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Afro-Colombians (Colombians of African descent) were invisible in the 1886 constitution that ruled Colombia for over 100 years. By 1990, after centuries of marginalization and discrimination, Afro-Colombian organizations emerged as a political force. They denounced implicit racial discrimination and demanded that the constitutional reform take ethnic identity into account without restricting their rights to equality. The black movement received support from representatives of indigenous groups and of the progressive left. Both groups had representatives in the Constitutional Assembly, formed in 1990 to rewrite the constitution.


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.


Alonford James Robinson

In Jamaica, in the years immediately following abolition (1833), colonial officials prevented former slaves from purchasing land by restricting the amount of land available to blacks and by allowing white landowners to charge black tenants exorbitant rents. The plantation economy relied on a continuous supply of black labor, and white landowners, acting in collusion, kept wages low and rents high to prevent blacks from gaining a foothold in the colonial economy.

The concept of the free village emerged in 1835 when a white missionary, Reverend James Phillippo, purchased a large plot of land in the town of Sligoville. Phillippo divided the land into small plots and sold them to black families at affordable prices. Soon, white missionaries and wealthy free blacks were purchasing large plots of land to create similar free villages.

The free village became the embodiment of black empowerment in the decades following emancipation ...


Sholomo B. Levy

minister and blacksmith, was born in Leonardtown, Maryland, the son of Jane and Thomas Henry, slaves of Richard Barnes, the largest slave owner in the district. It is thought that Henry's maternal grandmother, Catherine Hill, had been purchased by the Barnes family on a return trip from England and the Caribbean. Thomas's parents were domestic servants of the Barnes family, which owned tobacco plantations and other business interests. Before his death in 1804, Richard Barnes had stated in his will that his slaves were to be freed; one unusual stipulation he added that suggests a special closeness with these individuals was that the manumitted slaves take the name Barnes.

Thomas, however, did not gain his freedom until almost twenty years after his master's death, because John Thomson Mason a nephew of Richard Barnes and the executor of his estate exploited a growing number of ...


Elizabeth Heath

The Maji Maji revolt, or Maji Maji Rebellion, was initiated by the stateless peasant societies of the Matumbi region and grew into a mass uprising against German Colonial Rule. Since 1891, when the German East Africa Company had taken control of what is now mainland Tanzania, these societies had been subjected to taxes, compulsory labor service, and compulsory cultivation of export crops such as coffee, sisal, and rubber. In 1902 German governor Count Adolf von Götzen tightened the company’s grip by forcing Africans throughout much of the colony to grow cotton, a crop that is both difficult to grow and hard on the soil. Resentment grew among the Matumbi and other rural people, especially after the company began imprisoning noncompliant chiefs, such as the Kisangire leader Digalu Kibasila. In late July 1905 Matumbi laborers began uprooting cotton plants on a nearby plantation, effectively declaring war on the Germans.

To ...


The struggle against slavery throughout the Americas involved different forms of rebellion. Many slaves escaped; some merged with the urban free black and colored population, while others became maroons and set up their own communities in the backlands, often in cooperation with indigenous peoples. Slaves who remained within the system worked to undermine it, through sabotage of production. At the same time they found ways of using their owners' dependence on their labor to influence their terms of work. And from time to time these slave workers, sometimes in alliance with freed people, erupted in rebellion in an effort to destroy slavery outright.