Fox News Channel segments about the Freeman Institute
Black History Collection
showcased at United Nations "Transatlantic Slave
Trade" exhibit (NY)
HERE'S WHAT ONE JOURNALIST WROTE
Imagine you're sitting in an
auditorium when a White man gets
up in front of the audience and
starts making a presentation
about Black History -- complete
with PPT slides projected up on the
What might be running
through your mind? Skepticism?
Disbelief? Cynicism? Curiosity?
Here's the reality. Your
immediate thoughts at this very
instant may well represent what
others might be thinking in a
When Joel Freeman is
the Caucasian man holding the
microphone, he is presented with
an opportunity to share from his
heart, so that those in the
audience not only hear the
words, but they also feel the
"music" -- his passion
Joel A. Freeman, Ph.D. is asked
to speak all over the world on
various topics: leadership.
competence, entrepreneurship --
and Black History. Most people
who attend his lectures and
presentations are there because
they have heard about his books
or have watched the film (Return
To Glory) he co-wrote. They
are interested in what he has to
But there are times when he
gets up to speak on Black
History in front of people
who have never heard of
him, when his credibility is
before he speaks a word.
Some professionals and laymen
alike believe that, despite his
more than three decades of
extensive research, a collection
of more than 3,000 authentic
Black history documents and
artifacts (the earliest dated
1553), Freeman is
an unqualified facilitator
simply because he is White. And
there are credible elements
present in this perspective.
Clearly, the implication is that
because of his race, ethnicity
and culture – he doesn't embody
representation. Joel understands
the historical reasons for these
thoughts and feelings.
"I was skeptical when I saw
the speaker was white, but as he
spoke, the knowledge and
documented evidence was so
powerful. Dr. Freeman's passion
-- (Conference attendee)
With travels to
well over 50 countries around
the world, Freeman has taken
time to search, identify, verify
and process information about
the champions of Black History.
This is, as he calls it - "A
White man's journey." In his
books, films, presentations, and
interviews, Dr. Freeman shares
the significant accomplishments
of African people since early
civilization. Freeman says,
"These are the 'blades of grass
in a concrete jungle,' who have
flourished in spite of severity
and oppression -- leaving a
collective legacy that needs to
be remembered. The thicker the
concrete, the more inspirational
the story. These are the stories
that transcend race, ethnicity
So, just how did
a white man from Alberta,
Canada become interested
in Black History and such a
passionate advocate of
H E R E I S M Y S T O R Y
Many people ask me, "What ever motivated you, as a man
of European descent from Canada, to get
involved in studying and discussing ancient African and
African American history?"
However, I do not have a very quick
response (or perhaps even a very good response,
for that matter).
But I can communicate my story. A
two-hour response to this question is contained in the
presentation, "A White
Man's Journey Into Black History."
Below -- near the bottom of this page -- are three of six
segments from an event where I was invited by Defense
Security Service at Quantico, VA to make a Black History
20 wonderful seasons I served
as mentor/chaplain of the NBA Washington Bullets/Wizards
(’78/'79 - ’98). (Below you can view the 30 minute film about the
former Bullet's player, Manute Bol). At the pro level, ball players want to be assured
of the inner motivation and authenticity of someone working
with them on such a personal basis. They do not want to
share personal issues...only to end up on the front page of
the sports section of the local newspaper on Tuesday
morning. Absolute confidentiality is the key and they needed
to test my motivation.
The NBA players
probably were either consciously or unconsciously testing my
sincerity by asking questions about the location of the
Garden of Eden, Africa’s involvement in biblical history,
etc. They asked questions that previously weren't even a
blip on my radar screen. This opened my eyes and I began to
do a bit of research on the topic. I was genuinely intrigued but still
didn’t have an overview of the issues at hand.
Dr. Joel A. Freeman
view video clips below of
Joel on Canadian TV
In 1995 I met Don Griffin.
At the time he was the Senior VP of Human Resources of a
large milk company in Union, New Jersey. Don had hired me to
facilitate a leadership initiative for the senior management
of the company, which involved a series of seminars
entitled, "Dealing With People Who Drive You Crazy."
Les Brown, and Joel Freeman
examining an historical document
from The Freeman Institute
Black History Collection
Between sessions Don and I
would go to his office in the complex to relax and talk.
During one of the breaks he communicated some intriguing
information that connected the Bible with Ancient Africa
(Isaiah 18). As a student of the biblical record and how it
connected with documented history, I was fascinated. But
what he was saying about Black History was so new and
different to me that I had to dig deeper.
