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Total population 35,624,779
Regions with significant populations North America:
USA - 34,962,569, 12.1% of US population (2005)<ref name="US Census Bureau, racial breakdown of the United States in 2005">Template:Cite web</ref>
Canada - 662,210
Language American English, others
Religion Christianity, Islam, others <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th>
<td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">Sub-saharan Africans and other African groups, some with Native American groups.</td>


African American topics
African American history
African American military history
Atlantic slave trade
Jim Crow laws
Civil Rights
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Nation of Islam  ·  Santería
Doctrine of Father Divine
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Civil Rights (1896 to 1954)
Civil Rights (1955 to 1968)
Garveyism  ·  Black nationalism
Black populism
African American leftism
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NPHC · Links · 
Negro League (baseball)
Literature  ·  Studies
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An African American (also Afro-American, Black American) is a member of an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. Many African Americans possess European, Native American and, to a lesser degree, Asian ancestry as well. In the United States the term is generally used for those of black African ancestry, and not, for example, to European colonial or Arab African ancestry, such as Arab Moroccan or white South African-European ancestry.

The majority of African Americans are the descendants of enslaved Africans transported via the Middle Passage from West and Central Africa to North America and the Caribbean from 1565 through 1807 during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Others have arrived in the United States through more recent immigration from the Caribbean, South and Central America and Africa. Black immigrants from African and European nations and predominantly black, non-Hispanic Caribbean countries such as Haiti (with its strong Afro-Latin, non-Anglo culture), the Bahamas and Jamaica, though often referred to by their national origins and not culturally defined as African American socially, are demographically classified with black and/or African American by the U.S. Census; however in general, the American assumption is that if a person is black, native English-speaking and living in the United States, he or she is African American. Most Caribbean people or "dark" skin will identify with black since it has no connotation of culture, but they will not identify with African-American. Most people in Latin American of African features and "dark" skin identify as black and are referred to as "black" until they encounter US census statistics that redefine their culture and racial categories to American standards. This continuous redefining and mixing of racial and ethnic categories as one form of identity in America (e.g. black and Caribbean as African-American, Indian in appearance and 3rd generation Caribbean as Asian) continue to dominate Americans' view of "bi-racial" and "multi-racial" but are not reflective of the views of those being classified of Caribbean or Latin American origins (birth).

Until the events of the American Civil War (18611865) and, in particular, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1865) resulted in the abolishment of chattel slavery in the United States, most Blacks in America were slaves.

Both during and after slavery times, African Americans have made significant contributions to American culture. Their influence has been particularly obvious in popular music and dance—some American musical genres, such as blues, jazz, and hip hop are essentially African American, and the dance forms associated with them are of largely African American origin—but is also enormous in areas ranging from the vocabulary of vernacular American English to religion and theology, both in American Protestantism and American Islam.

During slavery times, and again during the Jim Crow era, African Americans were subject to de jure segregation and discrimination and were kept almost entirely out of political power. The African-American Civil Rights Movement scored a series of victories from the 1940s into the early 1970s that put an end to de jure segregation and discrimination, made inroads against de facto segregation and discrimination, increased opportunities for African Americans to enter the middle class, and brought African American voices into American politics.


Definition and nomenclature

African Americans descend primarily from enslaved Africans brought to the United States, especially the American South, between 1565 and 1807, the majority of whom were brought in the 18th century. About three-quarters of the slaves came from West Africa and the remaining quarter came from the Angola-Congo region.<ref>Ethnicities in the United States in The Transatlantic Slave Trade in The African-American Migration Experience, on Accessed 1 December 2006.</ref> Some estimate that the average African American is 80% African-descended, 40% of African Americans also have some Native American ancestry.<ref>[ AncestryByDNA Experiments], Accessed 1 December 2006.</ref><ref>Joseph Graves, Jr., The Myth of Race: America's Original Science Fiction, Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota. Accessed 1 December 2006.</ref>

Previously acceptable terms that are now viewed as archaic (and, outside of historical contexts, even insulting) include Negro and Colored; today, the most common term is probably African American, with Black also commonly accepted since the late 1960s; the term Afro-American was apparently first prominently used in 1961 by a group of activists including Maya Angelou and Leroi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka) <ref>Scott Saul, "On the Lower Frequencies: Rethinking the Black Power movement" p.92-98 in Harper's, December 2006, p.94. The group had protested in the United Nations Security Council against Belgian and U.S. complicity in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba.</ref> and became common from the late 1960s into the 1980s; it remains generally acceptable, but less common, and has lately been developing a "period" connotation. Blacks are also included in the broader term "people of color".

The history of the use of these terms is evident in the names of various African American organizations founded over time. The civil rights organization the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), founded 1909, is significantly older than the philanthropic organization the United Negro College Fund, founded in 1944. The term colored had come to be seen as politically incorrect by the time of the UNCF's founding. Nonetheless, both Negro and colored remained common until the late 1960s, especially in the Southern United States.

As the Civil Rights Movement evolved in the 1960s into the Black Power / Black Pride movement, these older terms lost favor and became associated with the pre-civil-rights situation of Blacks in America. Through this movement, the terms Black and Afro-American both emerged into common usage in the late 1960s. Due to this legacy, by 1980, the term Black had become accepted by a majority of Americans of African descent, and had also became the referential term applied by white Americans in general.

In the late 1980s, Blacks began to abandon the term Afro-American, adopting the autonym African American instead. Some did so out of a desire for an unabbreviated expression of their African heritage that could not be mistaken or derided as an allusion to the afro hairstyle. Others wished to assert their pride in their African origins. The term dated back at least to Black nationalist Malcolm X, who favored African American as more historically and culturally defining over other terms, and used it at an OAAU (Organization of Afro American Unity) meeting in the mid-1960s, saying, "Twenty-two million African Americans - that's what we are - Africans who are in America." However, it did not become widely used at that time. During the 1980s, the most influential proponent of the widespread adoption of the term was Jesse Jackson. Jackson and like-minded persons argued that African American was more in keeping with the United States tradition of "hyphenated Americans", which links people with their ancestors' geographic points of origin, and allows people to assert pride in their ethnic heritage, while maintaining an American national identity.

