In 1986, the Africana Library, Cornell University, was named in honor of Dr. John Henrik Clarke, who was widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of Africana Studies. Dr. Clarke played an important role in the early history of Cornell University's Africana Studies & Research Center. He was a Distinguished Visiting Professor of African History at the Center in the 1970s. He also made an invaluable contribution to the establishment of its curricula.
Dr. Clarke is the author of numerous articles that have appeared in leading scholarly journals. He also served as the author, contributor, or editor of 24 books. In 1968 along with the Black Caucus of the African Studies Association, John Henrik Clarke founded the African Heritage Studies Association. In 1969 he was appointed as the founding chairman of the Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies Department at Hunter College in New York City. Many will remember Dr. Clarke a master teacher; see: In Memory of Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Hunter College.
Dr. Clarke was most known and highly regarded for his lifelong devotion to studying and documenting the histories and contributions of African peoples in Africa and the diaspora. He is often quoted as stating that "History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are, but more importantly, what they must be."
One of the best surviving footage we have of Dr. Clarke, is the film, John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty, produced by actor Wesley Snipes, and directed by St. Clair Bourne. Watching this film, is like watching Dr. Clarke give a lecture on African history.