NEW YORK (FinalCall.com)–Dr. Yosef A.A. ben-Jochannan, 83, noted Black historian, scholar and Egyptologist, stunned the audience at the Salem United Methodist Church in Harlem Oct. 16, when he told the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan that he wanted to donate his private library of more than 35,000 books to the Nation of Islam. The leader of the Nation of Islam had come to Harlem to observe the Holy Day of Atonement in celebration of the seventh anniversary of the Million Man March.
“I was moved by Minister Farrakhan’s speech at the Salem Methodist Church. I find Minister Farrakhan to be the only Black man who stands up for his people,” Dr. Ben, as he is affectionately called, told The Final Call during an exclusive interview. He said that the Nation of Islam is the premiere group “working for the benefit” of Black people.
Dr. Ben said he does things because of “deep convictions,” adding that he heard Min. Farrakhan speak on Sept. 14 at the Harlem-based National Black Theater. Min. Farrakhan delivered an address to a group of youth leaders titled: “What is your purpose in life?” The conference was sponsored by the National Leadership Alliance, a group of Black organizations and individuals who used the conference to launch their national campaign for the effective use of Black political and economic strength.
Dr. ben-Jochannan said that he heard Min. Farrakhan speak again in Harlem on October 15, when the Minister hosted a private meeting with Black journalists.
“Minister Farrakhan is consistent in his positions concerning Black people. You do not find that in Black men these days because they are imposed upon by White considerations,” he said. “I have nothing but deep respect for Minister Farrakhan.”
During the Holy Day of Atonement observance, Min. Farrakhan concluded his address at Salem United Methodist by calling Dr. Ben to the pulpit. It was then that the noted historian said he wanted to give the Minister his engineering books now, and upon his transition from this life, he said he wanted the Nation to receive his library.
Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannan was born on Dec. 31, 1918 to a Puerto Rican mother and an Ethiopian father, in what is known as the “Falasha” Hebrew community in Gondar, Ethiopia.
His formal education began in Puerto Rico and continued in The Virgin Islands and in Brazil, where he attended elementary and secondary school. He earned a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, and a Master’s in Architectural Engineering from the University of Havana in Cuba. He received doctorial degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Moorish History from the University of Havana and the University of Barcelona in Spain.
Dr. Ben was an adjunct professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, from 1976 to 1987. He has written and published over 49 books and papers, revealing much of his findings from Egypt. Two of his better-known works are “Black Man of the Nile” and “Africa: Mother of Major Western Religions.”
“It is very meaningful to have Dr. Ben say, ‘here, this knowledge you can preserve for our people,’ ” Dr. Leonard Jeffries, professor of Black Studies at City University in New York, told The Final Call.