This usage of the term African American generally refers to black African ancestry and American nationality.But generally speaking, the term does not include whites or Asians from Africa, nor does it include Africans in Africa, the Caribbean, or elsewhere. Still, there is disagreement as to whether the term should refer only to Blacks who can trace their American roots to the colonial period or slavery, or whether it also should include black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and their descendants. To some extent, this is a matter of cultural vs. geographic meaning. In the narrow sense, the term refers only to those descended from a small number of colonial indentured servants and the estimated 500,000 Africans taken to British North America (later becoming the United States) as slaves (of approximately 10 - 12 million Africans taken to the Western Hemisphere in general). In a broader usage, the term can include West Indian and Afro-Latino immigrants whose African ancestors also survived the Middle Passage or recent African immigrants/children of immigrants with American citizenship, but these groups tend to use the ethnic terms Latino or Hispanic, or identify themselves by their countries of origin (for example, as Nigerian, Dominican or Jamaican instead of African American). The term does not include predominantly European, Arab or South Asian-descended immigrants from the African continent, and they are not generally considered to be indigenous Africans by the black African majority. However, under certain circumstances these groups that have existed in the Central American and Caribbean region since the 1600's will be called black by people from these diverse regions. There is a multitude of asian descendants from the 1600's in the Caribbean and Central Americas. This mixing of culture and "race" has lead to mostly "dark" skinned peoples of this region referred to as "black" or Afican American, but neither is a term these people claim as a part of their identity.

Non-blacks from Africa who become permanent residents or citizens of the United States are not generally referred to as African American, nor are they thought of as such in the United States.

As a result of the US power in classification and re-classification demographics are slightly skewed to fit a bell shape curve in many instances. Migration and bloodline patterns for people of Afican Ancestry is not taken into account in the wider picture of "African-American" classification. The main classifications as of today are skin color and then country of origin.


Metropolitan Areas with High Populations of African Americans (2000 Census)
Rank Metropolitan Area African American Population % of African Americans
1st New York City, New York 2,166,576 23.3
2nd Chicago, Illinois 1,557,619 18.8
3rd Washington D.C. District of Columbia 1,288,470 26.2
4th Atlanta, Georgia 1,189,179 28.9
5th Detroit, Michigan 1,024,353 23.1
6th Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1,023,425 20.1
7th Los Angeles, California 924,518 9.7
8th Houston, Texas 727,165 17.4
9th Baltimore, Maryland 703,323 27.5
10th Dallas, Texas 530,715 15.1
Image:New 2000 black percent.gif
African Americans as percent of population, 2000.
Image:New 2000 black density.gif
African American population density, 2000.

In 1790, when the first census was taken, African Americans numbered about 760,000—about 19% of the population. In 1860, at the start of the American Civil War, the African American population 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, but large numbers began migrating north looking for better job opportunities and living conditions, and to escape Jim Crow 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 moved north. But in the 1970s and 1980s, that trend reversed, with more African Americans moving south to the Sunbelt than leaving it.

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. In current demographics, according to 2005 U.S. Census figures, some 39.9 million African Americans live in the United States, comprising 13.8 percent of the total population. African Americans were once the largest minority in the United States, but are now second, only behind Hispanics or Latinos of any race. At the time of the 2000 Census, 54.8 percent of African Americans lived in the South. In that year, 17.6 percent of African Americans lived in the Northeast and 18.7 percent in the Midwest, while only 8.9 percent 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.

Almost 88 percent of African Americans lived in metropolitan areas in 2000. With over 2 million black residents, New York City had the largest black urban population in the United States in 2000, overall the city has a 23 percent black population. Chicago has the second largest black population, with almost 1.6 million African Americans in it's metropolitan area, representing about 18 percent of the total metropolitan population. Among cities of 100,000 or more, Gary, Indiana, had the highest percentage of black residents of any U.S. city in 2000, with 85 percent. A 2006 estimate puts Gary's population below 100,000, however, many plans are being made to renovate the city, including the expansion of the Gary/Chicago International airport, which is expected to bring jobs along with the overall city population. Nonetheless, Gary is followed closely by Detroit, Michigan, with 83 percent African American. Atlanta, Georgia, has a substantial African American population of about 65 percent. Baltimore, Maryland, has a high African American population of 64 percent. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with 43 percent, and Washington, D.C., with 60 percent, Memphis with 61 percent, are also large African American population centers.

The nation's most affluent county with a majority African American population is Prince George's County, Maryland, with a median income of $62,467. Other affluent African American majority counties include Dekalb County in Georgia, and Charles City County in Virginia.


Image:WEB Du Bois.jpg
W.E.B. Du Bois, notable proponent of Pan-Africanism, prominent intellectual leader and civil rights activist in the African-American community; co-founder of the Niagara Movement and the NAACP.

Blacks in America are descended from many diverse sub-Saharan African ethnic groups. Members of over 40 identifiable ethnic groups from at least 25 different kingdoms were sold to British North America (which later became Canada and the United States) during the Atlantic slave trade. These African slaves were usually sold to European traders by powerful coastal or interior states in exchange for European goods such as textiles and firearms. Africans were very rarely kidnapped by Europeans because they could not penetrate the interior. The danger of fatal disease was ever-present and the coastal areas were dominated by powerful warrior kingdoms. Africans sold and traded into bondage and shipped to the United States came from eight distinct slave-trading regions in Africa, including Senegambia (present-day Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau), Sierra Leone (also includes the area of present-day Liberia), the Windward Coast (present-day Ivory Coast), the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana and surrounding areas), the Bight of Benin (present-day Togo, Benin and western Nigeria), the Bight of Biafra (Nigeria south of the Benue River, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea), Central Africa (Gabon, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Southeast Africa (Mozambique and Madagascar).

