I never knew St. Augustine was African
Most likely a Berber, if you want to get specific. It's a shame so much art portrays him as just another white dude with a beard.
Because he has had such an impact on the Western world, it is quite understandable that almost every available portrait has depicted him as a white man. The portrait to the left I took from Wikipedia. According to Carl F. Ellis Jr., however, the portraits are inaccurate.
Ellis writes about the Gospel in Africa: "Great early scholars like Augustine, Tertullian and Origen were Black men from Africa. Augustine was a major influence on John Calvin. So the Reformation theologians have the African church to thank for a great deal of their theology."
He adds in a foot note: "Scholars B.F. Wright and M. A. Smith have confirmed that Augustine was born of African parents. Actually, Augustine, Tertullian and Origen were brown North Africans and not Black sub-Saharan Africans. They have been classified as Caucasian by some. However, if these men had been Americans they would have been classified as Black, and it is the American classification that I use here."
As I sit here, I am asking myself, Why are you writing this post? After some thought, I have a few reasons.
First, most portraits of a man that we both revere and reference do not represent the truth. Second, as I learn about African-American history, I learn more about my brothers and sisters who are [ethnically speaking] different than I am. Learning more helps me to love more.
Third, it helps me stay away from the racial superiority complex that pervades our culture. When seeing the African-American culture in its broader historical context, we learn that in every culture there are both areas to serve and to be served. I am reminded of the movie Radio. The town thought they were serving him, but it was Radio who was changing the town.