African-American are United States citizens of African descent, once designated as Coloreds, Negroes, Blacks, and Afro-Americans. They are 12.6% of the U.S. population or 38.9 million. New York city has the largest number of African Americans with 3.4 million. Atlanta is second at 1.7 million. New York state also has the largest population of Blacks.


African American households have an average of 3 children. The median household income is 33,632. 18% of African Americans are college educated. More African men are in college than in prison. 82% of African Americans are Christians, with 45% being of the Baptist denomination and 4% Catholic. 7% of Blacks are Muslims.


Early Century

The first reported blacks in British North America arrived in 1619 in Jamestown, Virginia. Dutch slavers sold 20 enslaved Africans to the English town. Initially, the colonies employed indentured servants for labor needs. Over-time, during the 1600s, the British colonies began enacting laws making slavery legal and a permanent and inherited state for the children of slaves. Slavery was legalized in the following years--for Massachusetts in 1641,  Connecticut in 1650, Virginia in 1661, Maryland in 1663, New York in 1665, South Carolina in 1682. In 1670, Virginia added a racial component to her law stipulating blacks to be enslaved for perpetuity.

Slaves did a variety of jobs depending on region. The more labor intensive the region, the more slavery took hold. Regions like the Chesapeake, Maryland, and Virginia grew and exported tobacco. The Carolinas grew rice, indigo, and cotton. In the latter  states, due to the labor intensity of the region, slavery became entrenched in the slave enterprise. In New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, slaves were used as servants and domestics.

Revolutionary War

Come the eve of independence from England, African-Americans were on the forefront of the fight of independence. In Boston many engage in civil disobedience of the unfair laws. Some started bonfires and encouraged crowds to rebel and fight British soldiers. Crispus Attucks, an African American, was the first to be shot in the Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770. The shot that triggered America's independence from England. 

Being on the forefront of agitation for independence, African Americans were also on the forefront of the earliest battles. When Paul Revere galloped through towns yelling "the British are coming", many of the minutemen were black.  African-Americans saw battle in Lexington, Concord, and Ticonderoga. Lemuel Haynes, Peter Salem, Pomp Blackman, Job Potomea, Isaiah Barjonah, Green Mountain Boys(Primas Black, Epheram Blackman) fought with distinction. The Battle of Bunker Hill, in June,  African-Americans saw battle. African American heroes included Prince Hall, Pomp Fisk, Cuff Hayes, Caesar Dickerson, Caesar Weatherbee, Peter Salem, and Salem Poor. 

Even after fomenting agitation and seeing battle at Bunker Hill, it was debated whether to use blacks in battle. After George Washington took over the army, in July, an edict was sent to all generals to ban the enlistment of black soldiers, November12, 1775. Washington soon reverse the order after Lord Dunmore promise freedom to all male slaves who fought for the British. Even after reversing his position, resistance to blacks in the army continued. This resistance eventually ceased after Fort Valley in 1777, when the Continental Army experience massive shortage in manpower. All men, white or black, were welcomed. 

In America's earliest navy, African-Americans served with distinction. Caesar Terront piloted the Patriot, a Virginia ship. Mark Starlin made daring raids on British ships. Spies like slave Pompey, provided valuable information for the capture of Stoney Point. African American spy Armistead provided valuable information to General Lafayette. A Haitian group called the Fontages Legion, assisted in a yeoman role in preventing the routing of American forces in Savannah.

Works Cited retrieved 10-Oct-2011