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L. Diane Barnes

Founded in December 1816, the American Colonization Society (ACS) was the first national organization to take on the problem of slavery in the United States. The ACS proposed an expatriation scheme to rid the nation of slavery and of free African Americans. The prominent founders Charles Fenton Mercer, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and others secured federal funding and in 1822 founded the colony of Liberia on Africa's west coast as the destination for America's blacks.

Even before the founding of the ACS, the colonization of African Americans was an issue that divided both whites and blacks. Some African Americans supported colonization, arguing that free blacks would never be fully included in the white-dominated society of the United States. Others argued just as forcibly that blacks were entitled to full rights as American citizens and should remain to fight on behalf of their race.

The ACS drew ...


Erin L. Thompson

Major movements of the black population within the United States began with the importations of the slave trade and continued with the movements of runaway slaves. After they were emancipated, many blacks moved to the North and West to find economic opportunities; some, disappointed, returned to the South. Blacks have also migrated to the United States from other countries, notably those in Africa and the Caribbean.


Paul A. Minifee

The second of eight children born to Caroline and Jermain Loguen, Helen Amelia Loguen grew up in Syracuse, New York, where her parents were heavily involved in the abolitionist movement. Educated by her mother and local public schools, Amelia studied chemistry, French, and trigonometry. Her father was a bishop of the American Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church and a prominent abolitionist, who employed their home as a depot for fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad and opened schools for African Americans in Utica and Syracuse. Amelia's mother came from a prosperous family of farmers in Busti, New York. Caroline's father, William Storum was a free black and one of three citizens in Chautauqua County to vote for abolitionists evidencing his politics and prosperity since New York required blacks to own at least $250 of property in order to vote An active abolitionist himself Storum utilized his farm as ...


Lisa Clayton Robinson

Fisk University, like many new schools established for African Americans after the Civil War ended in 1865, was founded and largely supported by white benefactors. But it differed significantly from other black schools, such as Tuskegee and Hampton, in its emphasis on liberal arts education rather than vocational training. Its founders saw Fisk as a school that would measure itself by “the highest standards, not of Negro education, but of American education at its best.”

Fisk was established in Nashville, Tennessee, in October 1865 by Erastus Milo Cravath and Edward P. Smith, both members of the American Missionary Association, and John Ogden, superintendent of the Tennessee Freedmen's Bureau's Department of Education. Fisk began as an elementary school to meet the basic educational needs of the newly freed slaves, and its first students ranged in age from seven to seventy. In 1867 Tennessee passed a law requiring ...


Robert Fay

Freedmen's Hospital was founded in 1862 to serve former slaves and Union soldiers in the Civil War (1861–1865). At that time—and, indeed, until the Civil Rights Movement—many hospitals and medical colleges were segregated, leaving black patients with few health care options and aspiring black physicians and nurses with limited choice about where to study and practice medicine. The Freedmen's Hospital, however, not only provided service to poor whites and blacks in Washington, D.C., but through its close association with Howard University's Medical College (the two joined in 1868 to form a teaching hospital), it came to offer medical training to African Americans.

Part of the hospital's mission was to provide medical care to the indigent despite inadequate federal funding—the hospital was prohibited from admitting paying patients until 1912 During its history administrators worked amid a deteriorating physical plant and outdated equipment and the hospital ...


Wilma King

During the 1930s, an interviewer for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) asked the Texan Margrett Nillin about her days in bondage. Her comments appear in George P. Rawick’s The American Slave and note changes in the status of enslaved and emancipated woman. “In slavery I owns nothin’,” said the ninety-year-old freedwoman, adding, “never owns nothin’.” By contrast, “In freedom,” she affirmed, “I’s own de home and raise de family. All dat cause me worryment.” Despite these woes, when an alternative was at hand Nillin declared, “I takes freedom.”

Emancipation for Nillin and millions of blacks within the context of the bloody Civil War resulted in one of the most significant constitutional, economic, and social occurrences in American history. The circumstances surrounding that grand event overshadow other occasions when black women gained freedom.

The number of free persons in the United States with no distinction made between freeborn and ...


