African American History in the U.S.

See the faces of just some of the many African Americans who have contributed to building the United States into the country it is today.
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African Americans in the early history of the United States had an extremely difficult start as immigrants. Having been primarily forced to immigrate to a new continent, African Americans worked through slavery to become a powerful force that influenced our nation to value equal rights among all men and women of all races.

Between 1555 and 1865, most Africans arrived in the Americas as the result of slavery. Overcoming slavery and the resulting prejudice, the African American community has greatly contributed to the art, culture, and economic growth of the United States.

In the 1930's, the newly formed employment and infrastructure Works Progress Administration (WPA) program paid people to interview living ex-slaves in the United States. Thanks to this initiative, we have a recorded history of slavery in the United States. Their narratives were powerful and show us all how recent the heritage of slavery really is and why it affects us all. Here is part of the narrative of one of these men and women:

"Well, Sir, Cap'n, I was born in Richmond, Virginny, in 1848. Befo' I was ole 'nuff to 'member much, my mammy wid me an' my older brudder was sold to Marse John Calloway at Snodoun in Montgomery County, ten miles south of de town of Montgomery.

Marse John hab a big plantation an' lots of slaves. Dey treated us purty good, but we hab to wuk hard. Time I was ten years ole I was makin' a reg'lar han' 'hin de plow. Oh, yassuh, Marse John good 'nough to us an' we get plenty to eat, but he had a oberseer name Green Bush what sho' whup us iffen we don't do to suit him . . .

Nawsuh, we didn't git no schoolin' 'cep'in' befo' we got big 'nough to wuk in de fiel' we go 'long to school wid de white chillun to take care of 'em. Dey show us pictures an' tell us all dey kin, but it didn't 'mount to much . . .

When de war started 'mos' all I know 'bout it was all de white mens go to Montgomery an' jine de army. My brudder, he 'bout fifteen year ole, so he go 'long wid de ration wagon to Montgomery 'mos' ebry week. One day he come back from Montgomery an' he say, 'Hell done broke loose in Gawgy.' He couldn't tell us much 'bout what done happen, but de slaves dey get all 'cited 'caze dey didn' know what to 'spect. Purty soon we fin' out day some of de big mens call a meetin' at de capitol on Goat Hill in Montgomery. Dey 'lected Mista Jeff Davis president an' done busted de Nunited States wide open.
" - Walter Calloway, Birmingham, Alabama interviewed by W.P. Jordan in the 1930's

From Dred Scott, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and W.E.B. Du Bois through Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Medgar Evers to Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Hank Aaron, Maya Angelou, Oprah, and Barack Obama and countless others, African Americans have impacted the nation in uncounted ways. The narratives are powerful, and so are the pictures in these pages, showcasing the history of African Americans in the United States.

