Yosef Alfredo Antonio Ben-Jochannan (born December 31, 1918), also known as Dr. Ben, is an African American writer and historian. He is considered one of the more prominent Afrocentric scholars.
Early life and education
Ben-Jochannan was born the only child of an Afro-Puerto Rican Jewish mother named Julia Matta and an Ethiopian father named Kriston ben-Jochannan, in a Falasha community in Ethiopia.
He was educated in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Cuba, and Spain, earning degrees in engineering and anthropology. In 1938, Ben-Jochannan earned a BS in Civil Engineering at the university of Puerto Rico, despite the fact that the University of Puerto Rico did not offer this degree, nor was there an Engineering Department until 1942. In 1939 a Master's degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Havana, Cuba. He received doctoral degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Moorish History from the University of Havana and the University of Barcelona, Spain.
Career and later life
Ben-Jochannan immigrated to the United States in the early 1940s. He worked as a draftsman and continued his studies. He claims that in 1945, he was appointed chairman of the African Studies Committee at the headquarters of the newly founded UNESCO, a position from which he stepped down in 1970. In 1950, Ben-Jochannan began teaching Egyptology at Malcolm King College, then at City College in New York City. He claims that from 1976 to 1987, he was an adjunct professor at Cornell University.
Ben-Jochannan is the author of 49 books, primarily on ancient Nile Valley civilizations and their impact on Western cultures. In his writings, he argues that the original Jews were from Ethiopia and were Black Africans, while the white Jews later adopted the Jewish faith and its customs.
Ben-Jochannan has also made a number of appearances on Gil Noble's WABC-TV weekly public affairs series Like It Is.
Ben-Jochannan has been criticized for allegedly distorting history and promoting Black supremacy. In February 1993, Wellesley College European classics professor Mary Lefkowitz publicly confronted Ben-Jochannan about his teachings. Ben-Jochannan taught that Aristotle visited the Library of Alexandria. Lefkowitz showed this to be impossible since Aristotle was dead before the library's construction.
According to the Skeptic's Dictionary, much of Ben-Jochannan's publications are influenced by earlier Afrocentric work by George James.
In 2002, Ben-Jochannan donated his personal library of more than 35,000 volumes, manuscripts and ancient scrolls to The Nation of Islam.
Ben-Jochannan currently lives in the Harlem section of New York City.
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