African American is one of the subordinate or minor groups in the U.S.A with a population of approximately 38,930,000 which translates to12.6% of the US population. A subordinate (also referred to as a minor group) is one that is characterized by the following five characteristic; unequal treatment, distinguishing cultural and physical characteristic, in-group marriage, awareness of subordination and involuntary membership. In the USA there are several subordinate groups in addition to African Americans. These are as Native Americans, Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, Arab Americans, Filipino Americans, Korean Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Asian Indians, Hawaiians, Irish Americans, Polish Americans, Norwegian Americans, Jewish Americans, Cuban Americans, Mexican Americans, and Puerto Ricans[ CITATION Ric061 \l 2057 ]
African American also referred to as Afro Americans or American Negroes or black Americans are citizens of U.S.A with African origin. The roots of the African Americans can either be traced back to African slaves who survived within the boundaries of what is currently known as the United States of America during the slave trade era or immigrants from South America, Africa or Central America[ CITATION Has07 \l 1033 ]. They are not located in a specific location in the U.S. but are rather scattered all over the states with the highest concentration in the south. The highest population of African Americans is found in New York followed by Chicago[ CITATION McK01 \l 2057 ].
As stated earlier, the African American group was created by virtue of slave trade and immigration. The first African arrived in 1619 in British North America as an indentured servant. This slave settled in what today is known as Jamestown in Virginia[ CITATION McK01 \l 2057 ]. Many English settlers in this part of the world died due to the worsening weather condition. As a result, more and more African slaves were ferried to work as laborers in these farms. Like poor English servants, the Africans slaves had legal rights where they could trade several years of work for immigration to America or others could purchase their freedom by growing crops or keeping cattle. They then settled, married either other Africans, or intermarried with English settlers or the Native Americans. The population of the African Americans both free and slave grew exponentially and by 1775 the Africans formed 20% of the Americans colonies[ CITATION Has07 \l 2057 ]. The African Americans joined hand with the rebellious English colonist during the American Revolution to claim independence from the British. The contribution of Africans such as James Armistead in the 1781 Yorktown victory was very instrumental in the formation of USA as an independent state[ CITATION Has07 \l 1033 ].
The population of both free and enslaved African American continued to increase and by 1860 the numbers stood at half a million and 3.5 million respectively. The white started mistreating the African American leading to famous American civil war in 1863 between the slave states of the South and Free states of the North. This prompted the then president of America, Abraham Lincon to sign the famous Emancipation declaration which brought to end slavery in the states that had seceded from the union. With the passage of the thirteenth amendment, in 1865 slavery was done within the United States [ CITATION Joh04 \l 1033 ].
However even after the emancipation declaration Americans blacks were segregated and they were denied access to better education and thus they had inferior education. As the African American searched for better opportunities, they were forced to move to the urban north from the rural south. Despite their effort, they were not able to find jobs and in addition they were required by the custom and law to live in different places from the white lived i.e. ghetto[ CITATION Joh04 \l 1033 ]
In the early 1960s, African Americans led by the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King used marches, boycotts and other kinds of nonviolent protest to end racial discrimination and fight for equal treatment under law. The climax of these movements was on 28th of august, 1963 when over 200,000 people from all races gathered in front of the Lincon memorial in Washington, D.C. where D.R. Luther king addressed them. It is in this gathering that Dr Luther King spoke the famous phrase” 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”[ CITATION Joh04 \l 1033 ]. It was time after this that the united state congress passed laws which were prohibiting discrimination in education, employment, voting, public accommodation and housing. Since then, the African Americans have had an upward improvement in terms of economic and social standing especially in the recent past
Despite this remarkable advancement, most of African Americans are in areas which are socially, educationally and economically disadvantaged due to the residual effects of discrimination, slavery and racism. Examples of this social, economic and political issues include limited health care access; institutional racialism which include discrimination in housing, education, policing and employment, crime, substance and poverty. Apparently, many African American families are still struggling with poverty due to the reason stated above[ CITATION Joh04 \l 1033 ].
In conclusion, even though the African Americans were able to redeem themselves from slavery and state laws that were discriminating against them, most of them are still “slaves of poverty”. These are a clear reflection of the long lasting effects of discrimination, slavery and racism. However, it is worth noting hat there have been remarkable advancement of the Africans American minority in many areas which include, increased employment, holding high position in government e.g. the president of USA Ballack Obama e.t.c[ CITATION Joh04 \l 1033 ].
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McKinnon, J. (2003). “The Black Population in the United States: March 2002” . United States Census Bureau.
McKinnon, J. (2001). “The Black Population: 2000 United States Census Bureau” . United States Census Bureau.
McWhorter, J. (2004). Authentically Black. los angeles: Los Angeles Times.
Schaefer, R. T. (2006). Racial and Ethnic Groups. New York: Prentice-Hall.