African Americans

Nov 14, 2017
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Unlike immigrants from other lands, ancestors of most African-Americans came to America by force rather than by choice. One million arrived aboard slave ships between 1619 and 1808. As slaves, they were property that could be bought and sold. Often, families were divided up. Most slaves were forced to work hard and live in poor conditions, and many were badly abused.

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution freed all slaves when the North won the Civil War. But this freedom did not bring equality. Soon, many states enacted “black codes,” laws that kept African-Americans segregrated from “whites” for another 100 years. “Blacks” had to attend separate schools, drink from separate fountains, stay in separate hotels, and ride in the back of the bus.

Yet with courage and persistence, African-Americans have gradually gained legal rights to equal opportunity. Meanwhile, they have also made rich contributions to American culture most visibly in music, politics, and sports. Although prejudice still exists, African Americans have won recognition for excellence in every field.

Today, African-Americans make up 12 percent of today’s U.S. population.

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