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When Los Angeles was first established in 1781, 26 of the 46 original settlers were black or a people with a mixture of African and Spanish origins.

In 1793, Juan Francisco Reyes, a black settler, served as elected mayor of Los Angeles. A member of the 1769 Portola Expedition, Reyes would serve three terms as Mayor.

Pío Pico, California’s last governor under Mexican Rule, was Afro Mexican, Pico spent his last days in Los Angeles, dying in 1894 at the home of his daughter Joaquina Pico Moreno in Los Angeles. He was buried in the old Calvary Cemetery on North Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles, before his remains we relocated.

Blacks and people of mixed ancestry did not face legal discrimination until after California was handed over to the United States in 1848. Many white Southerners who came to California during the Gold Rush brought with them racist attitudes and ideals. In 1850, there were twelve black people registered as resident of Los Angeles.

Because many blacks were enslaved until abolition in 1865, few blacks migrated to Los Angeles before then. Due to the construction of the Santa Fe Railroad and settlement increase in 1880, increasing numbers of blacks came to Los Angeles. By 1900 two thousand one hundred and thirty-one African Americans, the second largest black population in California lived in Los Angeles.