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[Back to Top] Contexts: Free People of Color in the Americas, 1492-1830 The history of free people of color in the Americas extends back to the beginning of the Age of Exploration.
The crew of Christopher Columbus's first expedition included a free black sailor.
As a result of their exodus, southern black communities were deprived of talented leaders, businessmen, role models, and cultural brokers at the time when they were most needed.
Most heavily concentrated in New Orleans, many worked as artisans and professionals.
Significant numbers were also found in Baton Rouge, St.
Even where their numbers were small, they made significant contributions to the economies and cultures of the communities in which they lived, and, as a group, exerted a strong influence on government policy and public opinion at a time of increasing polarization over the issue of slavery.
Nor did their story lose its relevance once the abolition of slavery had rendered all Americans legally free.