African Americans are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the black racial groups of Africa. The term refers to descendants of enslaved black people who are from the United States. Black and African Americans constitute the third largest racial and ethnic group in the United States. 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, some have Native American ancestry. According to U. S. Census Bureau data, African immigrants do not self-identify as African American; the overwhelming majority of African immigrants identify instead with their own respective ethnicities. Immigrants from some Caribbean, Central American and South American nations and their descendants may or may not self-identify with the term. African-American history starts in the 16th century, with peoples from West Africa forcibly taken as slaves to Spanish America, in the 17th century with West African slaves taken to English colonies in North America.
After the founding of the United States, black people continued to be enslaved, the last four million black slaves were only liberated after the Civil War in 1865. Due to notions of white supremacy, they were treated as second-class citizens; the Naturalization Act of 1790 limited U. S. citizenship to whites only, only white men of property could vote. These circumstances were changed by Reconstruction, development of the black community, participation in the great military conflicts of the United States, the elimination of racial segregation, the civil rights movement which sought political and social freedom. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American to be elected President of the United States; the first African slaves arrived via Santo Domingo to the San Miguel de Gualdape colony, founded by Spanish explorer Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón in 1526. The marriage between Luisa de Abrego, a free black domestic servant from Seville and Miguel Rodríguez, a white Segovian conquistador in 1565 in St. Augustine, is the first known and recorded Christian marriage anywhere in what is now the continental United States.
The ill-fated colony was immediately disrupted by a fight over leadership, during which the slaves revolted and fled the colony to seek refuge among local Native Americans. De Ayllón and many of the colonists died shortly afterwards of an epidemic and the colony was abandoned; the settlers and the slaves who had not escaped returned to Haiti, whence. The first recorded Africans in British North America were "20 and odd negroes" who came to Jamestown, Virginia via Cape Comfort in August 1619 as indentured servants; as English settlers died from harsh conditions and more Africans were brought to work as laborers. An indentured servant would work for several years without wages; the status of indentured servants in early Virginia and Maryland was similar to slavery. Servants could be bought, sold, or leased and they could be physically beaten for disobedience or running away. Unlike slaves, they were freed after their term of service expired or was bought out, their children did not inherit their status, on their release from contract they received "a year's provision of corn, double apparel, tools necessary", a small cash payment called "freedom dues".
Africans could raise crops and cattle to purchase their freedom. They raised families, married other Africans and sometimes intermarried with Native Americans or English settlers. By the 1640s and 1650s, several African families owned farms around Jamestown and some became wealthy by colonial standards and purchased indentured servants of their own. In 1640, the Virginia General Court recorded the earliest documentation of lifetime slavery when they sentenced John Punch, a Negro, to lifetime servitude under his master Hugh Gwyn for running away. In the Spanish Florida some Spanish married or had unions with Pensacola, Creek or African women, both slave and free, their descendants created a mixed-race population of mestizos and mulattos; the Spanish encouraged slaves from the southern British colonies to come to Florida as a refuge, promising freedom in exchange for conversion to Catholicism. King Charles II of Spain issued a royal proclamation freeing all slaves who fled to Spanish Florida and accepted conversion and baptism.
Most went to the area around St. Augustine, but escaped slaves reached Pensacola. St. Augustine had mustered an all-black militia unit defending Spain as early as 1683. One of the Dutch African arrivals, Anthony Johnson, would own one of the first black "slaves", John Casor, resulting from the court ruling of a civil case; the popular conception of a race-based slave system did not develop until the 18th century. The Dutch West India Company introduced slavery in 1625 with the importation of eleven black slaves into New Amsterdam. All the colony's slaves, were freed upon its surrender to the British. Massachusetts was the first British colony to recognize slavery in 1641. In 1662, Virginia passed a law that children of enslaved women took the status of the mother, rather than that of the father, as under English common law; this principle was called partus sequitur ventrum. By an act of 1699, the colony ordered all free blacks deported defining as slaves all people of African descent who remained in the c
Post–civil rights era in African-American history
The post–civil rights era in African-American history is defined as the time period in the United States since Congressional passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, major federal legislation that ended legal segregation, gained federal oversight and enforcement of voter registration and electoral practices in states or areas with a history of discriminatory practices, ended discrimination in renting or buying housing. Politically, blacks have made substantial strides in the post–civil rights era. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, attracting more blacks into politics and unprecedented support and leverage for blacks in politics. In 2008, Barack Obama was elected as the first President of the United States of African descent. In the same period, African Americans have suffered disproportionate unemployment rates following industrial and corporate restructuring, with a rate of poverty in the 21st century, equal to that in the 1960s.
