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February 20, 2008

When did the first Africans arrive to what is today known as the American continent? It is hard to know, but more likely they arrived long before the Europeans did.

The photo on the left shows a head sculpture made by the Olmec people in what is today Mexico. To many, the facial features of this sculpture represent an African man. There are 17 of these sculptures in Veracruz.

Photo by City College of San Francisco

The Olmec civilization is believed by archaeologists to be the ‘mother culture’ of Mexico, the roots of the later Maya and Aztec civilizations. They lived in the forests of the Caribbean coast of Mexico 1.200 BC- 400 BC being one of the earliest civilizations of the Americas.

The next photo shows a female standing figure, a gold statue made by 1st century BC–AD by the Tolita/Tumaco people in what is today Colombia or Ecuador. Some suggest that this statue looks very similar to those made by African civilizations around the same time or later.

Photo by Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection

Today, Afro descendants are a very important part of the societies, cultures and nations of Latin America, a region with the most important African descendant population after Africa itself. These communities share similarities and differences, but most of them are struggling to overcome racism, discrimination and social problems caused by post-colonial Latin American governments, who deny them from their rights to fully participate in the civil society.

GRUPO AFRO DESCENDIENTE is a new non-profit based in DC created to promote awareness about Afro descendant communities in the world, especially in Latin America. GA is organizing a discussion panel in collaboration with the DC Mayor’s Office of Latino Affairs and Fiesta DC, a non profit that promotes Latino culture in Washington, DC.


    Afro Descendientes en las Americas:
    Desafios y Logros

    Opening ceremony with group Tambores de San Juan (Venezuela) and a tribute to artist Allen Uzikee Nelson.

    Remarks by:

    DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (TBC)
    Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (TBC)
    DC Councilmember Kwame R. Brown (At-Large)
    DC Councilmember Jim Graham (Ward 1)
    Mercedes Lemp, Executive Director of the DC Offi ce on Latino Affairs
    Aisha Brown, cofounder of Grupo Afro Descendiente
    Roland Roebuck, Fiesta DC, Vice President


    Judith Morrison, regional director for South America and the Caribbean at the Inter-American Foundation;
    Xiomara Bolton, Howard University;
    Claris Dance, teacher at the US State Department Foreign Service Institute;
    Joshua López, Gateway Georgia Avenue Revitalization Corporation and
    Yeison Córdoba, Bell Multicultural High School.

    8:30 pm to 10:30 pm.

    Vicky Leyva and Sabor Negro with Mamauca Group (Peru)
    Sambart Dancers (Brazil)
    Alafia Dance and Drum Company (Cuba)

    There will be an art showcase by Caribbean and Afro Latino/a artists in display during the program. To be confirmed is the participation of Tangare, and Afro Colombian dance group.

    WHEN: Saturday, February 23
    6:00 pm to 11:00 pm

    WHERE: Josephine Butler Parks Center
    2437 15th St NW
    Washington, DC 20009


    This event is free and open to the public.

Hope to see you there, and please spread the word.

Afro Peruvians
Photo © LUNDU



One Comment leave one →
  1. April 26, 2017 6:13 PM

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