Angela Davis Talks Black Liberation, History and the Contemporary Vision[INTERVIEW] The iconic freedom struggle leader speaks with EBONY.com about Black human rights activism stretching back decades and her recently released book observing global movementsBY SHERYL HUGGINS SALOMON, FEBRUARY 17, 2016COMMENTSAngela Davis speaking at Myer Horowitz Theatre of the University of Alberta. Nick Wiebe/Wikimedia CommonsFifty years after the founding of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, the agenda and style of the legendary Black revolutionary organization remains relevant in today’s public discourse. An end to “police brutality and the murder of Black people,” central to the Black Lives Matter movement, was laid out in the Black Panthers’ 10-Point Platform five decades ago. Both acclaim and condemnation erupted when their iconic black berets made an appearance recently in Beyoncé’s half-time show performance during the Super Bowl.It’s telling that America is still grappling with many of the same racial inequities and injustices that it did 50 years ago – and that Black pride remains a controversial topic. Not so to renowned scholar, activist and feminist icon and close associate of the Black Panthers Angela Y. Davis.“If one looks at the 10-point program of the Black Panther Party, one sees that the very same issues that were raised in the aftermath of slavery are at the center of a program that was formulated in 1966,” said Davis, now a professor emeritus at University of California, Santa Cruz. “In 2008 when Barack Obama was elected, those issues had not been sufficiently addressed, certainly not yet solved, so therefore the election of one person to political office was not going to automatically reverse a history of a racist inspired economic oppression, which isn’t to say that it wasn’t important that we elected Barack Obama, but those struggles continue.”While in Spain last week advocating for the release of imprisoned Basque separatist politician Arnaldo Otegi, Davis took a few moments with EBONY.com to discuss contemporary issues like Black Lives Matter, the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and details from her latest book, Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement (Haymarket Books, 2016), edited by human rights activist Frank Barat.“I’ve been involved in the Palestine Solidarity movement for a very long time,” explained Davis. “When the Ferguson uprising happened a year and a half ago activists on the ground in occupied Palestine were the first to tweet support and advice to protesters in Ferguson. Out of that has come a very interesting, a very rich development of connections across the ocean. A delegation from Palestine visited Ferguson. Black Lives Matter and Ferguson activists, [as well as members of] Dream Defenders, Black Youth Project 100 made a trip to Palestine over about a year ago to express their solidarity.” Related Articles CONNECTING PALESTINE AND POLICE VIOLENCE SIDRA SMITH ON ANGELA DAVIS DOC DIRECTOR TALKS ANGELA DAVIS DOCUMENTARYMore highlights of what Davis said are in the Q&A below.EBONY.COM: What’s the message of your new book?Angela Davis: I am particularly interested in [having] activists associated with the Black freedom movement to realize that our struggles never would have achieved this universality that they have achieved without solidarity that has come from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and Australia. Our struggles are global, therefore, it is important for us to incorporate this global vision into our on the ground battles against police crimes and the prison industrial complex. Since I was very young I have been involved in organizations— the Communist Party, the Black Panther Party— that have had this global perspective.EBONY.COM: As you note in your book, events in Ferguson after the police shooting of Michael Brown exposed the militarization of police forces. Where is this push toward militarization headed and how can it be stopped?Davis: If one looks at the history of policing, especially over the last 15 years in the aftermath of 9/11, one can see the emphasis on the shifting of resources from the military to the police. This actually has a much longer history if one looks at the way in which the Vietnam War resulted in an impact on local police. The S.W.A.T. squads emerged as a result of using techniques and technology that were used by the Green Berets in the Vietnam War. The Los Angeles Police Department was the first to use such tactics against the Black Panther Party. We have also seen the emergence of privatized policing corporations. In the book, I refer to G4S (Group 4 Security), which is a private security corporation that has spread policing and prisons all over the world. It’s important not only to look at the ways in which these moments of inflicting terror have been taken up by police departments, but it’s also essential to look at the economic dimension by such processes. G4S, of course, is the thir
OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham
Tribute to Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan In Conversation with Dr. Wilmer Leon
HOST, “Inside the Issues with Dr. Wilmer Leon
March 21, 2015 10 pm ET LIVE
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He was one of the most courageous and inspiring scholars of our time would live for nearly a century, paying personal witness to dramatic transformations in the lives of Black people across the globe. Now a Beloved Ancestor.
ABOUT Dr. WilmerLeon Dr. Leon’s Prescription
Wilmer Leon is the Nationally Broadcast Talk Show Host of “Inside The Issues with Wilmer Leon” Saturday’s from 11:00 am to 2:00pm on Sirius XM (126).
Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D. is a Political Scientist whose primary areas of expertise are Black Politics and Public Policy. Wilmer has a BS degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from Howard University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University.Dr. Leon is also the host of XM Satellite Radio’s, “Inside The Issues”, a three-hour, call-in, talk radio program airing live nationally on XM Satellite Radio channel 126.”
Dr. Leon was a featured commentator on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight and is also a regular contributor to The Grio.com, The Root.com, TruthOut.org, The Maynard Institute.com and PoliticsInColor.com. He is an OUR COMMON GROUND Voice for more than 5 years.
We will discuss with Dr. Leon about today’s urgent and pressing issues and events before African-Americans.
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One reason for my current retrospection is the fine essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the June issue of the Atlantic arguing that reparations are deserved and long overdue. He has gathered an amazing array of facts about racism, economics, violence and the role of the U.S. government, implicit and explicit. With pinpoint clarity, Coates has focused a scholarly light that shines into all the dark corners of this shameful chapter in our history.
OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham
Teaching a New Peace in Africa and Hoping to Change a Nation
Guest: Anti-Violence EducatorActivist Carmen del Rosario
Founder, Roots of Transformation
Saturday, March 29, 2014 10 pm ET
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“When I dare to be powerful– to use my strength in service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid” – Audre Lorde
Carmen is a highly driven and motivated, partnership, and programme management professional with over 20 years of professional experience working in the field of violence against women and children with government and development organizations, community networks and institutions in the US, El Salvador, Rwanda, Burundi, Dominican Republic, Tanzania, Congo (RDC) and Liberia
Ms. Carmen Del Rosario served as the Director of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Domestic Violence Program for 10 years. Del Rosario was a pioneer in developing strategies to engage boys and men in positive ways to prevent violence and to promote healthy relationships. In the year 2000, under her leadership, de Domestic Violence Program received funding from the CDC to develop , implement and evaluate a five years demonstration project working with men as fathers.
Over the past eight years Carmen has been working in East Africa, (Tanzania) Central Africa (Eastern Congo) and West Africa (Liberia), developing, coordinating and implementing programs to respond to survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV), Women’s Empowerment Program as well as prevention initiatives with men from different background; these include, refugees’ men, religious leaders, traditional leaders, the police, and the UN peacekeepers. Carmen has developed intervention and prevention programs providing technical support to capacity development of the implementing partners in partnership with government, UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF and INGO.
Roots of Transformation, is a non-government grassroots organization working toward the prevention of VAWC by catalyzing changes in communities and by supporting organizational sustainability. The organization works to prevent violence by addressing its roots causes, such as traditional gender roles, and the imbalance of power between women and men.
Roots of Transformation is committed to equipping people with the knowledge, wisdom and tools needed to make decisions that will positively impact their futures, the future of their family and their nation.
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“Speaking Truth to Power and Ourselves”
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“Speaking Truth to Power and Our selves”
Kwanzaa (kwahn-ZAH) is an annual cultural observance, which is recognized by Black people from December 26 thru January 1, each year:
- Kwanzaa is non-political.
- Kwanzaa is non-religious.
- Kwanzaa is not related to Christmas.*
* Annual Kwanzaa observances begin on December 26th, each year]
This year’s OUR COMMON GROUND KWANZAA message comes from our Brother, Friend and Comrade,OUR COMMON GROUND Voice, Dr. Ron Daniels.
The Nguzo Saba contains the core concepts and values of Kawaida and the foundation for Kwanzaa. In a recent article, First Call for State of the Black World Conference III, I suggested that a spiritual and cultural revival is essential to combat and overcome the devastating State of Emergency afflicting the “dark ghettos” in Black America. As we begin the celebration of Kwanzaa, it might be useful to restate the N’guzo Saba and discuss its relevance to healing our families and communities in a time of crisis. So, I offer these reflections.
Dr. Ron Daniels, Founder and Director, IBW 21
The first Principle in the Nguzo Saba is Umoja/Unity. That Africans in America should be unified or act in concert to confront the State of Emergency should be self evident. However, achieving Black unity can be challenging and illusive. In the name of pursuing the interests of Black people, what we have in the Black community is a myriad of leaders and organizations that all too often compete rather than cooperate with each other. Moreover, various leaders and organizations have different ideologies and strategies for achieving full freedom/liberation. There is also a “class divide” between the more affluent sisters and brothers who have benefited from the “movement” and moved up in the world and the dispossessed left behind in abandoned and devastated “dark ghettos,” the “hood.” Overcoming disunity requires a conscious effort to create “united front” structures which bring people together despite their differences in philosophy and approach. Dr. Karenga has advocated “operational unity” as a concept to enable leaders and organizations with differing philosophies and approaches to work together. Operational unity means focusing on issues and areas where there is agreement among organizations and leaders rather than disagreement. Dr. Karenga calls this “unity without uniformity.” With so many problems/issues affecting the Black community, the goal of operational unity is to have leaders and organizations collaborate/act collectively around specific issues, projects and initiatives they agree on.