Modern forms of social and judicial discrimination have resulted in African Americans having the highest rates of incarceration of any minority group in the southern states of the former Confederacy. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X, an African-American rights activist with national and international prominence, was shot and killed in New York City.1966 was the last year of publication of The Negro Motorist Green Book, informally known as "The Green Book". It provided advice to African-American travelers, during years of legal segregation and overt discrimination, about places where they could stay, get gas, eat while traveling cross-country. For example, in 1956 only three New Hampshire motels served African Americans, most motels and hotels in the South were segregated. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Green Book became obsolete; the African-American cultural holiday Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966-1967. Kwanzaa was founded by Maulana Karenga as a Pan-Africanist cultural and racial-identity event, as an alternative to cultural events of the dominant society such as Christmas and Hanukkah.
Civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Protests and despair led to riots in multiple U. S. cities in black-majority communities. Beginning in 1971, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states. A U. S. federal holiday was established in King's name in 1986. Since his death, hundreds of streets in the U. S. have been renamed in his honour. King has become a national icon in the history of American progressivism. Fred Hampton, a prominent Black Panther activist, was killed in a shootout with police in Chicago on December 4, 1969. On January 19, 1970, the nomination of G. Harrold Carswell to the US Supreme Court was defeated by the US Senate, in part because of his history of racist remarks and actions. On May 27, 1970, the film Watermelon Man was released, directed by Melvin Van Peebles and starring Godfrey Cambridge; the first blaxploitation films were released. On April 20, 1971, the Supreme Court, in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, upheld busing of students to achieve integration.
In December 1971, Jesse Jackson organized Operation PUSH in Chicago. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first major-party African-American candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. In 1976, Black History Month was founded by Professor Carter Woodson and the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. In 1972, DJ Kool Herc developed the musical blueprint for what became hip-hop playing live shows for high school-age students in the Bronx, New York City. Alex Haley published his novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family in 1976, it was adapted as a TV series. President Jimmy Carter appointed Andrew Young to serve as Ambassador to the United Nations in 1977, the first African American to serve in the position. In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the US Supreme Court barred racial quota systems in college admissions but affirmed the constitutionality of affirmative action programs giving equal access to minorities.
On November 18, 1978, six hundred and forty eight African-Americans died in the mass murder/suicide of the Peoples Temple religious group in Jonestown, Guyana. The religious group, led by Jim Jones, had relocated from California to establish a community in Guyana, South America; the Atlanta Child Murders between 1979 and 1981 set Atlanta's Black community on edge. At least 28 Black children and teenagers were abducted and murdered in similar circumstances in less than two years before their killer was caught. In 1982, Michael Jackson released Thriller; the Miracle Valley shootout in October 1982 saw two Black churchgoers killed and seven Arizona law enforcement officers injured. In 1983, Guion Bluford became the first African American to go into space in NASA's program. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill in 1983 to create a federal holiday to honor Martin Luther King, assassinated in 1968 and considered a martyr to civil rights. Established by legislation in 1983, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first celebrated as a national holiday on January 20, 1986.
Alice Walker received the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for her novel The Color Purple. In September 1983, Vanessa L. Williams became the first African American to win the title of Miss America as Miss America 1984; the crack cocaine epidemic had a devastating
Military history of African Americans
The military history of African Americans spans from the arrival of the first enslaved Africans during the colonial history of the United States to the present day. In every war fought by or within the United States, African-Americans participated, including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War, the Civil War, the Spanish–American War, the World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as other minor conflicts. African-Americans as slaves and free blacks served on both sides during the war. Gary Nash reports that recent research concludes there were about 9000 black Patriot soldiers, counting the Continental Army and Navy, state militia units, as well as privateers, wagoneers in the Army, servants to officers, spies. Ray Raphael notes that while thousands did join the Loyalist cause, "A far larger number, free as well as slave, tried to further their interests by siding with the patriots."Black soldiers served in Northern militias from the outset, but this was forbidden in the South, where slave-owners feared arming slaves.
Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, issued an emancipation proclamation in November 1775, promising freedom to runaway slaves who fought for the British. Over 100,000 slaves escaped to the British lines, although as few as 1,000 served under arms. Many of the rest served as orderlies, laborers, servants and guides, although more than half died in smallpox epidemics that swept the British forces, many were driven out of the British lines when food ran low. Despite Dunmore's promises, the majority were not given their freedom. Many Black Loyalists' descendants now live in Sierra Leone. Many of the Black Loyalists performed military service in the British Army as part of the only Black regiment of the war, the Black Pioneers, others served non-military roles. In response, because of manpower shortages, Washington lifted the ban on black enlistment in the Continental Army in January 1776. All-black units were formed in Rhode Massachusetts. At least 5,000 African-American soldiers fought as Revolutionaries, at least 20,000 served with the British.
Peter Salem and Salem Poor are the most noted of the African-American Patriots during this era, Colonel Tye was the most noteworthy Black Loyalist. Black volunteers served with various of the South Carolina guerrilla units, including that of the "Swamp Fox", Francis Marion, half of whose force sometimes consisted of free Blacks; these Black troops made a critical difference in the fighting in the swamps, kept Marion's guerrillas effective when many of his White troops were down with malaria or yellow fever. The first black American to fight in the Marines was John Martin known as Keto, the slave of a Delaware man, recruited in April 1776 without his owner's permission by Captain of the Marines Miles Pennington of the Continental brig USS Reprisal. Martin served with the Marine platoon on the Reprisal for a year and a half and took part in many ship-to-ship battles including boardings with hand-to-hand combat, but he was lost with the rest of his unit when the brig sank in October 1777. At least 12 other black men served with various American Marine units in 1776–1777.
However, in 1798 when the United States Marine Corps was re-instituted, Secretary of War James McHenry specified in its rules: "No Negro, Mulatto or Indian to be enlisted". Marine Commandant William Ward Burrows instructed his recruiters regarding USMC racial policy, "You can make use of Blacks and Mulattoes while you recruit, but you cannot enlist them." This policy was in line with long-standing British naval practice which set a higher standard of unit cohesion for Marines, the unit to be made up of only one race, so that the members would remain loyal, maintain shipboard discipline and help put down mutinies. The USMC maintained this policy until 1942. During the War of 1812, about one-quarter of the personnel in the American naval squadrons of the Battle of Lake Erie were black, portrait renderings of the battle on the wall of the nation's Capitol and the rotunda of Ohio's Capitol show that blacks played a significant role in it. Hannibal Collins, a freed slave and Oliver Hazard Perry's personal servant, is thought to be the oarsman in William Henry Powell's Battle of Lake Erie.
Collins earned his freedom as a veteran of the Revolutionary War, having fought in the Battle of Rhode Island. He accompanied Perry for the rest of Perry's naval career, was with him at Perry's death in Trinidad in 1819. No legal restrictions regarding the enlistment of blacks were placed on the Navy because of its chronic shortage of manpower; the law of 1792, which prohibited enlistment of blacks in the Army became the United States Army's official policy until 1862. The only exception to this Army policy was Louisiana, which gained an exemption at the time of its purchase through a treaty provision, which allowed it to opt out of the operation of any law, which ran counter to its traditions and customs. Louisiana permitted the existence of separate black militia units which drew its enlistees from freed blacks. A militia unit, The Louisiana Battalion of Free Men of Color, a unit of black soldiers from Santo Domingo offered their services and were accepted by General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans, a victory, achieved after the war was over.