After one of the training
sessions at Don's company I came back home to Maryland and
conducted some research on my own. It didn’t take long for
me to realize that what Don was saying was true. This new
knowledge fueled my passion for learning more.
I began to watch videos
from the local library. Africa: A Voyage of Discovery, an
8-part series by Basil Davidson. The Promised Land, a
series about the move of African Americans from the South to
the Chicago region. Eyes on the Prize, Part I & II. And many
I also began reading books
(pro and con) on the topic by Martin Bernal, Chancellor
Williams, Mary Lefkowitz, Richard Poe, Basil Davidson, Cheikh Anta Diop,
Warren Barbour, Clarence E. Walker, Gaston Maspero, Robert
Levine, Dr. ben-Jochannan, and others. Noted author
and historian, Ivan Van Sertima passed away May 2009. Back
in 1994, Ivan sent me a box filled with
many of the books he had edited and written. Egypt Revisited
was an eye-opener. After reading a book from the box, Ivan
gave me permission to call him and ask any questions that
were ricocheting around in my brain while reading. He was very
patient with me, becoming my main historical guide.
Recently I cobbled together a
web page that will give you a glimpse into my struggle with
the excesses of both Afrocentrism and Eurocentrism. I titled
it: "Confessions of a Budding Truthcentrist." You can
finish reading this page and then feel free to return to
read this article.
I encouraged Don
Griffin to write a book. After some consideration, Don
suggested that it might be quite powerful to have a Black
man and a White man co-write a book. I agreed with the idea
and over the summer of 1996 we embarked upon the project.
Return To Glory The Powerful Stirring of the Black Man
Don wrote the first half,
addressing the historical information, entitled -- THE BLACK
MAN: HIS PAST RESTORED / HIS PRESENT FACED / HIS FUTURE HOPE
DEFINED. Out of 14 pages of research notes in the back of
the book, Don filled 13 pages. He combined a scholarly
approach, with a reader-friendly writing style. He was
influenced by Dr. Clarence Walker and others.
I wrote the second half,
entitled -- ROAD TO GLORY: THE MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, AND
SPIRITUAL ROAD MAP TO WHOLENESS. In preparation for this
part of the book, I interviewed 40-50 African American men.
I was present at each interview to ask questions, listen and
learn. Through these conversations I began to weld the
impact of the Grieving Process (Elizabeth Kubler Ross model)
together with racism and prejudice. I was influenced by Jeff
Wright, Ivan Van Sertima and others.
The book was subsequently
published in 1997, endorsed by Julius Erving,
Ben Carson, Joe Frazier, Tony Evans and many others. Based
upon the positive response to the book, we decided to make
the 45-minute film version, which was released in 2004.
WEBSITES that may be of interest ____________________
film has now been translated (subtitles) into French,
Portuguese and Spanish, with subtitles in English (for
hearing impaired). One of the objectives of Return To Glory
is to raise the funds necessary to donate a special
not-for-resale copy of the DVD version if the film to every
prison, jail, juvenile detention facility and school in
When I speak on the topic
of Black History, I sometimes communicate that even if I
were surgically altered to look like someone of African
descent, I still wouldn't have a complete understanding of
the Black experience. Why? Because I was raised with not
only a White consciousness and also a Canadian
I cannot explain much. I
can report what I am hearing. I have two ears, one mouth.
There's a parable there somewhere. St. Augustine said (4th
Century), "Seek to understand before seeking to be
understood." I have learned a heck of a lot more by
listening than I have ever learned by speaking.
When I present on the
subject of Black history, I generally close out the session
with "Q&R" (Question & Response) I do not call it "Q&A", because I do not have
many answers...but I can respond to questions.
Hopefully the collective wisdom in the room will emerge,
addressing the specific issues communicated in the questions
Both Afrocentrism and
Eurocentrism have good points to them. But the more I have
studied, the more I have realized that both disciplines also
have some pretty crazy/fringe stuff that's isn't
corroborated by original sources. I'd rather use the term: "Truthcentric"
-- hopefully providing more light than heat.
After finishing this
page, feel free to review my web page about "TRUTHCENTRISM"
that has already been visited by well over 220,000 scholars,
professors, students and others. Be prepared to get upset
with me, regardless which way you lean.
a student of Black History -- not an expert.