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A photo of Russell J. Moore with his wife Gwendoline Simms/Moore - wedding photo
People in this photo:
Jan 31, 1921 - Jan 29, 1994
This is an early photo of Mr Riley B. King (1925 - 2015) described as a blues singer, song writer, and guitarist - but better described as legend. B.B. King (his stage name) was born in Mississippi on a cotton plantation near the town of Itta Bena. His parents were sharecroppers. His recording career began with his first single in 1949. It took a couple of years for him to catch on, but when he did, a legend was born. He was married twice and had between 11 and 15 children. At the time of his death, on May 14th, 2015, he was living in Las Vegas. You could say "the thrill is gone" but his music and his guitar, Luciille, will be with us forever. Thank you, B.B!
People in this photo:
Sep 16, 1925 - May 14, 2015
A photo of an unknown slave woman with a child.
Added Oct 6, 2014 by: Betsy Washburn
Betsy Washburn
29 favorites
A photo of Roosevelt Fowler
People in this photo:
Mar 10, 1935 - Sep 17, 1987
Added Jun 10, 2014 by: Virtuous Jameelah
Virtuous Jameelah
2 favorites
A photo of Blondenia Lamour
A photo of Nora (surname unknown) in Lousiana,
Added Dec 16, 2013 by: Danny Risor
Danny Risor
29 favorites
Jimi Hendrix with Ron Gray and band members: My father, Ron Gray, was a concert promoter in the 1960's in central to northwest Louisiana (Monroe, Shreveport, etc). Jimi Hendrix played a concert in Shreveport, Louisiana on July 31, 1968. My father, Ron Gray, is standing next to Hendrix. Comments by Gary E. Gray.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
A photo of John Stroman Jr
People in this photo:
Sep 12, 1925 - Nov 22, 2010
Grandmother Rosa Williams; "Black Water area of" Perry County, Alabama, Mobile, Alabama.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Muhammad Ali certainly did when he took on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971. Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. on January 17th, 1942 is one of the most famous professional boxers of all time. Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964. In 1967, just a few years after the boxer won the World Heavyweight Championship, he refused to be drafted into the U.S. military, based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War.
People in this photo:
Jan 17, 1942 - Jun 3, 2016
This is a photo of Knowledge Gipson Sr added by Valerie Leonard on August 4, 2020.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Feb 18, 2011
This is a photo of Nelda J Mundy added by Tamara Beasley on August 2, 2020.
People in this photo:
Jul 29, 1941 - Dec 30, 1996
Added Aug 2 by: Tamara Beasley
Tamara Beasley
4 favorites
This is a photo of Maggie (Porter) Tigney added by Christopher Hamilton on August 1, 2020.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
A photo of John Lewis being arrested by police in a1960s civil rights protest. To read his biography, click on his name (below and to the right). What a life!
People in this photo:
Feb 21, 1940 - Jul 17, 2020
He is my father William Adolphus Beckford with my 2 youngest siblings Viveen and Paulette...March 31,1920 -march 4,1999
People in this photo:
Mar 31, 1920 - Mar 4, 1999
Added Jul 26 by: Devon Beckford
Devon Beckford
3 favorites
This is a photo of Helen Perpie added by Juliana Perpie on July 24, 2020.
Added Jul 24 by: Juliana Perpie
Juliana Perpie
5 favorites
This is a photo of Wash Earl Wigfall added by Tershowra Newson on July 21, 2020.
People in this photo:
Feb 9, 1939 - 1986
This is a photo of Harold Edward Williamson added by Shirley Thomason on July 8, 2020.
People in this photo:
Feb 14, 1924 - Jul 17, 1956
This is a photo of Sylvia Anne Williamson added by Shirley Thomason on July 7, 2020.
People in this photo:
Dec 30, 1953 - Unknown
Added Jul 7 by: Shirley Thomason
Shirley Thomason
41 favorites
This is a photo of Sylvia Anne Williamson added by Shirley Thomason on July 7, 2020.
People in this photo:
Dec 30, 1953 - Unknown
Son of Peggy Underwood and Harold E Williamson
People in this photo:
Aug 19, 1960 - Unknown
Added Jul 7 by: Shirley Thomason
Shirley Thomason
41 favorites
This is a photo of Rosa Louise (Mc Cauley) Parks added by Amanda S. Stevenson on July 7, 2020.
People in this photo:
Feb 4, 1913 - Oct 24, 2005
Added Jul 7 by: Amanda S. Stevenson
Amanda S. Stevenson
10.0k+ favorites
This is a photo of Tyrone Anthony Young Jr. added by Gwendolyn Young on July 1, 2020.
People in this photo:
Apr 1, 1983 - Apr 3, 1984
Added Jul 1 by: Gwendolyn Young
Gwendolyn Young
39 favorites
This is a photo of Terrance Wicks added by Brittany Bryson on June 28, 2020.
People in this photo:
Jul 8, 1976 - Nov 24, 2010
This is a photo of Jamel L Collins added by Takeia Collins on June 24, 2020.
People in this photo:
Jun 22, 1978 - Aug 11, 1995
This is a photo of Joseph Walter Malveaux added by Byron Malveaux on June 23, 2020.
People in this photo:
Jan 6, 1937 - Feb 13, 2013
This is a photo of Ward F Sims added by Isaiah Sims on June 23, 2020.
People in this photo:
Jan 5, 1916 - Sep 8, 1999
Added Jun 23 by: Isaiah Sims
Isaiah Sims
3 favorites
This is a photo of Jim Robinson added by Tia Robinson on June 23, 2020.
People in this photo:
May 23, 1923 - May 28, 1991
Added Jun 23 by: Tia Robinson
Tia Robinson
3 favorites
Samuel Armstrong as a child standing in front of his father
People in this photo:
Jul 2, 1905 - August 1980
This is a photo of Samuel Armstrong when he was a young boy added by Carolyn Gaynor on June 9, 2020.
People in this photo:
Jul 2, 1905 - August 1980
A photo of Marvin Cunnigan
People in this photo:
1946 - September 1969
Added Dec 29, 2019 by: Michelle Cunnigan
Michelle Cunnigan
7 favorites
A photo of William H Wilson
People in this photo:
Jul 27, 1936 - Aug 23, 2000
A photo of Erma Thorne
People in this photo:
Mar 12, 1897 - Mar 11, 2000
Added Sep 7, 2019 by: Laurice Jones
Laurice Jones
5 favorites
A portrait of Joe A Counts and his wife Emma (Rivers) Counts.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