Blacks fought at the Battle of Bladensburg 24 August 1814, many as members of Commodore Jos
African-American neighborhoods or black neighborhoods are types of ethnic enclaves found in many cities in the United States. An African American neighborhood is one where the majority of the people who live there are African American; some of the earliest African-American neighborhoods were in New York City along with early communities located in Virginia. In 1830, there were 14,000 "free Negroes" living in New York City; the formation of black neighborhoods are linked to the history of segregation in the United States, either through formal laws or as a product of social norms. Despite the formal laws and segregation, black neighborhoods have played an important role in the development of African-American culture; the Great Migration was the movement of more than one million African Americans out of rural Southern United States from 1914 to 1940. Most African Americans who participated in the migration moved to large industrial cities such as Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, Washington, D. C. Detroit, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Long Beach as well as many smaller industrial cities.
Hence, the Migration played an important role in the formation and expansion of African-American neighborhoods in these cities. Chicago's South Side and adjoining South Suburbs together constitute the largest geographical predominantly Black region in America, stretching from Cermak Road on the north in the Near South Side to the far south suburb of University Park - a distance of 40 miles. There are various races and ethnic groups in this huge expanse such as Whites, Latinos and Arabs, but it is predominantly Black. While the Great Migration helped educated African Americans obtain jobs, while enabling a measure of class mobility, the migrants encountered significant forms of discrimination in the North through a large migration during such a short of period of time; the African-American migrants were resented by working classes in the North, who feared that their ability to negotiate rates of pay, or to secure employment at all, was threatened by the influx of new labor competition. Populations increased rapidly with the addition of African-American migrants and new European immigrants, which caused widespread housing shortages in many cities.
Newer groups competed for the oldest and most rundown houses because the poorly constructed houses were what they could afford. African Americans competed for work and housing with first or second generation immigrants in many major cities. Ethnic groups created territories. More established populations with more capital moved away to newer housing, being developed on the outskirts of the cities, to get away from the pressure of new groups of residents; the migrants discovered that the open discrimination of the South was only more subtly manifested in the North. In 1917, the Supreme Court declared municipal resident segregation ordinances unconstitutional. In response, some white groups resorted to the restrictive covenant, a formal deed restriction binding property owners in a given neighborhood not to sell to blacks. Whites who broke these agreements could be sued by "damaged" neighbors. Not until 1948 did the Supreme Court strike down restrictive covenants; the National Housing Act of 1934 contributed to limiting the availability of loans to urban areas those areas inhabited by African Americans.
In some cities, the influx of African-American migrants as well as other immigrants resulted in racial violence, which flared in several cities during 1919. This significant event and the subsequent struggle of African-American migrants to adapt to Northern cities was the subject of Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series; this series, exhibited in 1941, was responsible for bringing Lawrence to the public eye as one of the most important African-American artists of the time. From 1940-1970, another five million people left the South for industrial jobs in cities in the North and West. Sometimes violence was the outcome of some of the pressure of this migration. In response to the influx of Blacks from the South, insurance companies, businesses began redlining—denying or increasing the cost of services, such as banking, access to jobs, access to health care, or supermarkets to residents in certain racially determined, areas; the most common use of the term refers to mortgage discrimination. Data on house prices and attitudes toward integration suggest that in the mid-20th century, segregation was a product of collective actions taken by whites to exclude blacks from their neighborhoods.
This meant that ethnic minorities could secure mortgage loans only in certain areas, it resulted in a large increase in the residential racial segregation and urban decay in the United States. Urban renewal, the redevelopment of areas within large cities, including white flight, has been a factor in the growth patterns of African-American neighborhoods; the process began an intense phase in the late 1940s and continues in some places to the present day. It has had a major impact on the urban landscape. Urban renewal was controversial because it involved the destruction of businesses, the relocation of people, the use of eminent domain to reclaim private property for city-initiated development projects; the justifications used for urban renewal include the "renewal" of residential slums and blighted commercial and industrial areas. In the second half of the 20th century, renewal resulted in the creation of urban sprawl and vast areas of cities being demolished and replaced by freeways and expressways, housing projects, vacant lots, some of which still remain vacant at the beginning of the 21st century.
