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Prior to the Pilgrims arriving to to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, people of African descent had been in the United States, since at least 1619. In addition, one of the early settlers of Plymouth Colony was in fact a black man. By the 1640s black Pilgrims were serving in the Plymouth Colony militia.
Free African colonists worked hard trying to build a future for their children, but it was nearly impossible, as opportunities for blacks to move up in society were few and far between. While working to improve their own lives and those of the families, in a society still dominated by the culture and economy created by slavery, free Africans also worked towards a day when one person could never own another.
From the time of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the American colonies in 1619, the enslaved persons were generally welcomed into the ranks of the local militias to counter the threat from local Native American tribes. And in fact, this practice continued, especially in the northern colonies, for more than 150 years, until George Washington took control of the Continental Army in 1775.