Black history or African-American history is the history of the American population of black African descent, from the colonial period to the present. It was a narrow specialty until the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s made it a high priority for historical research and teaching. It is now one of the largest fields of American history. The history is one of struggle against slavery, segregation, racism and second class citizenship. Historians debate whether to emphasize radical protest, as typified by W.E.B. DuBois, or upward striving through the system, as preached by Booker T. Washington. The 2008 election of Barack Obama as president has been hailed as the culmination of the black struggle for political equality.
- 1 Colonial era
- 2 Revolution and early republic: 1775-1840
- 3 Age of abolition, 1840-1877
- 4 Age of Jim Crow, 1877-1954
- 5 Age of Civil Rights, 1954 to present
- 6 Recent years
- 7 Historiography
- 8 Knowledge of black history
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 External links
- 11 See also
see also Slavery
Africans first arrived in 1619, when a Dutch ship sold 19 blacks as indentured servants (not slaves) to Englishmen at Jamestown, Virginia. In all, about 10-12 million Africans were transported to Western Hemisphere. The vast majority of these people came from that stretch of the West African coast extending from present-day Senegal to Angola; a small percentage came from Madagascar and East Africa. Only 3% (about 300,000) went to the American colonies. The vast majority went to the West Indies, where they died quickly. Demographic conditions were highly favorable in the American colonies, with less disease, more food, good medical care, and lighter work loads. Coming as they did from such an extensive area in Africa, they were not of one physical or cultural type. Significant differences existed among them, but they shared a general set of characteristics. They were tall and had dark skin, tight woolly hair, full lips, broad noses, and limited facial and body hair. Gomez (1998) suggests that Africans, upon arriving in America, were dispersed along ethnic and cultural lines. While they eventually dropped their African ethnic identities, they retained some of their original cultures. For example, runaway-slave advertisements sometimes identified the slaves by their ethnic roots ("Dinah, an Ebo wench that speaks very good English").
Historians have disagreed as to whether slavery in colonial Virginia was made politically and psychologically acceptable by an inherent racism among white Europeans, or if slavery emerged as a result of economic factors and racism developed as a consequence of it. The consensus is that the enslavement of Africans was due to economic requirements for labor, to the inability of Africans to resist slavery, and to European beliefs that Africans were an inferior branch of humanity, suited by their characteristics and circumstances to be lifelong slaves.
At first the Africans in the South were outnumbered by white indentured servants, who came voluntarily from Britain. They avoided the plantations. With the vast amount of good land and the shortage of laborers, plantation owners turned to lifetime slaves who worked for their keep but were not paid wages and could not easily escape. Slaves had some legal rights (it was a crime to kill a slave, and whites were hung for it.) Generally the slaves developed their own family system, religion and customs in the slave quarters with little interference from owners, who were only interested in work outputs.
By 1700 there were 25,000 slaves in the American colonies, about 10% of the population. A few had come from Africa but most came from the West Indies (especially Barbados), or, increasingly, were native born. Their legal status was now clear: they were slaves for life and so were the children of slave mothers. They could be sold, or freed, and a few ran away. Slowly a free black population emerged, concentrated in port cities along the Atlantic coast from Charleston to Boston. Slaves in the cities and towns had many more privileges, but the great majority of slaves lived on southern tobacco or rice plantations, usually in groups of 20 or more.
The most serious slave rebellion was the Stono Uprising, in September 1739 in South Carolina. The colony had about 56,000 slaves, who outnumbered whites 2:1. About 150 slaves rose up, and seizing guns and ammunition, murdered twenty whites, and headed for Spanish Florida. The local militia soon intercepted and killed most of them.
All the American colonies had slavery, but it was usually the form of personal servants in the North (where 2% of the people were slaves), and field hands in plantations in the South (where 25% were slaves.)
Revolution and early republic: 1775-1840
The Declaration of Independence of 1776 said that all men are born free. Acting on that principle, all the northern states abolished slavery between 1776 and 1805—these were the first places in the world where the government abolished slavery. (Britain abolished slavery in the 1830s.) However, with the cotton gin in the 1790s, slavery became highly profitable in the South and was not abolished. Indeed, it expanded rapidly due to demographic growth. In 1808 it became illegal to buy or sell slaves from abroad, but inside the U.S. South the trade was legal and flourished.
