David L. Horne: Biographical Reflections, A Living Pan African Scholar-Activist.

Author:Claybrook, M. Keith, Jr.

Pan-Africanism is a practical, achievable and valid objective, but it will be and must be accomplished through an accumulation of small-scale and large-scale interventions rather than as one big ceremonious event. (1) Leadership should be respected, but to be maintained, such respect must be consistently earned; and mutual respect between leadership and the constituency must be practiced relentlessly. (2) Preface

I met David L. Horne soon after finishing my master's degree while working at a community college. I began to "sit at his feet" to learn from and work with him because he is a senior and seasoned Pan African scholar-activist. I have also worked with and presented on panels with him on a few local efforts. In this work, I draw upon our numerous conversations, my work with him, and my reading of his works concerning the life and experiences of a Pan African scholar-activist. Horne has attempted to implement the works of notable Pan Africanists such as Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, and Kwame Nkrumah. Hence, I explore his major experiences such as the significance of the Sixth Pan African Congress in Tanzania in 1974, participation in the All African People's Revolutionary Party, and his contribution in organizing the African Diaspora as the Sixth Region of the African Union.


From Gainesville, Florida to establishing his base in Los Angeles, California in the mid-1970s, Horne has shown commitment and dedication to African people, and their descendants in his professional, community, and international work. Horne demonstrates his commitment to the improvement of the material quality of life for African people and the increase of human respect and dignity through his work as a scholar-activist, chairing the Pan African Studies Department at California State University at Northridge and serving as editor of the Journal of the Pan African Studies and Journal of African Studies at the university. In addition, he founded Reparations United Front (RUF), a coalition organization of reparations organizations in Southern California. He also founded the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC), a coalition organization of Pan African oriented organizations working to accept the call from the African Union to join the African Union as the Sixth Region.

Exploring Horne's life and contributions requires an examination of his work as a Pan African thinker, leader, and activist. This paper begins with a brief discussion of Horne's views on Pan Africanism and leadership, followed by an exploration of notable contributions he has made as a Pan African scholar-activist leader.

Conceptualizing Pan Africanism

Horne's mother constantly reaffirmed her children in their African heritage. This was nurtured even further at the University of Florida in his senior year when he enrolled in three African history courses. (3) Here, the seeds of Horne's views and connection to Africa and Pan Africanism began to germinate. As a Pan Africanist, Horne is sincere in his commitment to continue the work of Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, and Kwame Nkrumah.

Horne conceptualizes Pan Africanism as a broad and "intellectually substantive concept". (4) He understands Pan Africanism as a paradigm and worldview in line with Ubuntu, or togetherness/collectiveness. In addition, he says that it is a set of theories linking African people across time, place, and space. Furthermore, he views Pan Africanism as a set of methodological and analytical approaches. (5) Commenting on the vastness of Pan Africanism, Horne clearly states, "Pan-Africanism is not now, and never has been, a simple, one-dimensional concept". (6) In an effort to make Pan Africanism operational and functional, he contends, Pan-Africanism is a practical, achievable and valid objective, but it will be, and must be accomplished through an accumulation of small-scale and large-scale interventions rather than as one big ceremonious event. (7)

Horne challenges Pan Africanists to link their conceptual ideas with pragmatic work, thus, he clearly values and finds relevance in Pan Africanism in the broadest sense by linking theory and praxis. He conceives Pan Africanism broadly, but measures its appropriateness and usefulness by its tangible and realistic effect. Horne posits that activist pan-Africanism is about combining ideological and analytical, which is applied pan-Africanism, a pan-Africanism in action in the real world. (8)

Applied Pan Africanism, then, links theory and praxis, and therefore it is the positive and intentional effort, in thought and action, which he advocates. Horne recognizes diverse ideological strands, but he also values reasoned and sound judgement. To this end, the application of Pan Africanism in real world situations is observable and tangible. Horne argues that "One's pan-Africanism should only be measured by one's consistent work as a pan-Africanist: it is what one does that determines one's pan-Africanist commitment, not merely what one says." (9)

Horne values scholarship, critical thinking, logic, analysis, and publishing. As a scholar, reasoned and informed analysis is essential. And in regards to critical thinking, he states in his 2005 book Straight to the Point, that "Critical thinking does not necessarily mean thinking and decision-making that is always correct; instead, it simply means thinking and decision-making based on reasoned judgment and choices made based on the best available information at the time." (10)

Horne does not expect Pan African activists to make the right decision in every situation. He does expect, however, sound, reasoned and logical analysis, assessment, and evaluation. On this basis, 'Applied Pan Africanism' is useful because the plan and strategy developed should be well informed and thought-out. In addition, critically thinking Pan African activists should not merely rehearse and recite Pan African lexicon and canonized thinkers, although they offer insight, guidance, and resources; not the gospel truth. For Horne, 'Applied Pan Africanism' requires knowledgeable, committed, and lucid servants of the people who are logical in their analysis.

Horne offers a conceptualization of Applied Pan Africanism requiring functional, pragmatic, and useful action that necessitates more than words on paper or from a podium. Applied Pan Africanism involves organizing and work. That is, establishing, forming, and shaping Pan African ideas, concepts, and strategies towards improving the material conditions and quality of life of African people and their descendants. In addition, Applied Pan Africanism increases human respect and dignity for African people and their descendants in a tangible way. Therefore, 'Applied Pan Africanism' must be noticeable, measurable, and palpable. And the focus on 'Applied Pan Africanism' raises at least two questions. First, has Horne conceptualized Applied Pan Africanism in such a way to justify his lack of scholarly publications as compared to some of his peers to value his activist contribution? And alternatively, is Horne really committed and does he value work over words whether written or spoken? An examination into how Horne views leadership and his leadership experiences provides answers to these questions.

Leadership and Leadership Philosophy

As a Pan African activist scholar, Horne has conceptualized, committed, and actualized ethical leadership and responsibility to African people and their descendants. He has routinely advocated for mutual respect, transparency, and the use of "common sense...

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