A Black Landmark Exists

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The organizers of the protest that mourned the life of George Floyd made a list of demands that included protection of black landmarks “rather than monuments to white supremacy.” This town’s 18th-century founders were actually a diverse group of peoples, including African Americans whom we celebrated in special events and programs during my years as CEO of El Presidio State Park.

A census taken of the soldiers and their families of the Spanish Presidio in Santa Barbara in 1790 listed names and racial/ethnic backgrounds. That list counted 57 who were Spanish, 26 who were Indian and Spanish, 16 who were black, 12 who were Indian, and two who were Indian, black, and Spanish.

Half the soldiers and families were people of color. Also interesting were the many interracial marriages. Only one of the Spaniards, a servant, was born in Spain — all the others were born in Mexico.

Is it time to celebrate the multiracial heritage of the Presidio?

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