Enslaved Africans brought their own religious beliefs, languages, and cultural practices with them when they were forced on ships from Africa to the New World; however, slave traders and owners mounted a systematic and brutal campaign to de-Africanize them, eventually nearly completely stripping them of their original names, languages and religious beliefs. As additional means of subjugation, slave owners often intentionally mixed people who spoke many different African languages to discourage communication in any language other than English on their plantations and it became illegal for slaves to be taught to read or write. Over time, Africans in America formed a new and common identity focused on their mutual condition in America as opposed to cultural and historic ties to Africa.

Booker T. Washington, political leader, educator, author, and one of the dominant figures in African American culture and politics in the early 20th century

By 1860, there were 3.5 million enslaved Africans in the Southern United States, and another 500,000 Africans lived free across the country. Slavery was a controversial issue in American society and politics. The growth of abolitionism, which opposed the institution of slavery, culminated in the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, and was one reason for the secession of the Confederate States of America, which led to the American Civil War (1861 - 1865). After the Civil War, the United States offered certain civil rights to African Americans. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 declared all slaves in the Confederacy free under U.S. law. It included exceptions for those held in all territories that had not seceded, however, and thus did not immediately free a single slave, since U.S. law held no sway over the Confederacy at the time. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865, freed all slaves, including those in states that had not seceded. During Reconstruction, African Americans in the South obtained the right to vote and to hold public office, as well as a number of other civil rights they previously had been denied. However, when Reconstruction ended in 1877, southern, white landowners reinstituted the "Jim Crow" regime of disenfranchisement and racial segregation, and with it a wave of terrorism and repression, including lynchings and other vigilante violence.

During the Progressive Era, black members of the middle class attempted improving the conditions of their race. This movement was strongest in the Southern United States and it often revolved around black southern universities such as Tuskegee University and Atlanta University, academic journals, and the Episcopal Church. Like white progressives, black progressives helped the working class through charitable means while supporting political changes that increased the role of the state in creating socioeconomic equity, as opposed to equality. Many black progressives were elitist and often condescending towards those they were intent on helping, akin to white progressives' attitudes and actions towards European immigrants. Black progressives were successful in their charitable efforts, but often were not concerned with issues like racial segregation. Instead, they supported a social darwinist mentality with the hope that blacks through hardwork and education could accelerate their social evolution. The plight of most black people did not improve during this time due to racist policies supported by many Whites and white vigilante action.

In the last decade of the nineteenth century in the United States, racially discriminatory laws and racial violence aimed at African Americans began to mushroom. Elected, appointed, or hired government authorities began to require or permit discrimination, specifically in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Kansas. 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 or disfranchisement 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. Although racial discrimination was present nationwide, the combination of law, public and private acts of discrimination, marginal economic opportunity, and violence directed toward African Americans in the southern states became known as Jim Crow. The desperate conditions of African Americans in the South that sparked the Great Migration of the early 20th century, combined with a growing African American intellectual and cultural elite in the Northern United States, led to a movement to fight violence and discrimination against African Americans that, like abolitionism before it, crossed racial lines. One of the most prominent of these groups, the NAACP, galvanized by outspoken journalist and activist Ida B. Wells Barnett, led an anti-lynching crusade. In the 1950s, the organization mounted a series of calculated legal challenges to overturn Jim Crow segregation, culminating in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision.

Image:Martin Luther King - March on Washington.jpg
Nobel Peace Laureate and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech before over 200,000 people in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the 1963 March on Washington.

The Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board was one of defining moments of the modern-day American Civil Rights Movement. It was part of a long-term strategy to strike down Jim Crow segregation in public education, the hospitality industry, public transportation, employment and housing, granting equal access to African Americans and ensuring their right to vote.

The Civil Rights Movement aimed at abolishing public and private acts of racial discrimination against African Americans between 1954 to 1968, particularly in the southern United States. 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 racial dignity, economic and political self-sufficiency, and freedom from white authority. Several scholars have begun to refer to the Civil Rights Movement as the Second Reconstruction. The Civil Rights Movement and subsequent Black Power Movement was the culmination of generations of oppression and contained several key events in American history, including the murder of Emmett Till, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, the desegregation of Little Rock, Arkansas, multiple sit-ins and freedom rides, the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and many other notable events. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the conditions which brought it into being are credited with putting pressure on President John F. Kennedy and then Lyndon B. Johnson that culminated in the passage the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned discrimination in public accommodations, employment, and labor unions.

The "Mississippi Freedom Summer" of 1964 brought thousands of idealistic youth, black and white, to the state to run "freedom schools", to teach basic literacy, history and civics. Other volunteers were involved in voter registration drives. The season was marked by harassment, intimidation and violence directed at Civil Rights workers and their host families. The disappearance of three youths, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Philadelphia, Mississippi, captured the attention of the nation. Six weeks later, searchers found the savagely beaten body of Chaney, a black man, in a muddy dam alongside the remains of his two white companions, who had been shot to death. Outrage at the escalating injustices of the "Mississippi Blood Summer", as it by then had come to be known, and at the brutality of the murders brought about the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Act struck down barriers to black enfranchisement and was the capstone to more than a decade of major civil rights legislation.

By this time, African Americans who questioned the effectiveness of nonviolent protest had gained a greater voice. More militant black leaders, such as Malcolm X of the Nation of Islam and Eldridge Cleaver of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, called for blacks to defend themselves, using violence, if necessary. From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, the Black Power movement urged African Americans to look to Africa for inspiration and emphasized black solidarity, rather than integration. The movement reached its peak in the 1960s under leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney Young, and Roy Wilkins, Sr. At the same time, Nation of Islam spokesman Malcolm X and, later, Stokely Carmichael, the Black Panther Party, and the Republic of New Africa called for African Americans to embrace black nationalism and black self-empowerment, propounding ideas of African (black) unity, solidarity and pan-Africanism. By the end of the 1960's, however, several civil rights activists, leaders and pan-africanists were assassinated, including Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Hampton. Nevertheless, politically and economically, African Americans have made substantial strides in the post-civil rights era.