By 1800 most slaves had become Christians. However few followed the Episcopal or Presbyterian affiliations of most masters; rather by the 1830s most had become Baptists or Methodists, but with a distinctive difference. Genovese (1974) identified the key features of the black version of Christianity as its raucous emotionalism, an absence of a sense of original sin or depravity, an emphasis on the role of Moses (who at times rivaled in importance Jesus), and an uneasy commingling with magic and conjuring. Genovese argued religion was increasingly central to the lives and self-identity of the slaves. "The religion practiced in the quarters gave the slaves the one thing they absolutely had to have if they were to resist. . . . It fired them with a sense of their own worth before God and man."
The free black population in the South grew rapidly during 1771-1815, from 28,000 in 1790 to 186,000 in 1860 in the South Atlantic states alone. Before the American Revolution the increase in the free black population was due mainly to local emancipations, natural population increase, and migration from rural areas. During and after the Revolution, however, there were additional ways to become free, including petitions and lawsuits, the 1782 manumission act, self-purchase, purchase by already free blacks, and individual emancipation. Fear of free blacks in an age of black revolts, however, prompted whites to impose restrictions on manumission and migration and ultimately to revert to the colonial-era policy of expelling free blacks from Virginia.
Formal laws and informal customs created innumerable obstacles to the socioeconomic advance of the free blacks in the South. Laws prohibited free blacks from some activities and occupations and restricted their participation in others. Racism and terrorism by whites also made advancement difficult. Despite these disadvantages, the free black population fared rather well, with much better nutrition than people back in Europe or Africa. They grew nearly as tall as white Americans and towered over contemporary Europeans.
see also Slavery
Age of abolition, 1840-1877
The Quakers, as well as Evangelical churches in the U.S. and Britain, led the battle for abolition of slavery. The abolition movement in the U.S. was highly visible and extremely controversial, but it was never large—with fewer than 50,000 activists at most, about half of them free blacks living in the North.
Over 1 million slaves were moved from the older seaboard slave states, with their declining economies to the rich cotton states of the southwest; many others were sold and moved locally. Berlin (2003) argues that this "Second Middle Passage"
- shredded the planters' paternalist pretenses in the eyes of black people and prodded slaves and free people of color to create a host of oppositional ideologies and institutions that better accounted for the realities of endless deportations, expulsions and flights that continually remade their world.
The political and constitutional debate among whites led to the secession of the Deep South and to the Civil War in 1861. The new Republican Party saw slavery as an evil that had to be eventually put on the road to extinction. In the war, however, abolition became a tool to Union victory, as strategized by Abraham Lincoln. The point was that slavery was a main prop of the rebellion, and to win the war it had to be eliminated. Emancipation would have the effect of energizing Confederates who feared a race war, but it would also energize Northerners who saw it as a moral cause, and would help keep Europe from supporting the rebels.
At the beginning of the war some Union commanders thought they were supposed to return escaped slaves to their masters. By 1862, when it became clear that this would be a long war, the question of what to do about slavery became more general. The Southern economy and military effort depended on slave labor. It began to seem unreasonable to protect slavery while blockading Southern commerce and destroying Southern production. As one Congressman put it, the slaves "cannot be neutral. As laborers, if not as soldiers, they will be allies of the rebels, or of the Union." The same Congressman—and his fellow Radical Republicans—put pressure on Lincoln to rapidly emancipate the slaves, whereas Conservative Republicans came to accept gradual, compensated emancipation and colonization.
In 1861 Lincoln expressed the fear that premature attempts at emancipation would mean the loss of the border states, and that "to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game." At first Lincoln reversed attempts at emancipation by Secretary of War Simon Cameron and Generals John C. Fremont (in Missouri) and David Hunter (in the South Carolina Sea Islands) in order to keep the loyalty of the border states and the War Democrats. Lincoln then tried to persuade the border states to accept his plan of gradual, compensated emancipation and voluntary colonization, while warning them that stronger measures would be needed if the moderate approach was rejected. Only the District of Columbia accepted Lincoln's gradual plan, and Lincoln issued his final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1 of 1863. In his letter to Hodges, Lincoln explained his belief that "If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong … And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling ... I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me."
