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African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an
ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. Those attributes can include common sets of traditions, an ...
consisting of
Americans Americans are the citizens and nationals of the United States of America.; ; Although direct citizens and nationals make up the majority of Americans, many dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents could also legally claim Ame ...
with partial or total ancestry from
sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically, the area and regions of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. These include West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, and Southern Africa. Geopolitically, in addition to the List of sov ...
. The term "African American" generally denotes descendants of
enslaved Africans The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of Slavery in the Americas, enslaved African people, mainly to the Americas. The slave trade regularly used the tria ...
who are from the United States. While some Black immigrants or their children may also come to identify as African-American, the majority of first generation immigrants do not, preferring to identify with their nation of origin. African Americans constitute the second largest racial group in the U.S. after
White Americans White Americans are Americans who identify as and are perceived to be white people. This group constitutes the majority of the people in the United States. As of the 2020 Census, 61.6%, or 204,277,273 people, were white alone. This represented ...
, as well as the third largest ethnic group after
Hispanic and Latino Americans Hispanic and Latino Americans ( es, Estadounidenses hispanos y latinos; pt, Estadunidenses hispânicos e latinos) are Americans of Spaniards, Spanish and/or Latin Americans, Latin American ancestry. More broadly, these demographics include a ...
. Most African Americans are descendants of enslaved people within the boundaries of the present United States. On average, African Americans are of
West West or Occident is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass. It is the opposite direction from east and is the direction in which the Sunset, Sun sets on the Earth. Etymology The word "west" is a Germanic languages, German ...
/ Central African with some European descent; some also have Native American and other ancestry. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, African immigrants generally do not self-identify as African American. The overwhelming majority of African immigrants identify instead with their own respective ethnicities (~95%). Immigrants from some
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ) ( es, El Caribe; french: la Caraïbe; ht, Karayib; nl, De Caraïben) is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some bordering both the Caribbean ...
and
Latin American Latin Americans ( es, Latinoamericanos; pt, Latino-americanos; ) are the citizenship, citizens of Latin American countries (or people with cultural, ancestral or national origins in Latin America). Latin American countries and their diasporas a ...
nations and their descendants may or may not also self-identify with the term.
African-American history African-American history began with the arrival of Africans African or Africans may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after ...
began in the 16th century, with Africans from
West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations geoscheme for Africa#Western Africa, United Nations defines Western Africa as the 16 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, ...
being sold to European slave traders and transported across the Atlantic to the
Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies, the Thirteen American Colonies, or later as the United Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British Colony, colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Fo ...
. After arriving in the Americas, they were sold as slaves to European colonists and put to work on
plantation A plantation is an agricultural estate, generally centered on a plantation house, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops, usually mainly planted with a single crop, with perhaps ancillary areas for vegetables for eating and so on. The ...
s, particularly in the southern colonies. A few were able to achieve freedom through manumission or escape and founded independent communities before and during the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution that occurred in British America between 1765 and 1791. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies formed independent states that defeated the British in the American Revolut ...
. After the United States was founded in 1783, most Black people continued to be enslaved, being most concentrated in the
American South The Southern United States (sometimes Dixie, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, the Southland, or simply the South) is a geographic and cultural List of regions of the United States#Official regions of the United Stat ...
, with four million enslaved only liberated during and at the end of the
Civil War A civil war or intrastate war is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change go ...
in 1865. During
Reconstruction Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
, they gained
citizenship Citizenship is a "relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection". Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and ...
and the
right to vote Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in representative democracy, public, political elections and referendums (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote). In some languages, and occasionally i ...
; due to the widespread policy and ideology of
White supremacy White supremacy or white supremacism is the belief that white people are superior to those of other Race (human classification), races and thus should dominate them. The belief favors the maintenance and defense of any Power (social and polit ...
, they were largely treated as
second-class citizen A second-class citizen is a person who is systematically and actively discriminated against within a state or other political jurisdiction, despite their nominal status as a citizen Citizenship is a "relationship between an individual ...
s and found themselves soon disenfranchised in the South. These circumstances changed due to participation in the military conflicts of the United States, substantial migration out of the South, the elimination of legal
racial segregation Racial segregation is the systematic separation of people into race (human classification), racial or other Ethnicity, ethnic groups in daily life. Racial segregation can amount to the international crime of apartheid and a crimes against hum ...
, and the
civil rights movement The civil rights movement was a nonviolent social and political movement and campaign from 1954 to 1968 in the United States to abolish legalized institutional Racial segregation in the United States, racial segregation, Racial discrimination ...
which sought political and social freedom. In 2008,
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Obama was the first Af ...
became the first African American to be elected President of the United States.
African-American culture African-American culture refers to the contributions of African Americans to the culture of the United States, either as part of or distinct from mainstream American culture. The culture is both distinct and enormously influential on Ameri ...
has a significant influence on worldwide culture, making numerous contributions to
visual arts The visual arts are Art#Forms, genres, media, and styles, art forms such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics (art), ceramics, photography, video, filmmaking, design, crafts and architecture. Many artistic disciplines such as ...
,
literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to ...
, the
English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England. It is named after the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic people ...
,
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some ...
,
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of res ...
,
cuisine A cuisine is a style of cooking characterized by distinctive ingredients, techniques and dishes, and usually associated with a specific culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior, institutions, and ...
, sports and
music Music is generally defined as the The arts, art of arranging sound to create some combination of Musical form, form, harmony, melody, rhythm or otherwise Musical expression, expressive content. Exact definition of music, definitions of mu ...
. The African American contribution to popular music is so profound that virtually all American music, such as
jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African Americans, African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its roots in blues and ragtime. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, it has been recog ...
,
gospel Gospel originally meant the Christian message (" the gospel"), but in the 2nd century it came to be used also for the books in which the message was set out. In this sense a gospel can be defined as a loose-knit, episodic narrative of the words a ...
,
blues Blues is a music genre and musical form which originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s. Blues incorporated spiritual (music), spirituals, work songs, field hollers, Ring shout, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narra ...
,
disco Disco is a music genre, genre of dance music and a subculture that emerged in the 1970s in music, 1970s from the United States' urban nightclub, nightlife scene. Its sound is typified by four-on-the-floor (music), four-on-the-floor beats, syncop ...
, hip hop, R&B,
soul In many religious and philosophical traditions, there is a belief that a soul is "the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being". Etymology The Modern English noun '':wikt:soul, soul'' is derived from Old English ''sāwol, sāwel''. The ea ...
and rock all have their origins at least partially or entirely among African Americans.


History


Colonial era

The vast majority of those who were enslaved and transported in the
transatlantic slave trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of enslaved African people, mainly to the Americas. The slave trade regularly used the triangular trade route and ...
were people from Central and
West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations geoscheme for Africa#Western Africa, United Nations defines Western Africa as the 16 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, ...
, who had been captured directly by the slave traders in coastal raids, or sold by other West Africans, or by half-European "merchant princes" to European slave traders, who brought them to the Americas. The first African slaves arrived via
Santo Domingo , total_type = Total , population_density_km2 = auto , timezone = Atlantic Standard Time, AST (UTC −4) , area_code_type = Area codes , area_code = 809, 829, 849 , postal_code_type = Postal codes , postal_code = 10100–10699 (Dist ...
to the San Miguel de Gualdape colony (most likely located in the
Winyah Bay The Winyaw were a Native Americans in the United States, Native American tribe living near Winyah Bay, Black River (South Carolina), Black River, and the lower course of the Pee Dee River in South Carolina. The Winyaw people disappeared as a disti ...
area of present-day
South Carolina )''Animis opibusque parati'' ( for, , Latin, Prepared in mind and resources, links=no) , anthem = "Carolina (state song), Carolina";"South Carolina On My Mind" , Former = Province of South Carolina , seat = Columbia, South Carolina, Columbia , ...
), founded by Spanish explorer Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón in 1526. The ill-fated colony was almost immediately disrupted by a fight over leadership, during which the slaves revolted and fled the colony to seek refuge among local Native Americans. De Ayllón and many of the colonists died shortly afterward of an epidemic and the colony was abandoned. The settlers and the slaves who had not escaped returned to
Haiti Haiti (; ht, Ayiti ; French: ), officially the Republic of Haiti (); ) and formerly known as Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, east of Cuba and Jamaica, and ...
, whence they had come. The marriage between Luisa de Abrego, a free Black domestic servant from
Seville Seville (; es, Sevilla, ) is the capital and largest city of the Spain, Spanish autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville. It is situated on the lower reaches of the Guadalquivir, River Gua ...
, and Miguel Rodríguez, a White
Segovia Segovia ( , , ) is a city in the autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Castile and León, Spain. It is the capital and most populated municipality of the Province of Segovia. Segovia is in the Inner Plateau (''Meseta central'' ...
n conquistador in 1565 in St. Augustine (Spanish Florida), is the first known and recorded Christian marriage anywhere in what is now the continental United States. The first recorded Africans in English America (including most of the future United States) were "20 and odd negroes" who came to Jamestown,
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
via Cape Comfort in August 1619 as
indentured servant Indentured servitude is a form of labor in which a person is contracted to work without salary for a specific number of years. The contract, called an " indenture", may be entered "voluntarily" for purported eventual compensation or debt repaym ...
s. As many Virginian settlers began to die from harsh conditions, more and more Africans were brought to work as laborers. An indentured servant (who could be White or Black) would work for several years (usually four to seven) without wages. The status of indentured servants in early Virginia and Maryland was similar to slavery. Servants could be bought, sold, or leased and they could be physically beaten for disobedience or running away. Unlike slaves, they were freed after their term of service expired or was bought out, their children did not inherit their status, and on their release from contract they received "a year's provision of corn, double apparel, tools necessary", and a small cash payment called "freedom dues". Africans could legally raise crops and cattle to purchase their freedom. They raised families, married other Africans and sometimes intermarried with Native Americans or European
settler A settler is a person who has human migration, migrated to an area and established a permanent residence there, often to colonize the area. A settler who migrates to an area previously uninhabited or sparsely inhabited may be described as a ...
s. By the 1640s and 1650s, several African families owned farms around Jamestown and some became wealthy by colonial standards and purchased indentured servants of their own. In 1640, the Virginia General Court recorded the earliest documentation of lifetime slavery when they sentenced John Punch, a Negro, to lifetime servitude under his master Hugh Gwyn for running away. In the
Spanish Florida Spanish Florida ( es, La Florida) was the first major European land claim and attempted settlement in North America during the European Age of Discovery. ''La Florida'' formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, a ...
some
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Cana ...
married or had unions with
Pensacola Pensacola () is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle, and the county seat and only incorporated city of Escambia County, Florida, United States. As of the 2020 United States census, the population was 54,312. Pensacola is the principal ci ...
, Creek or African women, both slave and free, and their descendants created a mixed-race population of
mestizo (; ; fem. ) is a term used for racial classification to refer to a person of mixed Ethnic groups in Europe, European and Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Indigenous American ancestry. In certain regions such as Latin America, it may also r ...
s and
mulatto (, ) is a Race (human categorization), racial classification to refer to people of mixed Sub-Saharan African, African and Ethnic groups in Europe, European ancestry. Its use is considered outdated and offensive in several languages, including ...
s. The Spanish encouraged slaves from the
colony of Georgia In modern parlance, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administration of the original country of the colonizers, the ''metropole, metropolit ...
to come to Florida as a refuge, promising freedom in exchange for conversion to
Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...
. King Charles II issued a royal proclamation freeing all slaves who fled to Spanish Florida and accepted conversion and baptism. Most went to the area around St. Augustine, but escaped slaves also reached Pensacola. St. Augustine had mustered an all-Black
militia A militia () is generally an army An army (from Old French ''armee'', itself derived from the Latin verb ''armāre'', meaning "to arm", and related to the Latin noun ''arma'', meaning "arms" or "weapons"), ground force or land force is a f ...
unit defending Spanish Florida as early as 1683. One of the Dutch African arrivals, Anthony Johnson, would later own one of the first Black "slaves",
John Casor John Casor (surname also recorded as Cazara and Corsala), a servant in Northampton County in the Virginia Colony The Colony of Virginia, chartered in 1606 and settled in 1607, was the first enduring English colonial empire, English colony in N ...
, resulting from the court ruling of a civil case.John Henderson Russell, ''The Free Negro In Virginia, 1619–1865''
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1913, pp. 29–30, scanned text online.
The popular conception of a race-based slave system did not fully develop until the 18th century. The
Dutch West India Company The Dutch West India Company ( nl, Geoctrooieerde Westindische Compagnie, ''WIC'' or ''GWC''; ; en, Chartered West India Company) was a chartered company of Dutch merchants as well as foreign investors. Among its founders was Willem Usselincx ( ...
introduced slavery in 1625 with the importation of eleven Black slaves into
New Amsterdam New Amsterdam ( nl, Nieuw Amsterdam, or ) was a 17th-century Dutch Empire, Dutch settlement established at the southern tip of Manhattan Island that served as the seat of the colonial government in New Netherland. The initial trading ''Factor ...
(present-day
New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over , New York City is also the L ...
). All the colony's slaves, however, were freed upon its surrender to the English.
Massachusetts Massachusetts (Massachusett language, Massachusett: ''Muhsachuweesut assachusett writing systems, məhswatʃəwiːsət'' English: , ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous U.S. state, state in the New England ...
was the first English colony to legally recognize slavery in 1641. In 1662, Virginia passed a law that children of enslaved women took the status of the mother, rather than that of the father, as under
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipres ...
. This legal principle was called '' partus sequitur ventrum''.Taunya Lovell Banks, "Dangerous Woman: Elizabeth Key's Freedom Suit – Subjecthood and Racialized Identity in Seventeenth Century Colonial Virginia"
41 ''Akron Law Review'' 799 (2008), Digital Commons Law, University of Maryland Law School. Retrieved April 21, 2009
By an act of 1699, the colony ordered all free Blacks deported, virtually defining as slaves all people of African descent who remained in the colony.William J. Wood, "The Illegal Beginning of American Slavery"
''ABA Journal'', 1970, American Bar Association
In 1670, the colonial assembly passed a law prohibiting free and baptized Blacks (and Indians) from purchasing Christians (in this act meaning White Europeans) but allowing them to buy people "of their owne nation". In the
Spanish Louisiana Spanish Louisiana ( es, link=no, la Luisiana) was a governorate and administrative district of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1762 to 1801 that consisted of a vast territory in the center of North America encompassing the western basin of t ...
although there was no movement toward abolition of the African slave trade, Spanish rule introduced a new law called ''coartación'', which allowed slaves to buy their freedom, and that of others. Although some did not have the money to buy their freedom, government measures on slavery allowed many free Blacks. That brought problems to the Spaniards with the French Creoles who also populated Spanish Louisiana, French creoles cited that measure as one of the system's worst elements. First established in South Carolina in 1704, groups of armed White men—
slave patrol Slave patrols—also known as patrollers, patterrollers, pattyrollers or paddy rollersVerner D. Mitchell, Cynthia Davis (2019). ''Encyclopedia of the Black Arts Movement''. p. 323. Rowman & Littlefield—were organized groups of armed men who m ...
s—were formed to monitor enslaved Black people. Their function was to police slaves, especially fugitives. Slave owners feared that slaves might organize revolts or
slave rebellion A slave rebellion is an armed uprising by Slavery, enslaved people, as a way of fighting for their freedom. Rebellions of enslaved people have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery or have practiced slavery in the past. A desire f ...
s, so state militias were formed in order to provide a military command structure and discipline within the slave patrols so they could be used to detect, encounter, and crush any organized slave meetings which might lead to revolts or rebellions. The earliest African-American congregations and churches were organized before 1800 in both northern and southern cities following the
Great Awakening Great Awakening refers to a number of periods of religious revival in American Christian history. Historians and theologians identify three, or sometimes four, waves of increased religious enthusiasm between the early 18th century and the lat ...
. By 1775, Africans made up 20% of the population in the American colonies, which made them the second largest ethnic group after
English Americans English Americans (historically known as Anglo-Americans) are Americans whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in England. In the 2020 American Community Survey, 25.21 million self-identified as being of English origin. The term is distin ...
.