Economic Status

The collective economic status of African Americans is a matter of contentious debate, with statistics simultaneously suggesting both the residual effects of historical marginalization and sustained progress for large sections of the population in the United States, and the greater affluence of the group when compared to populations outside of the United States. The median income of African Americans as a group is roughly 65 percent<ref name="DeNavas-Walt">Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, Cheryl Hill Lee, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004PDF, U.S. Census P60-229, U.S. Census Bureau, August 2005.</ref> of that of "white" people, that is, "people having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa"<ref>Elizebeth M. Grieca, The White Population: 2000PDF, Census 2000 Brief C2KBR/01-4, U.S. Census Bureau, August 2001.</ref> according to census. The only county in the nation with a population over 65,000 where the median income among black households surpasses that of whites is Queens in New York City (the median income among black households there was close to $52,000 in 2005).<ref>Sam Roberts, "Black Incomes Surpass Whites in Queens", New York Times, 1 Oct 2006. Available online; site requires registration.</ref> Racial economic disparities are greatest of all at the highest levels of income, although this economic super elite does not reflect any American population collective, black or otherwise.

According to Forbes magazine's "wealthiest American" lists, a 2000 net-worth of $800 million dollars made Oprah Winfrey the richest African American of the 20th century, in sharp contrast to the 20th century's richest White American Bill Gates whose net-worth briefly hit $100 billion in 1999. However, in Forbes' list of 2006, Gates' net worth decreased to $53 billion USD while Winfrey's net worth increased to $1.5 billion USD,<ref>#242 Oprah Winfrey, the Forbes 400, 2006. Accessed 2006-10-01.</ref> cementing her status as the wealthiest African American of the 20th century(dubious) , the richest Black person on the face of the planet,<ref name="roles">Malonson, Roy Douglas. Condi and Oprah aren’t good role models for Black motherhood. African-American News & Issues. 2006-05-10. Accessed 2006-09-11</ref> and the first African American to make Business Week's 50 greatest philanthropists list.<ref>Oprah Winfrey Debuts as First African-American On BusinessWeek's Annual Ranking of 'Americas Top Philanthropists', BusinessWeek via PRNewsWire, November 19, 2004, Accessed 2006-10-01.</ref>
Image:Oprah Winfrey (2004).jpg
Philanthropist, talk show host, book critic, actor and magazine publisher Oprah Winfrey, richest African American of the 20th century, the world's only Black billionaire for 3 straight years<ref>Oprah Winfrey the richest black person in the world. African Echo Vol. 43, 2006-09-11. Accessed 2006-09-11</ref> <ref name="roles"/> <ref>#562 Oprah Winfrey. Forbes Special Report: The World's Billionaires (2006). Accessed 2006-09-11.</ref> and elected the Greatest American woman of all time.<ref>Reagan voted 'greatest American' . BBC News Tuesday, 2005-06-28. Accessed 2006-09-11.</ref>

Despite the poverty levels of many African American communities, current information points to a continuation of a long-term trend toward parity with national levels and absolutely higher levels of affluence than those experienced by most populations outside the United States. Since the mid to late 1990's, African American incomes have risen at a remarkable pace and the progress shows up at every income level - from the still-large but shrinking underclass, to the fast-developing black middle class, to the growing ranks of wealthy African Americans. Over 1.7 million African Americans have gone off the poverty rolls; earnings by African American women have moved to within a few percentage points of white womens'; and unemployment among blacks in recent years has dropped below the 10 percent mark. The poverty rate among African Americans has dropped from 26.5% in 1998 to 24.7% in 2004.<ref>Income, poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004, Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, Cheryl Hill Lee, United States Census Bureau, August 2005. Accessed online 30 October 2006.</ref> The growth in African American incomes is translating into big gains in buying power and opportunities for black businesses.

By 2003, sex had replaced race as the primary factor in life expectancy in the United States, with African American females expected to live longer than white males born in that year.<ref name="CDC2003Deaths">Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2003. Donna L. Hoyert, PhD.; Hsiang-Ching Kung, PhD.; Betty L. Smith, B.S. Ed. Division of Vital Statistics, Center for Disease Control. February 28, 2005. Last accessed September 23, 2006.</ref> In the same year, the gap in life expectancy between American whites (78.0) and blacks (72.8) had decreased to 5.2 years, reflecting a long term trend of this phenomenon.<ref name="CDC2003Deaths" /> The current life expectancy of African Americans as a group is comparable to those of other groups who live in countries with a high human development index. In 2004, African American workers had the second-highest median earnings of American minority groups after Asian Americans, and African Americans had the highest level of male-female income parity of all ethnic groups in the United States. <ref>Incomes, Earnings, and Poverty from the 2004 American Community Survey. United States Census Bureau. August 2005. Last accessed October 24, 2006.</ref> Also, among American minority groups, only Asian Americans were more likely to hold white collar occupations (management, professional, and related fields) <ref>Occupations: 2000. Peter Fronczek and Patricia Johnson, United States Census Bureau. August 2003. Last accessed October 24, 2006.</ref>, and African Americans were no more or less likely than whites to work in the service industry.<ref name="Black Pop-March 2002">The Black Population in the United States: March 2002. Jesse McKinnon, United States Census Bureau. April 2003. Last accessed October 24, 2006.</ref> In 2001, over half of African American households of married couples earned $50,000 or more.<ref name="Black Pop-March 2002"/> 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.<ref name="Black Pop-March 2002"/>

Collectively, African Americans are more involved in the American political process than other minority groups in the US, indicated by the highest level of voter registration and participation in elections among these groups in 2004. [1] African Americans collectively attain higher levels of education than immigrants to the United States. <ref>Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2004. Kelly Holder, United States Census Bureau. March 2006. Last accessed October 24, 2006.</ref>

Although the unemployment rate among African Americans (in 2002, approximately 11% <ref name="Black Pop-March 2002"/>) has typically been twice the rate among European Americans (app. 5% in the same year<ref>The Black Population in the United States: Population Characteristics, Jesse McKinnon, United States Census Bureau. April 2003. Last accessed October 30, 2006.</ref>), it is still comparable to rates found in France and Spain <ref>Background Note: France, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State, October 2006: "after hovering around 10% during the 2000s, unemployment [in France] slipped once again below the 9% margin in August 2006". Accessed October 30, 2006.</ref>, [2], and is slightly higher than the overall rate of the European Union [3]. When compared to populations outside of the United States and European Union, the collective affluence of African Americans is even more striking and disproportionate. Based on worker income alone (excluding purchasing power parity and extra wealth, both of which would accentuate the comparative affluence of African Americans), African Americans produced $586 billion in 2004[4],[5], slightly smaller than the GDP of Brazil in 2006 (even though Brazil's population is about 5 times the size of the African American one) [6], and approximately 80% the size of Russia's 2005 GDP (even though Russia's population is nearly 4 times the size of the African American one [7]. In 2004 this amount would have been ranked as the 15th largest GDP internationally (out of 177 ranked) [8], compared to a population ranking of 33 in 2005[9].

