African-Americans in Texas History – The 2016 San Jacinto Symposium

Estabanico, a North African Slave, was the first documented African to arrive in Texas. He was part of the ill-fated Narvaez expedition that set sail from Spain for the New World in 1527. To make a long story – a really long story – short, Estabanico was one of only four survivors – including the famous Cabeza de Vaca – out of the hundreds that sailed. Shipwrecked on what is believed to be Galveston Island, the four men eventually walked all the way across the continent to the Pacific coast of what would become Mexico.

Millions of Africans have come to Texas since Estabanico, many forced because of slavery, and then many more because of the promise of economic prosperity. Africans arrived in Texas as part of later Spanish expeditions and also as part of Anglo settlement. They were both slaves and freemen. Many were brought here as part of Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred” as the human property of cotton farmers, merchants and craftsmen, but apparently free black families came as well. Afro-Texans fought in the Texas revolution and then helped to build towns, ports and roads while Texas was a republic.

The history of the Afro-Texan experience is often overlooked. This year, the San Jacinto Symposium will rectify that by examining the many contributions of African-Americans in the creation of both the Republic and State of Texas.

The 2016 San Jacinto Symposium:
Saturday, April 9, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The United Way Community Center
50 Waugh Drive
Houston, TX 77007



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