From the American Revolution to the Civil War

During the 1770s, Africans, both enslaved and free, helped rebellious American colonists secure their independence by defeating the British in the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783), also known as the Revolutionary War or American War of Independence, was a major war of the American Revolution. Widely considered as the war that secured the independence of t ...
. Blacks played a role in both sides in the American Revolution. Activists in the Patriot cause included James Armistead,
Prince Whipple Prince Whipple (1750–1796) was an African Americans, African American slave and later freedman. He was a soldier and a bodyguard during the American Revolution under his enslaver General William Whipple of the New Hampshire Militia who granted ...
, and
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English politician and military officer who is widely regarded as one of the most important statesmen in History of England, English history. He came to prominence during the 1639 to 1651 ...
. Around 15,000
Black Loyalist Black Loyalists were people of African descent who sided with the Loyalist (American Revolution), Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War. In particular, the term refers to men who escaped enslavement by Patriot (American Revolution), Pat ...
s left with the British after the war, most of them ending up as free Black people in England or its colonies, such as the
Black Nova Scotians Black Nova Scotians (also known as African Nova Scotians and Afro-Nova Scotians) are Black Canadians whose ancestors primarily date back to the Colonial history of the United States, Colonial United States as Slavery in the United States, slaves ...
and the
Sierra Leone Creole people The Sierra Leone Creole people ( kri, Krio people) are an ethnic group of Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone Creole people are lineal descendant, descendants of freed African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and Sierra Leone Liberated African, Liberated Af ...
. Originally published by Longman & Dalhousie University Press (1976). In the
Spanish Louisiana Spanish Louisiana ( es, link=no, la Luisiana) was a governorate and administrative district of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1762 to 1801 that consisted of a vast territory in the center of North America encompassing the western basin of t ...
, Governor Bernardo de Gálvez organized Spanish free Black men into two militia companies to defend
New Orleans New Orleans ( , ,New Orleans
Merriam-Webster.
; french: La Nouvelle-Orléans , es, Nuev ...
during the American Revolution. They fought in the 1779 battle in which Spain captured
Baton Rouge Baton Rouge ( ; ) is a city in and the List of capitals in the United States, capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana. Located the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, it is the county seat, parish seat of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, E ...
from the British. Gálvez also commanded them in campaigns against the British outposts in Mobile,
Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = " Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg , seat = Montgomery , LargestCity = Huntsville , LargestCounty = Baldwin County , LargestMetro = Greater Birmingham , area_total_km2 = 135,7 ...
, and
Pensacola Pensacola () is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle, and the county seat and only incorporated city of Escambia County, Florida, United States. As of the 2020 United States census, the population was 54,312. Pensacola is the principal ci ...
, Florida. He recruited slaves for the militia by pledging to free anyone who was seriously wounded and promised to secure a low price for ''coartación'' (buy their freedom and that of others) for those who received lesser wounds. During the 1790s, Governor Francisco Luis Héctor, baron of Carondelet reinforced local fortifications and recruit even more free Black men for the militia. Carondelet doubled the number of free Black men who served, creating two more militia companies—one made up of Black members and the other of
pardo ''Pardos'' (feminine ''pardas'') is a term used in the former Portuguese colonization of the Americas, Portuguese and Spanish America, Spanish colonies in the Americas to refer to the multiracial, triracial descendants of White Latin Americans, ...
(mixed race). Serving in the militia brought free Black men one step closer to equality with Whites, allowing them, for example, the right to carry arms and boosting their earning power. However, actually these privileges distanced free Black men from enslaved Blacks and encouraged them to identify with Whites. Slavery had been tacitly enshrined in the U.S. Constitution through provisions such as Article I, Section 2, Clause 3, commonly known as the 3/5 compromise. Because of Section 9, Clause 1, Congress was unable to pass an
Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 (, enacted March 2, 1807) is a United States federal law that provided that no new slaves were permitted to be imported into the United States. It took effect on January 1, 1808, the earliest da ...
until 1807. Fugitive slave laws (derived from the
Fugitive Slave Clause The Fugitive Slave Clause in the United States Constitution, also known as either the Slave Clause or the Fugitives From Labor Clause, is Article Four of the United States Constitution#Clause 3: Fugitive Slave Clause, Article IV, Section 2, Claus ...
of the Constitution— Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3) were passed by Congress in
1793 The French First Republic, French Republic introduced the French Republican Calendar, French Revolutionary Calendar starting with the year I. Events January–June * January 7 – The Ebel riot occurs in Sweden. * January 9 &nd ...
and
1850 Events January–June * April ** Pope Pius IX returns from exile to Rome. ** Stephen Foster's parlor ballad "Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway" is published in the United States. * April 4 – Los Angeles is incorporated as a city ...
, guaranteeing the right for a slaveholder to recover an escaped slave within the U.S. Slave owners, who viewed slaves as property, made it a federal crime to assist those who had escaped slavery or to interfere with their capture. Slavery, which by then meant almost exclusively Black people, was the most important political issue in the Antebellum United States, leading to one crisis after another. Among these were the
Missouri Compromise The Missouri Compromise was a federal legislation of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located i ...
, the
Compromise of 1850 The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five separate bills passed by the United States Congress in September 1850 that defused a political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of Mexican Cession, territories acquired in t ...
, the Dred Scott decision, and
John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) * John (surname) John may also refer to: New Testament Works * Gospel of John, a title often shortened to John * First Epistle of John, often shortened to 1 John * Sec ...
. Prior to the
Civil War A civil war or intrastate war is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change go ...
, eight serving presidents owned slaves, a practice protected by the U.S. Constitution. By 1860, there were 3.5 to 4.4 million enslaved Black people in the U.S. due to the
Atlantic slave trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of enslaved African people, mainly to the Americas. The slave trade regularly used the triangular trade route and ...
, and another 488,000–500,000 Blacks lived free (with legislated limits)"Background on conflict in Liberia"
Friends Committee on National Legislation, July 30, 2003
across the country. With legislated limits imposed upon them in addition to "unconquerable prejudice" from Whites according to
Henry Clay Henry Clay Sr. (April 12, 1777June 29, 1852) was an American attorney and statesman who represented Kentucky in both the United States Senate, U.S. Senate and United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives. He was the seven ...
, some Black people who were not enslaved left the U.S. for
Liberia Liberia (), officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast. It is bordered by Sierra Leone to Liberia–Sierra Leone border, its northwest, Guinea to Guinea–Liberia border, its north, Ivory Coast to Ivory Coast ...
in West Africa. Liberia began as a settlement of the
American Colonization Society The American Colonization Society (ACS), initially the Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America until 1837, was an American organization founded in 1816 by Robert Finley to encourage and support the migration of free peo ...
(ACS) in 1821, with the abolitionist members of the ACS believing Blacks would face better chances for freedom and equality in Africa. The slaves not only constituted a large investment, they produced America's most valuable product and export:
cotton Cotton is a soft, fluffy Staple (textiles), staple fiber that grows in a wikt:boll, boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants of the genus ''Gossypium'' in the mallow family Malvaceae. The fiber is almost pure cellulose ...
. They not only helped build the U.S. Capitol, they built the
White House The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C., NW in Washington, D.C., and has been the residence of every U.S. preside ...
and other
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Logan Circle (Washington, D.C.), Logan Circle, Jefferson Memoria ...
buildings. (See
Slavery in the District of Columbia The slave trade in the District of Columbia was legal from its creation until 1850, when the trade in enslaved people in the District was outlawed as part of the Compromise of 1850 The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five separate bills ...
.) Similar building projects existed in the
slave states In the United States before 1865, a slave state was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The Stat ...
. By 1815, the domestic slave trade had become a major economic activity in the United States; it lasted until the 1860s.Marcyliena H. Morgan (2002)
''Language, Discourse and Power in African American Culture''
p. 20. Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Historians estimate nearly one million in total took part in the forced migration of this new "Middle Passage." The historian
Ira Berlin Ira Berlin (May 27, 1941 – June 5, 2018) was an American historian, professor of history at the University of Maryland, College Park, University of Maryland, and former president of Organization of American Historians. Berlin is the author of ...
called this forced migration of slaves the "central event" in the life of a slave between the American Revolution and the Civil War, writing that whether slaves were directly uprooted or lived in fear that they or their families would be involuntarily moved, "the massive deportation traumatized black people." Individuals lost their connection to families and clans, and many ethnic Africans lost their knowledge of varying tribal origins in Africa. The 1863 photograph of Wilson Chinn, a branded slave from Louisiana, like the one of Gordon and his scarred back, served as two early examples of how the newborn medium of photography could encapsulate the cruelty of slavery. Emigration of free Blacks to their continent of origin had been proposed since the Revolutionary war. After
Haiti Haiti (; ht, Ayiti ; French: ), officially the Republic of Haiti (); ) and formerly known as Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, east of Cuba and Jamaica, and ...
became independent, it tried to recruit African Americans to migrate there after it re-established trade relations with the United States. The Haitian Union was a group formed to promote relations between the countries.Taylor, Nikki M. ''Frontiers of Freedom: Cincinnati's Black Community, 1802–1868.'' Ohio University Press, 2005, , pp. 50–79. After riots against Blacks in
Cincinnati Cincinnati ( ) is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Hamilton County, Ohio, Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located at the northern side of the confluence of the Licking River (Kentucky), Licking and Ohio Rive ...
, its Black community sponsored founding of the Wilberforce Colony, an initially successful settlement of African-American immigrants to Canada. The colony was one of the first such independent political entities. It lasted for a number of decades and provided a destination for about 200 Black families emigrating from a number of locations in the United States. In 1863, during the
American Civil War The American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 26, 1865; also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States. It was fought between the Union (American Civil War), Union ("the North") and t ...
, President
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln ( ; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American lawyer, politician, and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the nation throu ...
signed the
Emancipation Proclamation The Emancipation Proclamation, officially Proclamation 95, was a presidential proclamation and executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War, Civil War. The Proclamation c ...
. The proclamation declared that all slaves in Confederate-held territory were free. Advancing Union troops enforced the proclamation, with Texas being the last state to be emancipated, in 1865. Slavery in Union-held Confederate territory continued, at least on paper, until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. While the
Naturalization Act of 1790 The Naturalization Act of 1790 (, enacted March 26, 1790) was a law of the United States Congress that set the first uniform rules for the granting of Citizenship of the United States, United States citizenship by naturalization. The law limi ...
limited U.S. citizenship to Whites only,Leland T. Saito (1998). "Race and Politics: Asian Americans, Latinos, and Whites in a Los Angeles Suburb". p. 154. University of Illinois Press the 14th Amendment (1868) gave Black people citizenship, and the 15th Amendment (1870) gave Black males the right to vote (which would still be denied to all women until
1920 Events January * January 1 ** Polish–Soviet War in 1920: The Russian Red Army increases its troops along the Polish border from 4 divisions to 20. ** Kauniainen, completely surrounded by the city of Espoo, secedes from Espoo as its own ma ...
).


Reconstruction era and Jim Crow

African Americans quickly set up congregations for themselves, as well as schools and community/civic associations, to have space away from White control or oversight. While the post-war Reconstruction era was initially a time of progress for African Americans, that period ended in 1876. By the late 1890s, Southern states enacted Jim Crow laws to enforce
racial segregation Racial segregation is the systematic separation of people into race (human classification), racial or other Ethnicity, ethnic groups in daily life. Racial segregation can amount to the international crime of apartheid and a crimes against hum ...
and
disenfranchisement Disfranchisement, also called disenfranchisement, or voter disqualification is the restriction of suffrage Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in representative democracy, public, political elections and r ...
. Segregation, which began with slavery, continued with Jim Crow laws, with signs used to show Blacks where they could legally walk, talk, drink, rest, or eat.Leon Litwack, ''Jim Crow Blues'', Magazine of History (OAH Publications, 2004) For those places that were racially mixed, non-Whites had to wait until all White customers were dealt with. Most African Americans obeyed the Jim Crow laws, to avoid racially motivated violence. To maintain self-esteem and dignity, African Americans such as Anthony Overton and
Mary McLeod Bethune Mary Jane McLeod Bethune ( McLeod; July 10, 1875 – May 18, 1955) was an American educator, philanthropist, humanitarian, Womanism, womanist, and civil rights activist. Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935, established th ...
continued to build their own
schools A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is sometimes compulsor ...
, churches, banks, social clubs, and other businesses. In the last decade of the 19th century, racially discriminatory laws and racial violence aimed at African Americans began to mushroom in the United States, a period often referred to as the "
nadir of American race relations The nadir of American race relations was the period in African American history and the history of the United States The history of the lands that became the United States began with the arrival of Settlement of the Americas, the first ...
". These discriminatory acts included racial segregation—upheld by the United States Supreme Court decision in '' Plessy v. Ferguson'' in 1896—which was legally mandated by southern states and nationwide at the local level of government,
voter suppression Voter suppression is a strategy used to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting. It is distinguished from political campaigning in that campaigning attempts to change likely voting ...
or disenfranchisement in the southern states, denial of economic opportunity or resources nationwide, and private acts of violence and mass racial violence aimed at African Americans unhindered or encouraged by government authorities.


Great migration and civil rights movement

The desperate conditions of African Americans in the South sparked the Great Migration during the first half of the 20th century which led to a growing African-American community in Northern and Western United States. The rapid influx of Blacks disturbed the racial balance within Northern and Western cities, exacerbating hostility between both Blacks and Whites in the two regions. The
Red Summer Red Summer was a period in mid-1919 during which white supremacist terrorism and racial riots occurred in more than three dozen cities across the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the Uni ...
of 1919 was marked by hundreds of deaths and higher casualties across the U.S. as a result of race riots that occurred in more than three dozen cities, such as the
Chicago race riot of 1919 The Chicago race riot of 1919 was a violent mass racial violence in the United States, racial conflict between white Americans and black Americans that began on the South Side, Chicago, South Side of Chicago, Illinois, on July 27 and ended on ...
and the Omaha race riot of 1919. Overall, Blacks in Northern and Western cities experienced systemic discrimination in a plethora of aspects of life. Within employment, economic opportunities for Blacks were routed to the lowest-status and restrictive in potential mobility. At the 1900 Hampton Negro Conference, Reverend Matthew Anderson said: "...the lines along most of the avenues of wage earning are more rigidly drawn in the North than in the South." Within the housing market, stronger discriminatory measures were used in correlation to the influx, resulting in a mix of "targeted violence, restrictive covenants,
redlining In the United States, redlining is a discriminatory practice in which services ( financial and otherwise) are withheld from potential customers who reside in neighborhoods classified as "hazardous" to investment; these neighborhoods have sig ...
and racial steering". While many Whites defended their space with violence, intimidation, or legal tactics toward African Americans, many other Whites migrated to more racially homogeneous suburban or exurban regions, a process known as
White flight White flight or white exodus is the sudden or gradual large-scale migration of white people from areas becoming more racially or ethnoculturally diverse. Starting in the 1950s and 1960s, the terms became popular in the Racism in the United Stat ...
. Despite discrimination, drawing cards for leaving the hopelessness in the South were the growth of African-American institutions and communities in Northern cities. Institutions included Black oriented organizations (e.g.,
Urban League The National Urban League, formerly known as the National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, is a nonpartisan historic civil rights organization based in New York City that advocates on behalf of economic and social justice for African Am ...
,
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E.&nb ...
), churches, businesses, and newspapers, as well as successes in the development in African-American intellectual culture, music, and popular culture (e.g.,
Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, theater, politics and scholarship centered in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, spanning the 1920s and 1930s. At the t ...
, Chicago Black Renaissance). The
Cotton Club The Cotton Club was a New York City nightclub from 1923 to 1940. It was located on 142nd Street and Lenox Avenue (1923–1936), then briefly in the midtown Theater District, Manhattan, Theater District (1936–1940).Elizabeth Winter"Cotton C ...
in Harlem was a Whites-only establishment, with Blacks (such as
Duke Ellington Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American Jazz piano, jazz pianist, composer, and leader of his eponymous Big band, jazz orchestra from 1923 through the rest of his life. Born and raised in Washington, D.C ...
) allowed to perform, but to a White audience. Black Americans also found a new ground for political power in Northern cities, without the enforced disabilities of
Jim Crow The Jim Crow laws were U.S. state, state and local laws enforcing Racial segregation in the United States, racial segregation in the Southern United States. Other areas of the United States were affected by formal and informal policies of ...
. By the 1950s, the
civil rights movement The civil rights movement was a nonviolent social and political movement and campaign from 1954 to 1968 in the United States to abolish legalized institutional Racial segregation in the United States, racial segregation, Racial discrimination ...
was gaining momentum. A 1955 lynching that sparked public outrage about injustice was that of
Emmett Till Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941August 28, 1955) was a 14-year-old African Americans, African American boy who was abducted, tortured, and Lynching in the United States, lynched in Mississippi in 1955, after being accused of offending a whi ...
, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago. Spending the summer with relatives in Money, Mississippi, Till was killed for allegedly having wolf-whistled at a White woman. Till had been badly beaten, one of his eyes was gouged out, and he was shot in the head. The visceral response to his mother's decision to have an open-casket funeral mobilized the Black community throughout the U.S. Vann R. Newkirk, wrote "the trial of his killers became a pageant illuminating the tyranny of
White supremacy White supremacy or white supremacism is the belief that white people are superior to those of other Race (human classification), races and thus should dominate them. The belief favors the maintenance and defense of any Power (social and polit ...
". The state of Mississippi tried two defendants, but they were speedily acquitted by an all-White jury. One hundred days after Emmett Till's murder,
Rosa Parks Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. The United States Congress has honored her as "the f ...
refused to give up her seat on the bus in Alabama—indeed, Parks told Emmett's mother Mamie Till that "the photograph of Emmett's disfigured face in the casket was set in her mind when she refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery bus." The
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, also known as simply the March on Washington or The Great March on Washington, was held in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. The purpose of the march was to advocate for the civil and economic righ ...
and the conditions which brought it into being are credited with putting pressure on presidents
John F. Kennedy John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK and the nickname Jack, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from 1961 until assassination of Joh ...
and Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson put his support behind passage of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 The Civil Rights Act of 1964 () is a landmark civil rights and United States labor law, labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on Race (human categorization), race, Person of color, color, religion, sex, and nationa ...
that banned discrimination in public accommodations, employment, and
labor unions A trade union (labor union in American English), often simply referred to as a union, is an organization of workers intent on "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment", ch. I such as attaining better wages and Employee ben ...
, and the
Voting Rights Act The suffrage, Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of Federal government of the United States, federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President of the United ...
of 1965, which expanded federal authority over states to ensure Black political participation through protection of voter registration and elections. By 1966, the emergence of the Black Power movement, which lasted from 1966 to 1975, expanded upon the aims of the civil rights movement to include economic and political self-sufficiency, and freedom from White authority. During the post-war period, many African Americans continued to be economically disadvantaged relative to other Americans. Average Black income stood at 54 percent of that of White workers in 1947, and 55 percent in 1962. In 1959, median family income for Whites was $5,600, compared with $2,900 for non-White families. In 1965, 43 percent of all Black families fell into the poverty bracket, earning under $3,000 a year. The Sixties saw improvements in the social and economic conditions of many Black Americans.The Unfinished Journey: America Since World War II by William H. Chafe From 1965 to 1969, Black family income rose from 54 to 60 percent of White family income. In 1968, 23 percent of Black families earned under $3,000 a year, compared with 41 percent in 1960. In 1965, 19 percent of Black Americans had incomes equal to the national median, a proportion that rose to 27 percent by 1967. In 1960, the median level of education for Blacks had been 10.8 years, and by the late Sixties the figure rose to 12.2 years, half a year behind the median for Whites.


