Essay by MelonheadJunior High, 7th gradeA+, February 2005

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generally, persons living in the western hemisphere who are descendants of Africans, especially black Africans. African immigration to the Americas may have begun before European exploration of the region. Blacks sailed with Christopher Columbus even on his first voyage in 1492, and the earliest Spanish and Portuguese explorers were likewise accompanied by blacks--Africans who had been born and reared in Iberia. In the following four centuries millions of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa were brought to the New World as slaves. Today, their descendants form major ethnic minorities in the U.S. and several Latin American countries, and they are the dominant element in many Caribbean nations. Over the centuries, African-Americans have contributed to the cultural mix of their respective societies and thus exerted a profound influence on all facets of life in the western hemisphere.

The term African-American is especially used to refer to blacks living in North America. Other terms are sometimes used to refer to African-Americans from a particular locality, such as Afro-Brazilian or Afro-Jamaican.


The Latin American and Caribbean regions were the first areas of the Americas to be populated by African immigrants, and the majority of their descendants still live in those regions.


Most of the earliest black immigrants to the Americas were natives of Spain and Portugal--men such as Pedro Alonso Niño (1468-1505), a navigator who accompanied Columbus on his first voyage, and the black colonists who helped Nicolás de Ovando (1460?-1518) form the first Spanish settlement on Hispaniola in 1502. The name of Nuflo de Olano (b. 1490?) appears in the records as that of a black slave present when Vasco Núñez de Balboa sighted the Pacific Ocean in 1513. Other blacks served with Hernán Cortés when he conquered Mexico and with Francisco Pizarro when...