African American

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{| class="infobox" cellspacing="5" style="width: 22em; text-align: center; font-size: 88%; line-height: 1.5em" |+ style="font-size: larger; font-weight: bold" | African American |-

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|- | Frederick Douglass Barack Obama Rosa Parks
Condoleezza Rice M. L. King, Jr. Beyoncé Knowles
Malcolm X Oprah Winfrey Booker T. Washington
Michael Jordan Harriet Tubman Muhammad Ali
|- ! style="background-color: #b0c4de" | Total population |- | African American
37,000,000 [1]
(~12% of the US population)
Non-Hispanic Black
36,701,103 [1]
Black Hispanic
884,947 [1] |- ! style="background-color: #b0c4de" | Regions with significant populations |- | Throughout the Southern United States, parts of the Northeast, the Midwest, and California |-

! style="background-color: #b0c4de" | Languages |- | American English African American Vernacular English recent immigrants and its children speak Caribbean English Spanish French Brazilian Portuguese Haitian Creole African languages |- ! style="background-color: #b0c4de" | Religion |- | Majority: Protestantism
Minority: Catholicism Islam Judaism |- ! style="background-color: #b0c4de" | Related ethnic groups |- | Other Afro-American peoples of the Americas
(especially Anglophones) ----Americo-Liberian Sierra Leone Creole people ----Black British African Americans in France


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|} African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans, and formerly as American Negroes) are citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa.[2] In the United States, the terms are generally used for Americans with at least partial Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Most African Americans are the direct descendants of captive Africans who survived the slavery era within the boundaries of the present United States, although some are—or are descended from—immigrants from African, Caribbean, Central American or South American nations.[3] As an adjective, the term is usually spelled African-American.[4]

African-American history starts in the 17th century with indentured servitude in British America and progresses onto the election of Barack Obama as the 44th and current President of the United States. Between those landmarks there were other events and issues, both resolved and ongoing, that were faced by African Americans. Some of these were slavery, reconstruction, development of the African-American community, participation in the great military conflicts of the United States, racial segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement. African Americans make up the single largest racial minority in the United States and form the second largest racial group after whites in the United States.[5]

History

Slavery era

The first recorded Africans in British North America (including most of the future United States) arrived in 1619 as indentured servants who settled in Jamestown, Virginia. As English settlers died from harsh conditions more and more Africans were brought to work as laborers. Africans for many years were similar in legal position to poor English indenturees, who traded several years labor in exchange for passage to America.[6] Africans could legally raise crops and cattle to purchase their freedom.[7] They raised families, marrying other Africans and sometimes intermarrying with Native Americans or English settlers.[8] By the 1640s and 1650s, several African families owned farms around Jamestown and some became wealthy by colonial standards.

The popular conception of a race-based slave system did not fully develop until the 18th century. The first black congregations and churches were organized before 1800 in both northern and southern cities following the Great Awakening. By 1775, Africans made up 20% of the population in the American colonies, which made them the second largest ethnic group after the English.[9] During the 1770s, Africans, both enslaved and free, helped rebellious English colonists secure American Independence by defeating the British in the American Revolution.[10] Africans and Englishmen fought side by side and were fully integrated.[11] James Armistead, an African American, played a large part in making possible the 1781 Yorktown victory, which established the United States as an independent nation.[12] Other prominent African Americans were Prince Whipple and Oliver Cromwell, who are both depicted in the front of the boat in George Washington's famous 1776 Crossing the Delaware portrait.

By 1860, there were 3.5 million enslaved African Americans in the United States due to the Atlantic slave trade, and another 500,000 African Americans lived free across the country.[13] In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation declared that all slaves in states which had seceded from the Union were free.[14] Advancing Union troops enforced the proclamation with Texas being the last state to be emancipated in 1865.[15]

Reconstruction and Jim Crow

African Americans quickly set up congregations for themselves, as well as schools, community and 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, in the late 1890s, Southern states enacted Jim Crow laws to enforce racial segregation and disenfranchisement.[16] Most African Americans followed the Jim Crow laws, using a mask of compliance to prevent becoming victims of racially motivated violence. To maintain self-esteem and dignity, African Americans such as Anthony Overton and Mary McLeod Bethune continued to build their own schools, churches, banks, social clubs, and other businesses.[17]

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. These discriminatory acts included racial segregation—upheld by the United States Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896[18]—which was legally mandated by southern states and nationwide at the local level of government, voter suppression 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.