Post–civil rights era

Politically and economically, African Americans have made substantial strides during the post–civil rights era. In 1967,
Thurgood Marshall Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an American civil rights lawyer and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States fro ...
became the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. In 1968,
Shirley Chisholm Shirley Anita Chisholm ( ; ; November 30, 1924 – January 1, 2005) was an American politician who, in 1968, became the first black woman to be elected to the United States Congress. Chisholm represented New York's 12th congressional distr ...
became the first Black woman elected to the
U.S. Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, composed of a lower body, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, and an upper body, ...
. In 1989, Douglas Wilder became the first African American elected governor in U.S. history.
Clarence Thomas Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an American jurist who serves as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination, was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to succeed Th ...
succeeded Marshall to become the second African-American Supreme Court Justice in 1991. In 1992, Carol Moseley-Braun of
Illinois Illinois ( ) is a state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. Its largest metropolitan areas include the Chicago metropolitan area, and the Metro East section, of Greater St. Louis. Other smaller metropolitan areas inc ...
became the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. There were 8,936 Black officeholders in the United States in 2000, showing a net increase of 7,467 since 1970. In 2001, there were 484 Black mayors. In 2005, the number of Africans immigrating to the United States, in a single year, surpassed the peak number who were involuntarily brought to the United States during the
Atlantic Slave Trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of enslaved African people, mainly to the Americas. The slave trade regularly used the triangular trade route and ...
. On November 4, 2008, Democratic
Senator A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Legislative chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislature. The name comes from the Ancient Rome, ancient Roman Senate (Latin: ''Senatus''), so-called as an assembly of the senior ...
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Obama was the first Af ...
defeated Republican Senator
John McCain John Sidney McCain III (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018) was an American politician and United States Navy officer who served as a United States senator from Arizona from 1987 until his death in 2018. He previously served two terms ...
to become the first African American to be elected president. At least 95 percent of African-American voters voted for Obama. He also received overwhelming support from young and educated Whites, a majority of
Asians Asian people (or Asians, sometimes referred to as Asiatic people)United States National Library of Medicine. Medical Subject Headings. 2004. November 17, 200Nlm.nih.gov: ''Asian Continental Ancestry Group'' is also used for categorical purpos ...
, and
Hispanics The term ''Hispanic'' ( es, hispano) refers to people, Spanish culture, cultures, or countries related to Spain, the Spanish language, or Hispanidad. The term commonly applies to countries with a cultural and historical link to Spain and to Vic ...
, picking up a number of new states in the Democratic electoral column. Obama lost the overall White vote, although he won a larger proportion of White votes than any previous nonincumbent Democratic presidential candidate since
Jimmy Carter James Earl Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American politician who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, he previously served as th ...
. Obama was reelected for a second and final term, by a similar margin on November 6, 2012. In 2021,
Kamala Harris Kamala Devi Harris ( ; born October 20, 1964) is an American politician and attorney who is the 49th vice president of the United States. She is the first female vice president and the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history, as well ...
became the first woman, the first African American, and the first
Asian American Asian Americans are Americans of Asian people, Asian ancestry (including Naturalization, naturalized Americans who are Immigration to the United States, immigrants from specific regions in Asia and descendants of such immigrants). Although thi ...
to serve as
Vice President of the United States The vice president of the United States (VPOTUS) is the second-highest officer in the Executive branch of the United States government, executive branch of the U.S. federal government, after the president of the United States, and ranks first in ...
.


Demographics

In 1790, when the first U.S. Census was taken, Africans (including slaves and free people) numbered about 760,000—about 19.3% of the population. In 1860, at the start of the
Civil War A civil war or intrastate war is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change go ...
, the African-American population had increased to 4.4 million, but the percentage rate dropped to 14% of the overall population of the country. The vast majority were slaves, with only 488,000 counted as " freemen". By 1900, the Black population had doubled and reached 8.8 million. In 1910, about 90% of African Americans lived in the South. Large numbers began migrating north looking for better job opportunities and living conditions, and to escape
Jim Crow laws The Jim Crow laws were U.S. state, state and local laws enforcing Racial segregation in the United States, racial segregation in the Southern United States. Other areas of the United States were affected by formal and informal policies of ...
and racial violence. The Great Migration, as it was called, spanned the 1890s to the 1970s. From 1916 through the 1960s, more than 6 million
Black people Black is a Racialization, racialized classification of people, usually a Politics, political and Human skin color, skin color-based category for specific populations with a mid to dark brown complexion. Not all people considered "black" have ...
moved north. But in the 1970s and 1980s, that trend reversed, with more African Americans moving south to the Sun Belt than leaving it. The following table of the African-American population in the United States over time shows that the African-American population, as a percentage of the total population, declined until 1930 and has been rising since then. By 1990, the African-American population reached about 30 million and represented 12% of the U.S. population, roughly the same proportion as in 1900. At the time of the 2000 Census, 54.8% of African Americans lived in the
South South is one of the cardinal directions or Points of the compass, compass points. The direction is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to both east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Pro ...
. In that year, 17.6% of African Americans lived in the
Northeast The points of the compass are a set of horizontal, Radius, radially arrayed compass directions (or Azimuth#In navigation, azimuths) used in navigation and cartography. A compass rose is primarily composed of four cardinal directions—north, east ...
and 18.7% in the
Midwest The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the Midwest or the American Midwest, is one of four Census Bureau Region, census regions of the United States Census Bureau (also known as "Region 2"). It occupies the northern central part of ...
, while only 8.9% lived in the western states. The west does have a sizable Black population in certain areas, however. California, the nation's most populous state, has the fifth largest African-American population, only behind New York, Texas, Georgia, and Florida. According to the 2000 Census, approximately 2.05% of African Americans identified as Hispanic or Latino in origin, many of whom may be of Brazilian, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Haitian, or other
Latin American Latin Americans ( es, Latinoamericanos; pt, Latino-americanos; ) are the citizenship, citizens of Latin American countries (or people with cultural, ancestral or national origins in Latin America). Latin American countries and their diasporas a ...
descent. The only self-reported ''ancestral'' groups larger than African Americans are the Irish and
Germans , native_name_lang = de , region1 = , pop1 = 72,650,269 , region2 = , pop2 = 534,000 , region3 = , pop3 = 157,000 3,322,405 , region4 = , pop4 = ...
. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, nearly 3% of people who self-identified as Black had recent ancestors who immigrated from another country. Self-reported non-Hispanic Black immigrants from the Caribbean, mostly from Jamaica and Haiti, represented 0.9% of the U.S. population, at 2.6 million."Total Ancestry Reported"
American FactFinder.
Self-reported Black immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa also represented 0.9%, at about 2.8 million. Additionally, self-identified Black Hispanics represented 0.4% of the United States population, at about 1.2 million people, largely found within the Puerto Rican and Dominican communities. Self-reported Black immigrants hailing from other countries in the Americas, such as Brazil and Canada, as well as several European countries, represented less than 0.1% of the population. Mixed-Race Hispanic and non-Hispanic Americans who identified as being part Black, represented 0.9% of the population. Of the 12.6% of United States residents who identified as Black, around 10.3% were "native Black American" or ethnic African Americans, who are direct descendants of West/Central Africans brought to the U.S. as slaves. These individuals make up well over 80% of all Blacks in the country. When including people of mixed-race origin, about 13.5% of the U.S. population self-identified as Black or "mixed with Black". However, according to the U.S. census bureau, evidence from the 2000 Census indicates that many African and Caribbean immigrant ethnic groups do not identify as "Black, African Am., or Negro". Instead, they wrote in their own respective ethnic groups in the "Some Other Race" write-in entry. As a result, the census bureau devised a new, separate "African American" ethnic group category in 2010 for ethnic African Americans. Historically, African-Americans have been undercounted in the U.S. Census due to a number of factors and biases. In the 2020 census, the African American population was undercounted at an estimated rate of 3.3%, up from 2.1% in 2010.


U.S. cities

After 100 years of African Americans leaving the south in large numbers seeking better opportunities and treatment in the west and north, a movement known as the Great Migration, there is now a reverse trend, called the
New Great Migration The New Great Migration is the demographic change from 1970 to the present, which is a reversal of the previous 60-year trend of African Americans, black human migration, migration within the United States. Since 1970, deindustrialization of ...
. As with the earlier Great Migration, the New Great Migration is primarily directed toward cities and large urban areas, such as
Atlanta Atlanta ( ) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia. It is the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia, but its territory falls in both Fulton and DeKalb counties. With a population of 498, ...
,
Charlotte Charlotte ( ) is the List of municipalities in North Carolina, most populous city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Located in the Piedmont (United States), Piedmont region, it is the county seat of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Meckl ...
,
Houston Houston (; ) is the List of cities in Texas by population, most populous city in Texas, the Southern United States#Major cities, most populous city in the Southern United States, the List of United States cities by population, fourth-most pop ...
,
Dallas Dallas () is the List of municipalities in Texas, third largest city in Texas and the largest city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, the List of metropolitan statistical areas, fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States at 7.5 ...
,
Raleigh Raleigh (; ) is the capital city of the state of North Carolina and the List of North Carolina county seats, seat of Wake County, North Carolina, Wake County in the United States. It is the List of municipalities in North Carolina, second-most ...
,
Tampa Tampa () is a city on the Gulf Coast of the United States, Gulf Coast of the U.S. state of Florida. The city's borders include the north shore of Tampa Bay and the east shore of Old Tampa Bay. Tampa is the largest city in the Tampa Bay area and ...
,
San Antonio ("Cradle of Freedom") , image_map = , mapsize = 220px , map_caption = Interactive map of San Antonio , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = United States , subdivision_type1= U.S. state, State , subdivision_name1 = Texas , s ...
, Memphis,
Nashville Nashville is the capital city of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat, seat of Davidson County, Tennessee, Davidson County. With a population of 689,447 at the 2020 United States census, 2020 U.S. census, Nashville is the List of muni ...
,
Jacksonville Jacksonville is a city located on the Atlantic coast of northeast Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of ...
, and so forth.Greg Toppo and Paul Overberg
"After nearly 100 years, Great Migration begins reversal"
''USA Today'', 2014.
A growing percentage of African-Americans from the west and north are migrating to the southern region of the U.S. for economic and cultural reasons.
New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over , New York City is also the L ...
,
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive Map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = List of sovereign states, Count ...
, and
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; es, Los Ángeles, link=no , ), often referred to by its initials L.A., is the largest city in the state of California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, located along the West Coast of ...
have the highest decline in African Americans, while
Atlanta Atlanta ( ) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia. It is the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia, but its territory falls in both Fulton and DeKalb counties. With a population of 498, ...
,
Dallas Dallas () is the List of municipalities in Texas, third largest city in Texas and the largest city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, the List of metropolitan statistical areas, fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States at 7.5 ...
, and
Houston Houston (; ) is the List of cities in Texas by population, most populous city in Texas, the Southern United States#Major cities, most populous city in the Southern United States, the List of United States cities by population, fourth-most pop ...
have the highest increase respectively. Among cities of 100,000 or more,
Detroit, Michigan Detroit ( , ; , ) is the List of municipalities in Michigan, largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is also the largest U.S. city on the Canada–United States border, United States–Canada border, and the County seat, seat of gov ...
had the highest percentage of Black residents of any U.S. city in 2010, with 82%. Other large cities with African-American majorities include
Jackson, Mississippi Jackson, officially the City of Jackson, is the Capital city, capital of and the List of municipalities in Mississippi, most populous city in the U.S. state of Mississippi. The city is also one of two county seats of Hinds County, Mississippi, ...
(79.4%),
Miami Gardens, Florida Miami Gardens is a city in north-central Miami-Dade County, Florida, Miami-Dade County, Florida. It is located north of Greater Downtown Miami, Downtown Miami with city boundaries that stretch from Interstate 95 in Florida, I-95 and Northeast 2 ...
(76.3%),
Baltimore, Maryland Baltimore ( , locally: or ) is the List of municipalities in Maryland, most populous city in the U.S. state of Maryland, fourth most populous city in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic, and List of United States cities by popula ...
(63%),
Birmingham, Alabama Birmingham ( ) is a city in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Birmingham is the County seat, seat of Jefferson County, Alabama, Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous county. As of the 2021 census estimates, Birmingham h ...
(62.5%),
Memphis, Tennessee Memphis is a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee. It is the County seat, seat of Shelby County, Tennessee, Shelby County in the southwest part of the state; it is situated along the Mississippi River. With a population of 633,104 at the 2020 Uni ...
(61%), (60%),
Montgomery, Alabama Montgomery is the capital city of the U.S. state of Alabama and the county seat of Montgomery County, Alabama, Montgomery County. Named for the Irish soldier Richard Montgomery, it stands beside the Alabama River, on the Gulf Coastal Plain, coas ...
(56.6%),
Flint, Michigan Flint is the largest Administrative divisions of Michigan#City, city and county seat, seat of Genesee County, Michigan, United States. Located along the Flint River (Michigan), Flint River, northwest of Detroit, it is a principal city within the ...
(56.6%),
Savannah, Georgia Savannah ( ) is the oldest city in the U.S. state of Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia and is the county seat of Chatham County, Georgia, Chatham County. Established in 1733 on the Savannah River, the city of Savannah became the Kingdom of Great Br ...
(55.0%),
Augusta, Georgia Augusta ( ), officially Augusta–Richmond County, is a consolidated city-county on the central eastern border of the U.S. state of Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia. The city lies across the Savannah River from South Carolina at the head of its navig ...
(54.7%),
Atlanta, Georgia Atlanta ( ) is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Georgia (U.S. state), most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia. It is the county seat, seat of Fulton County, Georgia, Fulton County, the mos ...
(54%, see African Americans in Atlanta),
Cleveland Cleveland ( ), officially the City of Cleveland, is a city in the United States, U.S. U.S. state, state of Ohio and the county seat of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Cuyahoga County. Located in the northeastern part of the state, it is situated along ...
, Ohio (53.3%),
Newark, New Jersey Newark ( , ) is the List of municipalities in New Jersey, most populous City (New Jersey), city in the U.S. state of New Jersey and the county seat, seat of Essex County, New Jersey, Essex County and the second largest city within the New Yo ...
(52.35%), Washington, D.C. (50.7%),
Richmond, Virginia (Thus do we reach the stars) , image_map = , mapsize = 250 px , map_caption = Location within Virginia , pushpin_map = Virginia#USA , pushpin_label = Richmond , pushpin_m ...
(50.6%),
Mobile, Alabama Mobile ( , ) is a city and the county seat of Mobile County, Alabama, United States. The population within the city limits was 187,041 at the 2020 United States census, 2020 census, down from 195,111 at the 2010 United States census, 2010 cens ...
(50.6%),
Baton Rouge, Louisiana Baton Rouge ( ; ) is a city in and the List of capitals in the United States, capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana. Located the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, it is the county seat, parish seat of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, E ...
(50.4%), and
Shreveport, Louisiana Shreveport ( ) is a city in the U.S. state of Louisiana. It is the third most populous city in Louisiana after New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Baton Rouge, respectively. The Shreveport–Bossier City metropolitan area, with a population o ...
(50.4%). The nation's most affluent community with an African-American majority resides in View Park–Windsor Hills, California with an annual median household income of $159,618. Other largely affluent and African-American communities include
Prince George's County ) , demonym = Prince Georgian , ZIP codes = 20607–20774 , area codes = Area codes 240 and 301, 240, Area codes 240 and 301, 301 , founded date = April 23 , founded year = 1696 , named for = Prince George of Denmark , leader_title = E ...
in Maryland (namely Mitchellville, Woodmore, and Upper Marlboro), Dekalb County and South Fulton in Georgia, Charles City County in Virginia, Baldwin Hills in California, Hillcrest and Uniondale in New York, and Cedar Hill, DeSoto, and Missouri City in Texas.
Queens County, New York Queens is a borough of New York City New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With a 2020 populatio ...
is the only county with a population of 65,000 or more where African Americans have a higher median household income than White Americans. Seatack, Virginia is currently the oldest African-American community in the United States. It survives today with a vibrant and active civic community.


