Titlu referat: African American History
Nivel referat: liceu
African American History
I INTRODUCTION African American History or Black American History, a history of
black people in the United States from their arrival in the Americas in the
15th century until the present day. In 1996, 33.9 million Americans, about one
out of every eight people in the United States, were black. Although blacks
from the West Indies and other areas have migrated to the United States in the
20th century, most African Americans were born in the United States, and this
has been true since the
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., emerged as a leader
of the American civil rights movement after organizing the famous 1955 bus
boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. Throughout his career he pressed for equal
treatment and improved circumstances for blacks, organizing nonviolent protests
and delivering powerful speeches on the necessity of eradicating institutional
racial inequalities. In 1963 King led a peaceful march between the Washington
Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, where he delivered his most famous speech,
“I Have a Dream.”
Courtesy of Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
All rights reserved./UPI/THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE1
early 19th century. Until the mid-20th
century, the African American population was concentrated in the Southern
states. Even today, nearly half of all African Americans live in the South.
Blacks also make up a significant part of the population in most urban areas in
the eastern United States and in some mid-western and western cities as
II AFRICAN HERITAGE Africans and their descendants have been a part of the story of
the Americas at least since the late 1400s. As scouts, interpreters,
navigators, and military men, blacks were among those who first encountered
Native Americans. Beginning in the colonial period, African Americans provided
most of the labor on which
European settlement, development, and wealth depended, especially after
European wars and diseases decimated Native Americans.
had extensive experience in cultivating rice, cotton, and sugar, all crops
grown in West and North Africa. These skills became the basis of a flourishing
plantation economy. Africans were also skilled at ironworking, music and
musical instruments, the decorative arts, and architecture. Their work, which
still marks the landscape today, helped shape American cultural styles. They
brought with them African words, religious beliefs, styles of worship,
aesthetic values, musical forms and rhythms. All of these were important from
the beginning in shaping a hybrid American culture.
THE SLAVE TRADE Portuguese traders brought the
first African slaves for agricultural labor to the Caribbean in 1502. From then
until 1860, it is estimated that more than 10 million people were transported
from Africa to the Americas. The great majority were brought to the Caribbean,
Brazil, or the Spanish colonies of Central and South America. Only about 6
percent were traded in British North America.
Dutch, and British controlled most of the Atlantic slave trade. Most Africans
taken to North America came from the various cultures of western and west
central Africa. The territories that are now Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria
were the origins of most slaves brought to North America, although significant
numbers also came from the areas that are now Senegal, Gambia, and Angola.
These areas were home to diverse linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups. Most
of the people enslaved were subsistence farmers and raised livestock. Their
agricultural and pastoral skills made them valuable laborers in the
the captured Africans to the Americas, Europeans loaded them onto specially
constructed ships with platforms below deck designed to maximize the numbers of
slaves that could be transported. Africans were confined for two to three
months in irons in the hold of a slave ship during the crossing of the Atlantic
Ocean called the Middle Passage. The meager diet of rice, yams, or beans and
the filthy conditions created by overcrowding resulted in a very high death
rate. Many ships reached their destinations with barely half their cargo of
slaves still alive to sell into forced labor in the Americas.
Africans brought to the English colonies in North America came on a Dutch
privateer that landed at Jamestown, Virginia, in August 1619. The ship had
started out with about 100 captives, but it had run into extremely bad weather.
When the ship finally put into Jamestown, it had only 20 surviving Africans to
sell to the struggling colony. Soon many of the colonies along the Atlantic
seaboard started importing African slaves. The Dutch West India Company brought
11 Africans to its garrison trading post in New Amsterdam (known today as New
York City) in 1626, and Pennsylvanians imported 150 Africans in
IV SLAVES IN COLONIAL AMERICA
A Occupation of Slaves The vast majority of Africans brought to the 13 British colonies
worked as agricultural laborers; many were brought to the colonies specifically
for their experience in rice growing, cattle herding, or river navigation. For
example, South Carolina planters drew upon the knowledge of slaves from
Senegambia in West Africa to begin cultivating rice, their first major export
crop. In the South, slaves grew tobacco in Maryland, Virginia, and North
Carolina, and rice and indigo in South Carolina and Georgia. In the North,
slaves also worked on farms.
African Americans, slave and free, also
worked in a wide variety of occupations. They were household workers, sailors,
preachers, accountants, music teachers, medical assistants, blacksmiths,
bricklayers, and carpenters, doing virtually any work American society
B Slave Populations By 1750 there were nearly 240,000 people of African descent in
British North America, fully 20 percent of the population, though they were not
evenly distributed. The greatest number of African Americans lived in Virginia,
Maryland, and South Carolina because large plantations with many slaves were
concentrated in the South. Blacks constituted over 60 percent of the population
in South Carolina, over 43 percent in Virginia, and over 30 percent in
Maryland, but only about 2 percent in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New
Hampshire. In the Northern colonies, enslaved people were much more likely to
work in households having only one or a few slaves.
Virtually all colonies had a small number of
free blacks, but in colonial America, only Maryland had a sizeable free black
population. Over the generations of enslavement, at least 95 percent of
Africans in the United States lived in slavery. But even as early as the 1600s,
some gained their freedom by buying themselves or being bought by relatives.
Since slavery was inherited through the status of the mother, some blacks
became free if they were born to non-slave mothers. Others gained their freedom
from bondage for meritorious acts or long competent labor.
C Slavery versus Indentured Servitude Slavery was the most extreme, but
not the only form of unfree labor in British North America. Many Europeans and
some Africans were held as indentured servants. Neither slaves nor indentured
servants were free, but there were important differences. Slavery was
involuntary and hereditary. Indentured servants made contracts, often an
exchange of labor for passage to America. They served for a limited time,
commonly seven years, and generally received "freedom dues," often land and
clothing, upon finishing their indenture. Although some slaves gained freedom
after a limited term, others served for life, and a second generation inherited
the slave status of their mothers. Gradually by the 18th century, colonial laws
were consolidated into slave codes providing for perpetual, inherited servitude
for Africans who were defined as property to be bought and sold.
day-to-day lives, slaves and servants shared similar grievances and frequently
formed alliances. Advertisements seeking the return of slaves and servants who
had run away together filled colonial newspapers. When a slave named Charles
escaped in 1740, the Pennsylvania Gazette reported that two white servants, a "Scotch man" and an
Englishman, escaped with him. Sometimes interracial alliances involved
violence. During Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, slaves and servants took up arms
against Native Americans and the colonial government in Virginia. In 1712 New
York officials executed Native Americans and African American slaves for
plotting a revolt, and in 1741 four whites were executed and seven banished
from colonial New York for participating with slaves in a conspiracy. People in
similar circumstances—poor and unfree whites, Native Americans, and blacks-formed
alliances throughout the colonial era.
V AMERICAN REVOLUTION A Black
Participation in the War After the British defeated the French in the French and Indian War
(1754-1763), the British began to change their relationship with their American
colonies. They started to increase taxes, demanded that the colonists help pay
for British soldiers stationed in the colonies, and controlled the colonial
trade opportunities more carefully. Most colonists were outraged, particularly
about the new taxes. They felt that Great Britain did...
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