Unity in the Black community requires bridging the class divide. Brothers and sisters who have seized on a pathway to the middle and upper class paved by the blood and sacrifice of heroes and sheroes of the Black freedom struggle have an obligation to spiritually and/or physically return to “Tobacco Road,” the urban inner-city neighborhoods of this country, to give back, to reinvest their time, talent and resources to reconstruct/revive the “dark ghettos” from which they escaped.
The second Principle is Kujichagulia/Self-Determination. There has been much talk about a “post-racial society” in the aftermath of the election of Barack Obama as America’s first African American president. And, there have always been some within the race who wanted to escape the “burden” of their Blackness. The State of Emergency in Black America clearly suggests that “race still matters” as a determinant of one’s life chances in this country. Dr. Karenga has said that to chart a course toward full freedom, a theory/ideology of liberation must provide an “identity, purpose and direction.” I believe that if we are to permanently rise above the crises plaguing our families and communities, we must name and claim our identity, proudly embrace ourselves and be resolutely committed to being “of the race and for the race.” As descendants from the African motherland, “we are an African people.” And, part of our mission in life should be to unapologetically work for the advancement of people of African descent in the U.S. and the Pan African world. This does not mean disrespecting, disregarding or disdaining other racial/ethnic groups; it simply means “charity begins at home and spreads abroad,” and “love thy neighbor as thyself.” We cannot, must not abandon the race, especially our sisters and brothers in the “hood,” in an ill conceived effort to become absorbed in a “colorblind” or “post racial society.” We have a right to define who we are and determine our own destiny as people!
The third Principle is Ujima/Collective Work and Responsibility. As noted earlier, the Doctrine of Kawaida as conceived by Dr. Karenga is grounded in the traditional worldview and way of life of African people. As such it emphasizes “we, us and our” in terms of the values that are important to building and sustaining wholesome families and communities. This is diametrically opposed to the “me, myself and I” values of “individualism” and “competition” stressed as central to the “cherished” American/western way of life. The concept of the “collective” is frowned upon in America as “socialist” or communist.” And yet, the idea of extended families working together for a common purpose within communities with a sense of mutual obligation and responsibility is deeply ingrained in African societies – and our own experience as Africans in America, particularly in the South. We certainly will not permit class or status to divide us if we see ourselves as one people committed to promoting the common good of the race. This is a clear example of the need to retain the values/principles of our forebears as opposed to adopting a value orientation which has proven to be destructive to Black families and communities.
The fourth Principle is Ujamaa/Cooperative Economics. This principle is closely linked to Ujima in that it encourages people of African descent to share resources and engage in joint efforts to build and sustain an economic foundation for our families and communities. Cooperatives, credit unions, investment clubs and community development corporations are examples of economic structures based on pooling and sharing resources for the common good. Ujamaa does not preclude for-profit corporations or individual entrepreneurship. But, the value/principle of Ujamaa dictates that entrepreneurs and businesses explore ways of collaborating/cooperating, exchanging ideas and pooling resources where appropriate to enhance the collective economic empowerment of the Black community. This is what Dr. Claud Anderson has promoted through the concept of Powernomics and George Fraser through Power Networking. In the spirit of Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, it is imperative that people of African descent persistently work to build an economic infrastructure to undergird our social and political institutions.
The fifth Principle is Nia/Purpose. When we survey the incredible fratricide/carnage occurring in Black communities, largely committed by young Black males, one has the feeling that it may be because many of our young people lack a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. And, this may be related to a lack of collective purpose in the Black community as a whole. Gone are the days of the civil rights/human rights and Black Power movements when there was a pervasive spirit of purpose in the air. There was a dynamic movement and a feeling that Black people were on the move! In the face of a daunting State of Emergency, we urgently need to restore a sense of purpose in Black America. And, that purpose should be a commitment to reclaim and rebuild our communities, a fervent determination that America’s desolate dark ghettos will become new communities that are bright beacons of hope and possibility. The collective conviction/purpose and the struggle required to rebuild our communities will be contagious; it will capture the hearts and minds of our youth/young people by restoring a sense of mission to their lives as part of a people fighting to liberate themselves from an oppressive value system and society.
