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Forgotten Founders: The Hidden African Ancestry of Los Angeles ~ Opens February 4th

4:34 PM PST on January 25, 2016


At El Pueblo's Pico House
424 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

February 4-29, 2016
Opening Reception: February 4 at 6:00 p.m.
Exhibit Open Tuesdays-Sundays: 10:00 a.m - 3:00 p.m.
Free Admission

In 1781, a group of forty-four diverse individuals traveled north to found the City of Los Angeles. Largely forgotten, twenty-six of these city founders could trace their heritage to Africa. During its one month installment at the historic Pico House, this exhibit highlights the incredible racial and ethnic diversity of Los Angeles from its founding through the present day.

​During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the sparse population of New Spain’s Northern frontier was comprised of an intermixed community of indigenous peoples, Africans, and Europeans. Due to the region’s multifaceted racial mixtures, Spanish colonists created the casta system, a complex racial classification system. Los Angeles’ first families reflected the complicated racial backgrounds and classifications of New Spain during this period.

In order to settle the new pueblo of Los Angeles, Alta California’s lieutenant governor began recruiting from New Spain’s diverse population. According to the pueblo’s founding documents, people from a variety of racial backgrounds, including mestizo, negro, mulato, and indio, were enticed by promises of land grants in the new settlement of Los Angeles. As a result, the group that arrived in Southern California in the summer of 1781 included Pablo Rodriguez and his wife Rosalina María, who both identified as indios, as well as Luis Manuel Quintero and his wife María Petra, who identified as negro and mulata respectively. As a result, Los Angeles, today one of the world’s most ethnically and racially diverse cities, arose from a small group of settlers who traced their lineage to Spanish, African, and indigenous roots.

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