Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannan, is a skeptic on religion and scholar of Black-African history. He was born in Ethiopia and reared in the Hebrew faith of the Falasha culture. He has studied at Cambridge University and the University of Barcelona. He has traveled South America and the Caribbean Islands and is multilingual. Originally a graduate in civil engineering, he developed skills in history, philosophy, law, and earned his doctorate degree in cultural anthropology.
In 1945, he moved to the U.S. Many years a Harlemite, he has taught as adjunct professor of African History/Black Studies in Marymount College, Cornell University, and Malcolm-King College. Also, he worked in the Pan-African Studies Department of Temple University. His lecture specialty is the history and philosophy of ancient Nile Valley civilizations.
On the streets of Harlem, Dr. ben-Jochannan established himself as a truly dynamic soapbox orator. Being active in the Black community remains a high priority for him. He lectured before many community and university audiences, both formally and informally.
A Catholic magazine, Ramparts, printed the report of Lez Edmond on the 1964 rioting in Harlem. Edmond, having attended a neighborhood rally, reported on ben-Jochannan’s presentation:
I was brought up as a religious person. As a matter of fact my family wanted me to be a rabbi but after growing up and seeing the situation in all religions, I realized that the churches always support the state wherever they are. The churches can’t help the people when the chips are down because their interest is with the power structure. . . .
I say the black [sic] man has called upon Jesus Christ for so many years here in America, and now he starts calling on Mohammed and there are many who are calling on Moses, and at no time within this period has the black [sic] man’s situation changed, nor has the black [sic] man any freedom. It is obvious that someone didn’t hear his call or isn’t interested in that call — either Jesus, Moses, or Mohammed.
Even Jesus when he got hung upon the cross, he said in his own Book — he says. Father, why has Thou forsaken me? He was calling for help. Now if he couldn’t help himself how is he going to help you?. . . Our position is not to ask dead people to come back and help us; our position is to find ways and means to help ourselves.
While lecturing at the Ninth Annual Conference of the Afrikan [sic] American Institute in 1983, he answered a question on reconciling Western religion with Pan-African sentiments. His candid response was:
Now I am ultrareligious, I’m a member of the religion of freethought — to think freely. So if you carry a label — because I know that some of us must carry a social label, religion is the social label for a lot of people who go to church and don’t believe in anything being said there — in that sense, yes. . . . What is wrong with religion is when you make yourself a slave to it. . . . So, if you are poor, you’d be a fool to give 10 percent to the church in any name, and then have a hole in your shoe with snow coming through.
From the Infidel Guy