There are many others out there who have engaged in
peer-reviewed research who have a much better handle on
specific aspects of the historical record. I
have read extensively on all sides of the debate. With
travels to 50+ countries around the world, I bring
a passion and curiosity to my studies.
spite of it's many faults, inequities and historical
injustices...I love America. If you have traveled much
to other regions of the world you know what I mean.
lived much of my younger years in Canada and have resided in
the USA for 40+ years. I am a proud American, with a love
and respect for my Canadian roots.
you have not traveled, I encourage you to do so. Mark Twain
once said, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and
narrow-mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on
those accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men
and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little
corner of the earth all one's lifetime." I agree with
speaking at an event at the Nuclear
hosted a radio talk show for 11 years in the DC/Baltimore
region. Needless to say, I do not shrink away from tough
topics. If there is an elephant in the room, I am likely to
be the one who says, "Hey, there's an elephant in the
though I own an extensive collection of genuine
History and Rosetta Stone History documents and artifacts
(3,000+ items; oldest piece dated 1553), I have no degree in Egyptology or Black History.
My Ph.D. is in counseling. I approach everything through the
gateway of mediation and conflict resolution -- seeking to
understand the human dynamics that surround each issue.
enjoy pleasantly spirited conversations on relevant topics.
I do not argue or debate. I just don't have the interest,
time or energy for it.
I welcome those who come to this topic with intellectual
honesty and curiosity -- Afrocentrist and Eurocentrists
alike. I simply ignore people who engage in name-calling,
hurling insults and invectives at others who have
developed a different studied perspective. Especially those
who choose to remain anonymous.
my view cowards hide incognito behind the supposed anonymity
of the Internet -- throw insults at others who are trying to
enhance their cross-cultural understanding and who are also
trying to catch up on learning the history they were never
taught in school.
Regarding my motives: I am
confident, knowing that my motives have been tested by time
and many questions -- desiring to educate and inspire in the
most non-partisan, pure manner possible.
But I also am very aware
that on a "Suspicion Scale" from "somewhat
suspicious" to "extremely suspicious" we are banging on the
"extremely suspicious" end of the scale when it comes to a
White man discussing Black History...and for good reasons,
When I speak or write on
the topic, it is my hope that people will not only "hear the
words", but will also hear the music" -- the
sincerity of heart...the passion.
Believe me, I am a work in
progress. A number of years ago, I was afraid of saying
something stupid, so I kept my thoughts to myself. I no
longer do that. I believe in relationship-building and
boldly risking along the way as trust is built. When I say
something stupid in dialogue with another African American,
I ask the person to feel free to attack my head (I wasn’t
thinking), but please do not attack my heart (I really do
The "Egg Shell" Effect: Some
initiatives that are implemented in organizations leave the participants in such a state of
hyper-awareness about their differences that everyone is
left walking on egg shells. On edge. Nervous. Fearful of saying
something stupid. Risk-averse or risk-neutral. Very little sense of humor.
Whether it is a something conscious or unconscious, many
White people can engage with people of another race,
ethnicity or class when it comes to sports, etc., but in
everyday life it seems to be much more challenging to engage
at deeper levels. That is troubling...whenever this is true.
Enter the "anti-egg-shell" experience that engages both the head and the
heart, encouraging people of all races and
ethnicities to understand the
risk/reward ratio. The higher the personal risk of
vulnerability, curiosity and openness, the
greater the relational payoff. Embracing the spice of
The freedom to enjoy the humor (even laughing at ourselves) is one
of the side benefits of greater understanding...as we
delight in learning about ourselves and others around
us. This is the kind of stuff I am passionate
wisdom that emerges from the curiosity-driven life --
possessing the potential of transcending the humdrum
existence into a transformational
diversity-astute lifestyle (24/7).
My first love is talking
with White people about the topic, but I also have realized
that relatively few Black people have an awareness of their
history. Initially this was a rather shocking revelation to me.
And I am still wondering how this picture can be changed.
I have asked certain
people to be my cultural guides and others to be my
historical guides (like Ivan VanSertima was for me when he
was alive). I have been criticized by some and perhaps their
criticism has some merit. For the most part people have
been respectful...even kind.
About a decade ago a
Caucasian friend (we'll call him Pete) shared with an
African American friend of mine (retired NBA player) about
an incident. Pete felt he was being unfairly judged by
another person because of his interest in Black History. The
pro athlete smiled and then wisely responded with, “Welcome
to the struggle.” I respect that reality. And I am still
about NBA experience at Quantico, VA (Defense Security
Service) -- 1:41
What does a White man from Canada say for the first six
minutes of a Black History presentation?
