First Blacks in The Americas

The African Presence in The Dominican Republic

Urgent need for more research

One of the objectives of First Blacks in the Americas is to stimulate and encourage the initiation and production of additional research into the existing historical-archival sources that contain the bits and pieces of historical data necessary to continue reconstructing the history of black people in the Dominican Republic and the rest of the Americas, data often scattered throughout hundreds of folios or pages of manuscripts from the early centuries of modernity. Through the compiling and publicizing of some of the raw historical sources, this educational tool aims to show that it is possible for us at the dawn of the 21st century to produce new, more comprehensive knowledge about those early blacks of the Americas either through the “discovery” of long-forgotten sources or through the acute revising of those that have already been used by the few historians that began venturing into these documents around half a century ago.

There is a need for more of the funds produced and spent in our society to be assigned to and invested in the academic or scholarly formation of historical researchers with the basic skills and the thematic focus to reap the information dormant in the sources. Just as the mining of underground precious metals that still claim large investments in national and world economies often requires processing (and de-structuring) tons of mineral ore to obtain small quantities of valued metals, so reconstructing the details of the early history of our black ancestors in the Americas (and for that matter, the history of all forgotten social groups and categories) requires us to scrutinize and analyze great amounts of existing archival documentation, with the notable difference that this work produces a net constructive contribution to our culture without de-structuring any fundamental component of the healthy functioning of our societies.  

As a result of the initial research experience involved in the production of First Blacks in the Americas / Los Primeros Negros en las Américas, the CUNY DSI’s project team holds the firm conviction that if a sizable amount of funding were to be invested in the archival-level study of the historical sources of the type sampled in this website, in a relative short period of time something like a scholarly revolution of new historical knowledge could be produced that would render much ampler knowledge and understanding of the lives and experiences of the first black inhabitants of not only the Dominican Republic but all the other countries of the Americas in modern times, an advancement that could only have positive consequences for our societies. We believe the historical memory of and about black people in the Americas may still be expanded and deepened considerably and that the investment of public and private resources in this endeavor is a social and cultural imperative with potential benefits for all.