The African-American Story In 1619, twenty Africans were brought to Virginia and forced into slavery. By 1790, there were 700,000 slaves in the United States and in the 1800s, African-American slaves were 40% of the Southern part of America (Brunner). Africans were not slaves before they were brought to America. They were kidnapped and shipped to the U. S. where were made into slaves. African-Americans have struggled for hundreds of years to gain equality. They staged boycotts, had marches, and even fought a war to gain their freedom and unprejudiced opportunities in every aspect of life.
Africans were brought to America almost 400 years ago, and it took all of those years for the African-Americans to truly gain equal opportunities. In 1787, slavery was declared illegal in the Northwest Territories. This was the first time slavery was declared illegal in any part of the United States. The Fugitive Slave Law passed in 1793 stated that even if a slave escaped to a free territory they could still be captured and returned to their master. After 149 years of the importation of slaves, it was finally made illegal by congress in 1808 (Brunner).
African-Americans were not content with being slaves. They did not just roll over and accept it. There is documented evidence of more than 250 slave revolts (Wright). One of the notable rebellions was Nat Turner’s revolt. Nat Turner launched a short, bloody, rebellion that killed over sixty people in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831 (Brunner). Another significant slave rebellion was John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia. John Brown was already an advocate for anti-slavery. His plan was to break into an armory and give guns and weapons to slaves.
His only problem was that he never made it out of the armory (Wright). These slave revolts were one of the causes of the Civil War. After the Slaves were freed in 1865 there was a century of darkness for recently freed African-American slaves. All the white people in the south hated them and the only job that they were able to get was being a sharecropper (Wright). Over the next 100 hundred years, the Klu-Klux-Klan grew to be the biggest group in America. The KKK recorded hundreds of lynchings of Africans, and made sure the south would not change even though blacks now had rights (Brunner).
The African-American fight for equality restarted in 1954 when Brown v. Board of Education passed and desegregated all public schools. Two years later, black students nicknamed as the “Little Rock Nine,” attended Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1955, one of the most brutal murders in history occured. Fourteen year-old Emmett Till was taken by two white men and beaten so severely that his own uncle could barely identify his body. The reason this boy was killed was because he flirted with a white woman (Wright) The sixties was one of the most influential times for African-Americans.
In 1960 African-American students began nonviolent protests called, “sit-ins. ” They would go into a “whites only” restaurant and sit down. This event triggered many other types of peaceful protests. In 1961, black and white students took bus trips through the south and they were called the “freedom riders. ” They went through the most racist towns and were attacked by angry mobs. Martin Luther King was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963 during an anti-segregation protest. Also, in that year King delivered his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D. C. This was one of the reasons President Lyndon B.
Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, making it illegal to discriminate on race, color, religion, or national origin. Unfortunately, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4th, 1968 (Wright). There were many people that played significant roles in African-American history, like Abraham Lincoln, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President and was elected during hectic times between the north and south. He passed one of the biggest orders in the history of the United States, the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Emancipation Proclamation declared that all slaves be freed (Brunner). In 1947, Jackie Robinson was given a contract to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. This contract made it so that Jackie was the first African American to play Major League Baseball. He not only was the first African-American to play professional baseball, but he also broke the color-barrier in all professional sports. He was sent death letters, and even threatened by other athletes, but he still fought through everything and became the first African-American to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Without Jackie Robinson having the courage to play we might not have never experienced some of the greatest athletes of all time like Willie Mays, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Venus Williams and many more (Wright). On December 1st, 1955, an African-American woman by the name of Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was arrested for refusing the bus driver’s order for her to get up from her seat so a white man could sit down. During this time colored people had to sit in the back of the bus, and if a white person came on the bus they would have to give up their seat for them.
Parks act of defiance inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was a plan for African-Americans to not ride buses for one whole day. The plan worked and the boycott went on until December 21st, 1956 when all buses were legally desegregated (Wright). There are forty-five million African-Americans in the United States today. 82% of the forty-five million have a high-school diploma or more. African-Americans are also very prominent in sports. They make up 65% of the entire National Football League, and 70% of all the professional Basketball players.
One hundred years ago African-Americans were the most hated group of people next to Native Americans. They were segregated from white people and were rarely ever able to acquire a well paying job. African-Americans have struggled to gain equality in every aspect of life, but in this day and age they have gained it. We have an African-American President, and he was elected for to two terms. Without all of the struggles and fights African-Americans went through we would not be where we are today. Racism definitely still exists, but it is not as prominent of an issue, thanks to decades of perseverance and courage.
Wright, Amy. “The Sixties. ” Jones Auditorium. Austin, TX. Lecture. Professor Amy Wright’s lecture on the sixties focused on the Civil Rights movement and the struggles African-Americans went through to gain equality. She provided an in depth understanding about the black freedom struggle. She talked about the Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, which integrated all schools and jump-started the Civil Rights movement. It also gave the audience a better knowledge of freedom fighters like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. Parks refused to move from her seat for a white man n Montgomery, Alabama, inspiring the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, lead by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Wright spoke about how King formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to fight segregation and achieve rights. Also, how he lead the march on Washington and gave the infamous “I Have a Dream” speech. King helped enforce the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act gave African-Americans the right to vote and equal employment opportunities. Brunner, Borgna, ed. “African-American History Timeline. ” Infoplease. N. p. , n. d. Web. 25 Apr. 013. <http://www. infoplease. com/spot/bhmtimeline. html>. This source has a timeline that covers everything from Africans being forced into slavery in 1619, to Barack Obama being elected President of the Unites States of America. It gives a brief understanding of almost all the major events in African-American history. For example, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793 and increased the demand for slave labor. The timeline shows that slavery was legal everywhere in the United States until 1787 when slavery became illegal in the Northwest Territory.
In addition to, it talks about how W. E. B. Dubois created the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The timeline also talks about sports and how in 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, gave him a contract to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jackie Robinson was not only the first African-American to play in the Major League Baseball, but he was also the first African-American to play in any professional sport.