Elizabeth Zoe Vicary

Johnson, Edward Austin (23 November 1860–24 July 1944), educator, lawyer, and politician was born near Raleigh North Carolina the son of Columbus Johnson and Eliza A Smith slaves He was taught to read and write by Nancy Walton a free African American and later attended the Washington School an establishment founded by philanthropic northerners in Raleigh There he was introduced to the Congregational church and became a lifelong member Johnson completed his education at Atlanta University in Georgia graduating in 1883 To pay his way through college he worked as a barber and taught in the summers After graduation he worked as a teacher and principal first in Atlanta at the Mitchell Street Public School 1883 1885 and then in Raleigh at the Washington School 1885 1891 While teaching in Raleigh he studied at Shaw University obtaining a law degree in 1891 He joined the faculty shortly ...


Maggi M. Morehouse

Juneteenth is a “black English” colloquialism that is a combination of two words—a contraction of the words “June” and “nineteenth,” and it signifies a festival of freedom—an annual celebration to remember the end of chattel slavery in America. It was on 19 June 1865, in Galveston, Texas, two months after the end of the Civil War, that the last slaves in America to be freed by advancing Union troops under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation were declared free by General Gordon Granger, commander of the occupying troops in Texas and Oklahoma. The liberated slaves responded to the announcement with joy and jubilation, which quickly turned into a spontaneous festival of freedom. In an interview made in the late 1930s as part of a Works Progress Administration oral history project, Slave Narratives (digitized by the Library of Congress), a former slave named Felix Haywood remembered those first ...


Wanda Feranandopulle

one of the eleven children of Augustus (Guss) Law and his wife, Eugenia Law. His father, born in 1828, and his mother, born in 1840, were both former slaves who were able to own land after the Civil War, when African Americans in the South acquired approximately 15 million acres. At age forty-five Augustus Law was deeded 466 and one-half acres of land in Marion, South Carolina, on 11 September 1873. In 1881 Augustus Law was deeded an additional 100 acres of land on 3 October 1881, in Marion, South Carolina.

Joe s mother and some of his siblings worked as farm laborers while others were teachers at the local McKnight School and another also worked as a mail contractor using a horse and buggy Although the postwar Reconstruction era had encouraged African Americans to acquire property black landowners received very little or no support from ...


Dale Edwyna Smith

Lincoln University (Missouri) was created to meet freed blacks’ hunger for higher education after the Civil War. Black Union soldiers of the sixty-second and sixty-fifth U.S. Colored Infantry founded Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City, Missouri, in September 1866. The institution faced a succession of obstacles, including race discrimination, financial insecurity, debate over strategies for educating the black masses and, ironically, the end of legal segregation.

Inman E. Page attended Brown University and served as a clerk with the Freedmen's Bureau but recruited to be the first black administrator to hold the title “president” at Lincoln, Page was required to act as vice principal for one year to prove he was up to the task. Born a slave in Virginia, Page served as president of Lincoln from 1880 to 1889, and from 1922 to 1923 His job required rigorous fund raising and he often called on the Lincoln ...


When founded by the Presbyterian minister John Miller Dickey and his Quaker wife, Sarah Emlen Cresson, in 1854, this rural, southeastern Pennsylvania educational venture was called the Ashmun Institute. After the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, the school took the name Lincoln University. Lincoln is the oldest of the historically black colleges and universities in the United States. The founding president Dickey remained only until 1856. Among the longest-tenured of the presidents who followed him were Isaac Norton Rendall, 1865–1906; John Ballard Rendall, 1906–1924; Walter Livingston Wright, 1924–1926 and 1936–1945; Horace Mann Bond (who also graduated from Lincoln in 1923), 1945–1957; and Herman Russell Branson, 1970–1985. Ivory V. Nelson became president in 1999.

There were six young men in Lincoln's first graduating class in 1868; by 1900 there were thirty two ...


After Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and especially following his death, African Americans showered lavish and reverent praise on his memory. He was to them, after all, not only the savior of the nation but the president that freed the slaves. When blacks acquired the right of suffrage, they offered allegiance to Lincoln's Republican Party, not just to return a tremendous favor but in firm belief that the party was the best option to guarantee freedom and equality. However, that equality eluded blacks through the painful years of Jim Crow segregation in the late 1800s and well into the 1900s, as both the Democratic and Republican parties turned their backs on African Americans. Nonetheless, blacks shared with their white counterparts fond sentiments for Lincoln.


Essie Manuel Rutledge

Sociologically speaking, marriage is the cornerstone of the traditional nuclear family. It is the basis for the formation of the family as an institution and as a group that contains both individuals and relationships: husband-wife, parent-child, and sibling-sibling. These relationships indicate bonds, connections, attachments, and obligations between individuals. The bonds and attachments are conjugal and consanguine, with the former based on husband-wife relationships and the latter on blood ties. But both relationships are intrinsically connected. Therefore, many of the responsibilities of the conjugal relationship are connected to the family.