Timeline of African-American history
This is a timeline of the African-American history in what is now the United States, from 1565 to the present. 1565 The Spanish colony of St. Augustine in Florida became the first permanent European settlement in what would become the US centuries later. 1619 The first record of Africans in English colonial America when men were brought to the Jamestown colony, taken as prizes from a Spanish ship. They were treated as indentured servants, at least one was recorded as owning land in the colony.1640 John Punch, a black indentured servant, ran away with two white indentured servants, James and Victor. After the three were captured, Punch was sentenced to serve Virginia planter Hugh Gwyn for life; this made John Punch the first documented slave in Virginia.1654 John Casor, a black man who claimed to have completed his term of indenture, became the first recognized slave-for-life in a civil case in the Virginia colony. The court ruled with his master who said he had an indefinite servitude for life.1662 Virginia law, using the principle of partus sequitur ventrem, said that children in the colony were born into their mother's social status.
This was contrary to English common law for English subjects, which held that children took their father's social status.1672 Royal African Company is founded in England, allowing slaves to be shipped from Africa to the colonies in North America and the Caribbean. England entered the slave trade.1676 Both free and enslaved African Americans fought in Bacon's Rebellion along with English colonists. 1705 The Virginia Slave codes define as slaves all those servants brought into the colony who were not Christian in their original countries, as well as those American Indians sold by other Indians to colonists.1712 April 6 – The New York Slave Revolt of 1712.1739 September 9 – In the Stono Rebellion, South Carolina slaves gather at the Stono River to plan an armed march for freedom.1753 Benjamin Banneker designed and built the first clock in the British American colonies. He created a series of almanacs, he corresponded with Thomas Jefferson and wrote that "blacks were intellectually equal to whites".
Banneker worked with Pierre L'Enfant to survey and design a street and urban plan for Washington, D. C.1760 Jupiter Hammon has a poem printed, becoming the first published African-American poet.1765–1767 Non-Importation Agreements – The First Continental Congress creates a multi-colony agreement to forbid importation of anything from British merchants. This implicitly includes slaves, stops the slave trade in Philadelphia; the second similar act explicitly stops the slave trade.1770 March 5 – Crispus Attucks is killed by British soldiers in the Boston Massacre, a precursor to the American Revolution.1773 Phillis Wheatley has her book Poems on Various Subjects and Moral published.1774 The first black Baptist congregations are organized in the South: Silver Bluff Baptist Church in South Carolina, First African Baptist Church near Petersburg, Virginia.1775 April 14 – The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage holds four meetings. It was re-formed in 1784 as the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, Benjamin Franklin would be its president.1776–1783 American Revolution Thousands of enslaved African Americans in the South escape to British lines, as they were promised freedom to fight with the British.
In South Carolina, 25,000 enslaved African Americans, one-quarter of those held, escape to the British or otherwise leave their plantations. After the war, many African Americans are evacuated with the British for England. Still others go to the West Indies. An estimated 8–10,000 were evacuated from the colonies in these years as free people, about 50 percent of those slaves who defected to the British and about 80 percent of those who survived. Many free blacks in the North fight with the colonists for the rebellion.1777 July 8 – The Vermont Republic abolishes slavery, the first future state to do so. No slaves were held in Vermont.1780 Pennsylvania becomes the first U. S. state to abolish slavery.1781 In challenges by Elizabeth Freeman and Quock Walker, two independent county courts in Massachusetts found slavery illegal under state constitution and declared each to be free persons.1783 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed that Massachusetts state constitution had abolished slavery.
It ruled that "the granting of rights and privileges wholly incompatible and repugnant to" slavery, in an appeal case arising from the escape of former slave Quock Walker. When the British left New York and Charleston in 1783, they took the last of 5500 Loyalists to the Caribbean, along with some 15,000 slaves.1787 July 13 – The Northwest Ordinance bans the expansion of slavery into U. S. territories north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River.1788 The First African Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia is organized under Andrew Bryan.1790–1810 Manumission of slaves Following the Revolution, numerous slaveholders in the Upper South free their slaves. By 1810, 75 percent of all blacks in Delaware are free, 7.2 percent of blacks in Virginia are free.1791 February – Major Andrew Ellicott hires Benjamin Banneker, an African-American draftsman, to assist in a survey of the boundaries of the 100-square-mile federal district that would become the District of Columbia.1793 February 12 – The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 is passed.