Education

During slavery, anti-literacy laws were enacted in the U.S. that prohibited education for Black people. Slave owners saw literacy as a threat to the institution of slavery. As a North Carolina statute stated, "Teaching slaves to read and write, tends to excite dissatisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and
rebellion Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an established authority. A rebellion originates from a sentiment of indignation and disapproval of a situation and ...
." In 1863, enslaved Americans became free citizens during a time when public educational systems were expanding across the country. By 1870, around seventy-four institutions in the south provided a form of advanced education for African American students, and by 1900, over a hundred programs at these schools provided training for Black professionals, including teachers. Many of the students at Fisk University, including W. E. B. Du Bois when he was a student there, taught school during the summers to support their studies. African Americans were very concerned to provide quality education for their children, but White supremacy limited their ability to participate in educational policymaking on the political level. State governments soon moved to undermine their citizenship by restricting their right to vote. By the late 1870s, Blacks were disenfranchised and segregated across the American South. White politicians in Mississippi and other states withheld financial resources and supplies from Black schools. Nevertheless, the presence of Black teachers, and their engagement with their communities both inside and outside the classroom, ensured that Black students had access to education despite these external constraints. During World War II, demands for unity and racial tolerance on the home front provided an opening for the first Black history curriculum in the country. For example, during the early 1940s, Madeline Morgan, a Black teacher in the Chicago public schools, created a curriculum for students in grades one through eight highlighting the contributions of Black people to the history of the United States. At the close of the war, Chicago's Board of Education downgraded the curriculum's status from mandatory to optional. Predominantly Black schools for kindergarten through twelfth grade students were common throughout the U.S. before the 1970s. By 1972, however, desegregation efforts meant that only 25% of Black students were in schools with more than 90% non-White students. However, since then, a trend towards re-segregation affected communities across the country: by 2011, 2.9 million African-American students were in such overwhelmingly minority schools, including 53% of Black students in school districts that were formerly under desegregation orders. As late as 1947, about one third of African Americans over 65 were considered to lack the literacy to read and write their own names. By 1969,
illiteracy Literacy in its broadest sense describes "particular ways of thinking about and doing reading and writing" with the purpose of understanding or expressing thoughts or ideas in Writing, written form in some specific context of use. In other wo ...
as it had been traditionally defined, had been largely eradicated among younger African Americans. U.S. Census surveys showed that by 1998, 89 percent of African Americans aged 25 to 29 had completed a high-school education, less than Whites or Asians, but more than Hispanics. On many college entrance, standardized tests and grades, African Americans have historically lagged behind Whites, but some studies suggest that the achievement gap has been closing. Many policy makers have proposed that this gap can and will be eliminated through policies such as affirmative action, desegregation, and multiculturalism. Between 1995 and 2009, freshmen college enrollment for African Americans increased by 73 percent and only 15 percent for Whites. Black women are enrolled in college more than any other race and gender group, leading all with 9.7% enrolled according to the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau. The average high school graduation rate of Blacks in the United States has steadily increased to 71% in 2013. Separating this statistic into component parts shows it varies greatly depending upon the state and the school district examined. 38% of Black males graduated in the state of New York but in Maine 97% graduated and exceeded the White male graduation rate by 11 percentage points. In much of the southeastern United States and some parts of the southwestern United States the graduation rate of White males was in fact below 70% such as in Florida where 62% of White males graduated from high school. Examining specific school districts paints an even more complex picture. In the Detroit school district the graduation rate of Black males was 20% but 7% for White males. In the New York City school district 28% of Black males graduate from high school compared to 57% of White males. In Newark County 76% of Black males graduated compared to 67% for White males. Further academic improvement has occurred in 2015. Roughly 23% of all Blacks have bachelor's degrees. In 1988, 21% of Whites had obtained a bachelor's degree versus 11% of Blacks. In 2015, 23% of Blacks had obtained a bachelor's degree versus 36% of Whites. Foreign born Blacks, 9% of the Black population, made even greater strides. They exceed native born Blacks by 10 percentage points.
College Board The College Board is an American not-for-profit organization, nonprofit organization that was formed in December 1899 as the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) to expand access to higher education. While the College Board is not an assoc ...
, which runs the official college-level
advanced placement Advanced Placement (AP) is a program in the United States and Canada created by the College Board which offers college-level curriculum, curricula and examinations to high school students. American colleges and universities may grant placement ...
(AP) programs in American high schools, have has received criticism in recent years that its curricula have focused too much on Euro-centric history. In 2020, College Board reshaped some curricula among history-based courses to further reflect the
African diaspora The African diaspora is the worldwide collection of communities descended from native Africans or List of ethnic groups of Africa, people from Africa, predominantly in the Americas. The term most commonly refers to the descendants of the West ...
. In 2021, College Board announced it would be piloting an AP African American Studies course between 2022 and 2024. The course is expected to launch in 2024.


Historically Black colleges and universities

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which were founded when segregated institutions of higher learning did not admit African Americans, continue to thrive and educate students of all races today. There are 101 HBCUs representing three percent of the nation's colleges and universities with the majority established in the
Southeast The points of the compass are a set of horizontal, Radius, radially arrayed compass directions (or Azimuth#In navigation, azimuths) used in navigation and cartography. A compass rose is primarily composed of four cardinal directions—north, east ...
. HBCUs have been largely responsible for establishing and expanding the African-American middle-class by providing opportunities not usually given to African Americans.


Economic status

African Americans have benefited from the advances made during the
civil rights era The civil rights movement was a nonviolent social and political movement and campaign from 1954 to 1968 in the United States to abolish legalized institutional Racial segregation in the United States, racial segregation, Racial discrimination ...
. The racial disparity in poverty rates has narrowed. In the first quarter of 2021, 45.1% of African Americans owned their homes, compared to 65.3% of all Americans. The poverty rate among African Americans has decreased from 24.7% in 2004 to 18.8% in 2020, compared to 10.5% for all Americans. African Americans have a combined buying power of over $892 billion currently and likely over $1.1 trillion by 2012. In 2002, African American-owned businesses accounted for 1.2 million of the US's 23 million businesses. African American-owned businesses account for approximately 2 million US businesses. Black-owned businesses experienced the largest growth in number of businesses among minorities from 2002 to 2011. Twenty-five percent of Blacks had white-collar occupations (management, professional, and related fields) in 2000, compared with 33.6% of Americans overall. In 2001, over half of African-American households of married couples earned $50,000 or more. Although in the same year African Americans were over-represented among the nation's poor, this was directly related to the disproportionate percentage of African-American families headed by single women; such families are collectively poorer, regardless of ethnicity. In 2006, the median earnings of African-American men was more than Black and non-Black American women overall, and in all educational levels. At the same time, among American men, income disparities were significant; the median income of African-American men was approximately 76 cents for every dollar of their European American counterparts, although the gap narrowed somewhat with a rise in educational level. Overall, the median earnings of African-American men were 72 cents for every dollar earned of their Asian American counterparts, and $1.17 for every dollar earned by Hispanic men. On the other hand, by 2006, among American women with post-secondary education, African-American women have made significant advances; the median income of African-American women was more than those of their Asian-, European- and Hispanic American counterparts with at least some college education. The U.S.
public sector The public sector, also called the state sector, is the part of the economy composed of both public services and public enterprises. Public sectors include the public goods and governmental services such as the military, law enforcement, infra ...
is the single most important source of employment for African Americans. During 2008–2010, 21.2% of all Black workers were public employees, compared with 16.3% of non-Black workers. Both before and after the onset of the
Great Recession The Great Recession was a period of marked general decline, i.e. a recession, observed in national economies globally that occurred from late 2007 into 2009. The scale and timing of the recession varied from country to country (see map). At t ...
, African Americans were 30% more likely than other workers to be employed in the public sector. The public sector is also a critical source of decent-paying jobs for Black Americans. For both men and women, the median wage earned by Black employees is significantly higher in the public sector than in other industries. In 1999, the median income of African-American families was $33,255 compared to $53,356 of European Americans. In times of economic hardship for the nation, African Americans suffer disproportionately from job loss and
underemployment Underemployment is the underuse of a worker because a employment, job does not use the worker's skills, is part-time, or leaves the worker idle. Examples include holding a part-time job despite desiring full-time work, and overqualification, in ...
, with the Black underclass being hardest hit. The phrase "last hired and first fired" is reflected in the
Bureau of Labor Statistics The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a unit of the United States Department of Labor. It is the principal fact-finding agency for the U.S. government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics and serves as a principal agency of ...
unemployment figures. Nationwide, the October 2008 unemployment rate for African Americans was 11.1%, while the nationwide rate was 6.5%. The income gap between Black and White families is also significant. In 2005, employed Blacks earned 65% of the wages of Whites, down from 82% in 1975. ''The New York Times'' reported in 2006 that in
Queens Queens is a Boroughs of New York City, borough of New York City, coextensive with Queens County, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. Located on Long Island, it is the largest New York City borough by area. It is bordered by the boro ...
, New York, the median income among African-American families exceeded that of White families, which the newspaper attributed to the growth in the number of two-parent Black families. It noted that Queens was the only county with more than 65,000 residents where that was true. In 2011, it was reported that 72% of Black babies were born to unwed mothers. The poverty rate among single-parent Black families was 39.5% in 2005, according to Walter E. Williams, while it was 9.9% among married-couple Black families. Among White families, the respective rates were 26.4% and 6% in poverty. Collectively, African Americans are more involved in the American political process than other minority groups in the United States, indicated by the highest level of voter registration and participation in elections among these groups in 2004. African Americans also have the highest level of Congressional representation of any minority group in the U.S.


Politics

Since the mid 20th century, a large majority of African Americans support the Democratic Party. In the 2020 Presidential election, 91% of African-American voters supported Democrat
Joe Biden Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. ( ; born November 20, 1942) is an American politician who is the 46th and current president of the United States. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, he previously served as the 47th ...
, while 8% supported Republican
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician, media personality, and businessman who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Trump graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pe ...
. Although there is an African-American lobby in foreign policy, it has not had the impact that African-American organizations have had in domestic policy. Many African Americans were excluded from electoral politics in the decades following the end of Reconstruction. For those that could participate, until the
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, Public works, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States between 1933 and 1939. Major federal programs agencies included the C ...
, African Americans were supporters of the Republican Party because it was Republican President Abraham Lincoln who helped in granting freedom to American slaves; at the time, the Republicans and Democrats represented the sectional interests of the
North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west. ''North'' is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating Direction (geometry), direction or geography. Etymology T ...
and
South South is one of the cardinal directions or Points of the compass, compass points. The direction is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to both east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Pro ...
, respectively, rather than any specific ideology, and both
conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
and liberal were represented equally in both parties. The African-American trend of voting for Democrats can be traced back to the 1930s during the
Great Depression The Great Depression (19291939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States. The Financial contagion, ...
, when Franklin D. Roosevelt's
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, Public works, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States between 1933 and 1939. Major federal programs agencies included the C ...
program provided economic relief to African Americans. Roosevelt's New Deal coalition turned the Democratic Party into an organization of the working class and their liberal allies, regardless of region. The African-American vote became even more solidly Democratic when Democratic presidents
John F. Kennedy John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK and the nickname Jack, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from 1961 until assassination of Joh ...
and Lyndon B. Johnson pushed for civil rights legislation during the 1960s. In 1960, nearly a third of African Americans voted for Republican
Richard Nixon Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913April 22, 1994) was the 37th president of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. A member of the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, he previously served as a United States House ...
.


Black national anthem

" Lift Every Voice and Sing" is often referred to as the Black national anthem in the United States. In 1919, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had dubbed it the "Negro national anthem" for its power in voicing a cry for liberation and affirmation for African American people.


Sexuality

According to a Gallup survey, 4.6% of Black or African-Americans self-identified as
LGBT ' is an Acronym, initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. In use since the 1990s, the initialism, as well as some of its common variants, functions as an Hyponymy and hypernymy, umbrella term for Sexuality and gende ...
in 2016, while the total portion of American adults in all ethnic groups identifying as LGBT was 4.1% in 2016.


Health


General

The life expectancy for Black men in 2008 was 70.8 years. Life expectancy for Black women was 77.5 years in 2008. In 1900, when information on Black life expectancy started being collated, a Black man could expect to live to 32.5 years and a Black woman 33.5 years. In 1900, White men lived an average of 46.3 years and White women lived an average of 48.3 years. African-American life expectancy at birth is persistently five to seven years lower than
European Americans European Americans (also referred to as Euro-Americans) are Americans of Ethnic groups of Europe, European ancestry. This term includes people who are descended from the first European settlers in the United States as well as people who are desc ...
. Black men have shorter lifespans than any other group in the US besides Native American men. Black people have higher rates of
obesity Obesity is a medical condition, sometimes considered a disease, in which excess Adipose tissue, body fat has accumulated to such an extent that it may negatively affect health. People are classified as obese when their body mass index (BMI) ...
,
diabetes Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by a high blood sugar level ( hyperglycemia) over a prolonged period of time. Symptoms often include frequent urination, increased thirst and increase ...
, and
hypertension Hypertension (HTN or HT), also known as high blood pressure (HBP), is a Chronic condition, long-term Disease, medical condition in which the blood pressure in the artery, arteries is persistently elevated. High blood pressure usually does not ...
than the U.S. average. For adult Black men, the rate of obesity was 31.6% in 2010. For adult Black women, the rate of obesity was 41.2% in 2010. African Americans have higher rates of mortality than any other racial or ethnic group for 8 of the top 10 causes of death. In 2013, among men, Black men had the highest rate of getting cancer, followed by White, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander (A/PI), and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) men. Among women, White women had the highest rate of getting cancer, followed by Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women. African Americans also have higher prevalence and incidence of Alzheimer's disease compared to the overall average. Violence has an impact upon African-American life expectancy. A report from the U.S. Department of Justice states "In 2005, homicide victimization rates for blacks were 6 times higher than the rates for whites".Homicide trends in the U.S.
, U.S. Department of Justice
The report also found that "94% of black victims were killed by blacks." Black boys and men age 15–44 are the only race/sex category for which homicide is a top-five cause of death. In December 2020, African Americans were less likely to be vaccinated against
COVID-19 Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by a virus, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first known case was COVID-19 pandemic in Hubei, identified in Wuhan, China, in December ...
due to mistrust in the U.S. medical system related to decades of abuses and anti-black treatment. From 2021 to 2022, there was an increase in African Americans who became vaccinated. Still, in 2022, COVID-19 complications became the third leading cause of death for African Americans.


Sexual health

According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the National public health institutes, national public health agency of the United States. It is a Federal agencies of the United States, United States federal agency, under the United S ...
, African Americans have higher rates of
sexually transmitted infections Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the older term venereal diseases, are infections that are Transmission (medicine), spread by Human sexual activity, sexual activity, especi ...
(STIs) compared to Whites, with 5 times the rates of
syphilis Syphilis () is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium ''Treponema pallidum'' subspecies ''pallidum''. The signs and symptoms of syphilis vary depending in which of the four stages it presents (primary, secondary, latent, and ...
and
chlamydia Chlamydia, or more specifically a chlamydia infection, is a sexually transmitted disease, sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium ''Chlamydia trachomatis''. Most people who are infected have no symptoms. When symptoms do appear t ...
, and 7.5 times the rate of
gonorrhea Gonorrhea, colloquially known as the clap, is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium ''Neisseria gonorrhoeae''. Infection may involve the genitals, mouth, or rectum. Infected men may experience Dysuria, pain or burning ...
. The disproportionately high incidence of HIV/AIDS among African-Americans has been attributed to
homophobic Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitude (psychology), attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay or bisexual. It has been defined as contempt, prejudice, aversion, h ...
influences and lack of access to proper healthcare. The prevalence of
HIV/AIDS Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a retrovirus. Following initial infection an individual ma ...
among Black men is seven times higher than the prevalence for White men, and Black men are more than nine times as likely to die from HIV/AIDS-related illness than White men.


Mental health

African Americans have several barriers for accessing mental health services.
Counseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. This is a list of co ...
has been frowned upon and distant in utility and proximity to many people in the African American community. In 2004, a qualitative research study explored the disconnect with African Americans and mental health. The study was conducted as a semi-structured discussion which allowed the focus group to express their opinions and life experiences. The results revealed a couple key variables that create barriers for many African American communities to seek mental health services such as the stigma, lack of four important necessities; trust, affordability, cultural understanding and impersonal services. Historically, many African American communities did not seek counseling because religion was a part of the family values. African American who have a faith background are more likely to seek prayer as a coping mechanism for mental issues rather than seeking professional mental health services. In 2015 a study concluded, African Americans with high value in religion are less likely to utilize mental health services compared to those who have low value in religion. Most counseling approaches are
westernized Westernization (or Westernisation), also Europeanisation or occidentalization (from the ''Occident''), is a process whereby Society, societies come under or adopt Western culture in areas such as Manufacturing, industry, technology, science, educ ...
and do not fit within the African American culture. African American families tend to resolve concerns within the family, and it is viewed by the family as a strength. On the other hand, when African Americans seek counseling, they face a social backlash and are criticized. They may be labeled "crazy", viewed as weak, and their pride is diminished. Because of this, many African Americans instead seek mentorship within communities they trust. Terminology is another barrier in relation to African Americans and mental health. There is more stigma on the term ''
psychotherapy Psychotherapy (also psychological therapy, talk therapy, or talking therapy) is the use of Psychology, psychological methods, particularly when based on regular Conversation, personal interaction, to help a person change behavior, increase hap ...
'' versus counseling. In one study, psychotherapy is associated with mental illness whereas counseling approaches problem-solving, guidance and help. More African Americans seek assistance when it is called counseling and not psychotherapy because it is more welcoming within the cultural and community. Counselors are encouraged to be aware of such barriers for the well-being of African American clients. Without cultural competency training in health care, many African Americans go unheard and misunderstood. Although
suicide Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death Death is the Irreversible process, irreversible cessation of all biological process, biological functions that sustain an organism. For organisms with a brain, death can also ...
is a top-10 cause of death for men overall in the US, it is not a top-10 cause of death for Black men.


