African descendants have had a presence in Texas for almost 500 years, maybe longer. The territory was the northernmost area of New Spain (Mexico) in 1528 when Esteban (Estevanico), a Moroccan Moor servant, waded ashore with a group of Spanish conquistadors near what is now Galveston Island and established himself as the first known African in what would become Texas. Since, African Americans have contributed significantly in all facets of the building of the Lone Star State -- its infrastructure, image, and culture. For that, the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture is charting every aspect of the black experience in Texas as an online encyclopedia.
Featured Calendar Post for Sep. 18-24:
Sep. 18 – On this day in 1899, a copyright was registered for Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag." The Texarkana native's ragtime composition for piano is his best known piece. More than a million copies of the tune's sheet music was sold encouraging the publication of hundreds of similar pieces as a ragtime craze swept the country. Joplin's piece was the genre's biggest hit and became the model for ragtime compositions. The name of the tune was derived from the Sedalia, Mo. social club, the Maple Leaf, where Joplin played. The piece gave Joplin a steady if unspectacular income for the rest of his life. Listen to the song here.
Special Report: Afro-Mexicans -- The History, The Culture, The Presence
In this three-part special report, the TIPHC recognizes Cinco de Mayo by looking at the history and range of issues for Mexico's "hidden" population, Afro-Mexicans -- Afro-Mestizos -- now numbering almost 1.5 million. The stories examine the overlapping cultures (food, music, religion, art, etc.) that evolved from the centuries-old presence of Africans in Mexico, beginning in the 16th century (maybe earlier), including their pursuit of official recognition by the Mexican government in the country's census, which finally came in 2015.
Click here for the entries.
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