History is the document of contemporary time for the
up coming future generation. What is going today is the history for tomorrow.
History is a very much powerful thing in the human civilization.Every society ,
people and a nation has its own history that may be good or bad . Like them
African-American history is the portion of American history which is so
noticeable in the lives of American people.
African-American people are known sometimes as Black
American, Afro-American and sometimes as a Negroes in the United States. Most
of all blacks in America are descendants of person abducted in Africa and sold
into the slave market from the early 17th century to the early 19th
century.The black people have an important influence in the American history
and culture. In the North and South, the South region is shaped by slavery and
from where civil war has happened. Long a depressed minority after the ending
of slavery and after the World War-II opened a determined drive for full
freedom and equality.
African-American history is highlighted and celebrated
annually in the United State ( U.S.) during the month of February which is
regarded as a Black History month. Though previously marginalized,
African-American history has gained in ground school and university circular in
recent years. Before the Atlantic Slave Trade, there were already people of African descent in America.
A few countries in Africa would buy, sell, and trade other enslave Africans who
were often prisoners of war with the European. The people of Mali and Benin are
known for partaking in the event of selling their prisoners of war and unwanted
people of slave.
From Olaudah Equiano’ Freedom on my mind: A History
of African American, we find that the process of being transported to the
colonies and being on the slave ship as a horrific experience. On the ships, the
slaves were separated from their family for a long a time. Once abroad the
ship, the captives were then segregated by gender. Below the deck, the slaves
were cramped and did not have enough space to to walk around freely. Male
slaves were generally kept in the ship whole where the experience the worst of
crowding. On the other hand , the women on the ship often endured rape by the
crewmen. Women and children were kept in room set apart from the main hold.
This gives easy access to to the women which was often regarded as one of the
perks of the trade system.
In the midst of this terrible condition , African
slaves plotted mutiny. Male slaves were the most likely candidates to mutiny
and only at at a times they were on deck. While rebellions did not happen ,
often they were usually unsuccessful. From the time of being captured in Africa
to the arrival to the plantation of the European masters, took an average of
six months. Africans were completely cut off from their families, homes,
communities life. They were forced to adjust to a new way of life.
From the back past, it finds that in 1619 a Dutch Ship
brought 20 African blacks to English colony of Virginia. The early blacks were
not slaves but indentured servants, some
of whom gained freedom after a period of years. In 1661, slavery was considered
as a legal in Virginia. Since the principle of black slavery had been generally
accepted in America.
Actually, slavery increased a lot in the Southern
colonies where there were many large plantation and needed a cheap labor. At
first the Africans in the South were outnumbered by white indentured servants,
who came voluntarily from Britain. They avoided the plantations. With the vast
amount of good land and shortage of laborers, plantation owners turned to
lifetimes slaves who worked for their keep but were not paid wages and could
not easily escape. There were so many field slaves including women and children
worked in gangs supervised by white or black overseers. Some were skilled and
some were household servants. The household servants stay those houses all day
long as they had not sufficient accommodation than the white. In some rural
areas there were some severely deteriorated homes. For the emancipation of such
problem, many blacks begin to move into better adjacent neighborhood likes
By 1700, there were 25,000 slaves in American
colonies, about 10% of the population. A few had come from Africa but most came
from the West Indies specially Trinidad and Tobago.There legal status was now
clear that they slave for life and so were the children of slaves mothers. They
could be sold or freed, and a few ran away; some using the Underground Rail
road to reach freedom. In the eyes of slave owner, they were no more than
livestock. As a result ,they were not only economically exploited but also in
acquiring education. The schools of black children both in South and North were
crowded and poorly staffed. Many of them dropouts because of their deprived
background make them to learn without special trainings which those schools
could not provide. Despite such impediments many blacks have experienced and
enthusiastic in obtaining primary, secondary and higher education.
As the blacks were weak and the most neglected people
, the powerfull authority creates some mechanisms to dominate them. That is why
there found some slave codes. Many colonies adopted slave codes of system to
control the slaves. Slaves code in the Northern colonies were more lenient and
in New England slaves were given schooling. New England ship owners, however,
made great profits bringing slave to America. In 1770, there were approximately
15,000 slaves, 35,000 in the Middle colonies and 411,000 in the South.
By the late 18th century , many moral
objection to slavery had already been raised both in the North and South. From Revolution:
Declarations of independence, 1770-1780, the declaration of independence, a
document that would become manifesto for human rights and personal freedom
which was written by Thomas Jefferson who owned over 200 slaves. Other southern
statesmen were also major slaveholders. The Second Continental Congress did
consider freeing slaves to British disrupt commerce. They removed language from
the declaration of Independence that included the promotion of slavery amongest
the offense of King George III. A number of free blacks, most notably Prince
Hall Freemasonry, submitted petitions for the end of slavery. But these
petitions were largely ignored. This did not deter Blacks free and slave, from
participating revolution. Crispus, the early black martyr, was killed in Boston
massacre, and few were also revolted following him some were also killed. In
late 1775, George Washington barred blacks from serving continental Army ,
within a very short time he changed his mind and freed them. In new nation
Thomas Jefferson wrote about the the inhuman practices of slavery but condemned
to publish it. The Antislavery movement reached its peak in 1793 from cotton
gin plantation .
In 1807, at the urging of President Thomas Jefferson,
Congress abolish the international trade. While American blacks celebrated this
as a victory in the fight against slavery, the ban increase demand for slaves.