Genetics


Genome-wide studies

Recent surveys of African Americans using a genetic testing service have found varied ancestries which show different tendencies by region and sex of ancestors. These studies found that on average, African Americans have 73.2–82.1%
West African West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations geoscheme for Africa#Western Africa, United Nations defines Western Africa as the 16 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, ...
, 16.7%–24% European, and 0.8–1.2% Native American genetic ancestry, with large variation between individuals. Genetics websites themselves have reported similar ranges, with some finding 1 or 2 percent Native American ancestry and Ancestry.com reporting an outlying percentage of European ancestry among African Americans, 29%. According to a genome-wide study by Bryc et al. (2009), the mixed ancestry of African Americans in varying ratios came about as the result of sexual contact between West/Central Africans (more frequently females) and Europeans (more frequently males). Consequently, the 365 African Americans in their sample have a genome-wide average of 78.1% West African ancestry and 18.5% European ancestry, with large variation among individuals (ranging from 99% to 1% West African ancestry). The West African ancestral component in African Americans is most similar to that in present-day speakers from the non- Bantu branches of the Niger-Congo (Niger-Kordofanian) family. Correspondingly, Montinaro et al. (2014) observed that around 50% of the overall ancestry of African Americans traces back to the Niger-Congo-speaking Yoruba of southwestern
Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, Nàìjíríà, pcm, Naijá , ff, Naajeeriya, kcg, Naijeriya officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of G ...
and southern
Benin Benin ( , ; french: Bénin , ff, Benen), officially the Republic of Benin (french: République du Bénin), and formerly Republic of Dahomey, Dahomey, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, Burki ...
, reflecting the centrality of this West African region in the Atlantic Slave Trade. The next most frequent ancestral component found among African Americans was derived from Great Britain, in keeping with historical records. It constitutes a little over 10% of their overall ancestry, and is most similar to the Northwest European ancestral component also carried by
Barbadians Barbadians or Bajans (pronounced ) are people who are identified with the country of Barbados, by being citizens or their descendants in the Barbadian diaspora. The connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Barba ...
. Zakharaia et al. (2009) found a similar proportion of Yoruba associated ancestry in their African-American samples, with a minority also drawn from Mandenka and Bantu populations. Additionally, the researchers observed an average European ancestry of 21.9%, again with significant variation between individuals. Bryc et al. (2009) note that populations from other parts of the continent may also constitute adequate proxies for the ancestors of some African-American individuals; namely, ancestral populations from
Guinea Bissau Guinea-Bissau ( ; pt, Guiné-Bissau; ff, italic=no, 𞤘𞤭𞤲𞤫 𞤄𞤭𞤧𞤢𞥄𞤱𞤮, Gine-Bisaawo, script=Adlm; Mandinka language, Mandinka: ''Gine-Bisawo''), officially the Republic of Guinea-Bissau ( pt, República da Guiné- ...
,
Senegal Senegal,; Wolof language, Wolof: ''Senegaal''; Pulaar language, Pulaar: 𞤅𞤫𞤲𞤫𞤺𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭 (Senegaali); Arabic language, Arabic: السنغال ''As-Sinighal'') officially the Republic of Senegal,; Wolof language, Wolof: ''R ...
and
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone,)]. officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. It is bordered by Liberia to the southeast and Guinea surrounds the northern half of the nation. Covering a total area of , Sierra ...
in West Africa and
Angola , national_anthem = " Angola Avante"() , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Luanda , religion = , religion_year = 2020 , religion_ref = , coordina ...
in Southern Africa. Altogether, genetic studies suggest that African Americans are a genetically diverse people. According to DNA analysis led in 2006 by Penn State geneticist Mark D. Shriver, around 58 percent of African Americans have at least 12.5% European ancestry (equivalent to one European great-grandparent and his/her forebears), 19.6 percent of African Americans have at least 25% European ancestry (equivalent to one European grandparent and his/her forebears), and 1 percent of African Americans have at least 50% European ancestry (equivalent to one European parent and his/her forebears). According to Shriver, around 5 percent of African Americans also have at least 12.5% Native American ancestry (equivalent to one Native American great-grandparent and his/her forebears). Research suggests that Native American ancestry among people who identify as African American is a result of relationships that occurred soon after slave ships arrived in the American colonies, and European ancestry is of more recent origin, often from the decades before the Civil War.


Y-DNA

Africans bearing the E-V38 (E1b1a) likely traversed across the
Sahara , photo = Sahara real color.jpg , photo_caption = The Sahara taken by Apollo 17 astronauts, 1972 , map = , map_image = , location = , country = , country1 = , ...
, from
east East or Orient is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the four main compass directions: north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials N, E, S, and W respectively. Relat ...
to
west West or Occident is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass. It is the opposite direction from east and is the direction in which the Sunset, Sun sets on the Earth. Etymology The word "west" is a Germanic languages, German ...
, approximately 19,000 years ago. E-M2 (E1b1a1) likely originated in West Africa or Central Africa. According to a
Y-DNA The Y chromosome is one of two sex chromosomes (allosomes) in therian mammals, including humans, and many other animals. The other is the X chromosome. Y is normally the Sex chromosome#Sex determination, sex-determining chromosome in many species, ...
study by Sims et al. (2007), the majority (≈60%) of African Americans belong to various subclades of the E-M2 (E1b1a1, formerly E3a) paternal haplogroup. This is the most common genetic paternal lineage found today among West/Central African males, and is also a signature of the historical Bantu migrations. The next most frequent Y-DNA haplogroup observed among African Americans is the R1b clade, which around 15% of African Americans carry. This lineage is most common today among Northwestern European males. The remaining African Americans mainly belong to the paternal haplogroup I (≈7%), which is also frequent in Northwestern Europe.


mtDNA

According to an
mtDNA Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA or mDNA) is the DNA located in mitochondrion, mitochondria, cellular organelles within eukaryotic cells that convert chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Mit ...
study by Salas et al. (2005), the maternal lineages of African Americans are most similar to haplogroups that are today especially common in West Africa (>55%), followed closely by West-Central Africa and Southwestern Africa (<41%). The characteristic West African haplogroups L1b, L2b,c,d, and L3b,d and West-Central African haplogroups L1c and L3e in particular occur at high frequencies among African Americans. As with the paternal DNA of African Americans, contributions from other parts of the continent to their maternal gene pool are insignificant.


Social status

Formal political, economic and social discrimination against minorities has been present throughout American history. Leland T. Saito, Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the
University of Southern California , mottoeng = "Let whoever earns the palm bear it" , religious_affiliation = Nonsectarian—historically Methodist Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related Christian denomination, denominations of ...
, writes, "Political rights have been circumscribed by race, class and gender since the founding of the United States, when the right to vote was restricted to White men of property. Throughout the history of the United States race has been used by Whites for legitimizing and creating difference and social, economic and political exclusion." Although they have gained a greater degree of social equality since the civil rights movement, African Americans have remained stagnant economically, which has hindered their ability to break into the middle class and beyond. As of 2020, the racial wealth gap between Whites and Blacks remains as large as it was in 1968, with the typical net worth of a White household equivalent to that of 11.5 black households. Despite this, African Americans have increased employment rates and gained representation in the highest levels of American government in the post–civil rights era. However, widespread
racism Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority of one Race (human categorization), race over another. It may also mean prejudice, d ...
remains an issue that continues to undermine the development of social status.


Economic issues

One of the most serious and long-standing issues within African-American communities is poverty. Poverty is associated with higher rates of marital stress and dissolution, physical and
mental health Mental health encompasses emotional, psychological, and social well-being, influencing cognition Cognition refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It enc ...
problems,
disability Disability is the experience of any condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain activities or have equitable access within a given society. Disabilities may be Cognitive disability, cognitive, Developmental disability, dev ...
,
cognitive deficit Cognitive deficit is an inclusive term to describe any characteristic that acts as a barrier to the cognition process. The term may describe * deficits in overall intelligence (as with intellectual disabilities), * specific and restricted defi ...
s, low educational attainment, and crime. In 2004, almost 25% of African-American families lived below the poverty level. In 2007, the average income for African Americans was approximately $34,000, compared to $55,000 for Whites. African Americans experience a higher rate of unemployment than the general population. African Americans have a long and diverse history of business ownership. Although the first African-American business is unknown, slaves captured from West Africa are believed to have established commercial enterprises as peddlers and skilled craftspeople as far back as the 17th century. Around 1900, Booker T. Washington became the most famous proponent of African-American businesses. His critic and rival W. E. B. DuBois also commended business as a vehicle for African-American advancement.


Policing and criminal justice

Forty percent of prison inmates are African American. African American males are more likely to be killed by police when compared to other races. This is one of the factors that led to the creation of the
Black Lives Matter Black Lives Matter (abbreviated BLM) is a Decentralization, decentralized political and social movement that seeks to highlight racism, discrimination, and Racial inequality in the United States, racial inequality experienced by black pe ...
movement in 2013. A historical issue in the U.S. where women have weaponized their White privilege in the country by reporting on Black people, often instigating racial violence, White women calling the police on Black people became widely publicized in 2020. In African-American culture there is a long history of calling a meddlesome White woman by a certain name, while ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gu ...
'' called 2020 "the year of Karen". Although in the last decade Black youth have had lower rates of
cannabis ''Cannabis'' () is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. The number of species within the genus is disputed. Three species may be recognized: ''Cannabis sativa'', ''Cannabis indica, C. indica'', and ''Cannabis ruderalis, ...
(marijuana) consumption than Whites of the same age, they have disproportionately higher arrest rates than Whites: in 2010, for example, Blacks were 3.73 times as likely to get arrested for using cannabis than Whites, despite not significantly more frequently being users.


Social issues

After over 50 years, marriage rates for all Americans began to decline while divorce rates and out-of-wedlock births have climbed. These changes have been greatest among African Americans. After more than 70 years of racial parity Black marriage rates began to fall behind Whites.
Single-parent A single parent is a person who has a child or children but does not have a spouse or live-in partner to assist in the upbringing or support of the child. Reasons for becoming a single parent include divorce, break-up, abandonment, becoming wi ...
households have become common, and according to U.S. census figures released in January 2010, only 38 percent of Black children live with both their parents. The first ever anti-miscegenation law was passed by the
Maryland General Assembly The Maryland General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Maryland that convenes within the State House in Annapolis. It is a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided into two separate Deliberative ass ...
in 1691, criminalizing interracial marriage. In a speech in
Charleston, Illinois Charleston is a city in, and the county seat of, Coles County, Illinois, Coles County, Illinois, United States. The population was 17,286, as of the 2020 census. The city is home to Eastern Illinois University and has close ties with its neighbo ...
in 1858,
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln ( ; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American lawyer, politician, and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the nation throu ...
stated, "I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people". By the late 1800s, 38 US states had anti-miscegenation statutes. By 1924, the ban on interracial marriage was still in force in 29 states. While interracial marriage had been legal in California since 1948, in 1957 actor Sammy Davis Jr. faced a backlash for his involvement with White actress
Kim Novak Marilyn Pauline "Kim" Novak (born February 13, 1933) is an American retired film and television actress and painter. Novak began her career in 1954 after signing with Columbia Pictures and quickly became one of Hollywood's top box office stars, ...
.
Harry Cohn Harry Cohn (July 23, 1891 – February 27, 1958) was a co-founder, president, and production director of Columbia Pictures Corporation. Life and career Cohn was born to a working-class Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Je ...
, the president of Columbia Pictures (with whom Novak was under contract) gave in to his concerns that a racist backlash against the relationship could hurt the studio. Davis briefly married Black dancer Loray White in 1958 to protect himself from mob violence. Inebriated at the wedding ceremony, Davis despairingly said to his best friend, Arthur Silber Jr., "Why won't they let me live my life?" The couple never lived together, and commenced divorce proceedings in September 1958.Lanzendorfer, Joy (August 9, 2017
"Hollywood Loved Sammy Davis Jr. Until He Dated a White Movie Star"
'' Smithsonian'' Retrieved February 23, 2021.
In 1958, officers in
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
entered the home of Mildred and Richard Loving and dragged them out of bed for living together as an interracial couple, on the basis that "any white person intermarry with a colored person"— or vice versa—each party "shall be guilty of a felony" and face prison terms of five years. In 1967 the law was ruled unconstitutional (via the 14th Amendment adopted in 1868) by the U.S. Supreme Court in '' Loving v. Virginia''. In 2008, Democrats overwhelmingly voted 70% against California Proposition 8, African Americans voted 58% in favor of it while 42% voted against Proposition 8. On May 9, 2012, Barack Obama, the first Black president, became the first U.S. president to support same-sex marriage. Since Obama's endorsement there has been a rapid growth in support for same-sex marriage among African Americans. As of 2012, 59% of African Americans support same-sex marriage, which is higher than support among the national average (53%) and White Americans (50%). Polls in
North Carolina North Carolina () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. The state is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 28th largest and List of states and territories of the United ...
,
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania (; (Pennsylvania Dutch language, Pennsylvania Dutch: )), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a U.S. state, state spanning the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern United States, Northeastern, Appa ...
,
Missouri Missouri is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. Ranking List of U.S. states and territories by area, 21st in land area, it is bordered by eight states (tied for the most with Tennessee ...
,
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It shares borders with Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; ...
,
Ohio Ohio () is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. Of the List of states and territories of the United States, fifty U.S. states, it is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 34th-l ...
, Florida, and
Nevada Nevada ( ; ) is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, Western region of the United States. It is bordered by Oregon to the northwest, Idaho to the northeast, California to the west, Arizona to the southeast, and Utah to the east. N ...
have also shown an increase in support for same sex marriage among African Americans. On November 6, 2012,
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It shares borders with Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; ...
,
Maine Maine () is a U.S. state, state in the New England and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It borders New Hampshire to the west, the Gulf of Maine to the southeast, and the Provinces and territories of Canad ...
, and Washington all voted for approve of same-sex marriage, along with Minnesota rejecting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Exit polls in Maryland show about 50% of African Americans voted for same-sex marriage, showing a vast evolution among African Americans on the issue and was crucial in helping pass same-sex marriage in Maryland. Black Americans hold far more conservative opinions on abortion,
extramarital sex Extramarital sex occurs when a marriage, married person engages in human sexual activity, sexual activity with someone other than their spouse. The term may be applied to the situation of a single person having sex with a married person. Where ex ...
, and raising children out of wedlock than Democrats as a whole. On financial issues, however, African Americans are in line with Democrats, generally supporting a more
progressive tax A progressive tax is a tax in which the tax rate increases as the taxable amount increases.Sommerfeld, Ray M., Silvia A. Madeo, Kenneth E. Anderson, Betty R. Jackson (1992), ''Concepts of Taxation'', Dryden Press: Fort Worth, TX The term ''progre ...
structure to provide more government spending on social services.


