Did You Know That California Was Named After a Black Queen?
by Kwaku Person-Lynn, Ph.D
It is well documented that of the 44 people who founded the City of Los Angeles, 26 were of Afrikan descent. What is amazing, and not taught in California schools, the majority of the founders of San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego were of Afrikan descent, or that Orange County, Beverly Hills and Malibu wer e once owned by people of Afrikan descent. The Picos, Black Spanish speaking brothers, Pio and Andres, the former twice California governor, owned San Fernando Valley, Whittier and the Camp Pendleton area.
California is in the media everyday. It is incredible most California residents know nothing about the state being named after a Black Woman. The genesis of the name begins with a story read by Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez, who conquered Mexico, killed Montezuma, ended the Aztec empire before entering Baja California, continuing his search for gold. The 17th century best-selling adventure story was written by a Spaniard named Garci Ordonez de Montalvo and published in Seville in 1510. The name of the book was “The Exploits of Esplandian” and it was written as a sequel to the popular Portuguese poem, “Amadis de Guala.” (Wanda Sabir, San Francisco Bay View). The following is an excerpt from the epic that inspired Cortez, featuring a nation composed entirely of fierce, powerful, wealthy black women. “Know ye that on the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California very near to the Terrestrial Paradise, which was inhabited with black women, without a single man among them, and that they lived in the manner of the Amazons. They were robust of body, with strong and passionate hearts and great virtues. The island itself is one of the wildest in the world on account.Their weapons were all made of gold. The island everywhere abounds with gold and precious stones, and upon it no other metal was found” . The commanding Queen Califia ruled this mythical island. Conducting an interview with John William Templeton, California historian and author of the four volume set, Our Roots Run Deep: The Black Experience In California started on the journey of digging up the history of Blacks in California through a conversation with a San Francisco radio host. “I was doing a story on Rodney King for the Mercury News, and while I was down there someone said that a black man used to own the San Fernando Valley. That was Pio de Jesus Pico (1801-1894). And then I found out that he was also the last Mexican governor of California. I didn’t know of any black governors or anything, so I called into the Ray Taliaferro show (on KGO news radio, San Francisico) and said to him, ‘Did you know that there were four black and said to him, ‘Did you know that there were four black governors of the state of California?’ He said, ‘That ain’t nothing, the whole damn state is named after a black woman.” According to the story, California was an island where only Black women lived, gold was the only metal and pearls were as common as rocks. The women were the most powerful and could be ferocious women in the world. They had beasts that were half men half birds. After mating with men, the women would feed the men to these beasts called griffins. When Cortez arrived in California, searching for this mythical queen, her influence on him was so severe, he paid tribute to this powerful Black woman “Queen Califia” by naming the state after her. California literally means, “the land where black women live”. Here painting can be found in the state capitol Calfornia Senate building in Sacramento; a mural painted in 1926 by Maynard Dixon and Frank von Sloun in the Hall of the Dons at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco; and in all places, a large painting of her resides on the wall of the Golden Dreams building at the Disney California Adventure in Orange County. Unfortunately, on the Great Seal of the State of California, we have Miniver instead of Califia, because Miniver was the Greek goddess who was born full grown, and more acceptable to the Europeans who settled in the state. None of this matters though. At the end of the day, when all the historians and anthropologists attempt to day, when all the historians and anthropologists attempt to spin this story in another direction, the conclusion will still come down to one dynamic detail: California was named for a Black Woman Queen. Kwaku Person-Lynn is the author of On My Journey Now – The Narrative And Works Of Dr. John Henrik Clarke The Knowledge Revolutionary. E-mail address: DrKwaku@hotmail.com