Professor James Small was born in 1945, on Arcadia plantation, located on the banks of the Waccamaw River. This Lowland rice plantation is located where the Waccamaw, Peedee, and Black Rivers converge to meet the Atlantic Ocean, on the shores of historic Georgetown, South Carolina. Prof. Small was born to a family that traces their descent from enslaved Africans, to the Yoruba, Akan, and Ewe people of West Africa. Prof. Small's heritage also stems from the Native American ancestors that inhabited these South Carolinian shores. Both his maternal great-grandmother and his paternal great-grandmother were members of the Chicora Nation, and made their home along the mighty Waccamaw River.
Prof. Small graduated from the all Black Howard High School in Georgetown, South Carolina in 1964. He then served in the U.S. Navy for two years during the Vietnam era. Upon his release from military service, Prof. Small moved to New York City where he joined the Organization of Afro-American Unity founded by the legendary Malcolm X. In 1967, Prof. Small became Imam (minister) of the Muslim Mosque Incorporated, also founded by Malcolm X. In 1975 Prof. Small traveled to the Holy City of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to make his holy pilgrimage, the Hajjah.
For eleven years, Prof. Small served as principal bodyguard to the late Ella L. Collins, the sister of Malcolm X, the then President of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (O.A.A.U.). Between the years of 1966 and 1980, Prof. Small held membership in the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (S.N.C.C.), the N.A.A.C.P, Uhuru fighters and O.A.A.U. During this period Prof. Small had the opportunity to interact with such historical giants as Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Kwame Ture, H. Rap Brown of S.N.C.C, Eldridge Cleaver, Zaid Shakur, and Lumumba Shakur of the Black Panther Party (B.P.P.) in which he served as a liaison between the B.P.P. and the O.A.A.U.
Prof. Small has been a member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization (A.S.C.A.C.) for 14 years. He served as President of A.S.C.A.C. Eastern Region for two years, where he worked and studied with Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Dr. Yosef A. A. ben Jochannan, Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Dr. Asa Hilliard, Dr. Wade Nobles, Dr. Amos Wilson and Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, just to name a few.
Prof. Small taught for nearly twenty years at the City University of New York, including 17 years at the City College of New York's Black Studies Department, thirteen of those years also serving as an administrator and two years at New York City Technical College. Prof. Small has taught courses on Malcolm X, Traditional African Religion (Prof. Small is a priest in the Yoruba religion), Pan Africanism, Crime in the Urban Community, Urban Crisis and Issues, and African Folklore. Prof. Small has also appeared on a number of network talk shows and newsmagazines. These include the Phil Donahue Show, The Rolanda Watts Show, The Geraldo Rivera Show, Matt Lauer Nine Broadcast Plaza Show, The Charlie Rose Show, Tony Brown's Journal, Like it Is with Gil Noble as well as numerous cable programs and local, national and international television and radio shows.
Prof. Small has lectured at some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the world. Among the many colleges and universities where Prof. Small has lectured at are the University of Manchester, Manchester England. University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, V.I. University of the West Indies Porte-Spain, Trinidad; University of West Indies; Kingston Jamaica, Princeton University Princeton, N.J., Harvard University Boston, Mass., Yale University, New Haven, Conn., Columbia University and New York University of New York, N.Y. to mention a few.
Prof. Small is currently conducting educational and cultural tours throughout Africa and the United States and he is also working on two books, one a collection of his lectures on Malcolm X and the other on the topic of "Post Slavery Trauma Syndrome."
Prof. James Small has been married for 32 years to Carol Tondu-Small, M.D. They have four children.