. If either obelisk should autumn the entire origin that western human being would topple right into myth and also require what would be for countless proponents of the timeless view the western human being an unthinkable rethinking.

In the deep southern in the 1950s, wherein white southerners killed African Americans the end of ignorance and hate; for sport, because that fun, and for nothing in ~ all, that is not much of a stretch come imagine the James’ thesis might have inserted him in the crosshairs that a white supremacist team or that of a white supremacist exhilaration alone. So genuine is that concern to part African Americans that as recent as a pair of year ago, the expression “white supremacy” was automatically filtered in email correspondence at lane College, an HBCU in Jackson, Tennessee. An interpretation that if you used that expression in an email, even for a legit purpose, her email would certainly be captured by the university server and also not forwarded come the recipient. I made this discovery while ~ above faculty at roadway College once I attempted to organize a forum to comment on the resource of the trouble behind police brutality and violence in the black community. Mine colleagues described to me that us could discuss police brutality however that I might not usage the expression “white supremacy” as it was too controversial and also thus not permitted. James had passed away in Tennessee. Appreciating exactly how white southerners in 1954 would have most likely viewed and reacted to his publication it appeared plausible that the an obstacle made by James in Stolen Legacy might have expense James his life.


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Stolen legacy was originally published in 1954

I started my research into his fatality on Ancestry.com, a helpful research tool as soon as looking for critical records because that a person. I immediately found whereby Professor James had made an application for a Social defense card. The applications revealed that he to be born in Georgetown, Guyana on November 9, 1893 to Finch and Margaret James. Since James had actually personally make the application for the Social security card, we deserve to safely assume that his location of birth and also date of birth in addition to the surname of his parents on that document are undoubtedly accurate. In fact, his location of birth on his Social protection card application corrects his ar of birth on his fatality certificate, i beg your pardon lists Jamaica in the then British West Indies. Wikipedia had had his location of birth and parents name correct. What about his death? how did Professor James die? had his death come together a consequence of him having actually thrown down the gauntlet against racist white scholars on the origins of Greek philosophy? not exactly.


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According to his death certificate, Professor James passed away June 30, 1956, may be under the treatment of Black medical professionals at the George W. Ha Hospital, the black hospital called after its an initial director and also associated through Meharry clinical College in Nashville, Tennessee. Established in 1876, Meharry is of food the second oldest afri American university of medicine in the joined States. Physicians admitted Professor James into Hubbard Hospital top top June 9th, therefore his death came ~ a 21-day hospitalization. The immediate cause of death on his fatality certificate is provided as gastric cancer. The an additional cause is detailed as Aneurysm, Innominate Artery, and Arteriosclerotic love Disease.


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Credit: Ancestry.com

I am familiar with gastric cancer due to the fact that my father, a physician, offered away two thirds the his stomach in his fight against that very form of cancer, a cancer that is low ranking amongst the causes of cancer deaths in the joined States, accountancy for a little an ext than 1% that cancer deaths every year. Even much more rare is the aneurysm of the Innominate Artery. According to a 1985 examine of 1147 aneurysm patients, only three had actually an aneurysm the the Innominate Artery. That is 0.003% of that population. In the 1950s, aneurysms the the Innominate Artery were regularly syphilitic, huge lesions, through a poor prognosis since they were daunting to treat. Today, if diagnosed in time medicine deserve to often successfully treat the condition. In considering etiology, over there is no cite of syphilis top top Professor James’ fatality certificate, yet the Atherosclerosis that is stated accounts for 60% of situations of aneurysm that the Innominate Artery today, providing credence come the idea the it being a contributing factor to James’ death. Since there is also no mention of any kind of trauma or injury top top the death certificate that seems most likely that there to be no overt foul play. Professor James’ fatality then was a result of medical complications native at the very least two diseases. Medically and also sufficiently this need to firmly establish his cause of death, and yet his death arisen at a high watermark that the Cold War, a time when assassinations were lugged out covertly. Having previously read around disease-induced assassinations I might not suppress wonder if the source of his primary cause of fatality was natural or artificially introduced by an outside agent. Can there have been a concealed contributor that seeded his gastric cancer? If so, this would certainly mean federal government involvement.

During the Cold War, assassinations were carried out through a range of insidious and surreptitious means, one such method was the use of the radioactive facet Polonium. Polonium is a carcinogen, and in 2013 Aljazeera connected it come the death of Yassar Arafat, previous iconic head that the Palestine Liberation company (PLO). Can Polonium it is in the true source of James’ cancer? Perhaps however without an ext information it seems unlikely. Nevertheless, prior to you i have dissolved the idea as conspiracy, consider that Professor James to be an Ivy organization educated academician that the very first order whose study was directly challenging the prominence of Greco-Roman philosophy, the structure of western civilization. The is likely that James would have actually been a known human being to the United says government and also known possibly to the director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover devoted in sniffing the end nonconformist. He managed COINTELPRO, a FBI respond to intelligence initiative that frequently used illegal method to disrupt teams seeking in someway to revolutionary American society. His quest of the black Panther Party is fine documented. Hoover viewed as subversive or communist any group or individual that he reputed a risk to the status quo. He also investigated Eleanor Roosevelt, so the is not hard to imagine him investigate James. Yet investigating James and also having him murdered space two different things entirely. World write controversial books all the time, and also the ideal defense versus a publication like Stolen Legacy is to execute what tendency white and black scholars have actually done because that 60 years, which is to neglect it.

Future research may offer us the final word, yet there is only plausible conjecture sustaining the idea of foul pat in James death. For currently the many substantive proof points to his death as gift of organic causes.

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Assistant Professor of background and director of the Public background Program at phibìc Carolina central University.