The Sixth Principle is Kuumba/Creativity. People of African descent gave the world its first multi-genius in the person of Imhotep, the Egyptian physician, architect and engineer who mastered the science of building in stone that led to the erection of the pyramids as one of the greatest wonders of the world! One might say that creativity is in our DNA. Africans from the Caribbean took old barrels and transformed them into “steel drums” that produce amazing music. Those of us who came up on the “rough side of the mountain” in America (most of us) bear witness to the fact that our mothers and fathers were masters of “making something out of nothing.” They had to in order to survive. Overcoming the State of Emergency to rebuild our families and communities is a formidable undertaking. It will not be easy, but we should act with the absolute confidence that we possess the creativity, the knowledge, skill and will to meet the challenge.
The Seventh and final Principle is Imani/Faith. Given the obstacles our forebears faced, they had to have an abiding faith that survival was possible, that beyond the brutality, hardships, suffering and sacrifice of the moment, “joy would come in the morning,” that someday, a generation that sprang from their loins – sons, daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great, great grandchildren … would be able to proclaim “free at last.” For millions it was the belief that “we’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord.” For others it was a spiritual force deep down inside that could be tapped to carry forth for another day and another day … the faith that a better day was coming for the sons and daughters of Africa in America. In this current crisis, we too must have faith, a belief that enables us to scale heights, not normally possible, because we believe and act on our beliefs. Similar to the Principle of Kuumba/Creativity, we must have faith that there are no odds too great for a people to overcome if we act with Umoja/Unity, Kujichagulia/Self-Determination, Ujima/Collective Work and Responsibility, Ujamaa/Cooperative Economics, Nia/Purpose, Kuumba/Creativity, and Imani/Faith. “Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day!”
10 Black Scholars Who Debunked Eurocentric Propaganda
Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop
Senegalese-born Cheikh Anta Diop (1923 – 1986) received his doctorate degree from the University of Paris and was a brilliant historian, anthropologist, physicist and politician and one of the most prominent and proficient black scholars in the history of African civilization.
Contrary to the long-standing European myth of a Caucasian Egypt, Diop’s studies into origins of the human race and precolonial African culture established that ancient Egypt was founded, populated, and ruled by black Africans; the Egyptian language and culture still exists in modern African languages (including his own Wolof language) ; and that black Egypt was responsible for the rise of civilization throughout Africa and the Mediterranean, including Greece and Rome.
Diop also pioneered techniques of scientific research – such as carbon dating as a means of dating artifacts and remains, and the melanin dosage test which he used to verify the melanin content of Egyptian mummies. Forensic investigators later adopted this technique to determine the “racial identity” of badly burned accident victims. Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, is named after him.
Dr. John Henrik Clarke
Dr. John Henrik Clarke (1915 – 1998) was a Pan-Africanist writer, historian, professor, and a pioneer in the establishment of Africana studies in professional institutions in academia starting in the late 1960s. He was professor of African world history and in 1969, he became the founding chairman of the Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York. He also was the Carter G. Woodson Distinguished Visiting Professor of African History at Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center.
He challenged the mostly white academic historians and attributed their reluctance to acknowledge the historical contributions of black people as part of the systematic and racist suppression and distortion of African history.
Clarke asserted: ”Nothing in Africa had any European influence before 332 B.C. If you have 10,000 years behind you before you even saw a European, then who gave you the idea that he moved from the ice-age, came all the way into Africa and built a great civilization and disappeared,when he had not built a shoe for himself or a house with a window?”
Dr. Marimba Ani
Dr. Marimba Ani is an anthropologist and African Studies scholar best known for her book “Yurugu,” a comprehensive critique of European thought and culture. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Chicago, and holds masters and doctorate degrees in anthropology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School University.
In her ground-breaking work, “Yurugu: An Afrikan-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior,” Ani uses an African perspective through the myths of the Dogon people and the language of Swahili to examine the impact of European cultural influence on black people and the world. She developed a framework that methodically debunked the belief that Western civilization was the best, most constructive society ever built and instead she pointed out its inherent destructive tendencies.
Dr. Amos Wilson
Dr. Amos N. Wilson (1941 – 1995) was a social caseworker, psychological counselor, supervising probation officer and training administrator in the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice. He was also an assistant professor of psychology at the City University of New York.
In his book “Black-on-Black Violence: The Psychodynamic of Black Self-Annihilation in Service of White Domination,” Wilson, discredited the pervasive myth that blacks are inherently criminal.
Not only did he chronicle the vast history of violence that was pervasive in American culture, but he also demonstrated how black-on-black violence and black male criminality in the United States was a politically and economically engineered process designed to maintain the subservience and relative powerlessness of black people and black communities worldwide.