The term black church or African-American church refers to Protestant churches that or have ministered to predominantly black congregations in the United States. While some black churches belong to predominantly African-American denominations, such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church, many black churches are members of predominantly white denominations, such as the United Church of Christ. Most of the first black congregations and churches formed before 1800 were founded by free blacks – for example, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the oldest black Baptist church in Kentucky, third oldest in the United States, was founded about 1790 by the slave Peter Durrett. After slavery was abolished, segregationist attitudes in both the North and the South discouraged and prevented African Americans from worshiping in the same churches as whites. Freed blacks most established congregations and church facilities separate from their white neighbors, who were their former masters; these new churches created communities and worship practices that were culturally distinct from other churches, including forms of Christianity that derived from African spiritual traditions.
African-American churches have long been the centers of communities, serving as school sites in the early years after the Civil War, taking up social welfare functions, such as providing for the indigent, going on to establish schools and prison ministries. As a result, black churches were important during the civil rights movement. Evangelical Baptist and Methodist preachers traveled throughout the South in the Great Awakening of the late 18th century, they appealed directly to slaves, a few thousand slaves converted. Blacks found opportunities to have active roles in new congregations in the Baptist Church, where slaves were appointed as leaders and preachers; as they listened to readings, slaves developed their own interpretations of the Scriptures and found inspiration in stories of deliverance, such as the Exodus out of Egypt. Nat Turner, a slave and Baptist preacher, was inspired to armed rebellion, in an uprising that killed about 50 white men and children in Virginia. Both free blacks and the more numerous slaves participated in the earliest black Baptist congregations founded near Petersburg, Savannah and Lexington, before 1800.
The slaves Peter Durrett and his wife founded the First African Church in Lexington, Kentucky about 1790. The church's trustees purchased its first property in 1815; the congregation numbered about 290 by the time of Durrett's death in 1823. Following slave revolts in the early 19th century, including Nat Turner's Rebellion in 1831, Virginia passed a law requiring black congregations to meet only in the presence of a white minister. Other states restricted black churches, or the assembly of blacks in large groups unsupervised by whites; the black Baptist congregations in the cities grew and their members numbered several hundred each before the Civil War. While led by free blacks, most of their members were slaves. In plantation areas, slaves organized underground churches and hidden religious meetings, the "invisible church", where slaves were free to mix evangelical Christianity with African beliefs and African rhythms. With the time, many incorporated Wesleyan Methodist hymns, gospel songs, spirituals.
The underground churches provided psychological refuge from the white world. The spirituals gave the church members a secret way to communicate and, in some cases, to plan rebellion. Slaves learned about Christianity by attending services led by a white preacher or supervised by a white person. Slaveholders held prayer meetings at their plantations. In the South until the Great Awakening, most slaveholders were Anglican if they practiced any Christianity. Although in the early years of the first Great Awakening and Baptist preachers argued for manumission of slaves and abolition, by the early decades of the 19th century, they had found ways to support the institution. In settings where whites supervised worship and prayer, they used Bible stories that reinforced people's keeping to their places in society, urging slaves to be loyal and to obey their masters. In the 19th century and Baptist chapels were founded among many of the smaller communities and common planters. During the early decades of the 19th century, they used stories such as the Curse of Ham to justify slavery to themselves.
They promoted the idea that hard-working slaves would be rewarded in the afterlife. Sometimes slaves established their own Sabbath schools to talk about the Scriptures. Slaves who were literate tried to teach others to read, as Frederick Douglass did while still enslaved as a young man in Maryland. Free Blacks in both northern and southern cities formed their own congregations and churches before the end of the 18th century, they organized independent black congregations and churches to practice religion apart from white oversight. Along with white churches opposed to slavery, free blacks in Philadelphia provided aid and comfort to slaves who escaped and helped all new arrivals adjust to city life. In 1787 in Philadelphia, the black church was born out of protest and revolutionary reaction to racism. Resenting being relegated to a segregated gallery at St. George's Methodist Church, Methodist preachers Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, other black members, left the church and formed the Free
African-American Muslims colloquially known as Black Muslims, are a religious minority among both the larger African American and Muslim population of the United States. They are represented in various self-described Muslim sects such as the Nation of Islam; the history of African American Muslims is similar to the broader African-American history, too, goes back to the Revolutionary and Antebellum Eras. Between 15% and 30% of slaves brought to the Americas from West/Central Africa were Muslims. However, most of these captives were forced into Christianity during the era of American slavery. During the twentieth century, some African Americans converted to Islam through the influence of black nationalist groups that preached with distinctive Islamic practices; the Indian-originated Ahmadiyya Muslim movement sought converts among African Americans in the 1920s and 1930s. Malcolm X is considered the first person to start the movement among African Americans towards mainstream Islam, after he left the Nation and made the pilgrimage to Mecca.
