By Felicia J. Persaud
News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Fri. June 23, 2023: As we came together to reflect on the significance of Juneteenth this week, it is also of utmost importance to acknowledge and delve into the profound historical connection that exists between the forced immigration of Africans from the Caribbean to the state of Texas.
This often-overlooked aspect of history sheds light on the resilience, strength, and unwavering spirit of those who endured unimaginable hardships and sought liberation in the face of oppression.
Historians have revealed that many of the early enslaved individuals in Galveston were obtained from the slaving ports of Cuba in the Caribbean, which lay a mere 800 miles away. Cuba served as a significant hub for the African slave trade into Latin America during the early nineteenth century and became a prominent source of African slaves for Anglo-American colonists after 1821. This proximity to Galveston made it an accessible and favored destination for those involved in the illicit trafficking of enslaved Africans, commonly known as “blackbirders.”
One notable figure in this Caribbean-Texas connection was James Walker Fannin, an American settler, who engaged in slave trading in Georgia before moving to Texas. Fannin arrived in Texas in 1834 and soon became actively involved in the African slave trade. His first encounter with introducing Africans into Texas occurred in the summer of 1835 when he returned from Cuba with 152 enslaved individuals.
Another significant player in this historical narrative was Monroe Edwards, who ordered the transportation of 185 Africans from Cuba to Texas in February 1836. Additionally, Colonel James Morgan sent his agent to Cuba in 1835 to explore opportunities in the slave trade.
Further, reports from U.S. Consul Nicholas P. Trist in 1836 estimated that approximately a thousand Africans had departed from Cuba to Texas. British Consul William Kennedy’s estimations between 1826 and 1836 indicated the importation of around 504 enslaved African people, with a significant portion brought in by lower Brazos traders.
While the exact number of African-born captives transported from Cuba to Texas remains elusive, several notable voyages garnered attention from both Texas and U.S. officials. In 1833, during a convention, it was publicly disclosed that a vessel under foreign colors had recently arrived and departed from the Bay of Galveston, carrying a cargo of enslaved Africans from Cuba.
The first Congress of the Republic of Texas addressed the issue of smuggling and enacted legislation making it a capital offense to bring African-born captives from Cuba into Texas. This strict law drastically increased the risks associated with smuggling and likely deterred Texas enslavers from engaging in what was widely condemned as an “unholy and cruel traffic.”
By exploring and acknowledging the connection between the forced migration of Africans from the Caribbean to Texas, we will gain a deeper understanding of the intertwined histories and struggles of our shared black ancestors.
As we commemorate Juneteenth, let us honor the sacrifices of those who came before us and continue the ongoing journey towards equality, liberation, and the celebration of shared black heritage.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News. She can be reached at fe*****@ca*****.com