African Americans

African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from any of the black racial groups of Africa.[3][4] The term "African American" generally denotes descendants of enslaved Africans who are from the United States.[5][6][7]

African Americans
Proportion of Black Americans in each county of the fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as of the 2020 U.S. census
Total population
46,936,733 (2020)[1]
14.2% of the total U.S. population (2020)[1]
41,104,200 (2020) (one race)[1]
12.4% of the total U.S. population (2020)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Across the United States, especially in the South and urban areas
English (American English dialects, African-American English)
Louisiana Creole French
Gullah Creole English
Predominantly Protestant (71%) including Historically Black Protestant (53%), Evangelical Protestant (14%), and Mainline Protestant (4%);
significant[note 1] others include Catholic (5%), Jehovah's Witnesses (2%), Muslim (2%), and unaffiliated (18%)[2]

African Americans constitute the second largest racial group in the U.S. after White Americans, as well as the third largest ethnic group after Hispanic and Latino Americans.[8] Most African Americans are descendants of enslaved people within the boundaries of the present United States.[9][10] On average, African Americans are of West/Central African with some European descent; some also have Native American and other ancestry.[11]

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, African immigrants generally do not self-identify as African American. The overwhelming majority of African immigrants identify instead with their own respective ethnicities (~95%).[12] Immigrants from some Caribbean and Latin American nations and their descendants may or may not also self-identify with the term.[7]

African American history began in the 16th century, with Africans from West Africa being sold to European slave traders and transported across the Atlantic to the Thirteen Colonies. After arriving in the Americas, they were sold as slaves to European colonists and put to work on plantations, particularly in the southern colonies. A few were able to achieve freedom through manumission or escape and founded independent communities before and during the American Revolution. After the United States was founded in 1783, most Black people continued to be enslaved, being most concentrated in the American South, with four million enslaved only liberated during and at the end of the Civil War in 1865.[13] During Reconstruction, they gained citizenship and the right to vote; due to the widespread policy and ideology of White supremacy, they were largely treated as second-class citizens and found themselves soon disenfranchised in the South. These circumstances changed due to participation in the military conflicts of the United States, substantial migration out of the South, the elimination of legal racial segregation, and the civil rights movement which sought political and social freedom. However, racism against African Americans remains a problem into the 21st century. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American to be elected president of the United States.[14]

African American culture has a significant influence on worldwide culture, making numerous contributions to visual arts, literature, the English language, philosophy, politics, cuisine, sports and music. The African American contribution to popular music is so profound that virtually all American music, such as jazz, gospel, blues, disco, hip hop, R&B, soul and rock have their origins at least partially or entirely among African Americans.[15][16]

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