In the mid-1980s, one black woman -- Simone Schwartz--Ban, an author of six novels and a play - set out "to rescue and reconstruct the lives of black women worldwide dating back to Eve and Lucy, and to trace their diverse roles in human history down through the end of the 20th century".
In 1988, Simone (in collaboration with her husband, Andre Schwarz-Bart, himself an author of three novels, including the Last of the Just), published the magnificent coffee-table book, In Praise of Black Women. The bad news was that it was published in French only, depriving the billions of Anglophone speakers worldwide the opportunity to share. the rich contents of the book. It has taken 14 years for an English translation to be published. Thanks to Rose-Myriam Rejouis and Val Vinokurov, we now have a tastefully done English translation of Volume I, which is consecrated to Ancient african Queens.
Howard Dodson, director of the New York-based Schomburg Centre for Research in Black Culture, tells it much better in the Foreword to the book:
"Until the mid-1960s," he writes, "black women the world over were doubly victimised by what the historian Gerder Lerner termed 'scholarly neglect and racist assumptions'. As a consequence they (and we) were denied knowledge of their unique pasts as well as access to their thoughts, visions, aspirations, and perspectives.
"Wherever one looked for documented evidence of their historical and cultural roles, or the public media, black women were invisible beings, voiceless beings. Anyone who has ever lived among women of African descent knows that it is...