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Alaska  

Nick J. Sciullo

The United States' northernmost state has always had a low black population, one of the lowest in the United States. The 2000 U.S. Census lists Alaska as having 21,787 black residents who make up 3.5 percent of its population. This is likely as much an effect of geographical boundaries as societal forces. After the Civil War, blacks migrated to Alaska in search of new economic opportunities; they became seafarers and worked in the whaling and fur industries and were better able to find meaningful work than many of those who stayed in the American South. The Alaska Gold Rush in the 1890s brought many from the contiguous United States to Alaska, African Americans among them, and many stayed—some for profit and some for adventure's sake.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the building of the Alaska Highway in February 1942 and more than three thousand black engineers worked on the ...

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The city of Wilmington, North Carolina, occupies an important place in the history of American politics, segregation, and civil rights. In the 1890s, African American Republican politicians and civil servants had come to hold a number of important offices in Wilmington. However, on 10 November 1898, following a long series of white Democratic efforts to remove black Republicans from office, a riot broke out that left an estimated seven to thirty African Americans dead. Thousands of African Americans left the city after the riot, while those who remained were disenfranchised via the establishment of literacy tests at polling sites. Segregation became the norm in Wilmington until the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement decades later, and the city’s more recent history provides fascinating insight into the aftereffects of institutionalized racism.

The table presented below tracks African American participation in the economy of Wilmington and surrounding New Hanover County during the ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

lieutenant‐governor of South Carolina and the leading nineteenth century African American freemason, was born in Philadelphia to parents whose names have not been recorded. His father was a free person of color from Haiti and his mother was a white Englishwoman. Gleaves was educated in Philadelphia and New Orleans, and as a young man worked as a steward on steamboats along the Mississippi River.

Gleaves first came to prominence as an organizer of Masonic lodges in Pennsylvania and Ohio. While black freemasonry had gained a foothold under Prince Hall in Massachusetts in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, by the 1840s, Pennsylvania was the center of black fraternalism, and Gleaves would become one of the Order's leading evangelists before the Civil War. In 1846 the year he was first initiated as a brother mason the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge of Prince Hall Masons appointed Gleaves a District Deputy Grand ...

Article

Heather Marie Stur

The 2000 census reported that nearly 2 million African Americans lived in the state of Illinois. The state's black population had increased nearly 14 percent since the 1990 census. In many ways the story of African Americans in Illinois is the story of African Americans in Chicago. However, significant moments in black history also took place outside the state's largest city. The experiences of African Americans in Illinois demonstrate, among other issues, struggles for employment and housing rights, and black leaders have risen to prominence in leading the struggles.

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By the eighteenth century indentured servants outnumbered African slaves in the North American colonies Unlike the situation endured by slaves however the indentured servitude was not permanent Initially an attempt to alleviate severe labor shortages in the New World settlements and to encourage emigration England s rapid population growth was becoming an increasingly worrisome economic burden the system of indenture comprised not only willing English women children and men but also convicts religious separatists and political prisoners At some points more than half of those bound for the colonies did so as the temporary legal property of a master Indentured servants labored a set number of years usually four to seven though the period for convicts could be considerably longer during which time they were considered by law the personal property of their masters Couples were often prevented from marrying and women from having children If a woman did become ...

Article

The processes of industrialization and deindustrialization shaped and redefined U.S. economic, social, and demographic structures and have influenced the lives of African Americans ever since the late nineteenth century. Early in the twentieth century, industrialization contributed to a mass migration of African Americans from the South to northern cities in search of work. After World War II, growth of the industrial sector in the West fueled another movement of African Americans seeking economic opportunities. But as the industrial economy began to decline in the 1960s, tensions mounted in cities where residents tried to cope with the loss of jobs and deteriorating urban conditions. By the early twenty-first century, former industrial centers such as Gary, Indiana; Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Cleveland, Ohio, were struggling to rebuild their economies in the wake of deindustrialization—and they were not alone.

The period known as the Industrial Revolution occurred in two parts the First Industrial Revolution ...

Article

Kansas  

Donald Roe

When Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861, there were approximately six hundred blacks in the state, but by the end of the Civil War in 1865, the black population had grown to about twelve thousand. In the late 1870s, faced with a violent period of Southern “Redemption” during which lynching was a common practice, as well as limited economic opportunity, thousands of African Americans chose to flee the South for the Oklahoma Territory and Kansas. Approximately twenty-six thousand blacks, known as Exodusters, left the South and migrated to Kansas in the 1870s—most of them in 1878–1879 There were Exodusters for example who migrated to widely scattered rural communities in southeastern Cherokee County east central Morris County and other counties Some established small all black towns Nicodemus the most famous of the black towns in Kansas was located in north central Kansas The majority of the ...

Article

Erin D. Somerville

Government‐funded organization employing over 7,000 Caribbean immigrants between 1956 and 1970. During this period the population of immigrant employees within London Transport far outweighed the national average of 3 to 10 per cent, with some divisions registering as many as 41 per cent Caribbean workers. Most of this staff was recruited in a joint venture between London Transport and the Barbadian government, resulting in the immigration of approximately 400 employees per year between 1956 and 1965.

