The following is a testimony by Ivan Van Sertima, D.H.L. (1935-2009), Rutgers: The State University of New Jersey professor of Africana Studies, and editor-founder of The Journal of African Civilizations held July 7, 1987 before the U.S. Congress to discuss the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Act, established on August 7, 1984 (98 Stat.1257) and formed on September 12, 1985. The Commission consisted of 30 members whose mission was to plan, encourage, coordinate and conduct the commemoration of the voyages of Christopher Columbus and to set forth general provisions and policies governing the process of recognition and support of the Quincentenary projects. In accordance with the terms of the Act that established it, the Commission was terminated on December 31, 1993 after submitting a comprehensive report to Congress that incorporated the Commission's recommendations for the commemoration. Hence, this presentation is from the "Amendments to Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Act : Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Census and Population of the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, House of Representatives, One Hundredth Congress, First Session on H.R. 2309" of July 7, 1987 (Washington, DC: United States Congress House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service Subcommittee on Census and Population; U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987), pp.18-25.
Introduction and questions were provided by Mervyn M. Dymally (1926-2012), a former California assemblyman (1963-1966; 2002-2008), senator (1967-1975) and lieutenant governor (1975-1979) who also served in the U.S. Congress (1981-1993) representing the south Los Angeles area of los Angeles, California. He was born in Trinidad and the first Black lieutenant governor in California when he was elected in 1975. He completed a B.A (1954) in Education from California State University at Los Angeles, a Master's degree (1969) in Government from California State University at Sacramento, and a Ph.D. (1978) in Human Behavior from United States International University (now Alliant International University) in San Diego, California. And additional questions and commentary was provided by Constance 'Connie' A. Morella, now Ambassador in Residence in the Department of Government at American University in Washington, D.C.
She served as U.S. ambassador to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris from 2003 to 2007, and represented Maryland's 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 2003. While in the U.S. Congress, she initiated legislation addressing domestic violence and child support, as well as programs for the elderly, environmental protection, health care reform, and human rights issues. She has a M.A. (1967) from the School of Public Affairs at American University; a B.A. (1954), and an A.A. (1950) from Boston University
Mervyn M. Dymally:
Now we have Professor Van Sertima. I take this opportunity to introduce him, not that we normally do this because I want him to know that he has a colleague on this committee, a professor, so if he talks in professorial language we have Professor Morella to interpret his eloquence to us.
Professor Van Sertima is an historian and anthropologist, a prize-winning author of the book, "The;; Came Before Columbus" and a professor at Rutgers whose specialty is African and African-American Studies.
Dr. Van Sertima, you are welcome and you may introduce yourself for the record.
Ivan Van Sertima:
I am Ivan Van Sertima, professor of African Studies, Rutgers University. I have recently been appointed by UNESCO to the 28-member International Commission to Revise the History of the Scientific and Cultural Developments of Mankind.
I think it is very important since I am before a committee or a commission that deals with Columbus and I am the author of a major work on him, that I should say a few things about Columbus, his so-called voyages of discovery and evidence that we have of other people that preceded him. …