Professor James Small, a Pan-African scholar, activist and speaker, was born in 1945 in Georgetown, South Carolina on Arcadia Plantation. His family traces their roots to enslaved Africans, Native Americans, as well as the Yoruba, Akan, and Ewe people of West Africa. Small graduated from Black Howard High School in 1964 and went on to serve two years in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. After leaving the service, Small moved to New York and joined Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity. In 1967, he served as the Imam of the Muslim Mosque Incorporated, which had been founded by Malcolm X.
From the mid-1960s through 1980, Small was a member of multiple organizations including the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, the NAACP, and the Uhuru fighters. During his time with these organizations, he interacted with the likes of H. Rap Brown, Eldridge Cleaver, and Lumumba Shakur.
As a teacher, he spent almost twenty years at the City University of NewYork, serving 17 years in the Black Studies Department and 13 years as an administrator. His courses included subjects such as Malcolm X, traditional African religion, Pan Africanism, crime in the urban community, and African Folklore.
Small has given lectures at churches, conventions, seminars, workshops, colleges, and universities located in the United States, the Caribean and Africa. In addition to lecturing, Small provides educational and cultural tours in the United States, Haiti, and Africa.
In the following video, Small discusses economics, politics, and culture intersect to form the building blocks of a community. One of the points Small discusses in depth is how cultural regeneration is a key to black people being able to achieve economic independence. He reveals falsehoods perpetuated through inaccurate history that contribute to black people not finding strength and direction in their culture. He also attempts to empower blacks to embrace the self-determination that comes from knowing one’s history, leveraging power by demanding respect, and finding meaning and purpose through community and culture.