The NYT ran an article about the fascinating geneology of Wanda Sykes, but repeated the incorrect claim that "Africans arrived in the New World in Jamestown in 1619." A slightly expanded version of my email to the author of the piece is below.
A Historical Mistake
In your fascinating article on the history of Sykes' family, the common misconception that "Africans arrived in the New World in Jamestown in 1619" is propounded.
The first documented enslaved African in what we now call the Americas was brought to Hispaniola by Juan de Córdoba of Seville in 1502 (see Dr. Carey's Slavery timeline).
Even if your intention was to describe the first Africans brought to mainland North America, the Ayllon expedition brought 100 captive Africans to the Carolina coast in 1526, and this was also the site of the first known African slave rebellion in North America. This slave rebellion succeeded, and indications are that the Africans joined with local native americans. Wherever there is slavery, indeed wherever there is oppression, there is resistance. It's telling that the first evidence we have of African enslavement on the North American mainland is also evidence of a successful slave revolt.
It's not even clear that the ship of 1619 brought the first Africans to English North America. According to the University of Houston's Digital History site, counteracting the myth of 1619: "Fact: Slaves arrived in Spanish Florida at least a century before 1619 and a recently uncovered census shows that blacks were present in Virginia before 1619." (though the site doesn't, unfortunately, provide a reference for the evidence of enslaved Africans in Florda before 1519 or for this census).
I hope you, and the NYT, can issue a correction.
Adjunct Professor of Peace Studies