African-American Population in the U.S.

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1860 U.S. Census of Blacks and African-Americans

US Black Population Total Number Percentages Totals African-American populations in United States Blacks Year Slaves Statistics Census Bureau Slavery Slave Numbers Years Americans Figures NAACP Date Dates

African-American Population in the U.S.

The following shows the Black and African-American population in the United States over several decades, based on U.S. Census figures. (Numbers from years 1920 to 2000 are based on U.S. Census figures as given by the Time Almanac of 2005, p. 377) The World Factbook gives a 2006 figure of 12.9%. Controversy has surrounded the "accurate" population count of African-Americans for decades. The NAACP believed it was intentionally undercounted to minimize the significance of the black population in order to reduce their political power base. Prior to African-Americans receiving citizenship, they were referred to black, people of color, Negro, etc.

Year Number   % of total population Slaves   % in slavery
1790 757,208  19.3% (highest) 697,681  92%
1800 1,002,037  18.9% 893,602  89%
1810 1,377,808  19.0% 1,191,362  86%
1820 1,771,656  18.4% 1,538,022  87%
1830 2,328,642  18.1% 2,009,043  86%
1840 2,873,648  16.8% 2,487,355  87%
1850 3,638,808  15.7% 3,204,287  88%
1860 4,441,830  14.1% 3,953,731  89%
1870 4,880,009  12.7% -  -
1880 6,580,793  13.1% -  -
1890 7,488,788  11.9% -  -
1900 8,833,994  11.6% -  -
1910 9,827,763  10.7% -  -
1920 10.5 million  9.9% -  -
1930 11.9 million  9.7% (lowest) -  -
1940 12.9 million  9.8% -  -
1950 15.0 million  10.0% -  -
1960 18.9 million  10.5% -  -
1970 22.6 million  11.1% -  -
1980 26.5 million  11.7% -  -
1990 30.0 million  12.1% -  -
2000 36.6 million  12.3% -  -

Recommended Reading: The SLAVE TRADE: THE STORY OF THE ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE: 1440 - 1870. Library Journal: Thomas concentrates on the economics, social acceptance, and politics of the slave trade. The scope of the book is amazingly broad as the author covers virtually every aspect of the subject from the early days of the 16th century when great commercial houses were set up throughout Europe to the 1713 Peace Treaty of Utrecht, which gave the British the right to import slaves into the Spanish Indies. The account includes the anti-slavery patrols of the 19th century and the final decline and abolition in the early 20th century. Continued below...

Through the skillful weaving of numerous official reports, financial documents, and firsthand accounts, Thomas explains how slavery was socially acceptable and shows that people and governments everywhere were involved in it. This book is a comprehensive study from African kings and Arab slave traders to the Europeans and Americans who bought and transported them to the New World. Despite the volatility of the subject, the author remains emotionally detached in his writing, yet produces a highly readable, informative book. A superb addition and highly recommended.

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Recommended Reading: Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World. Description: Winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, David Brion Davis has long been recognized as the leading authority on slavery in the Western World. Now, in Inhuman Bondage, Davis sums up a lifetime of insight in this definitive account of New World slavery. The heart of the book looks at slavery in the American South, describing black slaveholding planters, rise of the Cotton Kingdom, daily life of ordinary slaves, highly destructive slave trade, sexual exploitation of slaves, emergence of an African-American culture, abolition, abolitionists, antislavery movements, and much more. Continued below…

But though centered on the United States, the book offers a global perspective spanning four continents. It is the only study of American slavery that reaches back to ancient foundations and also traces the long evolution of anti-black racism in European thought. Equally important, it combines the subjects of slavery and abolitionism as very few books do, and it connects the actual life of slaves with the crucial place of slavery in American politics, stressing that slavery was integral to America's success as a nation--not a marginal enterprise. This is the definitive history by a writer deeply immersed in the subject. Inhuman Bondage offers a compelling portrait of the dark side of the American dream.


Recommended Viewing: Slavery and the Making of America (240 minutes), Starring: Morgan Freeman; Director: William R. Grant. Description: Acclaimed actor Morgan Freeman narrates this compelling documentary, which features a score by Michael Whalen. Underscoring how slavery impacted the growth of this country's Southern and Northern states; the series examines issues still relevant today. The variety of cultures from which the slaves originated provided the budding states with a multitude of skills that had a dramatic effect on the diverse communities. From joining the British in the Revolutionary War, to fleeing to Canada, to joining rebel communities in the U.S. the slaves sought freedom in many ways, ultimately having a far-reaching effect on the new hemisphere they were forced to inhabit. AWARDED 5 STARS by


Recommended Reading: Uncle Tom's Cabin (Wordsworth Classics), by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Author). Description: Edited and with an Introduction and Notes by Dr Keith Carabine, University of Kent at Canterbury. Uncle Tom's Cabin is the most popular, influential and controversial book written by an American. Stowe's rich, panoramic novel passionately dramatizes why the whole of America is implicated in and responsible for the sin of slavery, and resoundingly concludes that only 'repentance, justice and mercy' will prevent the onset of 'the wrath of Almighty God!'.


Recommended Reading: African Voices of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Beyond the Silence and the Shame. Description: The story of the Atlantic slave trade has largely been filtered through the records of white Europeans, but in this watershed book, Anne C. Bailey focuses on memories of the trade from the African perspective. African chiefs and other elders in an area of southeastern Ghana once famously called "the Old Slave Coast" share stories that reveal that Africans were both traders and victims of the trade. Though Africans were not equal partners with Europeans, their involvement had devastating consequences on their history and sense of identity. Continued below…

Like trauma victims, many African societies experience a fragmented view of their past that partially explains the silence and shame around the slave trade. Capturing astonishing oral histories that were handed down through generations of storytellers, Bailey breaks this deafening silence and explores the delicate nature of historical memory in this rare, unprecedented book.


Recommended Reading: The Slave Ship: A Human History. From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. In this groundbreaking work, historian and scholar Rediker considers the relationships between the slave ship captain and his crew, between the sailors and the slaves, and among the captives themselves as they endured the violent, terror-filled and often deadly journey between the coasts of Africa and America. While he makes fresh use of those who left their mark in written records (Olaudah Equiano, James Field Stanfield, John Newton), Rediker is remarkably attentive to the experiences of the enslaved women, from whom we have no written accounts, and of the common seaman, who he says was a victim of the slave trade... and a victimizer. Continued below...

Regarding these vessels as a strange and potent combination of war machine, mobile prison, and factory, Rediker expands the scholarship on how the ships not only delivered millions of people to slavery, [but] prepared them for it. He engages readers in maritime detail (how ships were made, how crews were fed) and renders the archival (letters, logs and legal hearings) accessible. Painful as this powerful book often is, Rediker does not lose sight of the humanity of even the most egregious participants, from African traders to English merchants. Highly Recommended.

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