Was Estevanico the first African-American in what would become the United States?the first one to set foot on it

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saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Estavanico is widely regarded to be the first person of African origin to have set foot on what would become the United States, but saying he was African-American is a bit of a misnomer.

Estavanico was an African slave who was most likely born in North Africa since many of the available historical sources mention that he was either Muslim or an “Arab black”. Eventually he ended up with his Spanish master in the Caribbean as part of an ill-fated Spanish attempt to explore and colonize the gulf coast. He and his master barely survived the expedition when it finally returned to Spanish controlled territory.

Based on what documents have survived, you could argue that he was the first African to arrive in what would become the U.S. But, since he was born in North African, he wasn’t an African-American. He had no connection, by birth or otherwise, to what would become the U.S. You could however argue that since he was a resident of the Greater Americas, he might be considered African-American by forced immigration.

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