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Article

Debra C. Smith

Like the story of many southern cities, Charlotte, North Carolina has endured its portion of racial inequity, civil rights activism, and violent acts surrounding segregation efforts, But Charlotte, the Queen City, the largest city in North Carolina has been and remains an alcove for African American experience steeped in memory and now modern familiarity. Charlotte is a source of progress and pride for African Americans in the city who lean on historical strength to continue to develop political power, economic resources, and educational aspirations.

Article

Chicago  

Jill Dupont

Standing today at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, it is hard to imagine the frontier wilderness that lay before Jean Baptiste Point du Sable Chicago s first longtime resident of the city Of African and French descent du Sable arrived sometime in the 1770s and established a fur trading post on the Chicago River near Lake Michigan Du Sable s entrepreneurial spirit and intimate ties to what was even then a multicultural population may have offered a glimpse in retrospect of Chicago s future But it would take more than a century for the city to take full advantage of its location astride major transportation routes and for the town s leadership to display the ingenuity of its first settler Nor was it until the late nineteenth century that more than just a handful of African Americans could seek out the possibilities envisioned by du Sable ...

Article

Paul Finkelman

The U.S. Constitution has been both a curse and a blessing to African Americans. Numerous clauses in the original Constitution directly affect blacks; although four amendments were added to protect black rights, they also protected the rights of other Americans. The specific language of these many constitutional provisions has been interpreted and implemented by the courts, the Congress, the executive branch, and the states. The original Constitution contained a series of clauses to protect the interest of masters in their slaves and prevent states from emancipating fugitive slaves. Although the proslavery Constitution of the antebellum period did not specifically regulate race relations, the overwhelming majority—95 percent in 1860— of all blacks in the nation were held as slaves. Moreover, in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857 the Supreme Court held that free blacks had no rights under the Constitution could not ever be considered citizens of the United States ...

Article

Tom Lansford

The modern Democratic Party has its roots in the Democratic-Republican Party, founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in 1790, although it is more directly tied to the Jacksonian Democrats of the 1830s. For most of its history the party emphasized states’ rights, and its southern wing supported first slavery and then segregation. Beginning during the New Deal administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, however, the leadership of the national Democratic Party increasingly sought to attract African American voters by endorsing an expanded role for the federal government in the nation's economic and social sectors. By the late 1960s blacks overwhelmingly identified with the Democratic Party, which came to rely on the black community as one of its main political bases.

Article

Mary L. Dudziak

The United States Constitution has become an important source of protection against discrimination, but those protections primarily stem from the amendments, not from the original text of the Constitution. As the American colonies were on the verge of independence, discrimination was on the minds of some observers. Abigail Adams corresponded with her husband, John, while he served as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776. “In the new Code of Laws,” she urged, “I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.” Married women’s legal status in eighteenth-century America was defined by the law of coverture. Their entire legal identity was subsumed under that of their husbands, so that married women could not enter contracts or own property.

The framers of the Constitution did not take up the question of sex discrimination but they did address another form of ...

Article

Linda M. Perkins

The history of African American women’s education is interwoven with the overall histories of both black education and women’s education. The earliest histories of both of these groups were ones of exclusion, neglect, and discrimination. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the prevailing view of most of American society was that neither women nor African American men should be educated beyond what was appropriate to their prescribed—and inferior—roles in society.

Article

Exeter  

Lucy MacKeith

City with a low black population, but a good example of the historical presence of Blacks in areas outside the major port cities, an indication of how omnipresent they were in Britain from the 17th century onwards.

Parish registers provide examples such as the burial on 4 February 1631 at St Mary Major of ‘Thomas, sonne of a Blackamore’; the baptisms on 16 February 1689 at St Stephen's of ‘Mary Negro, black’, on 9 April 1735 of ‘Charles English, negro’, and on 4 December 1778 of ‘Thomas Walker, a black boy’; and the burial on 8 May 1791 of ‘Robert Hill, black, a servant at the Devon and Exeter Hospital’.