Political legacy

African Americans have fought in every war in the
history of the United States The history of the lands that became the United States began with the arrival of Settlement of the Americas, the first people in the Americas around 15,000 BC. Native American cultures in the United States, Numerous indigenous cultures formed ...
. The gains made by African Americans in the
civil rights movement The civil rights movement was a nonviolent social and political movement and campaign from 1954 to 1968 in the United States to abolish legalized institutional Racial segregation in the United States, racial segregation, Racial discrimination ...
and in the Black Power movement not only obtained certain rights for African Americans, but changed American society in far-reaching and fundamentally important ways. Prior to the 1950s, Black Americans in the South were subject to de jure discrimination, or
Jim Crow laws The Jim Crow laws were U.S. state, state and local laws enforcing Racial segregation in the United States, racial segregation in the Southern United States. Other areas of the United States were affected by formal and informal policies of ...
. They were often the victims of extreme cruelty and violence, sometimes resulting in deaths: by the post World War II era, African Americans became increasingly discontented with their long-standing inequality. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., African Americans and their supporters challenged the nation to "rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed that all men are created equal..." The civil rights movement marked an enormous change in American social, political, economic and civic life. It brought with it
boycott A boycott is an act of nonviolent resistance, nonviolent, voluntary abstention from a product, person, organization, or country as an expression of protest. It is usually for moral, society, social, politics, political, or Environmentalism, envir ...
s,
sit-in A sit-in or sit-down is a form of direct action that involves one or more people occupying an area for a protest, often to promote political, social, or economic change. The protestors gather conspicuously in a space or building, refusing to mo ...
s,
nonviolent Nonviolence is the personal practice of not causing harm to others under any condition. It may come from the belief that hurting people, animals and/or the environment is unnecessary to achieve an outcome and it may refer to a general philosoph ...
demonstrations and marches, court battles, bombings and other violence; prompted worldwide media coverage and intense public debate; forged enduring civic, economic and religious alliances; and disrupted and realigned the nation's two major political parties. Over time, it has changed in fundamental ways the manner in which Blacks and Whites interact with and relate to one another. The movement resulted in the removal of codified, ''de jure'' racial segregation and discrimination from American life and law, and heavily influenced other groups and movements in struggles for civil rights and social equality within American society, including the
Free Speech Movement The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a massive, long-lasting student protest which took place during the 1964–65 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The Movement was informally under the central leadership of Be ...
, the
disabled Disability is the experience of any condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain activities or have equitable access within a given society. Disabilities may be Cognitive disability, cognitive, Developmental disability, dev ...
, the
women's movement The feminist movement (also known as the women's movement, or feminism) refers to a series of social movements and political campaigns for radical and liberal reforms on women's issues created by the inequality between men and women. Such ...
, and
migrant workers A migrant worker is a person who Human migration, migrates within a home country or outside it to pursue work. Migrant workers usually do not have the intention to stay permanently in the country or region in which they work. Migrant worker ...
. It also inspired the Native American rights movement, and in King's 1964 book '' Why We Can't Wait'' he wrote the U.S. "was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race."


Media and coverage

Some activists and academics contend that American news media coverage of African-American news, concerns, or dilemmas is inadequate, or that the news media present distorted images of African Americans. To combat this, Robert L. Johnson founded Black Entertainment Television ( BET), a network that targets young African Americans and urban audiences in the United States. Over the years, the network has aired such programming as rap and R&B music videos, urban-oriented movies and television series, and some public affairs programs. On Sunday mornings, BET would broadcast Christian programming; the network would also broadcast non-affiliated Christian programs during the early morning hours daily. According to Viacom, BET is now a global network that reaches households in the United States, Caribbean, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The network has gone on to spawn several spin-off channels, including BET Her (originally launched as ''BET on Jazz''), which originally showcased
jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African Americans, African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its roots in blues and ragtime. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, it has been recog ...
music-related programming, and later expanded to include general-interest urban programs as well as some R&B,
soul In many religious and philosophical traditions, there is a belief that a soul is "the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being". Etymology The Modern English noun '':wikt:soul, soul'' is derived from Old English ''sāwol, sāwel''. The ea ...
, and world music. Another network targeting African-Americans is TV One. TV One's original programming was formally focused on lifestyle and entertainment-oriented shows, movies, fashion, and music programming. The network also reruns classic series from as far back as the 1970s to current series such as ''
Empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". The center of the empire (sometimes referred to as the metropole) ex ...
'' and ''Sister Circle''. TV One is owned by
Urban One Urban One, Inc. (formerly Radio One) is a Silver Spring, Maryland-based American media conglomerate. Founded in 1980 by Cathy Hughes, the company primarily operates media properties targeting African Americans. It is the largest African-American-o ...
, founded and controlled by Catherine Hughes. Urban One is one of the nation's largest radio broadcasting companies and the largest African-American-owned radio broadcasting company in the United States. In June 2009,
NBC News NBC News is the news division of the American broadcast television network NBC. The division operates under NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, a division of NBCUniversal, which is, in turn, a subsidiary of Comcast. The news division's vari ...
launched a new website named
The Grio TheGrio, styled as thegrio, is an American television network and website with news, opinion, entertainment and video content geared toward African Americans, Black Americans. The website originally launched in June 2009 as a division of NBC N ...
in partnership with the production team that created the Black documentary film '' Meeting David Wilson''. It is the first African-American video
news site An online newspaper (or electronic news or electronic news publication) is the online In computer technology and telecommunications, online indicates a state of connectivity and offline indicates a disconnected state. In modern terminology, th ...
that focuses on underrepresented stories in existing national news.
The Grio TheGrio, styled as thegrio, is an American television network and website with news, opinion, entertainment and video content geared toward African Americans, Black Americans. The website originally launched in June 2009 as a division of NBC N ...
consists of a broad spectrum of original video packages, news articles, and contributor blogs on topics including breaking news, politics, health, business, entertainment and Black History. Other Black-owned and oriented media outlets include: * The Africa Channel – Dedicated to programming representing the best in African culture. * aspireTV – a digital cable and satellite channel owned by businessman and former basketball player
Magic Johnson Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. (born August 14, 1959) is an American former professional basketball player. He is often regarded as the greatest point guard of all-time and has been compared with Stephen Curry. Johnson played 13 seasons in the ...
. * ATTV – an independent public affairs and educational channel. *
Bounce TV Bounce TV is an American digital multicast television network A television network or television broadcaster is a telecommunications network for distribution of television program content, where a central operation provides programming to man ...
– a digital multicast network owned by E. W. Scripps Company. * Cleo TV – a sister network to TV One targeting African-American women. * Fox Soul – a digital streaming channel primarily airing original talk shows and syndicated programming *
Oprah Winfrey Network Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) is an American multinational basic cable channel jointly owned by Warner Bros. Discovery and Harpo Studios that launched on January 1, 2011, replacing the Discovery Health Channel. The network is led by talk show ho ...
– a cable and satellite network founded by
Oprah Winfrey Oprah Gail Winfrey (; born Orpah Gail Winfrey; January 29, 1954), or simply Oprah, is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show, ''The Oprah Winfrey Show'', br ...
and jointly owned by Discovery, Inc. and
Harpo Studios Harpo Productions (or Harpo Studios) is an American multimedia Film production, production company (law), company founded by Oprah Winfrey and based in West Hollywood, California. It is the sole subsidiary of her media and entertainment company ...
. While not exclusively targeting African Americans, much of its original programming is geared towards a similar demographic. *
Revolt Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an established authority. A rebellion originates from a sentiment of indignation and disapproval of a situation and ...
– a music channel owned by Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs. * Soul of the South Network – a regional broadcast network. *
VH1 VH1 (originally an initialism of Video Hits One) is an American basic cable television network based in New York City and owned by Paramount Global. It was created by Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, at the time a division of Warner Communic ...
– A female-oriented general entertainment channel owned by Viacom. Originally focused on light genres of music, the network's programming became slanted towards African American culture in recent years.


Culture

From their earliest presence in North America, African Americans have significantly contributed literature, art, agricultural skills, cuisine, clothing styles, music, language, and social and technological innovation to American culture. The cultivation and use of many agricultural products in the United States, such as yams, peanuts, rice,
okra Okra or Okro (, ), ''Abelmoschus esculentus'', known in many English-speaking countries as ladies' fingers or ochro, is a flowering plant in the Malvaceae, mallow family. It has edible Pod vegetable, green seed pods. The geographical origin of o ...
,
sorghum ''Sorghum'' () is a genus of about 25 species of flowering plants in the grass family (Poaceae). Some of these species are grown as cereals for human consumption and some in pastures for animals. One species is grown for grain, while many other ...
,
grits Grits are a type of porridge made from boiled cornmeal. Hominy grits are a type of grits made from hominy – corn that has been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization, with the pericarp (ovary wall) removed. Grits are ofte ...
,
watermelon Watermelon (''Citrullus lanatus'') is a flowering plant species of the Cucurbitaceae family and the name of its edible fruit. A Glossary of botanical terms#scandent, scrambling and trailing vine-like plant, it is a plant breeding, highly cult ...
,
indigo dye Indigo dye is an organic compound with a distinctive indigo, blue color. Historically, indigo was a natural dye extracted from the leaves of some plants of the Indigofera#Uses, ''Indigofera'' genus, in particular ''Indigofera tinctoria''; dye-bea ...
s, and cotton, can be traced to West African and African-American influences. Notable examples include
George Washington Carver George Washington Carver ( 1864 – January 5, 1943) was an American Agricultural science, agricultural scientist and inventor who promoted alternative crops to cotton and methods to prevent soil depletion. He was one of the most prominent blac ...
, who created nearly 500 products from peanuts, sweet potatoes, and pecans.
Soul food Soul food is an Cuisine, ethnic cuisine traditionally prepared and eaten by African Americans, originating in the Southern United States.Soul Food originated with the foods that were given to enslaved Black people by their white owners on ...
is a variety of cuisine popular among African Americans. It is closely related to the
cuisine of the Southern United States The cuisine of the Southern United States encompasses diverse food traditions of several regions, including Tidewater (region), Tidewater, Appalachian, Lowcountry cuisine, Lowcountry, Cajun cuisine, Cajun, Louisiana Creole cuisine, Creole, and F ...
. The descriptive terminology may have originated in the mid-1960s, when ''
soul In many religious and philosophical traditions, there is a belief that a soul is "the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being". Etymology The Modern English noun '':wikt:soul, soul'' is derived from Old English ''sāwol, sāwel''. The ea ...
'' was a common definer used to describe African-American culture (for example,
soul music Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African-American culture, African American African-American neighborhood, community throughout the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It has its roots in African-American ...
). African Americans were the first peoples in the United States to make fried chicken, along with Scottish immigrants to the South. Although the Scottish had been frying chicken before they emigrated, they lacked the spices and flavor that African Americans had used when preparing the meal. The Scottish American settlers therefore adopted the African-American method of seasoning chicken. However, fried chicken was generally a rare meal in the African-American community, and was usually reserved for special events or celebrations.


Language

African-American English African-American English (or AAE; also known as Black American English, or Black English in American linguistics) is the set of English sociolects spoken by most Black people in the United States and many in Canada; most commonly, it refers t ...
is a
variety Variety may refer to: Arts and entertainment Entertainment formats * Variety (radio) * Variety show, in theater and television Films * Variety (1925 film), ''Variety'' (1925 film), a German silent film directed by Ewald Andre Dupont * Varie ...
(
dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) arou ...
,
ethnolect An ethnolect is generally defined as a variety (linguistics), language variety that mark speakers as members of ethnic, ethnic groups who originally used another language or distinctive variety. According to another definition, an ethnolect is any ...
, and
sociolect In sociolinguistics, a sociolect is a form of language ( non-standard dialect, restricted register) or a set of lexical items used by a socioeconomic class, profession, an age group, or other social group. Sociolects involve both passive acqui ...
) of
American English American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. English is the Languages of the United States, most widely spoken lan ...
, commonly spoken by urban
working-class The working class (or labouring class) comprises those engaged in manual labour, manual-labour occupations or industrial work, who are remunerated via wage, waged or salary, salaried contracts. Working-class occupations (see also "Designation ...
and largely bi-dialectal
middle-class The middle class refers to a Social class, class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy, often defined by job, occupation, income, education, or social status. The term has historically been associated with modernity, capitalism and poli ...
African Americans. African-American English evolved during the antebellum period through interaction between speakers of 16th- and 17th-century English of Great Britain and Ireland and various West African languages. As a result, the variety shares parts of its
grammar In linguistics, the grammar of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. The term can also refer to the study of such constraint ...
and
phonology Phonology is the branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds or, for sign languages, their constituent parts of signs. The term can also refer specifically to the sound or sign system of a ...
with the
Southern American English Southern American English or Southern U.S. English is a regional dialect or collection of dialects of American English spoken throughout the Southern United States, though concentrated increasingly in more rural areas, and spoken primarily by Wh ...
dialect. African-American English differs from Standard American English (SAE) in certain pronunciation characteristics, tense usage, and grammatical structures, which were derived from West African languages (particularly those belonging to the Niger-Congo family). Virtually all habitual speakers of African-American English can understand and communicate in Standard American English. As with all linguistic forms, AAVE's usage is influenced by various factors, including geographical, educational and socioeconomic background, as well as formality of setting. Additionally, there are many literary uses of this variety of English, particularly in
African-American literature African American literature is the body of literature produced in the United States by writers of African descent. It begins with the works of such late 18th-century writers as Phillis Wheatley. Before the high point of slave narratives, African-A ...
.


Traditional names

African-American names are part of the cultural traditions of African Americans. Prior to the 1950s, and 1960s, most African-American names closely resembled those used within European American culture. Babies of that era were generally given a few common names, with children using nicknames to distinguish the various people with the same name. With the rise of 1960s civil rights movement, there was a dramatic increase in names of various origins. By the 1970s, and 1980s, it had become common among African Americans to invent new names for themselves, although many of these invented names took elements from popular existing names. Prefixes such as La/Le, Da/De, Ra/Re and Ja/Je, and suffixes like -ique/iqua, -isha and -aun/-awn are common, as are inventive spellings for common names. The book ''Baby Names Now: From Classic to Cool—The Very Last Word on First Names'' places the origins of "La" names in African-American culture in
New Orleans New Orleans ( , ,New Orleans
Merriam-Webster.
; french: La Nouvelle-Orléans , es, Nuev ...
. Even with the rise of inventive names, it is still common for African Americans to use biblical, historical, or traditional European names. Daniel, Christopher, Michael, David, James, Joseph, and Matthew were thus among the most frequent names for African-American boys in 2013. The name LaKeisha is typically considered American in origin, but has elements that were drawn from both French and West/Central African roots. Names such as LaTanisha, JaMarcus, DeAndre, and Shaniqua were created in the same way. Punctuation marks are seen more often within African-American names than other American names, such as the names Mo'nique and D'Andre.


Religion

The majority of African Americans are
Protestant Protestantism is a branch of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Na ...
, many of whom follow the historically Black churches.U.S.Religious Landscape Survey
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (February 2008). Retrieved July 20, 2009.
The term
Black church The black church (sometimes termed Black Christianity or African American Christianity) is the faith and body of Christianity, Christian Church (congregation), congregations and Christian denomination, denominations in the United States that mi ...
refers to churches which minister to predominantly African-American congregations. Black congregations were first established by freed slaves at the end of the 17th century, and later when slavery was abolished more African Americans were allowed to create a unique form of Christianity that was culturally influenced by African spiritual traditions. According to a 2007 survey, more than half of the African-American population are part of the historically Black churches. The largest Protestant denomination among African Americans are the
Baptists Baptists form a major branch of Protestantism distinguished by baptizing professing Christianity, Christian believers only (believer's baptism), and doing so by complete Immersion baptism, immersion. Baptist churches also generally subscribe ...
, distributed mainly in four denominations, the largest being the National Baptist Convention, USA and the National Baptist Convention of America. The second largest are the
Methodist Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related Christian denomination, denominations of Protestantism, Protestant Christianity whose origins, doctrine and practice derive from the life and teachings of John W ...
s,William Henry James, Stephen Lloyd Johnson (1997). ''Doin' drugs: patterns of African American addiction''. University of Texas Press. p. 135. . the largest denominations are the
African Methodist Episcopal Church The African Methodist Episcopal Church, usually called the AME Church or AME, is a Black church, predominantly African American Methodist Religious denomination, denomination. It adheres to Wesleyan-Arminian theology and has a connexionalism, c ...
and the
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church African or Africans may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** People who are native to Africa, descendants of natives of Africa, or individuals who trace their ancestry to indigenous inhabitants of Africa *** Ethn ...
.The NCC's 2008 Yearbook of Churches reports a wide range of health care ministries
National Council of Churches USA. February 14, 2008. Retrieved June 22, 2009.
Pentecostals Pentecostalism or classical Pentecostalism is a Protestantism, Protestant Charismatic Christianity, Charismatic Christian movementChurch of God in Christ The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is a Christian perfection#Holiness Pentecostalism, Holiness–Pentecostal Christian denomination, and the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States. Although an international and multi-ethnic rel ...
as the largest among them by far. About 16% of African-American Christians are members of White Protestant communions, these denominations (which include the
United Church of Christ The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a mainline Protestant The mainline Protestant churches (also called mainstream Protestant and sometimes oldline Protestant) are a group of Protestantism in the United States, Protestant denominations in th ...
) mostly have a 2 to 3% African-American membership. There are also large numbers of
Catholics The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
, constituting 5% of the African-American population. Of the total number of
Jehovah's Witnesses Jehovah's Witnesses is a Millenarianism, millenarian Restorationism, restorationist Christian denomination with Nontrinitarianism, nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The group reports a worldwide membership of appr ...
, 22% are Black. Some African Americans follow
Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the direct word of God in Islam, God (or ''Allah'') as it was revealed to Muh ...
. Historically, between 15 and 30% of enslaved Africans brought to the Americas were
Muslim Muslims ( ar, المسلمون, , ) are people who adhere to Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the ...
s, but most of these Africans were converted to Christianity during the era of American slavery. During the twentieth century, some African Americans converted to Islam, mainly through the influence of
Black nationalist Black nationalism is a type of racial nationalism Racial nationalism is an ideology that advocates a Race (human categorization), racial definition of national identity. Racial nationalism seeks to preserve "racial purity" of a nation thr ...
groups that preached with distinctive Islamic practices; including the
Moorish Science Temple of America The Moorish Science Temple of America is an American national and religious organization founded by Noble Drew Ali (born as Timothy Drew) in the early twentieth century. He based it on the premise that African Americans African Americans ( ...
, and the largest organization, the
Nation of Islam The Nation of Islam (NOI) is a religious and political organization founded in the United States by Wallace Fard Muhammad in 1930. A Black nationalism, black nationalist organization, the NOI focuses its attention on the African diaspora, espe ...
, founded in the 1930s, which attracted at least 20,000 people by 1963. Prominent members included activist
Malcolm X Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little, later Malik el-Shabazz; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965) was an American Islam in the United States, Muslim minister and human rights activist who was a prominent figure during the civil rights movement. A sp ...
and boxer
Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali (; born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.; January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer and activist. Nicknamed "The Greatest", he is regarded as one of the most significant sports figures of the 20th century, a ...
. Malcolm X is considered the first person to start the movement among African Americans towards mainstream Islam, after he left the Nation and made the pilgrimage to Mecca. In 1975, Warith Deen Mohammed, the son of
Elijah Muhammad Elijah Muhammad (born Elijah Robert Poole; October 7, 1897 – February 25, 1975) was an African American religious leader, black separatist, and self-proclaimed Messenger of Allah Allah (; ar, الله, translit=Allāh, ) is the ...
took control of the Nation after his father's death and guided the majority of its members to orthodox Islam.
African-American Muslims African-American Muslims, also colloquially known as Black Muslims, are an African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an Race and ethnicity in the United States, ethnic group consist ...
constitute 20% of the total U.S. Muslim population, the majority are
Sunni Sunni Islam () is the largest Islamic schools and branches, branch of Islam, followed by 85–90% of the world's Muslims. Its name comes from the word ''Sunnah'', referring to the tradition of Muhammad. The differences between Sunni and Shia ...
or orthodox Muslims, some of these identify under the community of W. Deen Mohammed. The Nation of Islam led by Louis Farrakhan has a membership ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 members. There is also a small group of African-American Jews, making up less than 0.5% of African Americans or about 2% of the Jewish population in the United States. Most of these Jews are part of mainstream groups such as the
Reform Reform ( lat, reformo) means the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc. The use of the word in this way emerges in the late 18th century and is believed to originate from Christopher Wyvill#The Yorkshire Associati ...
,
Conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
, or Orthodox branches of Judaism; although there are significant numbers of people who are part of non-mainstream
syncretic Syncretism () is the practice of combining different beliefs and various school of thought, schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merging or religious assimilation, assimilation of several originally discrete traditions, especially in t ...
Jewish groups, largely the Black Hebrew Israelites, whose beliefs include the claim that African Americans are descended from the Biblical
Israelites The Israelites (; , , ) were a group of ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes in the ancient Near East who, during the Iron Age, inhabited a part of Canaan. The earliest recorded evidence of a people by the name of Israel ...
. Jews of any race typically do not accept Black Hebrew Israelites as Jews, in part because they are usually not Jewish according to Jewish law, and in part because these groups are sometimes associated with antisemitism. Confirmed
atheists Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of Deity, deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that ther ...
are less than one half of one-percent, similar to numbers for
Hispanic The term ''Hispanic'' ( es, hispano) refers to people, Spanish culture, cultures, or countries related to Spain, the Spanish language, or Hispanidad. The term commonly applies to countries with a cultural and historical link to Spain and to Vic ...
s.