In 2005, the populations of Poland and African Americans were roughly equal, but the 2004 earnings of the latter group would have been nearly 2.5 times the size of the former's GDP in 2005[10]. In 2005, the Ukraine's population was approximately 10% larger than the African American population, but its GDP was over 8 times smaller than the 2004 earnings of the latter group. Argentina, arguably the most developed country in Latin American (with an overwhelmingly European population (97%)), has an unemployment rate slightly higher than that of African Americans as a group, the poverty rate is almost twice the rate [11], and the 2004 earnings of African American workers were nearly 3.5 times the size of Argentina's 2005 GDP, even though Argentina's population is slightly larger than the African American population [12]. In Mexico, whose human development index is comparable to those of most former Second World countries, and whose economy ranks as a mid-income one, the poverty rate is twice the rate of African Americans as a group [13], and even though its 2005 population was nearly 3 times the population of African Americans, Mexico's GDP from the same year exceeded the 2004 earnings of African American workers by only 25%[14].

In culturally diverse urban areas, however, urban African Americans, like other ethnic groups, may eat and cook differently from their rural counterparts. Many African Americans have also begun to incorporate Caribbean and African cuisine into their diets.

R&B, Hip Hop, Rap and Soul has a strong presence in African American and American culture in general. In the 21st century, African American genres have become some of the most dominant in mainstream popular music throughout the world. In African American communities across the United States, their genre of music reflects multiple and diverse aspects of African American historical and contemporary life and culture.

Contemporary issues

African Americans have improved their social economic standing significantly since the Civil Rights Movement and recent decades have witnessed the expansion of a robust, African American middle class across the United States. Unprecedented access to higher education and employment has been gained by African Americans in the post-civil rights era, however, due in part to the legacy of slavery, racism and discrimination, African Americans as a group remain at a pronounced economic, educational and social disadvantage in many areas relative to whites. Persistent social, economic and political issues for many African Americans include inadequate health care access and delivery; institutional racism and discrimination in housing, education, policing, criminal justice and employment; crime, poverty and substance abuse. One of the most serious and long standing issues within African American communities is poverty. Poverty itself is a hardship as it is related to marital stress and dissolution, health problems, low educational attainment, deficits in psychological functioning, and crime.<ref name="CharacOfFam">Characteristics of African American Families Based on the Work of Oscar Barbarin, PhD, University of North Carolina. Last accessed September 23, 2006.</ref> In 2004, 24.7% of African American families lived below the poverty level.<ref>Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance in the United States: 2004 United States Census Bureau, issued August 2005. Last accessed September 23, 2006</ref>

Crime, particularly in impoverished, urban communities, is a serious and ongoing issue in America. The African-American population is heavily urbanized and disproportionately poor, two factors which resonate in the nation's crime statistics.

With no system of universal healthcare, access to medical care in the U.S. generally is mediated by income level and employment status. As a result, African-Americans, who as a group are disproportionately poor and unemployed, are more often uninsured than non Hispanic whites or Asians.<ref>"Income Stable, Poverty Up, Numbers of Americans With and Without Health Insurance Rise, Census Bureau Reports." U.S. Census Bureau News. 2006-08-26. Retrieved on 2006-10-14.</ref> For a great many African-Americans healthcare delivery is limited, or nonexistent. And when they receive healthcare, they are more likely than others in the general population to receive substandard, even injurious medical care.<ref>"Ethics and Human Rights Position Statements: Discrimination and Racism in Health Care." American Nursing Association. 1998-03-06. Retrieved on 2006-10-14.</ref> African Americans have a higher prevalence of some chronic health conditions,<ref>Risk Factors and Coronary Heart Disease. American Heart Association. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.</ref> and a higher rate of out-of-wedlock births relative to the general population. 56% of African American children are born into families where the mother is not married to the biological father. In 1998, single women headed 54% of African American households.<ref name="CharacOfFam" />

Many of these contemporary issues, problems and potential remedies have been the subject of intense public policy debate in the United States in general, and within the African American community in particular.

Impact on the United States

From their earliest presence in North America, Africans and African Americans have contributed literature, art, agricultural skills, foods, clothing styles, music, language, social and technological innovation to American culture. The cultivation and use of many agricultural products in the U.S., such as yams, peanuts, rice, okra, sorghum, grits, watermelon, indigo dyes, and cotton, can be traced to African and African American influences. A couple of notable examples include George Washington Carver, who created 300 products from peanuts, 118 products from sweet potatoes, and 75 from pecans; and George Crum, who invented the potato chip in 1853.[15]

African American music 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, rock and roll soul, techno and other contemporary American musical forms originated in black communities and evolved from other black forms of music including blues, jazz, and gospel music. African American derived musical forms have also influenced and been incorporated into virtually every other popular musical genre in the world. 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 (Stewart 1998, p.3).

