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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.

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
Shared on Aug 4, 2015 by
A photo of an unknown slave woman with a child.
Shared on Oct 6, 2014 by
Taken in Sabine Parish County, LA US .
A photo of Nora (surname unknown) in Lousiana,
Shared on Dec 16, 2013 by
Taken in Shreveport, Caddo County, LA United States on .
Jimi Hendrix with Ron Gray and band members: My father, Ron Gray, was a... more
Shared on Nov 21, 2013 by
Taken at Willams & Flennory Home, Uniontown, Perry, County, AL United States .
Grandmother Rosa Williams; "Black Water area of" Perry County, Alabama,... more
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Shared on Jul 11, 2013 by
Taken in the USA in .
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Muhammad Ali certainly did when... more
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Shared on Jul 9, 2012 by
Taken in Washington, District of Columbia County, DC United States in .
A Civil War veteran and free man, Lewis Martin was in an unmarked grave for... more
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A photo of the Newest members of the Army Nursing Corps in WW One. African... more
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A photo of George Roberts, slave to freeman privateer. In the fall of 1812... more
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Taken in .
A photo of World War I heros, Harlem Hell Fighters: On the left is Needham... more
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Taken in New York, NY United States in .
The nine African American soldiers were just home from the war. It was Feb.... more
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Taken in .
An engraved frontispiece portrait of Abolitionist Rev. Jermain Wesley Loguen... more
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Taken in TN United States in .
This formal picture of an unknown man was taken in Nashville, Tennessee c.... more
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Taken in Nashville, Davidson County, TN United States in .
A photo of Benjamin ("Ben") J. Carr who was the porter for the Tennessee... more
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Taken in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, AR United States.
A photo of Titus Ussery (1908-1933)
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Taken in Water Valley, Yalobusha County, MS United States in .
A photo of Ruby D Turner and husband Ervin Turner. She was 14 in this picture
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A photo of Butterfly McQueen who appeared in "Curley McDimple" in New York.... more
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A photo of Mary (Winston) Jackson, a mathematician and engineer at NASA.
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A photo of Mabel Roy Mouton who was Assistant Chief of Research Programs at... more
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A photo of Katherine Johnson who worked for NASA and was responsible for... more
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A photo of Dorothy Vaughan. Dorothy was the acting head of the West Area... more
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