Mar 282007
Authors: Bob Shipton

The Collegian isn’t the only paper that has its critics.

The New York Times has been hearing a lot lately from Dr. P Sterling Stuckey, professor emeritus of history at the University of California-Riverside and a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement.

“The New York Times has been running many stories, front page stories, portraying Africa in a bad light,” he said.

So far, he says, he hasn’t heard back from them.

Sterling was the featured speaker of the 42nd annual Norman F. Furniss Lecture Series on Wednesday night. His presentation, “Slave Creativity,” explored the impact of slaves from Africa on American culture.

Sterling said that mainstream theory concerning slave culture doesn’t look at every part of it.

“Traditionally the focus (of slave culture) existed primarily in the South,” he said. “But in many respects, many aspects of slave culture did exist in the North.”

Sterling reinterprets black history by examining the relationship between politics and folk art in his books “Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory” and the Origins of Black America” and “Going Through the Storm: African American Art History.”

Crowd discussions led to the question of whether Hollywood is perpetuating the notion that blacks are woefully inept at helping themselves, with one audience member referencing the movie Black Diamond, as an example where a white man comes to a black man’s rescue.

Sterling said it happens all too often in Hollywood and in the media, pointing out media coverage of U2 singer Bono being presented as an African savior.

Fred Knight, assistant professor of history, said it was an honor to have someone of Sterling’s caliber speaking at CSU.

“He is a philosopher in the finest sense of the word,” Knight said. “One who constantly seeks out wisdom.”

Staff writer Bob Shipton can be reached at

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