Changing agricultural practices in the Upper South from tobacco to mixed
farming decreased labor requirements, and slaves were sold to traders for the
developing deep South. By 1819 there were exactly 11 free and 11 slave states,
which increased sectionalism. Fear of an imbalance in Congress led to the 1820
Missouri Compromise that required states to to be admitted to the union pairs,
one slave and one free.
Later slavery appeared at its worst on the large
cotton plantation. The evil of this system led to slave revolt among the black
people.In 1830 many people in the North began demanding immediate abolition of
slavery. William Lloyd Garrison and Fredrick Douglas were the devotee to the
abolitionism. The fugitive slave law of 1850 brought antislavery sentiment in
the North to a high pitch . Washington D.C. would abolish the slave trade but
not slavery itself. California would be admitted as a free state but the South
would receive a new fugitive slave act which required Northerners to return
slave who escape to the North to their owners. The compromise of 1850 would
maintain a shaky peace until the election of Lincoln in 1860.
The number of Blacks grew this time as well. By 1830,
there were 319,000 free Blacks in the United States. About 150,000 lived in the
Northern states. Blacks generally settles in the cities creating the core of
Black community life in the region. They establish churches and fraternal
order. Many of these early efforts were weak and often failed, but they
represented the initial steps in the revolution of Black communities.
Within a very short time in 1861 American civil war
occurred and people participated for the ending of discrimination and building
better America . The proclamation of emancipation was an executive order issued
by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1 , 1863. President Lincoln proclaimed
the emancipation of fugitive slaves against the United States. In 1865 in The
Thirteen amendment slavery was outlawed.
In1865, the Ku Klax Klan, a secret vigilante
organization dedicated to destroying the Republican Party in the South,
specially by terrorizing black leaders, was formed. Klansmen hid behind masks
and robes to hide their identity while they carried out violence and property
damage. The Klan used terrorism, specially murder and threats of murder, arson,
and intimidation. The Klan’s excesses led to the passage of legislation against
it, and with Federal enforcement, it was destroyed by 1871.
After the ending of civil war, there were about 4,000,
000 blacks with no experiences in the new American free society. In the novel
like Pecola’s father who is an unemployed with no proper experiences. As a
result, they tried to take the advantage of establishing homes and jobs in the
cities. The rise of industrialization, which depended on power driven machinery
more than human labor, might have afforded them employment but many owners of
textile mills refuse to hire black workers. For this reason, many organizations
and philanthropists come to help such former slaves to adjust their new life.
The Radical Republicans of Congress then imposed military rule on the South and
gave the freed men voting rights.The Ku Klux Klan arose to intimidate the
blacks and to maintain white supremacy. However, in 1868, in the Fourteenth
Amendment and in the Fifteenth Amendment were adopted to give black full
citizenship rights. But Federal acts protecting the civil right of black. As a
result, blacks were deprived of the vote by means of poll taxes, educational
requirements and intimidation. In 1883, the U.S. Supreme court declared the
civil rights act unconstitutional.
In spite of the civil war, the domination and
discrimination were still going on as a result there found the racial
segregation. In 1900 racial segregation had become the way of life by the act
name “Jim Crow Law”. In Plessy vs.Ferguson in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court had
upheld the principle of segregation. Most blacks leader accepted segregation
but they had lack of opportunity and subservient position. In 1909, the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored( NAACP) was founded While
the (NAACP) use the court system to promote equality, at the local level
African-American adopted a self strategy. They pooled their resources to create
independent community and institutional lives for themselves. They established
schools, churches, social welfare institutions, bank, African-American
newspapers and small business to serve the need of their communities . In 1910,
the National Urban League was organized.But, during the World War-I, the major
portion of blacks moved to the North to enter war industries. For such
migration , there found radical riot and a new Ku Klax Klan gained nationwide
membership in the 1920 and introduced an era of threat violence against black.
During the 1930, the condition of black people become
a matter of public concern. They became aggressive and wanted equal opportunity
to end segregation. World War-II brought a major change in migration in the
South. Excessive black neighborhood in cities are known as ghettos. Equal
employment practices acts were passed in New York and New Jersey in 1945. As a
result , segregation was officially ended in the Navy in 1946, in the 1950. In
1954 the U.S. Supreme court banned racial segregation . This decision marked
the beginning of crucial period in American History. As a result peaceful
demonstration began with a black boycott of city buses in Montgomery Alabama in
1955-56. Such boycott is raised by Reverend Martin Luther King and its achieved
a goal of integrating Montgomery’s public transportation.
Subsequently the revolt for black equality came to be
known as the Civil Rights Movement. New organization founded further the cause
included the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Southern Christian
leadership conference Coordinating committee(SNCC). Their goals were integration
of schools and public feelings, registration of black voters, equality in job,
non-discrimination in the selling renting of homes.
Since then many changes were found on white citizens.
In the later part in 1960 Ku Klux Klan trend became more reasonable and
cooperative though it started its violence against blacks in the earlier part.
The learning of traditional barriers was highlighted by the election of black
to public office such as Edward and W. Brooke of Massachusetts to the U.S.
senate and several of them were Mayor in major cities in the South as well as
in the North.
However, in the North many of ghetto dwellers defied
solution but a major portion were still without education, job, decent housing
and prospect for improvement. In 1965 a riot erupted in Watts , a Los Angels
black ghetto. Thousands of young blacks went on a rampage for several days ,
burning and looting. Similar disorders occurred in other cities, specially
after the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968.
attempts to advance black causes through marches, demonstrations and boycotts
met with the increased difference, most black leaders said about the need of
government action to combat the affect of lingering racism. In 1984, civil
rights leader Jesse Jackson ran in democratic primaries for the presidential
election , for the first time that a black candidate had mounted a serious
campaign for the presidency.