African American history is concerned with the African-American or Black American ethnic groups in the United States. Most African Americans are descendants of captive Africans held in the United States from 1619 - 1865. Blacks from the Caribbean are also considered African American due to their common history from West or Central Africa. African Americans also include recent African immigrants.
African Americans have been absolutely integral in shaping America’s identity since the British first settled in Jamestown. The first African slaves arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. These were actually indentured servants or slaves that are released after a few years. It was not until 1641 that slavery was legalized in Massachusetts, following suit was the rest of the colonies. Laws were also passed that gave Blacks clear legal status of slaves for life and passed on slavery to their children. By 1700, there were 25,000 slaves in America.
Slavery was abolished in 1865, and ever since then African Americans have risen to be an integral part of the United States’ cultural mosaic. There have been countless inspiring and influential African Americans that have helped shape America’s history and identity. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Louis Armstrong and Malcolm X are examples of revolutionary African Americans that have helped foster a national identity through music, culture and civil rights movements.
In 2008 the United States elected its first African American President, Barack Obama. This was undoubtedly one of the most historically significant moments in US history and something many thought would never be able to happen until the last decade.
Explore the BrainMass African American section to learn more about influential African Americans and how important their history is to the history of the United States.