Book Review: Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America by Lerone Bennett Jr. — 12 Comments

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  3. Just stumbled across this post and I must say it’s great to see a fellow American, especially a white one, explore this aspect of American history that is so little taught.

  4. but does it really show any evidence that people from africa sailed to the americas before the vikings in 1100 or columbus in 1492

    • It does. But, I remain unconvinced after doing a bit of further research. It opened up my mind to the possibility, though, which has been a helpful broadening of the way I think.

  5. in so much as we have found viking settlements in newfoundland and nova scotia thats fact . they basically island hoped from scandinavia to north america .Sailing on a continuous 8000 mile open ocean sail to the americas ? we know the great commander mao attempted to eliminate him from history but charts and partial logs that survived show with 60 plus extrodinarily advanced and seaworthy may have almost circumnavigated the world charts accuratly show the caribean and florida etc .Is there similar documented history of people from the west coast of africa reaching the americas

    • No. I don’t think anyone expects to find documentation.

      It’s been a long time since I read the book, but as I recall the speculation was around artifacts — like that the Easter Island heads are more similar to African art than anything else — and around early African boat technology.

      As I understand it, to be convinced, archaeologists want to find African artifacts in South America, like stone beads made from rocks only found in Africa. Last I checked, that has not been found.

      I live across the Mississippi River from Cahokia Mounds. I manage to visit about once every fifteen years and the story changes significantly each time because archaeologists are still learning new things. So, I’m intrigued by the idea that the evidence for African presence in the Americas may materialize at some point. Imagine how little we would know about Roanoke if there wasn’t written documentation to attest to its existence.

  6. Ms joy moll Long before the vikings the chinese with 60 extremely advanced vessels double hull fully battened sails the ability to sail upwind very well and logisticaly 60 vessels would allow the ability to carry water food tools replacement material and that was long before the vikings and there ships shared a lot of those traits plus multiple vessels . Its almost a given that they reached the west coast of the americas [the chinese] in the ice age the clovis crossed a land brige to get here but since then ?It seems that reaching the americas from africa what 8000 miles of open ocean with no history of ocean sailing the egyptians and muslim s traveled coastal africa the mediteranean even traded with the vikings but we have documentation or 2nd hand descriptions .

    • Cool! You obviously have much more knowledge than I do. I think this book will give you the best argument that exists for early African exploration. I suspect that you, like me, will be unconvinced. But, you may be very interested in the argument. It’s a short part of a long book — so you might want to read the first little bit.

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