Juan Valiente (1505 ca.–1553)

Diego de Almagro Leads First Spanish Expedition into Chile, 1535-1537. Juan Valiente is in the Expedition. “Image Ownership: Public Domain” Juan Valiente, a Spanish-speaking black conquistador, was born in Northwest Africa around 1505 and was enslaved and acquired by the Portuguese.  He was eventually purchased … Read MoreJuan Valiente (1505 ca.–1553)

Muhammed Toure / Askia Muhammad I (c. 1442-1538)

Tomb of Askia Muhammad Toure at Gao, Mali Image Ownership: Public Domain Muhammad Toure, also known Askia Muhammad I and Askia the Great, was a ruler of the Songhay (or Songhai) Empire of West Africa in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Though Muhammad’s … Read MoreMuhammed Toure / Askia Muhammad I (c. 1442-1538)

Sistema de Castas (1500s-ca. 1829)

Mestiza, Mulatto and Mulatto, ca. 1715 Image Ownership: Public Domain Sistema de Castas (or Society of Castes) was a porous racial classification system in colonial New Spain (present-day Mexico). It was a “hierarchal ordering of racial groups according to their proportion of Spanish blood.” In … Read MoreSistema de Castas (1500s-ca. 1829)

Esteban (? – 1539)

Esteban, an enslaved North African, made the first contact with the native peoples of what is now the American Southwest.  Fraught with misunderstandings, that encounter led to Esteban’s untimely demise in 1539 and prefigured the violence that would characterize the Spanish conquest and subsequent colonization … Read MoreEsteban (? – 1539)