Music

African-American music African-American music is an umbrella term covering a diverse range of music and musical genres largely developed by African Americans and their culture. Their origins are in musical forms that first came to be due to the condition of Slavery ...
is one of the most pervasive African-American cultural influences in the United States today and is among the most dominant in mainstream popular music. Hip hop, R&B,
funk Funk is a music genre that originated in African Americans, African American communities in the mid-1960s when musicians created a rhythmic, danceable new form of music through a mixture of various music genres that were popular among African A ...
,
rock and roll Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll, rock 'n' roll, or rock 'n roll) is a Genre (music), genre of popular music that evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It Origins of rock and roll, originated from Africa ...
,
soul In many religious and philosophical traditions, there is a belief that a soul is "the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being". Etymology The Modern English noun '':wikt:soul, soul'' is derived from Old English ''sāwol, sāwel''. The ea ...
,
blues Blues is a music genre and musical form which originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s. Blues incorporated spiritual (music), spirituals, work songs, field hollers, Ring shout, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narra ...
, and other contemporary American musical forms originated in Black communities and evolved from other Black forms of music, including
blues Blues is a music genre and musical form which originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s. Blues incorporated spiritual (music), spirituals, work songs, field hollers, Ring shout, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narra ...
,
doo-wop Doo-wop (also spelled doowop and doo wop) is a Music genre, genre of rhythm and blues music that originated in African-American communities during the 1940s, mainly in the large cities of the United States, including New York, Philadelphia, Pitt ...
, barbershop,
ragtime Ragtime, also spelled rag-time or rag time, is a musical style that flourished from the 1890s to 1910s. Its cardinal trait is its syncopation, syncopated or "ragged" rhythm. Ragtime was popularized during the early 20th century by composers su ...
, bluegrass,
jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African Americans, African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its roots in blues and ragtime. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, it has been recog ...
, and
gospel music Gospel music is a traditional genre of Christian music, and a cornerstone of Christian media. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is com ...
. African-American-derived musical forms have also influenced and been incorporated into virtually every other
popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical training.Popular Music. (2015). ''Funk ...
genre in the world, including
country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state (polity), state, nation, or other polity, political entity. It may be a sovereign state or make up one part of a larger state. For example, the country of Japan is an independent, so ...
and
techno Techno is a Music genre, genre of electronic dance music (EDM) which is generally music production, produced for use in a continuous DJ set, with tempo often varying between 120 and 150 beats per minute (bpm). The central Drum beat, rhythm is typ ...
. African-American genres are the most important ethnic vernacular tradition in America, as they have developed independent of African traditions from which they arise more so than any other immigrant groups, including Europeans; make up the broadest and longest lasting range of styles in America; and have, historically, been more influential, interculturally, geographically, and economically, than other American vernacular traditions.


Dance

African Americans have also had an important role in American dance. Bill T. Jones, a prominent modern choreographer and dancer, has included historical African-American themes in his work, particularly in the piece "Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin/The Promised Land". Likewise,
Alvin Ailey Alvin Ailey Jr. (January 5, 1931 – December 1, 1989) was an American dancer, director, choreographer, and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) is a modern dance dance co ...
's artistic work, including his "Revelations" based on his experience growing up as an African American in the South during the 1930s, has had a significant influence on modern dance. Another form of dance, Stepping, is an African-American tradition whose performance and competition has been formalized through the traditionally Black fraternities and sororities at universities.


Literature and academics

Many African-American authors have written stories, poems, and essays influenced by their experiences as African Americans.
African-American literature African American literature is the body of literature produced in the United States by writers of African descent. It begins with the works of such late 18th-century writers as Phillis Wheatley. Before the high point of slave narratives, African-A ...
is a major genre in American literature. Famous examples include
Langston Hughes James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. One of the earliest innovators of the literary art form called jazz poetry, Hug ...
,
James Baldwin James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American writer. He garnered acclaim across various media, including essays, novels, Play (theatre), plays, and Poetry, poems. His first novel, ''Go Tell It on the Mountain (nove ...
, Richard Wright,
Zora Neale Hurston Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South and published research on Hoodoo (spirituality), hoodoo. The most ...
,
Ralph Ellison Ralph Waldo Ellison (March 1, 1913 – April 16, 1994) was an American writer, literary critic, and scholar best known for his novel '' Invisible Man'', which won the National Book Award The National Book Awards are a set of annual U.S. lite ...
, Nobel Prize winner
Toni Morrison Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford; February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019), known as Toni Morrison, was an American novelist. Her first novel, ''The Bluest Eye'', was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed ''Son ...
, and
Maya Angelou Maya Angelou ( ; born Marguerite Annie Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American memoirist, popular poet, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and ...
. African-American inventors have created many widely used devices in the world and have contributed to international
innovation Innovation is the practical implementation of ideas that result in the introduction of new goods or service (economics), services or improvement in offering goods or services. ISO TC 279 in the standard ISO 56000:2020 defines innovation as "a ...
. Norbert Rillieux created the technique for converting sugar cane juice into white sugar crystals. Moreover, Rillieux left
Louisiana Louisiana , group=pronunciation (French: ''La Louisiane'') is a U.S. state, state in the Deep South and South Central United States, South Central regions of the United States. It is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 20th-smal ...
in 1854 and went to France, where he spent ten years working with the Champollions deciphering
Egyptian hieroglyphics Egyptian hieroglyphs (, ) were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, used for writing the Egyptian language. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabary, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with some 1,000 distinct characters.There were ...
from the
Rosetta Stone The Rosetta Stone is a stele composed of granodiorite inscribed with three versions of a Rosetta Stone decree, decree issued in Memphis, Egypt, in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty on behalf of King Ptolemy V Epiphanes. The top and middle te ...
. Most slave inventors were nameless, such as the slave owned by the Confederate President Jefferson Davis who designed the ship propeller used by the Confederate navy. By 1913, over 1,000 inventions were patented by Black Americans. Among the most notable inventors were Jan Matzeliger, who developed the first machine to mass-produce shoes, and Elijah McCoy, who invented automatic lubrication devices for steam engines.
Granville Woods Granville Tailer Woods (April 23, 1856 – January 30, 1910) was an American inventor who held more than 50 patents in the U.S. He was the first African Americans, African American mechanical and electrical engineer after the American Civil W ...
had 35 patents to improve electric railway systems, including the first system to allow moving trains to communicate. Garrett A. Morgan developed the first automatic traffic signal and gas mask. Lewis Howard Latimer invented an improvement for the incandescent light bulb. More recent inventors include Frederick McKinley Jones, who invented the movable refrigeration unit for food transport in trucks and trains. Lloyd Quarterman worked with six other Black scientists on the creation of the atomic bomb (code named the
Manhattan Project The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project w ...
.) Quarterman also helped develop the first nuclear reactor, which was used in the atomically powered
submarine A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability. The term is also sometimes used historically or colloquially to refer to remotely op ...
called the Nautilus. A few other notable examples include the first successful
open heart surgery Cardiac surgery, or cardiovascular surgery, is surgery on the heart or great vessels performed by cardiac surgeons. It is often used to treat complications of ischemic heart disease (for example, with coronary artery bypass grafting); to corr ...
, performed by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, and the air conditioner, patented by Frederick McKinley Jones. Dr. Mark Dean holds three of the original nine patents on the computer on which all PCs are based. More current contributors include Otis Boykin, whose inventions included several novel methods for manufacturing electrical components that found use in applications such as guided missile systems and computers, and Colonel Frederick Gregory, who was not only the first Black
astronaut An astronaut (from the Ancient Greek (), meaning 'star', and (), meaning 'sailor') is a person trained, equipped, and deployed by a List of human spaceflight programs, human spaceflight program to serve as a commander or crew member aboard ...
pilot but the person who redesigned the cockpits for the last three space shuttles. Gregory was also on the team that pioneered the microwave instrumentation landing system.


Terminology


General

The term ''African American'', popularized by
Jesse Jackson Jesse Louis Jackson (Given name, né Burns; born October 8, 1941) is an American political activist, Baptist Minister of religion, minister, and Politics of the United States, politician. He was a candidate for the Democratic Party (United S ...
in the 1980s, carries important social implications. Earlier terms used to describe Americans of African ancestry referred more to skin color than to ancestry. Other terms (such as ''
colored ''Colored'' (or ''coloured'') is a racial descriptor historically used in the United States during the Jim Crow, Jim Crow Era to refer to an African Americans, African American. In many places, it may be considered a Pejorative, slur, though it ...
'', ''
person of color The term "person of color" (plural, : people of color or persons of color; abbreviated POC) is primarily used to describe any person who is not considered "White people, white". In its current meaning, the term originated in, and is primarily a ...
'', or ''
negro In the English language, ''negro'' is a term historically used to denote persons considered to be of Black people, Black African heritage. The word ''negro'' means the color black in both Spanish and in Portuguese, where English took it from. T ...
'') were included in the wording of various laws and legal decisions which some thought were being used as tools of
White supremacy White supremacy or white supremacism is the belief that white people are superior to those of other Race (human classification), races and thus should dominate them. The belief favors the maintenance and defense of any Power (social and polit ...
and
oppression Oppression is malicious or unjust treatment or exercise of power, often under the guise of governmental authority or cultural opprobrium. Oppression may be overt or covert, depending on how it is practiced. Oppression refers to discrimination ...
. A 16-page pamphlet entitled "A Sermon on the Capture of Lord Cornwallis" is notable for the attribution of its
authorship An author is the writer of a book, article, play, mostly written work. A broader definition of the word "author" states: "''An author is "the person who originated or gave existence to anything" and whose authorship determines responsibility f ...
to "An ''African American''". Published in 1782, the book's use of this phrase predates any other yet identified by more than 50 years. In the 1980s, the term ''African American'' was advanced on the model of, for example,
German American German Americans (german: Deutschamerikaner, ) are Americans who have full or partial Germans, German ancestry. With an estimated size of approximately 43 million in 2019, German Americans are the largest of the self-reported ancestry groups by ...
or
Irish American Irish Americans or Hiberno-Americans ( ga, Gael-Mheiriceánaigh) are Americans who have full or partial ancestry from Ireland. About 32 million Americans — 9.7% of the total population — identified as being Irish in the 2020 American Communit ...
, to give descendants of American slaves, and other American Blacks who lived through the slavery era, a
heritage Heritage may refer to: History and society * A heritage asset is a preexisting thing of value today ** Cultural heritage is created by humans ** Natural heritage is not * Heritage language Biology * Heredity, biological inheritance of physical c ...
and a cultural base. The term was popularized in Black communities around the country via
word of mouth Word of mouth, or ''viva voce'', is the passing of information from person to person using Communication#Verbal communication, oral communication, which could be as simple as telling someone the time of day. Storytelling is a common form of word ...
and ultimately received mainstream use after
Jesse Jackson Jesse Louis Jackson (Given name, né Burns; born October 8, 1941) is an American political activist, Baptist Minister of religion, minister, and Politics of the United States, politician. He was a candidate for the Democratic Party (United S ...
publicly used the term in front of a national audience in 1988. Subsequently, major media outlets adopted its use. Surveys show that the majority of Black Americans have no preference for ''African American'' versus ''Black American'', although they have a slight preference for the latter in personal settings and the former in more formal settings. Many African Americans have expressed a preference for the term ''African American'' because it was formed in the same way as the terms for the many other ethnic groups currently living in the United States. Some argued further that, because of the historical circumstances surrounding the capture, enslavement, and systematic attempts to de-Africanize Blacks in the United States under
chattel slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave—someone forbidden to quit one's service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as property. Slavery typically involves slaves being made to perf ...
, most African Americans are unable to trace their ancestry to any specific African nation; hence, the entire continent serves as a geographic marker. The term ''African American'' embraces
pan-Africanism Pan-Africanism is a worldwide movement that aims to encourage and strengthen bonds of solidarity between all Indigenous and diaspora peoples of African ancestry. Based on a common goal dating back to the Atlantic slave trade, the movement exte ...
as earlier enunciated by prominent African thinkers such as
Marcus Garvey Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr. (17 August 188710 June 1940) was a Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator. He was the founder and first President-General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African ...
, W. E. B. Du Bois, and George Padmore. The term ''Afro-
Usonia Usonia () is a word that was used by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) was an American architect, designer, writer, and educator. He designed List of Frank Lloyd Wright works, more tha ...
n'', and variations of such, are more rarely used.


Official identity

Since 1977, in an attempt to keep up with changing social opinion, the
United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the Federation#Federal governments, national government of the United States, a federal republic located primarily in North America, composed of 50 ...
has officially classified Black people (revised to ''Black'' or ''African American'' in 1997) as "having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa." Other federal offices, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, adhere to the
Office of Management and Budget The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP). OMB's most prominent function is to produce the president's budget, but it also examines agency programs, poli ...
standards on race in their data collection and tabulation efforts. In preparation for the 2010 U.S. Census, a marketing and outreach plan called ''2010 Census Integrated Communications Campaign Plan'' (ICC) recognized and defined African Americans as Black people born in the United States. From the ICC perspective, African Americans are one of three groups of Black people in the United States. The ICC plan was to reach the three groups by acknowledging that each group has its own sense of community that is based on geography and ethnicity. The best way to market the census process toward any of the three groups is to reach them through their own unique communication channels and not treat the entire Black population of the U.S. as though they are all African Americans with a single ethnic and geographical background. The
Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic Intelligence agency, intelligence and Security agency, security service of the United States and its principal Federal law enforcement in the United States, federal law enforcement age ...
of the U.S. Department of Justice categorizes Black or African American people as " person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa" through racial categories used in the UCR Program adopted from the Statistical Policy Handbook (1978) and published by the Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce, derived from the 1977
Office of Management and Budget The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP). OMB's most prominent function is to produce the president's budget, but it also examines agency programs, poli ...
classification.


