African Americans are people who live in the United States of America who come from African ancestry. They have been called African, colored, Negro, Afro-American, and blacks. However, it is unknown how many people are purely the descendants from Africa since racial mixture has taken place for so many years, mainly with European and Indian ancestry. The first ones came to the New World with Spanish and Portuguese travelers. By 1600, many who were free and in bondage arrived at Central and South America and the Caribbean land. Nearly 1.300.000 Africans entered the New World by the 17th century. A Virginia law set them to be servants for life and then the slavery system was made by colonial America. They worked in plantations as tobacco and cotton farmers. In the South, nearly 95% of workers were slaves. Life was hard there. Husbands were separated from their wives and children from their parents. Punishments and brutality were common things during this era. President Thomas Jefferson made legislation that forbade slavery but it failed the purpose. Then the Civil War Era broke and President Lincoln ended slavery. After that, a Reconstruction-era began, African Americans became leaders in the South. They were priests, lawyers, and teachers who had their education in the North. It has not been an easy journey but since then African Americans continued to struggle for their freedom and pursuit of happiness.
Nowadays, only half of them live in the South. The others live in the North and Texas becomes a city with the most Black population. The number of African Americans with college degrees has doubled since 2000. The median household income for a colored person was 44.000 dollars in 2019. Even though it was lower than the national one, it was still such progress. Sadly, the media still paints them in a bad light. Blacks are servants, they live in ghettos, they live only on welfare is the common narrative. Although 30% of them still live below the poverty line, they have also contributed so much to the nation in terms of knowledge, art, and service. Still, they face continuous discrimination in housing, schools, and workplaces. When the young ones were tested, they were still falling behind. Not to mention there was police brutality against them in many areas. The case of Ferguson with the killing of Michael Brown Jr. created protests all around the world. It stems from racial bias, anger, insecurity, and other individual characteristics. Sadly, no charges fell on the police who did the killing. They still have a long way to go to be safe in their own home.
Some great people were born of African American descent. They are Martin Luther King, Jr., Maya Angelou, and Oprah Winfrey. The first one is Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a minister and a civil rights activist. He championed racial equality and resistance without violence. He organized three marches. He was in opposition to poverty, capitalism, and the Vietnam war. Unfortunately, he was assassinated in 1968. The second one is Maya Angelou. She was born in Missouri. After moving to New York, she discovered her literary talent. She also starred in movies such as Poetic Justice and How to Make an American Quilt. She was known for her autobiographical works (I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings, The Heart of A Woman, and many more). She also made amazing poems. They are And Still I Rise, I Shall Not Be Moved, Now Sheba Sings the Songs, and so on. Angelou was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010. The last one is Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey was born poor in rural Mississippi. Then she landed her first job in radio during high school. She co-anchored local evening news by the time she was 19. She made a huge success with her talk show, the Oprah Winfrey Show. She focuses her show on literary works, self-advancement, mindfulness, and spiritual matter. By 2012, she has donated over 400 million dollars for education. She also received Emmy Awards and Humanitarian Awards.
The cultural and artistic explosion happened in Harlem around the 20th century. The mid-1930s is the golden era of African American culture encompassing literature, theater, music, and art. Many Black people migrated to Harlem. Hence, there was a dense center of art development. It gave birth to significant figures such as Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker, Marcus Garvey, and many more. They made poetry, jazz music, film performances, stage work, photography, mural paintings and illustration, and many more. It all ended when The Great Depression hit. Much Harlem populace moved out to seek job opportunities. Nevertheless, its impacts were long-lasting. It bestowed artists pride and a grand representation of African American culture as well as setting the stage for the civil rights movement.