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· African American Experience

· African American World
· Africans in America: America's Journey through Slavery
· The Amistad Revolt
· Black American Literature at Year 2000
· Brown vs. Board of Education: The Supreme Court Decision that Changed a Nation
· Civil Rights: An Overview of Civil Rights & Related Supreme Court Decisions in the U.S
· Civil Rights Movement and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
· Civil Rights Timeline
· Diversity in the U.S.
· The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
· Nation Celebrates Anniversary Of Landmark Civil Rights Law
· Nation feiert 40. Jahrestag des Bürgerrechtsgesetzes
· National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
· National Urban League
· New York Times >Topics> Race
· Our Shared History. African-American Heritage
Outline of American History
Portrait of America
Racial Justice. ACLU

Original Documents
· 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery (1865)
14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Civil Rights (1868)
· 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Voting Rights (1870)

· African-American Texts Online
· Basic Readings in U.S. Democracy: On the Road from Slavery to Freedom
· Brown vs. Board of Education (1954)
· Civil Rights Act (1964)
Emancipation Proclamation (1863)
· Famous Speeches
· "I Have a Dream"
· "Ich habe einen Traum"
· Martin Luther King, Jr. Speeches
· North American Slave Narratives
· Official Program for the March on Washington (1963)

· Say it Plain. A century of African American Speeches
· Voting Rights Act (1965)
· Voices of Civil Rights

· Afircan American History and Culture
· Being a Black Man (Wash. Post)
· Ex-Slaves Narratives
· History Channel: MLKing<Jr
· History Channel: Voices of Civil Rights
· Malcolm X Speaks on Race
· Race: Are we so different
· Say It Plain. A Century of Great African American Speeches
· Underground Railroad

· Black Population in the United States
· The Black Population 2000
· The Black Population in the U.S.: March 2002
· Facts for Features *Special Edition* Civil Rights Act of 1964: 40th Anniversary
· Facts for Features: African American Heritage Month, February 2010

· Facts on the Black/African American Population
· Historical Census Statistics On Population By Race, 1790 to 1990, and By Hispanic Origin, 1970 to 1990
· We the People: Black Population in the United States

Exhibits - Digital Images
African-American Mosaic: African-American Culture and History
· Anacostia Museum
· Exploring African American Heritage
· National Civil Rights Museum
· National Museum of African American History and Culture
· National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
· Powerful Days in Black and White
· Race: Are we so different
· We Shall Overcome: History Places of the Civil Rights Movement

For High School Students
Civil Rights in America
· Equality Before the Law
· Martin L. King Jr.. Interactive Classroom
· Meet Amazing Americans: Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. du Bois, Duke Ellington, Harriet Tubman, Langston Hughes


Among the flood of immigrants to North America, one group came unwillingly. These were Africans, 500,000 of whom were brought over as slaves between 1619 and 1808, when importing slaves into the United States became illegal. The practice of owning slaves and their descendants continued, however, particularly in the agrarian South, where many laborers were needed to work the fields.

The process of ending slavery began in April 1861 with the outbreak of the American Civil War between the free states of the North and the slave states of the South, 11 of which had left the Union. On January 1, 1863, midway through the war, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which abolished slavery in those states that had seceded. Slavery was abolished throughout the United States with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the country's Constitution in 1865.

Even after the end of slavery, however, American blacks were hampered by segregation and inferior education. In search of opportunity, African Americans formed an internal wave of immigration, moving from the rural South to the urban North. But many urban blacks were unable to find work; by law and custom they had to live apart from whites, in run-down neighborhoods called ghettos.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, African Americans, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., used boycotts, marches, and other forms of nonviolent protest to demand equal treatment under the law and an end to racial prejudice.

A high point of this civil rights movement came on August 28, 1963, when more than 200,000 people of all races gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to hear King say: "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-holders will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood....I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Not long afterwards the U.S. Congress passed laws prohibiting discrimination in voting, education, employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Photo by Lloyd Wolf for the U.S. Census Bureau

Today, African Americans constitute about 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population. In recent decades blacks have made great strides, and the black middle class has grown substantially. In 2002, 50,8 percent of employed blacks held "white-collar" jobs -- managerial, professional, and administrative positions rather than service jobs or those requiring manual labor. In 2003, 58.3 percent of all black high school graduates enrolled in college within one year (compared to 35.8. % in 1982). For whites, the college participation rate in 2003 was 66.1 percent. Thus, the racial gap was less than 8 percentage points. The average income of blacks is still lower than that of whites, however, and unemployment of blacks -- particularly of young men -- remains higher than that of whites. And many black Americans are still trapped by poverty in urban neighborhoods plagued by drug use and crime.

In recent years the focus of the civil rights debate has shifted. With antidiscrimination laws in effect and blacks moving steadily into the middle class, the question has become whether or not the effects of past discrimination require the government to take certain remedial steps. Called "affirmative action," these steps may include hiring a certain number of blacks (or members of other minorities) in the workplace, admitting a certain number of minority students to a school, or drawing the boundaries of a congressional district so as to make the election of a minority representative more likely. The public debate over the need, effectiveness, and fairness of such programs became more intense in the 1990s.

