Alumnus and renowned scholar discusses global African presence

Megan Diskin

Renowned scholar and CSUN almunus, Dr. Runoko Rashidi, closed out Black History Month with a presentation about global African presence Thursday.

Rashidi’s presentation focused on the African presence in early European history. Rashidi showed various pieces of artwork depicting African people in countries from Russia, Spain, Germany, France and the Mediterannean region.

“In the movies the only black people you see are slaves. We have no clue the role black people play in the role of history,” Rashidi said.

Rashidi focused a portion of his presentation on the Moors in Spain.

“They were black people who converted to Islam in the eighth century who revitalized civilization,” Rashidi said.

Rashidi showed a painting from the chess book of Alfonso the Wise, a Spanish king, which showed Moors playing chess with a white servant doting on them.

A portrait of Charlotte Sophia the Queen of England during the American Revolution was also shown. There is debate between scholars over whether the royal was of African descent.

Rashidi said Alexander Pushkin, the national poet of Russia, had a vocabulary of 20,000 words. Rashidi called him the Russian equivalent to Shakespeare.

Rashidi ended the presentation and Black History Month with a call to action. He urged African-American students to not just celebrate the heritage in February, but to learn more about global African history rather than the institution of slavery.

“There’s an African proverb: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. History is your foundation,” Rashidi said.