A Civil War veteran and free man, Lewis Martin was in an unmarked grave for 121 years until a community effort was made to mark his grave with a tombstone on November 2, 2013. Civil War veteran. Company E, 29th U.S. Colored Infantry. He was wounded in the Battle before Petersburg, Virginia (commonly The Battle of the Crater). He was sent to the General Hospital at Alexandria, Virginia and later transferred to Harewood Hospital in Washington, DC. He received a generous pension for his disabilities but never found work. He died from alcohol abuse, as was reported the local paper.
People in this photo:
1840 - 1892
Added Mar 12, 2019 by: Gaye Thomas
Gaye Thomas
341 favorites
A photo of the Newest members of the Army Nursing Corps in WW One. African American Nurses were finally accepted into the U.S. Army Nurse Corp. as a result of the 1918 influenza outbreak. There were many more nurses than just these that were ultimately serving in military hospitals
Added Mar 2, 2019 by: Gaye Thomas
Gaye Thomas
341 favorites
A photo of George Roberts, slave to freeman privateer. In the fall of 1812 he served onboard Captain Richard Moon’s privateer 'Sarah Ann' and was among six American seamen accused of being British subjects and taken prisoner when the Sarah Ann was captured by HMS Statira off the Bahamas on September 13, 1812. Captain Moon denied that they were British: Eventually, Roberts and the other American seamen were released. After the war, it is unknown what trade he had as a freeman or if he continued serving on-board various merchant vessels from the port of Baltimore, Maryland. What is known is that he was allowed to participate as one of the Old Defenders’ of Baltimore of 1814 during parades commemorating the anniversary for many years. He lived to the age of 95 (1766 -- 1861)
People in this photo:
around 1766 - Jan 16, 1861
A photo of World War I heros, Harlem Hell Fighters: On the left is Needham Roberts. Next to him is Henry Johnson. Both were recognized for their combat with the French Army and recipients of the Croix de Guerre. Decades later, Sgt. Johnson would received the US Medal of Honor.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Feb 5, 2019 by: Gaye Thomas
Gaye Thomas
341 favorites
The nine African American soldiers were just home from the war. It was Feb. 12, 1919, and most were bundled in heavy coats as they posed for the photographer on the deck of the USS Stockholm. The New York City-based unit (the 369th Infantry Regiment) was famous for its prowess in battle and the indignities it suffered at the hands of many white officers. Discrimination was so bad that the regiment was shunted off to fight with the French army and equipped with French helmets and French rifles, historians say. It was the Germans who gave them the moniker, Hell Fighters. The French government awarded the regiment the Croix de Guerre, and bestowed 171 individual medals for valor
Added Feb 4, 2019 by: Gaye Thomas
Gaye Thomas
341 favorites
An engraved frontispiece portrait of Abolitionist Rev. Jermain Wesley Loguen (1813 -- 1872) from his autobiography, "The Rev. J. W. Loguen, as a slave and as a freeman" (1859), written in the third-person. In 1813, Jermain Wesley Loguen was born into slavery in Davidson County, Tennessee; the son of David Logue, his white enslaver, and his enslaved mother, Cherry. Known then as "Jarm Logue," he escaped to Canada in 1834. and then went to Rochester, New York, where he attended Beriah Green's abolitionist school. Loguen and his family moved to Syracuse in 1841, where he taught school, served as a licensed preacher of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and became one of the nation's most active agents of the Underground Railroad. The Loguen house in Syracuse was a principal station on the Underground Railroad and he was popularly known as the "Underground Railroad King" for helping over 1,500 fugitives escape from slavery. After the Civil War, Loguen continued his church work and became a bishop of the AMEZ denomination in 1868. In 1872, tuberculosis forced him to resign and seek treatment. Loguen died on September 20, 1872 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Syracuse.
People in this photo:
1813 - 1872
Added Jan 31, 2019 by: Gaye Thomas
Gaye Thomas
341 favorites
This formal picture of an unknown man was taken in Nashville, Tennessee c. 1900. For this portrait he is wearing mended clothing. Poor but proud
Added Jan 24, 2019 by: Gaye Thomas
Gaye Thomas
341 favorites
A photo of Benjamin ("Ben") J. Carr who was the porter for the Tennessee Senate and Supreme Court from ca. 1890-1910. He was responsible for establishing Hadley Park and was one of the people involved in the founding of Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College (now Tennessee State University). He was also the president of the Negro Farmers Alliance in Tennessee. In his final years, he was a realtor.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Jan 22, 2019 by: Gaye Thomas
Gaye Thomas
341 favorites
A photo of Hattie McDaniel
People in this photo:
Jun 10, 1895 - Oct 26, 1952
Added Oct 30, 2018 by: Amanda S. Stevenson
Amanda S. Stevenson
10.0k+ favorites
A photo of Walter Cade III's sister Toni Cade Bambara.
People in this photo:
Mar 25, 1939 - Dec 9, 1995
A photo of Titus Ussery (1908-1933)
People in this photo:
1908 - 1933
Added Sep 5, 2018 by: Ernest Sneed
Ernest Sneed
3 favorites
A photo of Henry Dorion.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
A photo of Jodie C Sanford
People in this photo:
Feb 2, 1920 - Jan 25, 1994
Added Nov 28, 2017 by: Abra Sanford
Abra Sanford
3 favorites
A photo of Ruby D Turner and husband Ervin Turner. She was 14 in this picture
People in this photo:
Jul 9, 1924 - Jan 21, 2000
A photo of Butterfly McQueen who appeared in "Curley McDimple" in New York. She was lovely to meet.
People in this photo:
Jan 8, 1911 - Dec 22, 1995
Added Aug 17, 2017 by: Amanda S. Stevenson
Amanda S. Stevenson
10.0k+ favorites
A photo of Mary (Winston) Jackson, a mathematician and engineer at NASA.
People in this photo:
Apr 9, 1921 - Feb 11, 2005
Added Jan 12, 2017 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
23.0k+ favorites
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