Marriage in the United States is highly valued. More than 90 percent of Americans express a desire to marry at some point in their lives. This reflects the country’s Judeo-Christian ethic, which emphasizes marriage as a requirement for heterosexual sex and childbearing. But because of changing attitudes about sexuality and intimate relationships, neither sexuality nor childbearing is confined to marriage.

Black ...


Valerie Cunningham

New Hampshire's African American communities became clearly defined in the twentieth century. During the colonial era, as few as one to three enslaved African or black Americans were living in nearly all the towns and villages in the state, with larger clusters in and near the Atlantic trade and shipbuilding center of Portsmouth. As the former slaves gained their freedom after the Revolutionary War—not by legal statute but through individually negotiated emancipation—employers gave preference to white workers, displacing blacks from the labor force. The black population as a percentage of the total for the state had peaked in 1767 with 633 slaves representing 1.2 percent of the total population. Throughout the nineteenth century, while the white population multiplied, the number of black people, now free, declined; 494 blacks, at .15 percent of the total population in 1860 was the lowest number reported in the federal census during the period ...


Loren Schweninger

O’Kelly, Berry (1860–14 March 1931), businessman was born in Chapel Hill North Carolina the son of slave parents His father s name is unknown His mother Frances Stroud died when O Kelly was very young and he was raised by members of her family After emancipation he attended local schools in Orange and Wake counties North Carolina and subsequently worked as a railroad freight and ticket agent Frugal and hard working O Kelly saved the wages he earned working as a store clerk in the all black town of Mason Village near Raleigh North Carolina and eventually bought a share of the business By 1889 he was the sole owner of the general store serving both Mason Village and Raleigh customers Described as optimistic genial warm and sympathetic he was also a hard nosed businessman and real estate investor In 1890 Mason Village was renamed Method and ...


once common forms of farming throughout the United States. The tenant paid the landowner rent; the landowner paid the sharecropper wages. After the Civil War, landowners, former slaves, and yeomen in southern states often disputed rights of land tenure, ownership of crops, and the legal priority of their respective claims. The complex arrangements negotiated by landlord and tenant resulted in frequent litigation.

Sharecroppers brought only their labor to the bargaining table; landowners customarily supervised farming operations, marketed crops, and paid sharecroppers an agreed-upon sum. Legally, sharecroppers were wage laborers. A sharecropper's claim for wages might conflict with the economic interests of a landowner or a credit merchant. Some states gave the sharecropper's claim priority in such cases, but after Reconstruction the legislatures and courts generally favored landlords and credit merchants The number of sharecroppers peaked at 776 000 in the early 1930s During and after World War II ...


Patricia J. Thompson

printer and physician in Liberia, Africa, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of the Reverend Samuel Snowden and Lydia W. Snowden.

Isaac H. Snowden grew up in Boston as a free black man in a home where his father was a well-known and well-respected antislavery activist. It is likely that he attended the Abiel Smith School built in 1834–1835 to house the school for African American students. Snowden later became involved in the Young Men's Literary Society, composed of the most promising young African American men in the city, for the purpose of improving and strengthening their intellectual abilities. He served as president in 1847.

Snowden initially made his living as a book newspaper and fancy job printer Following in his father s footsteps he was involved in the antislavery and equal rights movements and was often elected as one of the secretaries of the various meetings ...


Anja Schüler

The population of the District of Columbia is characterized by the duality of both its long-time residents and its more transient citizens, often brought there by government-related employment. This duality is also reflected in the coexistence of the “official” Washington on Capitol Hill and the National Mall and the neighborhoods that make up the local community, and also in Washington politics, which must strive for a balance of federal and local interests.


The free black community in Washington, DC has roots dating to the founding of the capital city in the 1790s. In 1791 President George Washington selected the site for the nation's capital. The decision was based in part on the advantages offered by the Potomac River and the port of Georgetown, which both provided strategic and commercial benefit to the fledgling nation. The District of Columbia was carved from two slave-holding states, Maryland and Virginia. The city founders sought to create an area where the federal government would be centrally located and operational, even though it was also occupied by Native Americans, whites, and enslaved African people.

The free black community flourished from 1800 until the emancipation of the city's slaves in 1862 By the 1840s the free black population outnumbered the enslaved population with 1 700 enslaved and 4 800 free blacks Green 38 During this window of ...