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Ivan Van Sertima

Biography

Guyaneese Authors & Artists

Date of Birth (DOB): 1/26/35
From: Guyana
Best Known for: Author of They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America

Bio: Ivan Van Sertima was born in Kitty Village, Guyana, South America on January 26, 1935. He was educated at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University where he graduated with honors. From 1957 to 1959, he served as a Press and Broadcasting Officer in the Guyana Information Services. During the decade of the 1960s, he broadcasted weekly from Britain to both Africa and the Caribbean. He came to the United States in 1970, where he completed his post graduate studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Dr. Van Sertima began his teaching career as an instructor at Rutgers in 1972.

Van Sertima is a literary critic, a linguist, and an anthropologist, and has made a name for himself in all three fields however the cornerstone of Dr. Van Sertima's legacy will probably be his authorship of They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America n which he argues "The African presence in America before Columbus is of importance not only to African and American history, but to the history of world civilizations. The African presence is proven by stone heads, terra cottas, skeletons, artifacts, techniques and inscriptions, by oral traditions and documented history, by botanical, linguistic and cultural data."

On July 7, 1987 Dr. Van Sertima appeared before a Congressional Committee to challenge the Columbus myth. In November 1991 he defended his thesis in an address to the Smithsonian Institute. He is now a Professor of African studies in the Department of Africana Studies at Rutgers University, New Jersey.

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