The tradition of black workers within the London Transport system dates back to Joe Clough, a Jamaican immigrant employed by the London General Omnibus Company in 1908 However mass employment of Caribbean immigrants did not begin until the years following the Second World War Eager to return to a male majority staff and to replace female workers employed during the war London Transport began looking outside the United Kingdom for ...

Article

Leland Conley Barrows

Peasants are subsistence cultivators, organized in household units, who, either as smallholders or as tenants, control the land upon which they farm and graze their flocks. Strictly speaking, the term excludes primitive subsistence cultivators and herders, on the one hand, and landless rural laborers (rural proletariats), on the other, even if both are frequently included with peasants when estimating the size and importance of rural populations. Peasants, strictly speaking, are at least partly integrated into a market economy and forced to contribute a portion of their earned surpluses to an exterior socioeconomic authority.

Given the predominantly rural nature of the African population—85 percent in 1950 and 63 percent in 2000 it is evident that both the former colonial rulers wishing to develop their African possessions and African nationalists seeking to mobilize the rural masses in opposition to colonial rule and then after independence to develop their countries would attach ...

Article

David Richardson

There is no consensus among historians about the definition of a slave society but if the ratio of slaves to total population is seen as an important element of such a definition some slave owning societies historically have more claim than others to be labeled as slave societies It is probable that in many if not most slave owning societies those owned by others comprised only a small fraction maybe 10 percent or less of the total population In some cases however the ratio of slaves to total population was higher though still less than half while in a small proportion of cases slaves comprised a majority of the population The geographical distribution of slave ownership across societies therefore has invariably been highly uneven In the modern world slavery has been particularly identified with Africa and the Americas though it has been prevalent in other continents notably Asia Although evidence ...

Article

Texas  

Alwyn Barr

The African American population in Texas grew steadily from 488,171 in 1890 to 2.4 million in 2000. Most of the growth resulted from natural increase. A smaller portion came through blacks’ migration into Texas from other southern states. Attractions included slightly better economic and educational possibilities and marginally less discrimination, in part because of several emerging cities and new industrial jobs. As a result of the growth, Texas in 2000 ranked second in black population after New York, up from eighth in 1890.

During this period, however, the percentage of African Americans in the total population of Texas declined, from 20 percent in 1890 to 12 percent in 2000 Larger migrations of Anglo Americans and Mexicans into the state were the primary reasons In addition some African Americans migrated out of Texas to the Midwest and to the Northeast especially during the Great Migration and the Second ...

Article

Katherine Stuart van Wormer

Beginning in the 1890s and especially during World War I, African Americans left the Carolinas, southern Virginia, and Georgia in droves for northern and Midwestern cities—Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC. Little did they realize their journey would change the cultural landscape of the nation or envision that it would later be described in history books and scholarly reports as “The Great Migration.”

The focus of this article is the migration of domestic workers from the Jim Crow South to the nation's capital. What were the key factors prompting these women to leave familiar communities to board boats and trains for a part of the United States that would have certainly seemed like foreign territory? Why did they choose, for instance, to relocate to Washington, DC.? And what was the fate of the migrants and their children who were part of the Great Migration?

Article

Charles Rosenberg

West Virginia's 1870 African American population of 17,980 consisted mostly of families of formerly enslaved residents, 4 percent of the 442,014 people in the state. By 1910 there were 64,173 (5.2 percent of 1,221,119), the increase being the result of laborers arriving to build the Chesapeake and Ohio and the Norfolk and Western railroads, or to work in the extensive coalfields opened by rail shipping. The African-descended population of McDowell County in the southwestern coalfields, none in 1860 and 0.1 percent in 1880, grew to 30.7 percent by 1910. Continuing to grow to 114,893 in 1930 (6.6 percent of 1,792,205), the African American presence statewide shrank to 57,232 in 2000—3.2 percent of 1,808,344—as declining employment in mining and railroads generated an exodus. Between 1930 and 1980 the number of African American coal miners fell from more than 22,374 to less than 1,500.

The United Mine Workers of America ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

Wisconsin, admitted as a free state in 1848, had fewer than 2,500 African American residents in 1890 out of a total population of nearly 1.7 million—0.15 percent. Between 1940 and 1960 massive northward migration reached Wisconsin, raising the African American population from 12,158 to 74,546, or from 0.4 percent to 1.9 percent. Ninety percent settled in the industrial centers of Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha, which since 1870 had been defined by immigration from Europe and reflected little of Wisconsin's abolitionist heritage, instead being permeated by fierce interethnic competition. Smaller numbers of African American migrants settled in Madison and Beloit. In 1950 the Negro Business Directory for Wisconsin listed more than six hundred businesses—most in Milwaukee—seven Prince Hall Masonic lodges, sixty-six civic, social, and political clubs, and thirty-seven churches. Confined to a one-square-mile area north of downtown Milwaukee in 1950 African Americans expanded north and west into a residential ...