History tells stories of America being founded by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, and discovered by Christopher Columbus. While many have challenged Columbus’ high importance in the history books, a new publication reveals a wave of settlers, conquistadors and revolutionaries that came long before the Europeans. These “founders” were of African descent.
While accepted history considers Jamestown, Virginia one of the first towns established in the New World, author Christina Proenza-Coles reveals that 80 years prior, maroons created a new world for themselves in a place that would become Georgia.
The story of Africans and African Americans in early American history is mostly told through the lens of slavery minimizing their roles and contributions. In “American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World” (NewSouth Books/2019), Proenza-Coles details how Africans arrived in the Americas a century before Europeans, and for a time, migrated in much higher numbers. They were both enslaved and free; educated and laborers with positions that ranged from mariners to lawyers. She writes that the first legal dispute related to slavery was between a slave owner and an enslaved man, both black.
Proenza-Coles joins host Frank Stasio to share some of the untold history of this country and the leaders who made their way to North Carolina. Christina Proenza-Coles will be at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill Thursday, June 20 at 7 p.m.