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date: 01 October 2020


  • Kevin Allen Leonard


The history of African Americans in California since 1890 has been characterized by explosive population growth, impressive political achievements, and persistent employment and housing discrimination.

African Americans arrived in California in small numbers in the mid-nineteenth century. The state's white residents discriminated against African Americans, but they expressed even more hostility toward Native Americans, residents of Mexican ancestry, and Chinese immigrants. African Americans who came to California in the 1850s and 1860s organized and fought to gain the right to vote and the right to testify in court cases involving white people. These efforts did not succeed, and African Americans in the state gained the right to vote only when the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. In 1880 the California legislature revised the state s school law so that it did not allow separate schools for different racial groups The state later sanctioned separate schools for Asian ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.

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