Quantico, VA (Defense Security
Service) -- 6:19
Black History exhibit of The Freeman Institute Black
History Collection in Glenarden, Maryland
Joel speaking at Defense Security Service (Quantico, VA)
Read more below and then
come back to click on image above to learn more about
Dr. Freeman's even-handed
definition and critique of BOTH Afrocentrism
AND Eurocentrism. He introduces the concept of
The Rosetta Stone:
Replicating a Mystery(short film)
About Dr. Freeman:
Joel Freeman is president of The Freeman Institute, an
organizational culture change firm based in Severn, Md., and
facilitates many seminar
programs, including "Dealing With People Who Drive You
White Man's Journey Into Black History,"
"Diversity: The Value of Mutual Respect" and
"When Strangling Someone Is Not An Option." He
also coaches executives in their personal/professional
lives. Freeman has authored other internationally
"A White Man's Journey Into Black History" is the
story of Freeman's journey in co-authoring that book.
Freeman made this PowerPoint presentation
(with video clips) before a group of about 400 African American
men on a Saturday morning in the
Washington, D.C. area. Several cameras were set up and they
decided to edit it down for the 140-minute DVD presentation.
Dr. Joel A. Freeman is the keynote
speaker at many Black History presentations and
training events around the world (see some of the organizations
below). At this Black History Month event
in the Washington, DC region, many participants
stayed afterwards to review documents and artifacts from The Freeman Institute Black History
collection. Black history was the gateway through which Dr.
Freeman developed a passion for cross cultural
Documents and artifacts from The Freeman
Institute Black History collection have been exhibited in a number
of venues around North America, including the White House
Communications (WHCA), US Department of Justice, Frostburg State
University and also at the United Nation's (NYC) commemoration of the
International Day of Remembrance of the victims of slavery and the
transatlantic slave trade.
United Nations "Transatlantic Slave Trade" Exhibit
Another photo from
the United Nations "Transatlantic Slave Trade" exhibit.
20 documents & artifacts from The Freeman Institute Black
History Collection were showcased.
A huge area in the main hall near the United Nations visitor's
More items from the Collection are exhibited behind the walls.
Another photo from
the United Nations "Transatlantic Slave Trade" exhibit.
20 documents & artifacts from The Freeman Institute Black
History Collection were showcased.
Letter from a gentleman
watched the DVD "A White Man's Journey Into Black History"
like to share with you a life changing experience which came about
after I watched your DVD entitled "A White Man's Journey into
I am an
African American who has carried a great deal of resentment towards
Whites in this country because of the legacy of slavery and the
ongoing institutional racism which we as a people continue to face
today. Thinking of the pain and suffering which my ancestors
endured nearly drove me mad. I became interested in Black History
during family reunions on my mother's side.
majority of African Americans I am able to trace family roots on my
mother's side to slavery days. I stopped researching my family
history because I was becoming obsessed with voices from the past.
I am convinced that one of my ancestors was raped by a white man and
her voice cried out to me from the grave. It was too much to bear
so I left it alone.
mother's side, many of her sisters are light skinned. The family in
Georgia who owned my ancestors and whose name my mother bore wanted
nothing to do with us. Yet the connection is so obvious, the pain
is so great, the legacy of Black-White relations in America today.
Many of those who knew the truth about how we are related, black and
whites are now dead or very old. These whites in Georgia not only
did not want to acknowledge that we were related but also did not
want to acknowledge us a part of the family.
We were not
seeking reparations, only an admission that we were common blood
relatives. So I became bitter and hostile. I hated white folks.
Little did I realize at the time that I hated myself. I hated the
very blood which poured through my veins. It is said that you can
love others only if you love yourself. It naturally follows that
you can only hate others if you hate yourself. Hatred is born of
ignorance and self loathing. It is painful. It is consuming.
watched your DVD. Perhaps the
Pharaoh of the Bible who Moses contended with might have been a Black
African. He probably owned countless slaves and was likely as
ruthless and as fierce as any slave owner in our recent past. Pharaoh's heart
was hard just as my heart had become hardened.
communicated on the DVD and the way you communicated it has helped me
end the cycle of despair, anger, and self loathing.
To let go
of all this anger and bitterness has brought me so much peace! I am
no longer obsessed with race and the evils of racism.
Willie Lynch Letter
"A White Man's Journey into Black
Joel Freeman speaks all over the
world on various topics (leadership, emotional
intelligence, conflict resolution, diversity...) to many
Below are three segments from a 6-part presentation at Defense
Security Service (Quantico, VA)
What does a
White Man from Canada say the First Five Minutes? ~ Part One: 6:18
Bigotry: When Wind Gets a Name ~ Part Four: 4:36
the Grieving Process ~
Part Four: 3:22
Dr. Freeman discussing a painting from his
collection at a
US Department of Justice Black History Month event (click on photo above for more info about painting)