Many African American authors have written stories, poems, and essays influenced by their experiences as African Americans, and African American literature is a major genre in American literature. Famous examples include Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou. African American inventors have created many widely used devices in the world and have contributed to international innovation. Though most slave inventors were nameless, such as the slave owned by the Confederate President Jefferson Davis who designed the ship propeller used by the entire Confederate navy, but following the Civil War, the growth of industry in the United States was tremendous and much of this was made possible with inventions by ethnic minorities. 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 had 35 patents to improve electric railway systems including the first system to allow moving trains to communicate. He even sued Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison for stealing his patents and won both cases. Garrett Morgan developed the first automatic traffic signal and gas mask, and Norbert Rilleux who created the technique for converting sugar cane juice into white sugar crystals. Moreover, Rillieux was so brilliant that in 1854 he left Louisiana and went to France where he spent ten years working with the Champollions deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics from the Rosetta Stone. [16]

Lewis Latimer created an inexpensive cotton-thread filament, which made electric light bulbs practical because Edison's original light bulb only burned for a few minutes. More recent inventors include McKinley Jones, who invented the movable refrigeration unit for food transport in trucks and trains and Lloyd Quarterman who with six other Black scientists, worked on the creation of the atomic bomb along (code named the Manhattan Project.) Quaterman also helped develop the first nuclear reactor, which was used in the atomically powered submarine called the Nautilus. [17]

A few other notable examples include the first successful open heart surgery, performed by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, the conceptualization and establishment of blood banks around the world by Dr. Charles Drew, the air conditioner, patented by Frederick M. 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 Bodkin, who invented an electrical device used in all guided missiles and all IBM computers, and Colonel Frederick Gregory, who was not only the first Black astronaut pilot but the person who also redesigned the cockpits for the last three space shuttles. Gregory was also on the team that pioneered the microwave instrumentation landing system. In 2000, Bendix Aircraft Company began a worldwide promotion of this microwave instrumentation landing system that can land planes without a pilot. [18]

Political legacy

The gains made by African Americans in the civil rights and Black Power movements not only obtained certain rights for African Americans, but changed American society in far-reaching and fundamentally important ways. Prior to the 1950s, Americans were still living in the shadow of slavery and Jim Crow, when, 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…."[19]

The Civil Rights Movement marked a sea-change in American social, political, economic and civic life. It brought with it boycotts, sit-ins, demonstrations, court battles, bombings and other violence; prompted worldwide media coverage and intense public debate; forged enduring civic, economic and religious alliances; disrupted and realigned the nation's two major political parties; and over time has changed in fundamental ways the manner in which blacks and whites interact with and relate to one another. Ultimately, the movement resulted in the removal of codified, de jure racial segregation and discrimination from American life and law and heavily influenced the civil and social liberties that many Americans of varied cultural backgrounds expect for themselves. The precedents set by the Civil Rights Movement in terms of strategies and tactics, as well as goals achieved, influenced the Free Speech Movement, the struggles of farm workers and migrant laborers in the United Farm Workers union, the American Indian Movement, the effort to secure equal rights and expand opportunities for women, Latinos, low-income people, the physically handicapped, the hearing impaired, and other ethnic minorities. Further, the struggle of African Americans for constitutional and human rights endures as a model for disenfranchised and oppressed groups worldwide in their struggles for civil and human rights and self-determination.

The term "African American"

Political overtones

Image:Barack Obama portrait 2005.jpg
Barack Obama is the only African American in the U.S. Senate.

The term African American carries important political overtones. Previous terms used to identify Americans of African ancestry were conferred upon the group by whites and were included in the wording of various laws and legal decisions which became tools of white supremacy and oppression. There developed among blacks in America a growing desire for a term of their own choosing.

With the political consciousness that emerged from the political and social ferment of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Negro fell into disfavor among many African Americans. It had taken on a moderate, accommodationist, even Uncle Tomish, connotation. In this period, a growing number of blacks in the U.S., particularly African American youth, celebrated their blackness and their historical and cultural ties with the African continent. The Black Power movement defiantly embraced black as a group identifier—a term they themselves had repudiated only two decades earlier—a term often associated in English with things negative and undesirable, proclaiming, "Black is beautiful".

In this same period, others favored the term Afro-American; this particular term never gained much traction, but by the 1990s, the term African American had emerged as the leading choice of self-referential term. Just as other ethnic groups in American society historically had adopted names descriptive of their families' geographical points of origin (such as Italian-American, Irish-American, Polish-American), many blacks in America expressed a preference for a similar term. Because of the historical circumstances surrounding the capture, enslavement and systematic attempts to de-Africanize blacks in the U.S. under chattel slavery, most African Americans are unable to trace their ancestry to a specific African nation; hence, the entire continent serves as a geographic marker.

For many, African American is more than a name expressive of cultural and historical roots. The term expresses African pride and a sense of kinship and solidarity with others of the African diaspora—an embracing of the notion of pan-Africanism earlier enunciated by prominent African thinkers such as Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois and, later, George Padmore.

A discussion of the term African American and related terms can be found in the journal article "The Politicization of Changing Terms of Self Reference Among American Slave Descendants" in American Speech v 66 is 2 Summer 1991 p. 133-46.

Who is African American?

To be considered African American in the United States of America, not even half of one's ancestry need be Black. The nation's answer to the question "Who is black?" long has been that a black person is any American with any known African ancestry. This is a questionable concept since people with Asian features have existed in Africa before the founding of the USA and people of African Ancestry are local to Puerto Rico. This definition reflects the long experience with racism, white supremacy, slavery, and, later, with Jim Crow laws.

In the Southern United States, it became known as the one-drop rule, meaning that a single drop of "black blood" makes a person "black". Some courts have called it the traceable amount rule, and anthropologists call it the hypodescent rule, meaning that racially mixed persons are assigned the status of the subordinate group. Prior to the one-drop rule, different states had different laws regarding color; in Virginia, for example, a person was legally black if he or she had at least one-sixteenth black ancestry. The one-drop rule was implemented by states in the southern United States during the early to mid-1880's. This definition was not taken into accounts in regards to the Spanish speaking population. This definition eventually emerged from the American South to become America's national definition, generally accepted by whites and blacks -- but for different reasons.