A contemporary broadsheet in November 1668 gives details of ‘200 blacks brought from the plantations of the Netherlands in America’, part of the procession led by William of Orange on his way to claim the throne in London. On 22 ...

Article

Glasgow  

Jacqueline Jenkinson

One of Britain's leading trading ports between the 17th and 20th centuries. Links between Glasgow and the black world originated through trade. In the late 17th century the merchant guilds of Glasgow added to its flourishing trade with the colonial tobacco plantations in mainland North America by forging trading connections with the West Indies. The Glasgow West India Association was founded in 1807. The Association spent many of its early years defending the slave trade interest. Glasgow was involved in the slave trade, but to a much smaller degree in comparison to the major slaving ports of Bristol, London, and Liverpool. Trade connections and the slave trade led to the creation of a permanent black presence in Glasgow by the late 18th century as black people arrived, settled, and married. One early black Glaswegian was David Cunningham lawfully born to Anthony a black labourer and ...

Article

Health  

Diane Epstein

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and most inhuman,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago on 25 March 1966. For black women, this form of injustice has ranged from the horrors of the Middle Passage to disproportionately high rates of heart disease and breast cancer death.

Article

Dwayne Mack

Some forty years before Kentucky became part of the Union in 1792, blacks came to this wilderness in the Appalachian region of the United States as chattel property. White slaveholders brought blacks there to clear forests, protect white homesteads from Indians, and construct and work the plantation system. After years of enduring brutal treatment, however, slaves were emancipated in 1865. During Reconstruction (1865–1877) some black Kentuckians experienced political, social, and economic success.

When Reconstruction ended, blacks endured catastrophic setbacks. The federal government's Civil Rights Act of 1875, which prohibited discrimination in public accommodations, failed to stem the tide of white violence against blacks or to stop illegal, state-imposed, oppressive black codes. By the late nineteenth century white racist attitudes appeared as Jim Crow laws. Such de jure segregation in Kentucky foreshadowed and mirrored discriminatory legislation elsewhere. In particular, four years before the groundbreaking Plessy v ...

Article

H.R. Costello

City in north‐western England which, by the end of the 18th century, had become one of Europe's greatest ports because of its involvement in the slave trade.

1.18th‐century settlers

2.The 1919 riots

3.Black seamen

4.Social and economic disadvantage

Article

London  

S. I. Martin

Capital of the United Kingdom and a historic centre of black political and cultural organization and development.

1.The black population in 2005

2.From Roman to Elizabethan London

3.London and the slave trade

4.Georgian and Victorian London

5.Black organizations

Article

Thomas Jessen Adams

Los Angeles has proved to be one of the most important and unusual cities in African American urban history. Los Angeles was one of the principal geographical destinations in the mid-twentieth century Second Great Migration, and the history of African Americans there has both been shaped by and has helped to shape the distinctive economic, spatial, political, and ethnic history of Southern California.

Article

Jean M. Borgatti

Massachusetts—predominantly white, with an African American population in 2006 of less than 7 percent—has a peculiar history of liberalism and racism. When the first federal census was enumerated in 1790, Massachusetts was the only member of the Union to record no slaves, having abolished the institution in 1788, seventy-five years earlier than the nation as a whole. Citizens both black and white were prominent in the abolitionist movement, and Massachusetts has no record of lynching.

By 1855 the state had desegregated its schools by law, though segregation—particularly noticeable in education, with consequent ramifications for human and economic development—reemerged in the early twentieth century and persisted until the mid-1970s, especially in urban areas where the African American population is concentrated. Despite the racism underlying the economic and educational problems of the black community in Boston, Massachusetts was the first state to elect an African American, Edward Brooke by ...

Article

Michael Phillips

With medical care in the antebellum South prohibitively expensive, and with slaveowners suspecting that every illness reported by a slave represented a ruse for avoiding work, the southern master class largely ignored their slaves’ health problems. As a result, African American slaves in North America usually turned to healers, herbalists, and magicians within their communities to cure sickness.

