Akosua Report: Arturo Alfonso Schomburg

by Akosua Lowery

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg

“History must restore what slavery took away from the Negro, his glorious past to act as stimulation for inspiration for him. Pride of race is the antidote for prejudice” – Arturo Schomburg

Arturo Schomburg’s massive historical collection on Black culture was bought by the New York Public Library in 1938. (Google Images)

Born January 24, 1874, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was a historian, writer, and activist. Schomburg was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. While he was in grade school, one of his teachers claimed that blacks had no history, heroes or accomplishments, which inspired Schomburg to prove him wrong.

The African American Registry reports:

Schomburg attended San Juan’s Institute of Instruction to become a teacher and also studied in the Danish West Indies, doing a great deal of research on Negro literature. Schomburg came to America in 1891 and ten years later moved to New York City, working at a law firm as a researcher. During this time, he actively supported Cuban and Puerto Rican Independence, and served as secretary of Las dos Antillas, an organization working for this cause.

In 1924, while in Europe, he searched for and acquired valuable information on Negro history. In Seville, Spain he dug into the original, loosely collected records of the Indies and was able to shed new light on Negro history. In 1929 Schomburg retired from the Bankers Trust Company and took a position at Fisk University as curator of his vast collection of papers, which now bears his name. The collected works consist of more than 5000 volumes and thousands of pamphlets, old manuscripts, prints and bound sections of newspaper and magazine clippings, is the largest and finest of its kind in existence.

He ranks as the foremost historian and collector of books on Blacks.

In 1928, the New York Public Library system purchased his collection of literature, art and other materials and appointed him curator of the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature and Art (later renamed the Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). Schomburg died June 8, 1938.

The Akosua Report: Facts on The African Diaspora, is written by Akosua Lowery. Follow her on Twitter @AkosuaLowery.

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