However, Wilson contended that bringing an end to black-on-black violence and criminality is the sole responsibility of all black people. In his book he lays out practical and theoretical ways of eradicating it.
Ivan van Sertima
Dr. Ivan Gladstone Van Sertima (1935 – 2009) was a Guyanese-born associate professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He was best known for his work “They Came before Columbus,” which provided a pyramid of evidence to support the idea that ancient Africans were master shipbuilders who sailed from Africa to the Americas thousands of years before Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus, and that the Africans traded with the indigenous people, leaving lasting influences on their cultures. In one example, Van Sertima presents evidence that Emperor Abubakari of Mali used these “almadias” or longboats to make a trip to the Americas during the 1300s.
Van Sertima methodically demonstrates that these blacks were not slaves, but traders and priests who were honored and venerated by the Native Americans who built statues – Olmec heads- in their honor. In the closing of the book, he declaimed the notion of “discovery” by Columbus.
In 1987, Van Sertima testified before a United States congressional committee to oppose recognition of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas. He said, “You cannot really conceive of how insulting it is to Native Americans … to be told they were discovered.”
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing is an African-American psychiatrist practicing in Washington, D.C. She is noted for authoring the “Cress Theory of Color Confrontation” and “The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors,” which explore and define the global system of white supremacy.
In “The Isis Papers,” Welsing contradicts the notion that white supremacy was rooted in an idea of genetic superiority. Instead, she presents a psychogenetic theory suggesting whites fear genetic annihilation because their genes are recessive to the majority of the world’s population, which consists of people of color – the most threatening being black. Therefore they established white supremacy to prevent people of color from diluting their genes and subsequently rendering them extinct.
Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan
Dr. Yosef Alfredo Antonio Ben-Jochannan, also known as Dr. Ben, is an Ethiopian-Puerto Rican writer, historian and Egyptologist. Ben-Jochannan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering at the University of Puerto Rico in 1938, and earned his master’s degree in architectural engineering from the University of Havana, Cuba in 1938. He received his doctoral degrees in cultural anthropology and Moorish history from the University of Havana and the University of Barcelona, Spain, respectively.
Ben-Jochannan is the author of 49 books, primarily on ancient Nile Valley civilizations and their impact on Western cultures. One of Dr. Ben’s most thought-provoking works, “African Origins of the Major ‘Western Religions’” (1970), highlights how the roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam originated in black Africa. He also argues that the original Jews were from Ethiopia and were black Africans, while the European Jews later adopted the Jewish faith and its customs.
Dr. Anthony Martin
Dr. Anthony Martin (1942 – 2013) was a Trinidadian-born professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. He was a lecturer and prolific author of scholarly articles about black history and was considered the world’s foremost authority on Jamaican black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Martin authored, compiled or edited 14 books, his earliest work being “Race First: The Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association” (1976).
In his works on Garvey, Martin used his scholarship to counteract attempts by the mainstream to mischaracterize and deny Garvey’s true legacy as one of the greatest black leaders of all time.
When Martin detailed the role European Jews played in the transatlantic slave trade in his book, “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews,” the professor found himself the subject of a character assassination campaign, which is ongoing even after his death in January of this year.
Dr. Chancellor Williams
Dr. Chancellor Williams (1893 – 1992) was an African-American sociologist, historian and writer. His best known work is “The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D.”, for which he was awarded honors by the Black Academy of Arts and Letters.
In “Destruction of Black Civilization,” Williams chronicles how high civilization began in black Africa, contrary to what mainstream historians have espoused to the world. He meticulously lays out the history of Africa in great detail and demonstrates that the continent’s current underdevelopment came after thousands of years of consistent onslaught by Eurasians, and not because Africans made no significant contributions to the world.
Dr. George Granville Monah James (unknown – 1954) was a well-regarded historian and author from Georgetown, Guyana. He’s best known for his 1954 book “Stolen Legacy,” in which he presented evidence that Greek philosophy originated in ancient Egypt. He gained his doctorate degree at Columbia University in New York, became a professor of logic and Greek at Livingstone College in Salisbury, N. C., for two years, and then taught at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff.
In “Stolen Legacy,” James painstakingly documents the African origins of Graco-Roman philosophical thought. He asserted that “Greek philosophy” was not created by the Greeks at all, instead it was borrowed without acknowledgement from the ancient Egyptians.
James even challenged the foundations of Judaism and Judeo-Christianity and argued that the statue of the Egyptian goddess Isis with her child Horus in her arms is the origin of the Virgin Mary and child.
He mysteriously died, shortly after publishing Stolen Legacy.