White supremacists, whose motivation was racist, considered anyone with African ancestry tainted, inherently inferior morally and intellectually and, thus, subordinate. During slavery, there was also a strong economic incentive to maximize the number of slaves. The designation of anyone possessing any trace of African ancestry as "black", and, therefore, of subordinate status to whites, guaranteed a source of free or cheap labor during slavery] and for decades afterward.

For African Americans, the one-drop system of pigmentocracy was a significant factor in ethnic solidarity. However most of the world identifies with their nationality before any ancestral binding belief system. African Americans generally shared a common lot in society and, therefore, common cause -- regardless of their multiracial admixture or social and economic stratification. This causes a lot of identity disagreements with other viewed "black" groups who have differing social, ethnic, mental views and behaviors and may or maynot embrace their european ancestry.

White Americans, Indian Americans, other Asian Americans and Arab Americans are traditionally not considered African American in the United States, though they or their ancestors may have emigrated from the African continent after generations of residence. In relatively rare cases when South African whites, Caucasoid North African Americans or Asian immigrants from Africa living in America have self-identified as African American in an attempt to benefit from Affirmative Action or other entitlement programs, their claims generally have not been upheld.

While the one-drop rule holds its legacy to a degree over the American populace in general and the African American populace specifically, the contemporary standard of who is considered or assumed to be black or African American in the United States is more a matter of generally perceived "black" physical traits (such as hair texture, skin pigmentation, lip formation, and/or nose shape etc.) in any visible degree with recent black heritage as opposed to the original one drop rule standard of any trace of known African ancestry for generations rendering a person black, many times despite physical appearance. This rule is also questionable because asian populations from countries such as Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad may not be able to claim affirmative action based on their features even though they may have a parent with "African" features.

In the 1980s, parents of mixed-race children began to organize and lobby for the addition of a more inclusive term of racial designation that would reflect the heritage of their children. As a result, the terms biracial and mixed has become more widely used and accepted to classify people of mixed race, however, there is no demographic classification in U.S. Census for biracial individuals. It is also still problematic for Puertoricans, Cubans and Jamaican because those terms are not used by them and does not accurately describe 500 years of intermingling of races and cultures. It is very common in the United States for people of mixed ancestry possessing any recent African American or black heritage to self-identify demographically as black/African American while acknowledging both their African American and other cultural heritages socially.

Due in part to a centuries-old history within the United States of America, historical experiences pre- and post-slavery, and migrations throughout North America, the vast majority of contemporary African Americans possess varying degrees of admixture with European and Native American ancestry. In recent decades, as the multicultural climate of the United States has continued to expand, significant Asian and/or Latin American mixed race (mestizo/mulatto) admixture can also be found throughout various African American populations (especially those in large, ethnically diverse states such as New York and California), though to a much lesser degree and extent historically than European and Native American ancestry. Although the terms mixed, biracial and multiracial are increasingly used, it remains common for those who possess any visible traits of black heritage to identify solely within black/African American ethnic groups.

Terms no longer in common use

The term Negro, which was widely used until the 1960s, has become increasingly considered passé and inappropriate, or derogatory. It is still fairly commonly used by older individuals and in the Deep South. Once widely considered acceptable, Negro fell into disfavor for reasons already herein stated. The self-referential term of preference for Negro became black. the term survives in certain historical organizations such as the United Negro College Fund and defunct organizations like the Negro Leagues.

Negroid/black was a term used by European anthropologists first in the 18th century to describe indigenous Africans and their descendants throughout the African diaspora. As with most descriptors of race based on inconsistent, unscientific phenotypical standards, the term is controversial and imprecise. Because of its similarity to Negro, growing numbers of blacks have substituted the term Africoid which, unlike Negroid, encompasses the phenotypes of all indigenous peoples of Africa.

Other largely defunct, seldom used terms to refer to African Americans are mulatto and colored. Even so, the use of the word "colored" can still be found today in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP. ("People of color" is also used, and can be considered less or equally derogatory, depending on the context.) The American use of the term mulatto originally was used to mean the offspring of a "pure African black" and a "pure European white".

The Latin root of the word is mulo, as in "mule", implying incorrectly that, like mules, which are horse-donkey hybrids, mulattoes are sterile crosses of two different species. For example, in the early 20th century, African American leaders such as Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, who had slaves as mothers and white fathers, were referred to as mulattoes. While not as common as mixed, biracial, or even multiracial, mulatto is rarely used to refer to people of mixed parentage. Because of its roots in slavery, time when racial admixture had a bearing on the worth of a slave, many consider it derogatory.

The term quadroon referred to a person of one-fourth African descent, for example, someone born to a Caucasian father and a mulatto mother. Someone of one-eighth African descent technically was an octoroon, although the term often was used to refer to any white person with even a hint of black ancestry.

Mulatto and terms with the -roon suffix persisted in a social context for a number of decades, but by the mid twentieth century, they no longer were in common use. With the end of slavery, there was no longer a strong commercial incentive to classify blacks by their African-European ancestral admixture. The occasional use of these terms, however, does still persist in electronic media, literature and in some social settings.

Criticisms of the term

There is some criticism of the term African American. To be African American, some argue that an individual would have to be born in Africa, then immigrate to the U.S., and then obtain citizenship. By this definition, an overwhelming majority of black Americans would not be African American, but of African descent. The term can also be interpreted to include non-black immigrants from Africa to the United States, such as white South Africans or Arab Africans, although these groups generally do not refer to themselves as African American nor generally thought of as such in the United States.

The term African American has also been misused by some in lieu of black, regardless of an individual's nationality, ethnicity or geography. For example, during the 2005 civil unrest in France, CNN anchorwoman Carol Lin referred to the rioters as "African Americans". [20]

Defenders of the term argue that the term was never meant to encompass all Africans, or even all black people, but only those individuals formerly referred to as American Negroes, primarily people whose ancestors survived the Middle Passage and slavery. Further, in the U.S., which is often described as a nation of immigrants, hyphenated American terms historically have been used to indicate one's national origin, or that of one's ancestors.

