Gloria ArjonaThe African Diaspora Program at Skyline College hosted Dr. Gloria Arjona as she and her husband Javier Arjona presented “Black Mexico: The African Heritage in Mexico” on May 20, 2015. Dr. Arjona’s presentation focused on understanding the social and cultural contributions of African descended people in Mexico. She noted, that while it has been largely written out of textbooks, the contributions of African descended people in Mexico cannot be overstated. Examples from Dr. Arjona’s presentation ranged from what has been traditionally believed to be solely Mexican dance, to the various hierarchies determined by interracial parentage.

Students and Skyline College faculty and staff alike were captivated by the wonderful singing and guitar playing of the Arjona’s. The combination of guitar and vocal stylings were used as a tool to further highlight the similarities to and contributions of African descended people to Mexican history. This interactive presentation was further highlighted by the inclusion of images of historic Casa Paintings. Casa painting depicted how interracial marriage was viewed during the days of Spanish colonization. The Casa Paintings, after completion, would be sent back to different parts of Europe in order to show the effects of interracial parenting.

A few of the surprising highlights:

  • Mexico’s first black president, Vicente Guerrero, issued Mexico’s slavery abolition decree
  • The traditional Mexican drink agua de jamaica, has its roots in Africa
  • Juan Garrido, who was born around 1480 in West Africa is the most prominent from a small group of free Africans who traveled to the Americas during the Spanish conquest of the West Indies and Mexico in the late 15th and early 16th Centuries.  Later Juan Garrido, who became an agricultural innovator, is credited with introducing wheat harvesting to the Americas.

Overall the presentation was well received and attended. We would like to thank all those who attended.

Article by Clyde Lewis | Photo by Maryam Hadi