L.A.'s African Settlers

(FOX 11) - It's a well-documented, but often overlooked fact that 10 of the 22 adults who settled Los Angeles in 1781 had ethnic roots in Africa.

WATCH: LA's African Settlers (Part I) on YouTube

The Spanish kept very precise records about every person's racial ancestry, distinguishing--for example--between those of mixed European and and African blood and those of mixed European and Native American heritage.

WATCH: LA's African Settlers (Part II) on YouTube

The Spaniish even went as far as classifying Spaniards born in Spain as being different from Spaniards born in the New World.

All those settlers, The Pobladores as they are now known, had important roles in the growth and development of Los Angeles.

The African influence on Spanish and Mexican culture in Southern California is best known through the work of Pio de Jesús Pico, the man of mixed African and Spanish ancestry who was California's last governor under Mexican rule.

His Pico House at Olvera Street was the first three story building in Los Angeles and the city's first truly deluxe hotel. Decades later, Pico Boulevard and the city of Pico Rivera were named after him.

Today's guest is Dr. William Estrada, the former curator at Olvera Street and presently the Chairman and curator of California and American History at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park.

Information about the museum's extensive history of Los Angeles is available at www.nhm.org.

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