By virtue of this, any person born in Africa would take on the name of his or her country of origin. For example, an individual from Nigeria would be called a Nigerian-American, as the term is descriptive of national origin, as opposed to African American. Many prefer the term African American because, although the historical national origin of the majority of black Americans is untraceable, the continent of Africa serves as an indicator of geographic origin and a descriptive term.


"I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me". -- Muhammad Ali (born 1942), The Greatest (1975)

"The common goal of 22 million Afro-Americans is respect as human beings, the God-given right to be a human being. Our common goal is to obtain the human rights that America has been denying us. We can never get civil rights in America until our human rights are first restored. We will never be recognized as citizens there until we are first recognized as humans." -- Malcolm X "Racism: the Cancer that is Destroying America", in Egyptian Gazette (August 25 1964).

"If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything . . . that smacks of discrimination or slander." -- Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) "Certain Unalienable Rights", What the Negro Wants, edited by Rayford W. Logan (1944)

"My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I'm going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you. And no fascist-minded people like you will drive me from it. Is that clear?" Paul Robeson (1898-1976) testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, June 12, 1956

"The workings of the human heart are the profoundest mystery of the universe. One moment they make us despair of our kind, and the next we see in them the reflection of the divine image." - Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) The Marrow of Tradition (1901)

"Tears will get you sympathy. Sweat will get you change."-- Jesse Jackson, minister and activist

"We, the people." It is a very eloquent beginning. But when that document [the Preamble to the US Constitution] was completed on the seventeenth of September in 1787 I was not included in that "We, the people." I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision I have finally been included in "We, the people." - Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) statement made before the House Committee on the Judiciary, July 25, 1974

"It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others. . . . One ever feels his twoness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warrings ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder." --W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) The Souls of Black Folk (1903)

"We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered." -- James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) "Lift Every Voice and Sing", stanza 2 (1900)

"We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice. -- Carter Woodson (1875-1950) on founding Negro History Week, 1926

"Freedom is never given; it is won." -- A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979) keynote speech given at the Second National Negro Congress in 1937

"If you will protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have to pause and say, "There lived a great people—a black people—who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

"Never that! In this white man's world. They can't stop us , we been here all this time, they ain't took us out... They can never take us out! No matter what they say! About us being extinct, about us being.. Endangered species, we ain't neva gonn' leave this! We ain't never gonna walk off this planet.. Unless your choose to! Use your brains! Use your brains! It ain't them thats killing us, it's us that's killing us... It ain't them that's not gonna solve, It's us thats not gonna solve, i'm tellin you, you better watch it or be a victim... Be a victim in this white manz world." -- Tupac Amaru Shakur (1971-1996) Qoute from the song "White Manz World."

African American population

The following gives the African American population in the U.S. over time, based on U.S. Census figures. (Numbers from years 1920 to 2000 are based on U.S. Census figures as given by the Time Almanac of 2005, p 377)

Year Number Percentage of total population
1790 757,208 19.3% (highest historic percentage)
1800 1,002,037 18.9%
1810 1,377,808 19.0%
1820 1,771,656 18.4%
1830 2,328,642 18.1%
1840 2,873,648 16.8%
1850 3,638,808 15.7%
1860 4,441,830 14.1%
1870 4,880,009 12.7%
1880 6,580,793 13.1%
1890 7,488,788 11.9%
1900 8,833,994 11.6%
1910 9,827,763 10.7%
1920 10.5 million 9.9%
1930 11.9 million 9.7% (lowest historic percentage)
1940 12.9 million 9.8%
1950 15.0 million 10.0%
1960 18.9 million 10.5%
1970 22.6 million 11.1%
1980 26.5 million 11.7%
1990 30.0 million 12.1%
2000 36.6 million 12.3%

note: The CIA World Factbook gives the current 2006 figure as 12.9% [21]

See also

Other groups

Image:Circle-question-red.svg The factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed.
Please see the relevant discussion on the talk page.

Sometimes referred to as the "African Diaspora" or persons of racial Sub-Saharan African ancestry, most live in Europe and the western hemisphere, but can live in smaller numbers in Asia (African college students in China) and Australia (indigenous Aborigines not related to Africans are sometimes called "black").

Further reading

  • Jack Salzman, ed., Encyclopedia of Afro-American culture and history, New York, NY  : Macmillan Library Reference USA, 1996
  • African American Lives, edited by Henry L. Gates, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Oxford University Press, 2004 - more than 600 biographies
  • From Slavery to Freedom. A History of African Americans, by John Hope Franklin, Alfred Moss, McGraw-Hill Education 2001, standard work, first edition in 1947
  • Black Women in America - An Historical Encyclopedia, Darlene Clark Hine (Editor), Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (Editor), Elsa Barkley Brown (Editor), Paperback Edition, Indiana University Press 2005
  • van Sertima, Ivan "They Came Before Columbus"


<references />


  • Brandon S. Centerwall, "Race, Socioeconomic Status and Domestic Homicide, Atlanta, 1971-72", 74 AM. J. PUB. HLTH. 813, 815 (1984)
  • Darnell F. Hawkins, "Inequality, Culture, and Interpersonal Violence", 12 HEALTH AFFAIRS 80 (1993)
  • Jerome A. Neapolitan, "Cross-National Variation in Homicide; Is Race A Factor?" 36 CRIMINOLOGY 139 (1998)
  • Bohlen, C. "Does She Say the Same Things in her Native Tongue?" New York Times, May 18, 1986
  • Felder, J. (1992) From the Statue of Liberty to the Statue of Bigotry. New York: Jack Felder.
  • Felder, J. "Black Origins and Lady Liberty". Daily Challenge. July 16, 1990
  • Sinclair, T. Was Original Statue a Tribute to Blacks? New York Voice, July 5, 1986
  • The New York Post, "Statue of Liberty" June 17, 1986.
  • Altman, Susan "The Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage"
  • The Music of Black Americans: A History. Eileen Southern. W. W. Norton & Company; 3rd edition, (1997). ISBN 0-393-97141-4
  • Stewart, Earl L. (1998). African American Music: An Introduction. ISBN 0-02-860294-3.

External links

Look up African American in
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