Admixture

Historically, " race mixing" between Black and White people was
taboo A taboo or tabu is a social group's ban, prohibition, or avoidance of something (usually an utterance or behavior) based on the group's sense that it is excessively repulsive, sacred, or allowed only for certain persons.''Encyclopædia Britannica ...
in the United States. So-called
anti-miscegenation laws Anti-miscegenation laws or miscegenation laws are laws that enforce racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimate relationships by criminalization, criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different R ...
, barring Blacks and Whites from marrying or having sex, were established in
colonial America The colonial history of the United States covers the history of European colonization of North America from the early 17th century until the incorporation of the Thirteen Colonies into the United States after the American Revolutionary War, ...
as early as 1691, and endured in many Southern states until the
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of ju ...
ruled them unconstitutional in '' Loving v. Virginia'' (1967). The taboo among American Whites surrounding White-Black relations is a historical consequence of the oppression and
racial segregation Racial segregation is the systematic separation of people into race (human classification), racial or other Ethnicity, ethnic groups in daily life. Racial segregation can amount to the international crime of apartheid and a crimes against hum ...
of African Americans. Historian
David Brion Davis David Brion Davis (February 16, 1927 – April 14, 2019) was an American intellectual and cultural history, cultural historian, and a leading authority on slavery and abolitionism, abolition in the Western world. He was a Sterling Professor, ...
notes the racial mixing that occurred during slavery was frequently attributed by the
planter class The planter class, known alternatively in the United States as the Southern aristocracy, was a Racial hierarchy, racial and socioeconomic caste of pan-American society that dominated 17th and 18th century agricultural markets. The Atlantic slave ...
to the "lower-class White males" but Davis concludes that "there is abundant evidence that many slaveowners, sons of slaveowners, and overseers took black mistresses or in effect raped the wives and daughters of slave families." A famous example was
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 18 ...
's mistress,
Sally Hemings Sarah "Sally" Hemings ( 1773 – 1835) was an Slavery in the United States, enslaved woman with quadroon, one-quarter African ancestry owned by president of the United States Thomas Jefferson, one of many he inherited from his father-in-law, J ...
. Although publicly opposed to race mixing, Jefferson, in his ''
Notes on the State of Virginia ''Notes on the State of Virginia'' (1785) is a book written by the American statesman, philosopher, and planter Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, p ...
'' published in 1785, wrote: "The improvement of the blacks in body and mind, in the first instance of their mixture with the whites, has been observed by every one, and proves that their inferiority is not the effect merely of their condition of life".
Harvard University Harvard University is a Private university, private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1636 as Harvard College and named for its first benefactor, the History of the Puritans in North America, Puritan cler ...
historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. wrote in 2009 that "African Americans…are a racially mixed or
mulatto (, ) is a Race (human categorization), racial classification to refer to people of mixed Sub-Saharan African, African and Ethnic groups in Europe, European ancestry. Its use is considered outdated and offensive in several languages, including ...
people—deeply and overwhelmingly so" (see
genetics Genetics is the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms.Hartl D, Jones E (2005) It is an important branch in biology because heredity is vital to organisms' evolution. Gregor Mendel, a Moravian Augustinians, Augustinian fr ...
). After the
Emancipation Proclamation The Emancipation Proclamation, officially Proclamation 95, was a presidential proclamation and executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War, Civil War. The Proclamation c ...
,
Chinese American Chinese Americans are Americans of Han Chinese ancestry. Chinese Americans constitute a subgroup of East Asian Americans which also constitute a subgroup of Asian Americans. Many Chinese Americans along with their ancestors trace lineage from m ...
men married African American women in high proportions to their total marriage numbers due to few Chinese American women being in the United States. African slaves and their descendants have also had a history of cultural exchange and intermarriage with Native Americans, although they did not necessarily retain social, cultural or linguistic ties to Native peoples. There are also increasing intermarriages and offspring between non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanics of any race, especially between
Puerto Ricans Puerto Ricans ( es, Puertorriqueños; or boricuas) are the people of Puerto Rico, the inhabitants, and citizens of the Puerto Rico, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and their descendants. Overview The culture held in common by most Puerto Ricans ...
and African Americans (American-born Blacks). According to author M.M. Drymon, many African Americans identify as having Scots-Irish ancestry. Racially mixed marriages have become increasingly accepted in the United States since the civil rights movement and up to the present day. Approval in national opinion polls has risen from 36% in 1978, to 48% in 1991, 65% in 2002, 77% in 2007. A Gallup poll conducted in 2013 found that 84% of Whites and 96% of Blacks approved of interracial marriage, and 87% overall. At the end of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, some African American military men who had been stationed in Japan married
Japanese women Although women in Japan were recognized as having equal legal rights to men after World War II, economic conditions for women remain unbalanced. Modern policy initiatives to encourage motherhood and workplace participation have had mixed results ...
, who then immigrated to the United States.


Terminology dispute

In her book ''The End of Blackness'', as well as in an essay for ''
Salon Salon may refer to: Common meanings * Beauty salon, a venue for cosmetic treatments * French term for a drawing room, an architectural space in a home * Salon (gathering), a meeting for learning or enjoyment Arts and entertainment * Salon (Pa ...
'', author Debra Dickerson has argued that the term ''
Black Black is a color which results from the absence or complete Absorption (electromagnetic radiation), absorption of visible spectrum, visible light. It is an achromatic color, without hue, like white and grey. It is often used symbolically or fi ...
'' should refer strictly to the descendants of Africans who were brought to America as slaves, and not to the sons and daughters of Black immigrants who lack that ancestry. Thus, under her definition, President Barack Obama, who is the son of a Kenyan, is not Black. She makes the argument that grouping all people of African descent together regardless of their unique ancestral circumstances would inevitably deny the lingering effects of slavery within the American community of slave descendants, in addition to denying Black immigrants recognition of their own unique ancestral backgrounds. "Lumping us all together," Dickerson wrote, "erases the significance of slavery and continuing racism while giving the appearance of progress." Similar viewpoints have been expressed by author Stanley Crouch in a ''
New York Daily News The New York ''Daily News'', officially titled the ''Daily News'', is an American newspaper based in Jersey City, NJ. It was founded in 1919 by Joseph Medill Patterson as the ''Illustrated Daily News''. It was the first U.S. daily printed in Ta ...
'' piece, Charles Steele Jr. of the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is an African-American civil rights organization based in Atlanta, Georgia. SCLC is closely associated with its first president, Martin Luther King Jr., who had a large role in the American civi ...
and African-American columnist David Ehrenstein of the ''
Los Angeles Times The ''Los Angeles Times'' (abbreviated as ''LA Times'') is a daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and is often typed in black ink with a ...
'', who accused White liberals of flocking to Blacks who were '' Magic Negros'', a term that refers to a Black person with no past who simply appears to assist the mainstream White (as cultural protagonists/drivers) agenda. Ehrenstein went on to say "He's there to assuage white 'guilt' they feel over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history." The American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) movement coalesces around this view, arguing that Black descendants of American slavery deserve a separate ethnic category that distinguishes them from other Black groups in the United States. Their terminology has gained popularity in some circles, but others have criticized the movement for a perceived bias against (especially poor and Black) immigrants, and for its often inflammatory rhetoric. Politicians such as Obama and Harris have received especially pointed criticism from the movement, as neither are ADOS and have spoken out at times against policies specific to them. Many Pan-African movements and organizations that are ideologically
Black nationalist Black nationalism is a type of racial nationalism Racial nationalism is an ideology that advocates a Race (human categorization), racial definition of national identity. Racial nationalism seeks to preserve "racial purity" of a nation thr ...
,
anti-imperialist Anti-imperialism in political science and international relations is a term used in a variety of contexts, usually by nationalist movements who want to secede from a larger polity (usually in the form of an empire, but also in a multi-ethnic so ...
,
anti-Zionist Anti-Zionism is opposition to Zionism. Although anti-Zionism is a heterogeneous phenomenon, all its proponents agree that the creation of the modern State of Israel, and the movement to create a sovereign Jewish state in the Palestine (region), ...
, and Scientific socialist like The All-African People's Revolutionary Party (A-APRP), have argued that African (relating to the diaspora) and/or New Afrikan should be used instead of African-American. Most notably,
Malcolm X Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little, later Malik el-Shabazz; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965) was an American Islam in the United States, Muslim minister and human rights activist who was a prominent figure during the civil rights movement. A sp ...
and Kwame Ture expressed similar views that African-Americans are Africans who "happen to be in America," and should not claim or identify as being American if they are fighting for Black (New Afrikan) liberation. Historically, this is due to the enslavement of Africans during the
Trans-Atlantic slave trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of Slavery in the Americas, enslaved African people, mainly to the Americas. The slave trade regularly used the tria ...
, ongoing anti-black violence, and structural racism in countries like the United States.


Terms no longer in common use

Before the independence of the
Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies, the Thirteen American Colonies, or later as the United Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British Colony, colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Fo ...
until the abolition of slavery in 1865, an African-American slave was commonly known as a ''
negro In the English language, ''negro'' is a term historically used to denote persons considered to be of Black people, Black African heritage. The word ''negro'' means the color black in both Spanish and in Portuguese, where English took it from. T ...
''. '' Free negro'' was the legal status in the territory of an African-American person who was not enslaved. In response to the project of the
American Colonization Society The American Colonization Society (ACS), initially the Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America until 1837, was an American organization founded in 1816 by Robert Finley to encourage and support the migration of free peo ...
to transport free Blacks to the future Liberia, a project most Blacks strongly rejected, the Blacks at the time said they were no more African than White Americans were European, and referred to themselves with what they considered a more acceptable term, "
colored ''Colored'' (or ''coloured'') is a racial descriptor historically used in the United States during the Jim Crow, Jim Crow Era to refer to an African Americans, African American. In many places, it may be considered a Pejorative, slur, though it ...
Americans". The term was used until the second quarter of the 20th century, when it was considered outmoded and generally gave way again to the exclusive use of ''negro''. By the 1940s, the term was commonly capitalized (''Negro''); but by the mid-1960s, it was considered disparaging. By the end of the 20th century, ''negro'' had come to be considered inappropriate and was rarely used and perceived as a
pejorative A pejorative or slur is a word or grammatical form expressing a negative or a disrespectful connotation, a low opinion, or a lack of respect toward someone or something. It is also used to express criticism, hostility, or disregard. Sometimes, a ...
. The term is rarely used by younger Black people, but remained in use by many older African Americans who had grown up with the term, particularly in the southern U.S. The term remains in use in some contexts, such as the United Negro College Fund, an American philanthropic organization that funds scholarships for Black students and general scholarship funds for 39 private historically Black colleges and universities. There are many other deliberately insulting terms, many of which were in common use (e.g., ''
nigger In the English language, the word ''nigger'' is an ethnic slur used against black people, especially African Americans. Starting in the late 1990s, references to ''nigger'' have been progressively replaced by the euphemism , notably in cases ...
''), but had become unacceptable in normal discourse before the end of the 20th century. One exception is the use, among the Black community, of the slur ''nigger'' rendered as ''
nigga ''Nigga'' () is a Colloquialism, colloquial and Vulgarism, vulgar term used in African-American Vernacular English that began as a dialect form of the word ''nigger'', an List of ethnic slurs, ethnic slur against black people. The word is co ...
'', representing the pronunciation of the word in
African-American English African-American English (or AAE; also known as Black American English, or Black English in American linguistics) is the set of English sociolects spoken by most Black people in the United States and many in Canada; most commonly, it refers t ...
. This usage has been popularized by American rap and hip-hop music cultures and is used as part of an in-group
lexicon A lexicon is the vocabulary of a language or branch of knowledge (such as nautical or medical). In linguistics, a lexicon is a language's inventory of lexemes. The word ''lexicon'' derives from Koine Greek language, Greek word (), neuter of () ...
and speech. It is not necessarily
derogatory A pejorative or slur is a word or grammatical form expressing a negative or a disrespectful connotation, a low opinion, or a lack of respect toward someone or something. It is also used to express criticism, hostility, or disregard. Sometimes, a ...
and, when used among Black people, the word is often used to mean "homie" or "friend." Acceptance of intra-group usage of the word ''nigga'' is still debated, although it has established a foothold among younger generations. The
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E.&nb ...
denounces the use of both ''nigga'' and ''nigger''. Mixed-race usage of ''nigga'' is still considered taboo, particularly if the speaker is White. However, trends indicate that usage of the term in intragroup settings is increasing even among White youth due to the popularity of rap and hip hop culture.Kevin Aldridge, Richelle Thompson and Earnest Winston
"The evolving N-word"
''The Cincinnati Enquirer'', August 5, 2001.


See also

* African-American art * African American cinema *
African-American middle class The African-American middle class consists of African-Americans who have American middle class, middle-class status within the Social class in the United States, American class structure. It is a societal level within the African-American commun ...
* African-American neighborhood * African-American upper class *
African diaspora in the Americas The African diaspora in the Americas refers to the people born in the Americas with partial, predominantly, or completely African ancestry. Many are descendants of persons enslaved in Africa and transferred to the Americas by Europeans, then fo ...
* Afrophobia * AP African American Studies *
Black Belt in the American South The Black Belt in the American South refers to the social history, especially concerning slavery and black workers, of the geological region known as the Black Belt (geological formation), Black Belt. The geology emphasizes the highly fertile ...
*
Black Hispanic and Latino Americans Black Hispanic and Latino Americans, also called Afro-Hispanics ( es, Afrohispano, links=no), Afro-Latinos or Black Hispanics, or Black Latinos are classified by the United States Census Bureau The United States Census Bureau (USCB), off ...
* Black Southerners *
Civil rights movement (1865–1896) The civil rights movement (1865–1896) aimed to eliminate racism, racial discrimination against African Americans, improve their educational and employment opportunities, and establish their electoral power, just after the abolition of slavery ...
* Civil rights movement (1896–1954) *
Juneteenth Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of Slavery in the United States, enslaved African Americans. Deriving its name from combining "June" and "nineteenth", it is celebrated on the anniversary of ...
*
National Museum of African American History and Culture The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is a Smithsonian Institution museum located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the United States. It was established in December 2003 and opened its permanent home in ...
* North Africans in the United States * Society and Black people in the Spanish Colonial Americas * South African Americans *
Stereotypes of African Americans Stereotype In social psychology, a stereotype is a generalized belief about a particular category of people. It is an expectation that people might have about every person of a particular group. The type of expectation can vary; it c ...
* Timeline of the civil rights movement *
West Indian Americans Caribbean Americans or West Indian Americans are Americans who trace their ancestry to the Caribbean. Caribbean Americans are a multi-ethnic and multi-racial group that trace their ancestry further in time mostly to Africa, as well as Asia, the ...


Diaspora

* African Americans in Africa ** African Americans in Ghana ** Americo-Liberian people **
Sierra Leone Creole people The Sierra Leone Creole people ( kri, Krio people) are an ethnic group of Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone Creole people are lineal descendant, descendants of freed African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and Sierra Leone Liberated African, Liberated Af ...
* African Americans in France * African Americans in Israel *
Black Nova Scotians Black Nova Scotians (also known as African Nova Scotians and Afro-Nova Scotians) are Black Canadians whose ancestors primarily date back to the Colonial history of the United States, Colonial United States as Slavery in the United States, slaves ...
* Samaná Americans


Lists

* Index of articles related to African Americans * List of African-American neighborhoods * List of African-American newspapers and media outlets * List of historically black colleges and universities * List of African-American inventors and scientists * List of monuments to African Americans * List of populated places in the United States with African-American plurality populations * List of topics related to the African diaspora * Lists of African Americans


Notes


References


Further reading

* * Finkelman, Paul, ed. ''Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass'' (3 vol Oxford University Press, 2006). * Finkelman, Paul, ed. ''Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century'' (5 vol. Oxford University Press, USA, 2009). *
John Hope Franklin John Hope Franklin (January 2, 1915 – March 25, 2009) was an American historian of the United States and former president of Phi Beta Kappa, the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Southern Histor ...
, Alfred Moss, ''From Slavery to Freedom. A History of African Americans'', McGraw-Hill Education 2001, standard work, first edition in 1947. * Gates, Henry L. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (eds), ''African American Lives'', Oxford University Press, 2004 – more than 600 biographies. *
Darlene Clark Hine Darlene Clark Hine (born February 7, 1947) is an American author and professor in the field of African-American history. She is a recipient of the 2014 National Humanities Medal. Early life and education Darlene Clark was born in Morley, Missouri ...
, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Elsa Barkley Brown (eds), ''Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia'', Paperback Edition, Indiana University Press 2005. * Kranz, Rachel. ''African-American Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs'' (Infobase Publishing, 2004). * Salzman, Jack, ed. ''Encyclopedia of Afro-American culture and history'', New York City : Macmillan Library Reference USA, 1996. * *


External links

* Richard Thompson For
Name Games
''Slate'', September 16, 2004. Article discussing the problems of defining ''African American''
"Of Arms & the Law: Don Kates on Afro-American Homicide Rates"

''Scientific American'' Magazine (June 2006) Trace Elements
Reconnecting African Americans to an ancestral past
"The Definition of Political Absurdity"
''San Francisco Chronicle'', March 2, 2007

pdf

– see Part III, Chap 10
Black History related original documents and photos

President Obama's Speech to the NAACP on July 16, 2009
– full video by MSNBC * Frank Newport
"Black or African American?"
, Gallup, September 28, 2007
"The Long Journey of Black Americans"
nbsp;– slideshow by '' The First Post'' {{Authority control Ethnic groups in the United States History of civil rights in the United States American