In words of John Henrik Clarke;
"History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass that people use to locate themselves on the map of human geography. History tells a people where they have been and what they have been. Where they are and what they are. But most important, history tells a people where they still must go and what tshey still must be. The relationship of a people to its history is like the relationship of a mother to her child."
From the earlies periods, Africans attempted to chronicle their past so they could more effectively control their future. One of the first recognized Black Studies scholars was Olaudah Equiano, an African who dazzled his captors by demonstrating knowledge and skills far in advance of theirs. His work was followed by a generation of runaway slaves who recorded their experiences in narratives. By the 24th century, two Harvard trained scholars, W.E.B DuBois and Carter G. Woodson, joined several other intellectuals in establishing a black academy and black intellectual tradition. DuBois aptly summarized the tone and intentions of this early period when he said,
"This is the reason for being which the American Negro has. It aims at once to be the epitome and expression of the intellect of the black-blooded people of America, the exponent of the race ideals of one of the world's greatest races."