These slave doctors derived their practices almost exclusively from West and Central African traditions Such healers resorted to trances or divination to determine the cause of patients diseases While Western medicine through the mid nineteenth century consisted of dangerous if not fatal cures such as induced vomiting and bleeding by contrast African American healers relied extensively on roots leaves bark and the reproductive structures of plants for soothing natural medicines Some slave healers gained a reputation even among the white community such as a South Carolina slave named Cesar who was manumitted ...

Article

Memphis  

Deborah L. Lilton

Blacks have been a central part of the history of Memphis, Tennessee, since its beginning. In 1795 the Spanish brought the first Africans as slaves to help build a fort to protect the territory from unwanted American settlers. Two colonies of freed slaves existed on Memphis's outskirts. One was started by “Free Joe” in 1824, and the other by Frances (Fanny) Wright, a Scottish woman, in 1825. In 1862 when Union troops opened a freedmen's camp near the city's southern border, the free black population increased. During the 1870s several epidemics of yellow fever decimated the immigrant and white population, leaving the black population untouched but the city bankrupt. On 31 January 1879, Memphis lost its charter. Bonds were sold to reduce the city's $3.5 million debt and regain its charter. Robert R. Church Sr., the city's first black millionaire, bought the first $1,000 bond.

Article

Peter Hudson

When the Methodist Episcopal Church formally separated from the Anglican Church on Christmas Eve 1784, it declared that within a year all slaves owned by Methodists would be set free. The church soon drifted from this position, however. “On the local level it was not expedient to free slaves,” writes religious scholar Richard E. Wentz. “Preachers began to develop a theological position that concerned itself only with the saving of souls and left social ethics to the government.” Individual parishes were allowed to develop their own positions regarding slavery, but the questions it provoked haunted the church well into the next century.

By the 1830s a number of congregations in the North had left the church because this ambivalent posture conflicted with their own abolitionist stance In the South however Methodist planters vehemently fought for the institution that was the foundation of their economy To further protect themselves ...

Article

Lola Young

Term used to refer to sexual relations between different races resulting in ‘mixed’ offspring. It comes from the combination of two Latin words: miscere (to mix) and genus race Across the centuries miscegenation has been the subject of heated discourse and debates about the desirability or otherwise of cross ...

Article

Peter Wallenstein

Miscegenation (or antimiscegenation) laws were designed to curtail black–white marriage; cohabitation of black–white couples; and often also whites’ marital relations with ethnic Chinese, Native Americans, and others. Such laws always curtailed the freedom of whites as well as nonwhites. What constituted an interracial marriage depended on each state's definition of racial categories (how much African ancestry did it take to be classified as black?) and its definition of prohibited groups. Laws imposing penalties on black–white marriages dated from Maryland in 1664 and Virginia in 1691. Such laws were enacted for one period or another in thirty-nine states, as well as in three territories that repealed them before statehood.

After the Civil War on Fourteenth Amendment grounds challenges were brought to state laws under which people had been found guilty of entering into an interracial marriage or presiding over an interracial wedding In the 1870s Alabama s supreme court composed ...

Article

Ronda Racha Penrice

Six years before the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896 sanctioning the separate-but-equal doctrine of Jim Crow, Mississippi had already begun the formal process of disfranchising its African American citizens at its 1890 constitutional convention, at which all the delegates but one were white. Within that constitution—which was still in force in the twenty-first century, albeit with many amendments—were the poll tax, the grandfather clause, and literacy tests, the major tools that would disfranchise African Americans not just in Mississippi but throughout the South well into the twentieth century. Following the adoption of the 1890 constitution, Mississippi's electorate, which was predominantly black at that time, was reduced from more than 250,000 to less than 77,000 because of the exclusion of blacks.

In reality the disfranchisement process began more than a decade earlier. During the critical 1875 elections white Mississippians mostly Democrats instituted the ...