African Americans and the Exploration of the New World

Elvis Elvis

Africans had settled in the New World long before the colonists arrived from England. It is possible they may have been explorers themselves. It is known they were on the ships of Spanish and Portuguese explorers. The majority of Blacks were slaves or servants. A few were free.

Pedro Alonzo Niño, who sailed with Columbus in 1492 is thought to be the first Black man to reach the shores of the West Indies. Initially, settling in the West Indies as free men or run-away slaves, Blacks outnumbered the Europeans in Puerto Rico, Cuba and along the coast of South America. They mixed with the native people and the Spaniards.

In 1565 the Spaniards established their first permanent settlement at St. Augustine, Florida. By that time Blacks and their descendants were living in the interior areas of what is now the United States. One of the most famous Black explorers was Esteban or Little Stephen. His exploration of New Mexico and Arizona prepared these areas for the Spanish conquest of the Southwest.

African Americans and the Exploration of the New World

The French explored the region now known as Canada. Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a French-speaking Black man, erected the first building in what is now Chicago, Illinois.