Portal:African American

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African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the black racial groups of Africa. The term typically refers to descendants of enslaved black people who are from the United States.

African Americans constitute the third largest racial and ethnic group in the United States (after White Americans and Hispanic and Latino Americans). Most African Americans are descendants of enslaved peoples within the boundaries of the present United States. On average, African Americans are of West/Central African and European descent, and some also have Native American ancestry. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, African immigrants generally do not self-identify as African American. The overwhelming majority of African immigrants identify instead with their own respective ethnicities (≈95%). Immigrants from some Caribbean, Central American and South American nations and their descendants may or may not also self-identify with the term.

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Pete Hill of the Chicago American Giants

The Negro leagues were American professional baseball leagues comprising teams predominantly made up of African Americans. The term may be used broadly to include professional black teams outside the leagues and it may be used narrowly for the seven relatively successful leagues beginning 1920 that are sometimes termed "Negro Major Leagues."

In 1885 the Cuban Giants formed the first black professional baseball team. The first league, the National Colored Base Ball League, failed in 1887 after only two weeks due to low attendance. The Negro American League of 1951 is considered the last major league season and the last professional club, the Indianapolis Clowns, operated amusingly rather than competitively from the mid-1960s to 1980s.

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Dutch Gap, Virginia. Picket station of Colored troops near Dutch Gap canal (Nov. 1864)
Credit: Author unknown
November 1864 — Dutch Gap, Virginia. Picket station of United States Colored Troops (USCT) near Dutch Gap canal, during the American Civil War


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We deem it a settled point that the destiny of the colored man is bound up with that of the white people of this country. ... We are here, and here we are likely to be. To imagine that we shall ever be eradicated is absurd and ridiculous. We can be remodified, changed, assimilated, but never extinguished. We repeat, therefore, that we are here; and that this is our country; and the question for the philosophers and statesmen of the land ought to be, What principles should dictate the policy of the action toward us? We shall neither die out, nor be driven out; but shall go with this people, either as a testimony against them, or as an evidence in their favor throughout their generations.
Frederick Douglass (c.1818–1895),
Essay in North Star (Nov. 1858); as quoted in Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism (1992) by Derrick Bell, p. 40.

Selected biography

Booker T. Washington

Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American political leader, educator, orator and author. He was the dominant figure in the African American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915. Representing the last generation of black leaders born in slavery, and speaking for those blacks who had remained in the New South in an uneasy modus vivendi with the white Southerners, Washington was able throughout the final 25 years of his life to maintain his standing as the black leader because of the sponsorship of powerful whites, substantial support within the black community, his ability to raise educational funds from both groups and his skillful accommodation to the social realities of the age of segregation.

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