First free African to come to America


The first free African to come to present-day U.S. was Juan Garrido, who accompanied Juan Ponce de Leon on both of his voyages to Florida in 1513 and 1521. Like Ponce, Garrido was a conquistador.
     Garrido introduced wheat to the New World, growing the first fields in Mexico City, where he finally settled as a colonist. He was one of many Africans who fought beside Spaniards in Mexico and on Caribbean Islands. Spanish chroniclers often mention indios amigos, the friendly Indians who fought other Indian tribes on behalf of Spanish expeditions, but they rarely mention the many Africans like Garrido who joined Spanish forces as fellow conquistadors across the Americas.
     Several postings on this blog for the book Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America discuss Black history in what is now the United States specifically or the "New World" in general. Especially recommended are the postings titled "Enslaved Africans taken to Virginia in 1619" and "Pirate ship was British-owned" (both on blog page 2); "First African slave revolt in the New World" and "The 'Slave Bible'," and "Esteban is part of an exhibit in D.C." and "Africans from early history in Americas" (all on page 3); plus "Africans with Spaniards and other Europeans in the 1500s" (page 4). There are lnks on those last two cited blog entries to more complete articles.
     I'd also recommend Sherri L. Burr's 2019 book, Complicated Lives: Free Blacks in Virginia (1619–1865).
     The history of African Americans is complicated and fascinating -- and too often ignored.

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