In 1975, Warith Deen Mohammed, the son of Elijah Muhammad took control of the Nation after his father's death and guided the majority of its members to orthodox Islam. However, a few members rejected these changes, in particular Louis Farrakhan, who revived the Nation of Islam in 1978 based on the ideals of its founder, Wallace Fard Muhammad. African-American Muslims constitute 20% of the total U. S. Muslim population, the majority are Sunni or orthodox Muslims, some of these identify under the community of W. Deen Mohammed; the Nation of Islam led by Louis Farrakhan has a membership ranging from 20,000–50,000 members. A Pew survey in 2014 showed that 23% of American Muslims were converts, including 8% from black Protestant traditions. 28% of Muslims counted in the survey were black, since 2007, the black proportion had shrunk, while the white and Asian proportions had grown due to immigration as most black Muslims were native U. S. blacks. During the first half of the 20th century, a small number of African Americans established groups based on Islamic and Gnostic teachings.
The first of such groups created was the Moorish Science Temple of America, founded by Timothy Drew in 1913. Drew taught that black people were of Moorish origin but their Muslim identity was taken away through slavery and racial segregation, advocating the return to Islam of their Moorish ancestry. Sunni Islam is the world's largest religious denomination, followed by Catholicism, it is the largest community of Black Muslims. Sunni is a term derived from sunnah meaning "habit", "usual practice", "custom", "tradition"; the Muslim use of this term refers to living habits of the prophet Muhammad. Its adherents are referred to in Arabic as ahl as-sunnah wa ahl as-sunnah for short. In English, its adherents are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis and Ahlus Sunnah. Sunni Islam is sometimes referred to as "orthodox Islam"; the Quran, together with hadith and binding juristic consensus form the basis of all traditional jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. Sharia rulings are derived from these basic sources, in conjunction with analogical reasoning, consideration of public welfare and juristic discretion, using the principles of jurisprudence developed by the traditional legal schools.
Although many African Americans ancestors were Muslims prior to being kidnapped to America the period of brutal enslavement had done much to rob the cultural and religious identity of many. The story of Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori, a Muslim prince from West Africa, made a slave in the United States and freed 40 years is a testament to the survival of Muslim belief and practice among enslaved Africans in America. El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz known as Malcolm X is credited with being the catalyst for bringing the black community to Islam in general and as being the pioneer in leading Black Muslims to Ahlus Sunnah specifically. In the weeks after he left the Nation of Islam, several Sunni Muslims encouraged Malcolm X to learn about their faith, he soon was followed by thousands from the Nation of Islam. Warith Deen Mohammed rose to leadership of the Nation of Islam in 1975 following the death of his father Elijah Muhammad and began the groundbreaking and sometimes controversial process leading Black Muslims out of the NOI and into Sunni Islam.
As a result of his personal studies of the Quran and thinking he became part of Ahlus Sunnah during a term in federal prison from 1961-1963 for refusing induction into the United States military. Mohammed introduced many reforms and began an information campaign about Sunni Islam much as El Hajj Malik el-Shabazz had years earlier, he stated that his father was not a prophet. All of the over 400 temples were converted into traditional Islamic mosques, he introduced the Five Pillars of Islam to his followers, he rejected literal interpretations of his father's theology and Black-separatist views and on the basis of his intensive independent study of Islamic law and theology, he accepted whites as fellow worshipers. However, he encouraged African Americans to separate themselves from their pasts, in 1976 calling upon them to change their surnames which were given to their ancestors by slave masters, he forged closer ties with mainstream Muslim communities, incl