Of the almost 11 million Africans who came to the Americas between 1500 and 1870, two-thirds came to Spanish America and Brazil. Africans and their descendants-both free and enslaved-participated in the political, social, and cultural movements that indelibly shaped their countries' colonial and post-independence pasts. Yet until very recently Afro-Latin Americans were conspicuously excluded from narratives of their hemisphere's history. George Reid Andrews seeks to redress this omission by making visible the lives and labors of black Latin Americans in their New World home. He reconstructs this heritage from the paper trail of slavery and freedom, the testimonies of black men and women, the writings of visiting African-Americans, and the efforts of twentieth-century activists and scholars. While most Latin American countries have acknowledged the legacy of slavery, the story still told is one of "racial democracy"-the supposedly successful integration of African descendants into society. From the 1970s to today, black civil rights movements have challenged that narrative and demanded that its promises of racial equality be made real.
Afro-Latin America brings that story up to the present, examining debates currently taking place throughout the region on how best to achieve genuine racial equality.