A  White  Man's  Journey
into  Black  History

Dr. Joel A. Freeman’s Story

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 Fox News Channel segments about the Freeman Institute  Black History Collection
showcased at United Nations  "Transatlantic Slave Trade" exhibit (NY)



   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 screen.

  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 similar situation.

   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 and sincerity.
   Joel A. Freeman, Ph.D. is asked to speak all over the world on various topics: leadership. teamwork, emotional intelligence, cultural 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 say.

   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 often questioned...even 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 was captivating..."  
-- (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 and class."
   So, just how did a white man from Alberta, Canada become interested in Black History and such a passionate advocate of truth-centrism?


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?"

   Legitimate question. 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 DVD 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 presentation.

  For 19 wonderful years I served as mentor/chaplain of the NBA Washington Bullets/Wizards (’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 more...






Dr. Freeman's
latest book





































































































































































































   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. 

   Don came up with the title – Return To Glory.

   I came up with the subtitle – The Powerful Stirring of the Black Man. Order Return To Glory Book/Film >

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.

Check Out the 140 Minute Video and Seminar Program for Your Organization
"A White Man's Journey Into Black History"™ 

Over 100 Kings and Queens of Africa attended a Pan-African Conference
in Benin, West Africa -- August 2002. Dr. Freeman was a keynote speaker at this event.

   The book was subsequently published in 1997, endorsed by Bill Cosby, 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.

that may be of interest

Black History Gallery Project

Black History Collection
(over 3,000 documents & artifacts)

Rosetta Stone Replica Project

Freeman Institute Foundation

Return To Glory

Assault and Flattery

   The 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 America -- TruthCentric.com

   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 consciousness.

   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 posed.

   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.  TRUTHCENTRISM

  I am 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.

  In 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.

  I 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.

  If 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 Twain's assessment.

Dr. Freeman speaking at an event at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

  I 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 room..."

  Even though I own an extensive collection of genuine Black 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.

  I 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.

  In 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, historically.

Somewhat Suspicious                              50%                                      Extremely Suspicious

S U S P I C I O N    S C A L E

   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 mean well).

   The "Egg Shell" Effect: Some cross-cultural competency 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 life!


Low ------->
Medium ------->
High ------->


<------ Low
<------ Medium
<------ High

   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 about!

   It's the 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 learning...

Brief mention 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


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 Truthcentrism.


The Freeman Institute Foundation -- Developing Black History Galleries in selected major cities.

An Open Invitation to Participate in -- "THE MOMENT" -- Dr. Freeman's Latest Book Project

Dr. Freeman being interviewed on Canadian TV about
The Freeman Institute Black History collection & the Gallery Project

1st part of TV interview -- 10:25 min.

2nd part of TV interview --  10:09 min.

Check Out the Black History DVD and Seminar Presentation

Order WMJ DVD and/or RTG Book/Film


The Freeman Institute
Black History Collection

Dr. Freeman's e-mail address is: joel@freemaninstitute.com . You may log-on to
FreemanInstitute.com or TruthCentric.com or Black101.com or TFIfoundation.org
or www.BlackHistoryGallery.com to find out more about the projects.

Rosetta Stone Replica Project


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 Crazy!"® "A 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 acclaimed books

   The DVD, "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 cross-cultural competence 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 communication.

  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 entrance.
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 who watched the DVD
"A White Man's Journey Into Black History"

   I would like to share with you a life changing experience which came about after I watched your DVD entitled "A White Man's Journey into Black History":

   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.  

   Unlike a 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.

   On my 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. 

   Then I 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.

   What you 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 History"
Joel Freeman speaks all over the world on various topics (leadership, emotional
intelligence, conflict resolution, diversity...) to many different organizations.

Below are three segments from a 6-part presentation at Defense Security Service (Quantico, VA)
Order DVD presentation here 


What does a White Man from Canada say the First Five Minutes? ~ Part One: 6:18


Hurricane Bigotry: When Wind Gets a Name ~ Part Four: 4:36

Prejudice and 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)


Pictures from trip to Lagos Nigeria

To learn more about seminar -- Diversity: The Value of Mutual Respect



Courtesy of The Freeman Institute

"Dealing  With  People  Who  Drive  You  Crazy!"®
The Freeman Institute™ Box 305, Gambrills, MD 21054
TEL 410-729-4011   CELL 410-991-9718   FAX 410-729-0353
EMAIL info@freemaninstitute.com


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