Blacks in the U.S. in 2000 - Map
The Black Population 2000. U.S. Census Brief

In any case, perhaps the greatest change in the past few decades has been in the attitudes of America's white citizens. More than a generation has come of age since King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Younger Americans in particular exhibit a new respect for all races, and there is an increasing acceptance of blacks by whites in all walks of life and social situations.

See also:
About the USA > U.S. History > Decades of Change
About the USA > Holidays > Martin Luther King Day

Teacher Resources
African American Population Shift
· Birmingham Blues. Exploring the History of the American Civil Rights Struggle Through Poetry.
· Black History Month. Free Resources
· Civil Rights Movement. Lesson Plan
Learn about Slavery
NYT > Black Culture & History
· Racism: Law and Attitude
· Teaching with Documents: The Amistad Case
· Teaching With Documents: Brown v. Board of Education
· Teaching with Documents: Black Soldiers in the Civil War
· Teaching With Documents: The Many Faces of Paul Robeson
· Teaching with Historic Places: African American History
· U.S. History - African-American: Lesson Plans
· What's in a Name? Understanding Malcolm X
  Link Lists
· African-American History
· African-American History & Studies
· African American Resources
· African American Web Connection
· African Americana
· African Americans. Teaching & Learning Resources
· Black History (NARA)
· Black History Month LInks

· Issues Guide > Race
· Links to the News: Black History Month
· Race: Ssources & Resources
· Writing Black. Useful Links

· Martin Luther King Day (third Monday in January)
· Honoring Martin Luther King
· Kwanzaa (December 26)
Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.
Feature Article
  InfoAlert highlights recent articles and reports from leading U.S. journals and policy sources and provides informed commentary on international and domestic issues.
  InfoAlert > U.S. Society > Multiculturalism
InfoAlert Archive > Multiculturalism

Identity in America: Are Perspectives Shifting?
Multicultural, post-ethnic, post-racial. While these descriptors are debated, most agree that with the possible exception of the American Indian, to be American is to be, genealogically speaking, from somewhere else. During February, is exploring how the ever-increasing diversity of the U.S. ... (, 29 January 2009)

Landmark exhibit on Race

Landmark Exhibit on Race Asks “Are We So Different?”
Is race real or a recent human invention? Is it about biology or culture? These questions are addressed by RACE: Are We So Different?, a traveling exhibit and related Web site on the history of the idea of race, the science of human variation, and the experience of living with race and racism. ... (, 28 January 2009) - "Race: Are we so different" Web Site

Black History Month Honors Legacy of Struggle and Triumph
John Fleming, head of black history study group, tells Black History Month should focus on positive and negative aspects of the black experience. “We were not slaves prior to being captured in Africa, and while slavery was part of our experience … we have a hundred-and-some years in freed ... (, 29 January 2009)

Americans Celebrate Achievements of Martin Luther King Jr.
Americans on the third Monday of January honor the life and achievements of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), the 1964 Nobel Peace laureate, a champion of universal justice, and the individual most associated with the triumphs of the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. ... (, 14 January 2009)

"A More Perfect Union"
In his first detailed discussion of race in America in this Philadelphia speech on March 18, 2008, Obama expresses his “firm conviction” that, in working together, Americans of all color can move beyond some of the old racial wounds. He asserts that, in fact, Americans have no choice if they are to c ... (America. gov, 11 January 2009)

U.S. Minority Population Continues to Grow. By David Minckler
Slightly more than one-third of the population of the United States -- 34 percent -- claims minority, racial or ethnic heritage, a jump of 11 percent from 2000.
The May 1, 2008 Census Bureau report, covering estimates for the year 2007, confirms that the U.S. population is becoming increasingly diverse. Hispanics and Asians continue to be the two fastest-growing minorities. Blacks comprise the second-largest minority group, with 40.7 million (13.5 percent), followed by Asians, with 15.2 million (5 percent). (, May 14, 2008.)

Featured Publications:

Beyond Dr. King: More Stories of African-American Achievements
- A Living Book

Obama in His Own Words (January 2009)
These pages share President Obama’s words with our global readership. This book includes the complete text of the 44th President’s Inaugural Address. Also featured are extended excerpts from eight other significant campaign and pre-presidential speeches.

Barack Obama: 44th President of the United States (January 2009.)
Barack Obama, elected the 44th President of the United States, has lived a truly American life, and has opened a new chapter in American politics. This publication tells the story of Obama’s life, describes how he captured the presidency, and portrays his vision for the future.

FREE AT LAST: The U.S. Civil Rights Movement. (February 2008.)
This publication tells the story of the African-American civil rights movement in the United States, as well as of its roots in the historical injustices of slavery and segregation.

Justice for All: The Legacy of Thurgood Marshall. (January 2007.)
The name of Thurgood Marshall may not be as well-known outside the United States as that of his fellow civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. And yet, Marshall's achievement in demolishing the legal structure that sustained racial segregation in the American South advanced the civil rights cause as profoundly as the nonviolent protests led by King.

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Updated: September 2010