Afro American History makes up a very important part of the American heritage and is something that should be studied by everyone. The contributions that the African people have made across the globe should never be forgotten. Neither should the long history of hardships that were faced be downplayed or set aside.
What does looking at Afro American History Mean?
Looking at Afro American history means recognizing how it pertains to the African Americans that played a role in the US that helped to create the foundation for this country and their contributions.
It is of such importance that February has been designated as Black History Month and is celebrated by all walks of life. It means looking at the many years of slavery and the revolts that have been documented throughout history that led to freedom. It includes looking at those figures who were prominent throughout the years with their contributions towards the African American population.
Looking at Slavery
Slavery took its roots in America in Hampton Virginia. It was Massachusetts that was the first region to make slavery legal. Originally slaves were kept in captivity to act as servants but after a period of time they would be released only to be replaced by new slaves. Once this practice became legalized slaves were no longer set free and their children inherited the same slavery conditions as their parents were exposed to.
The Time Line
While there were many slavery revolts of varying degrees that results in additional hardships and bloodshed some of these revolts were more prominent than others. When looking back into black history one has to go all the way back to 1619 when the first African American slaves arrived. It wasn’t until 1808 that the importing of slaves became illegal as a ruling of congress.
While in the years following more steps were being attempted to free slaves and abolish slavery it was still very much in existence. In 1857 it was determined that Congress held no authority when it came to putting bans in place regarding slavery as slaves were not considered to be citizens.
When Abraham Lincoln took office it was a welcoming event for many. The Southern States were not happy about this and especially when in 1863 when Lincoln enacted the Emancipation Proclamation that rebellious territories had to free their slaves and these slaves were never to be held in captivity again.
While it may have been thought that end of hardship and persecution had come to an end after this point that was not the case.
In 1866 The Civil Rights Act is passed and all blacks are considered to have the same equal rights as the whites. However, at the same time the Ku Klux Klan reared its ugly head starting in Tennessee.
It takes people to bring about change and that is exactly what it took to abolish the slavery of the African American people. Throughout the history of the African Americans a long list of prominent people can be named. Both those who played a role in obtaining freedom for slaves and those who after their freedom fought and stood up for their rights will long be remembered.
William Lloyd Garrison
Mr. Garrison was truly a voice for the American slaves and was able to make his stance for them through the newspaper The Liberator which he co-founded with Issac Knapp in 1831. William became active in the anti-slavery movement at the young age of 25.
Harriet being a slave herself managed to escape from this bondage. Instead of going into hiding and keeping a low profile Harriet played a major role in the formation and carrying out of the famous underground railroad. It has been estimated that about 75,000 slaves found their escape from the North as a result of this railroad.
The voice for freedom of the African Americans. The one man who had the power to set the slaves free in the rebellious states.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Although slavery was abolished and the African Americans were supposed to be considered equal with whites this was certainly not evident or being practiced in many of the individual states. Martin Luther King Jr. became a strong voice for the civil rights movement.
Rosa is an example of just how one person speaking out and standing up for their rights can make a difference. Between the 1950’s and the 1960’s racism was faced head on by people like Rosa that made a difference for the future.
Yet again another voice for the African Americans who used is expertise in the law to gain traction for civil rights. His involvement played an important role in segregation matters especially in segregation in the Schools. While slavery was no longer an issue civil rights were.
This is just a short list of some of the many that hold recognition in the African American black history. There are many more equally as important both black and white in color that can be added to this.
It would be inconceivable to even imagine that revolts would not transpire when the horrific transgressions against the African Americans was in existence as it was during the slavery period. There were many revolts with some being more prominent than others and that gained recognition as being part of the African American history.
While slaves were under the stringent rules of the white population their conditions were for the most part deplorable and understandably slaves were taken to their breaking point where the dangers of revolt outweighed the dangers of their captivity. This rebellion was a classic example of this where it is deemed that it was the largest slave revolt to take place within the colonies. The slaves that participated were estimated to be about a hundred and managed to hold off their captors for more than a week before facing defeat.
Albeit considered to be a small rebellion the New York City Rebellion was based on a group of African Americans taking credit for the setting of several fires some of which were executed.
The rebellion of Nat Turner was one of the most highly recognized even though it only started with a group of small followers comprised of five that turned into eighty as they progressed through their killings of white people as they moved through the farm land. It is estimated that they racked up a death toll of 60 whites. While this may seem small in comparison to the what was taking place among the blacks it was enough to strike fear in the hearts of their captors.
While these are just a few examples of the more noted revolts there were many others that were consistently taking place throughout the slavery period.
Throughout the years of slavery while most whites were in favor of it there were some that were totally against it. The small groups who want to see slavery abolished were both black and white. As a result a network was developed to help African Americans escape to places where they would be safe like Canada and some of the states that had abolished slavery. This network was dubbed the underground railroad. It was comprised of developing safe routes for escape and providing housing along the way.
There is no doubt that this network was successful and laid a path to freedom for many slaves. It is indicated that when it was in full operation that about 1,000 slaves a year were able to make successful use of it.
The secrecy of this network was able to be upheld because it was organized in small groups. Those involved only were aware of what role they were to take in aiding with an escape and were not privy to the entire plan. This made if much more difficult to be infiltrated.
Many people both black and white risked their lives for the sake of the underground railroad.
While there are many women who played an important role throughout the slavery years there are just as many who have contributed in some very positive ways to the rest of the African American history.
African American women had to fight hard for their rights and be recognized as an integral part of society. While there were many that did this Hattie McDaniel has to be recognized for her achievement as being the first female African American woman to be on the radio.
Madam C.J. Walker
No stranger to slavery Madam Walker was born into it as both her parents were slaves. She took on her first husband at the age of fourteen. What brought Madam Walker into recognition was her success at becoming the first black woman to become a millionaire. No easy feat as she worked to gain this with her development of a wide range of hair care products for black women.
We have to look at the present because there will be no mistaking that Michelle Obama will become part of black history as the first African American to become the first lady.
Learning about the history of mankind serves many important purposes. Each generation of African Americans has the right to know about their heritage and the roles their ancestors played in history. They can only gain this knowledge and form an appreciation for it if it is available to them and they can freely access it.
Not only is African American History important for the African Americans but is important to everyone no matter what their color, culture or heritage is because it keeps the doors of communication open and can be instrumental in eliminating racism and hatred. Most of which is bred through fear as a lack of education and understanding about all races.
Black history month which is celebrated in February is not just to be revered by the African Americans but is open for all people to celebrate and come together to learn and educate themselves. This history is just as important to the white race because of the role they played in the history back then and history now in the making.