By Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in

Like many of you, I was always told that the first Africans to arrive in what is now the United States were the “20 and odd” Africans who arrived as slaves in Jamestown, Va., from what is now the country of Angola, in 1619.

Juan Garrido (left) (Diego Duran, Historia de las Indias de Nueve Espana
e Islas de la Tierra Firme, 1581)

But this turns out not to be true. As a matter of fact, Africans arrived in North America more than acentury before both the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock and before these Angolans arrived in Virginia. What’s more, we even know the identity of the first documented African to arrive,…and more astonishing, he wasn’t even a slave. Next year will be the 500th anniversary of his arrival in Florida, and the state plans to commemorate this remarkable event.

Read more about the extraordinary Juan Garrido here.