The first step pyramid was designed by Imhotep. He was a brilliant architect and physician who enriched Egyptian culture and, as a Black innovative intellectual, shared great knowledge with Egypt during the time of Pharaoh Djoser (2687-2668 B.C.). His contributions and influence in Egypt have lasted into modern times and will be visible for future generations.
Imhotep is germane to this dialogue because he is a perfect example of how far back Black intellectualism goes. It is unfortunate indeed that there are people that believe that Black intellectualism started with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. or Frederick Douglass. Nothing could be further from the truth — Black intellectualism is a gift that has been passed down through the ages.
Currently we have much intellectual capital to spend.
One of my favorite places for the nourishment of this capital is Howard University. Recently I spoke with Dr. Franklin Chambers, vice provost of student affairs, and he shared some of Howard's statistics and accomplishments with me. I invite you to feast on the following information 71 percent of Howard's faculty are Ph.D.s. Howard awards more on-campus Ph.D.s to African Americans than any other institution in the United States.
Howard University is the only Black university that is designated as a doctoral research-extensive university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Howard recruits and enrolls more national achievement scholars than any other U.S. institution. I'm sure that when Col. Otis Oliver Howard helped to establish Howard University as an institution that would be geared towards the development of Black higher learning, he could hardly imagine the modern world of Black America.
Personally, I am now looking forward to an even greater expansion of Black intellectualism. We are now going where few have dared to go before. One of those places is ABC TV's game show, Jeopardy. Recently I saw Professor Harvey Cormier compete and triumph on the show. Not only was I pleased to see a descendent of slaves make $17,000 in one day, but I took even more pleasure in seeing a Black American excel on network television's most intellectual show.
Rocky Schmidt, the senior producer of Jeopardy, told me that out of 25,000 people that try out for the show, 400 make it. That means that champions like Cormier, Michael Ramkins and Claudia Perry have joined an elite group of America's intelligentsia.
They are future Black history moments climbing the steps that were designed by Imhotep.
Samuel Justiss Vance is a columnist for BlackNews.com and the C.E.O. of Talkinggreen.com, which produces the syndicated radio segment A Positive Moment.