Did You Know About The First Black Love Story In America?

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Researchers are shedding light on what they consider the first Black love story in the U.S, with a bond that endured and prospered despite the odds.

Once upon a time during the early 1600s, Anthony and Isabella were a young African couple in love. “Anthony and Isabella were Angolan; they came from the Kimbundu-speaking, Bantu Ndongo people of the highlands surrounding the modern-day city of N’dalatando, a little over one hundred miles inland from the coastal capital Luanda,” per Humanities Washington speaker Clyde W. Ford’s research.

But tragedy struck around 1619 when they were “kidnapped and forcibly sailed across the ocean aboard three slave ships – the San Juan Bautista, the White Lion, and the Treasurer – and then sold into bondage in Virginia.”

We know this because Anthony and Isabella were first referenced on a list, enumerating “the living and the dead after the Indian massacre of colonists in 1622.”

Instead of a honeymoon, the newlyweds were forced to work as servants for Captain William Tucker, toiling away “in his tobacco fields and cypress groves.” Then around, 1623, they would go on and give birth to a son, William Tucker, whose last name was derived from the Virginian plantation owner.

When he was born, Tucker “became the first documented African child born in English-occupied North America,” the Associated Press reports.

In the 1624-1625 census, Anthony, Isabella, and their young son William Tucker were again named in an official written document, “along with 40 barrels of corn, four pistols and three swine—as part of the household of Capt. William Tucker: ‘Antoney Negro and Isabell Negro and William theire child baptized.’”

Thelma Williams is a direct descendant of Tucker, and spent more than 30 years of her life tracing her family history. “It’s important that people know we didn’t just fall out of the sky,” she told The Los Angeles Times in a 1998 interview. “We have roots here that go back more than 350 years.”

A distinction of note: while they might have struggled, this was not “struggle love.” Anthony and Isabella were not slaves—those laws didn’t appear on the books until the 1660s.

“We came as indentured servants, but for Africans, that was really just a notch above slavery,” Williams was careful to note however. “We were [essentially] on the first slave ship to come to America.”

Heartwarmingly enough, despite starting off with trials and tribulations, their story may even have somewhat of a happy ending. “The modern day Tucker family of Hampton and Newport News believes Anthony, Isabella, and William became or were free and took the last name Tucker.”

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