African American history can be traced back to when Africans arrived in North America around the 16th and 17th centuries. After the Europeans started to colonize America, there was a huge slave trade across the transatlantic and this occasioned the transportation of Africans to be used as slaves in European plantations in America.
African Americans or the Negros as they were known as organized their first Negro History Week in February 1926. This was planned to coincide with Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. With time, the interest to learn and African American history grew and there was a desire by a group of blacks and other interested persons to learn more about the African Americans and advocate more for their interests.
To remember black history in the United States, Kent State University students celebrated in January and February and since 1976, every US president has allowed for the commemoration of black history in February.
The early years of blacks in the Americas
Africans helped the Spanish as well as the Portuguese when they started exploring America, and in the 16th century, black explorers started settling in the Mississippi valley. Also, they settled in areas that later became New Mexico and South Carolina. Among the black explorers, there were a few celebrated persons and among them was Esteban who is believed to have traveled through America’s southwest in the 1530s. However, some of the African immigrants were workers who were tenured to some employers and were not necessarily brought to America for slavery. However, there were many attempts to hold the Africans in their workstations beyond their tenure and this is what led to the formation of black chattel slavery. The enslaved Africans were put into forced labor, clearing land for their new masters.
The American revolutionary war
The American Revolutionary war helped to make many colonies independent and these colonies transformed into the United States. The African soldiers were fighting on both the British as well as on the American side and as soon the fighting ended, the Northern United States started doing away with slavery. However, the American South continued with slavery because it needed slaves for its agricultural-based economy. During the war, many blacks escaped mostly to the Northern states, and this prompted President Abraham Lincoln to issue what is known as the Thirteenth amendment which helped to abolish slavery in the United States.
The entrenchment of the African American culture
The African American culture that is deeply entrenched in the general population of the United States shows the massive strides that the African American population has made over time. What distinctively identifies the African American culture is the historical experience that the black people went through and this is enormously evident not only in the culture of the Americans but also worldwide. As in the past, some rituals were a part of the black community in America. They believed that their spirits lived after death and that their ancestors could always mediate on their behalf. African American culture is also visible in music, art, religion, and their innovative cuisines.