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America’s Earliest Africans

Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. discusses two of the earliest Africans to arrive in the Americas—men who journeyed to this continent a century before the first “20 And Odd” Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619.

Juan Garrido, a free black African, joined Spanish explorers in present-day Florida in 1513. He later helped Cortez take Mexico before moving on to California in search of gold.

Twenty years later, a black explorer known as Esteban the Moor struggled to cross a Texas desert—he was just one of four survivors of a Spanish expedition that went horribly wrong. A guide and translator for his companions, Esteban and his group had walked 15,000 miles by 1536 and seen more of the North American continent did than any explorers would until Lewis and Clark.

To learn more, tune in to PBS on October 22, 2013, 8-9 pm ET, for episode one of The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Check the local listings on the broadcast schedule.

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The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is a film by Kunhardt McGee Productions, THIRTEEN Productions LLC, Inkwell Films, in assocation with Ark Media.