The Emancipation Proclamation, announced in September 1862 and The Radical Republicsn put intense political pressure on Lincoln to use emancipation as a weapon. The problem was that he needed first to shore up pro-Union support in key border states, especially Kentucky. Only after it was safe could he act, and then he needed a military victory first. Lincoln thrilled the anti-slavery forces by announcing the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862; the official proclamation came on January 1, 1863, and it had the effect of freeing most of the 4 million slaves. It also greatly reduced the Confederacy's hope of getting aid from Britain or France. Lincoln's moderate approach succeeded in getting border states, War Democrats and emancipated slaves fighting on the same side for the Union.
The Union-controlled border states (Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia) were not covered by the Emancipation Proclamation. All abolished slavery on their own, except Kentucky. The great majority of the 4 million slaves were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, as Union armies moved South. To handle this problem Lincoln proposed the a constitutional amendment. The 13th amendment, passed by Congress in February 1865 and ratified by the states in December 1865, finally freed the remaining 40,000 slaves in Kentucky.
Age of Jim Crow, 1877-1954
see Jim Crow
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was the dominant political and educational leader of the African-American community 1890-1915. He is most famous for his inspiring autobiography, Up from Slavery, his leadership of black conservative business and religious leaders, his founding of Tuskeegee Institute as a college for technical training, and his emphasis on self-help and education as the cure for poverty and the second class status of blacks in America. In his "Atlanta Compromise" of 1895 Washington reluctantly accepted Jim Crow, segregation and disfranchisement in return for black freedom in economic, religious and cultural affairs. Washington was highly popular among top white leaders and most blacks, but his approach was attacked after 1909 as too conservative by W.E.B. DuBois and the NAACP.
The most dramatic demographic change came after 1940, as most backs left the rural South—some for nearby southern cities, and most headed to large cities in the North and West. In the decade of the 1940s 1.6 million left the South; in the 1950s, 1.5 million, and in the 1960s 1.4 million. By 1970 there were very few back farmers left. Politically it was a movement from a white dominated rural South where few blacks could vote or speak out, to a pluralistic political environment where northern central cities were controlled by liberals and their allies in the labor unions.
Age of Civil Rights, 1954 to present
In 1955 blacks in Montgomery, Alabama undertook a boycott of the segregated city buses and chose a local pastor Martin Luther King as their leader, and Rosa Parks as a symbolic actor. Drawing on Gandhi's teachings, King directed a nonviolent boycott designed both to end an injustice and to redeem his white adversaries through love. Love, he said, not only avoided the internal violence of the spirit but also severed the external chain of hatred that only produced more hatred. Somebody, he argued, must be willing to break this chain so that "the beloved community" could be restored and true brotherhood could begin. In November 1956, the boycotters had won a resounding moral victory when the United States Supreme Court nullified the Alabama laws that enforced segregated buses. The Montgomery protest captured the imagination of the world over and marked the beginning of a southern black civil rights movement that rocked the Jim Crow South to its foundations. King, with extraordinary oratorical powers and rich religious imagery, emerged as the most inspiring new moral voice in civil rights. In August 1957 King and 115 other black leaders met in Montgomery and formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), with King as leader. Working through southern churches, the SCLC enlisted the religious black community in the freedom struggle by expanding "the Montgomery way" across the South.
In 1960 southern black college and high school students launched the sit-in movement, forming the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Through 1961 and 1962 civil rights leaders pressured the John F. Kennedy administration to support a tough civil rights bill, seeking a sort of second Emancipation Proclamation that would employ federal power to wipe out segregation just as Lincoln's 1863 decree had abolished slavery. Kennedy, basically conservative and unwilling to offend his base of Southern white voters, refused to act. Civil rights groups thereupon launched multiple mass demonstrations throughout the South. King and the SCLC staff would single out some notoriously segregated city with officials who tolerated violence; mobilize the local blacks with songs, Bible readings, and rousing oratory; and then lead them on protest marches conspicuous for their nonviolent spirit and moral purpose. Then the marchers escalated their demands—even fill up the jails—until they brought about a moment of "creative tension," when white authorities would either agree to negotiate or resort to violence. If violence broke out it would humiliate the moderate whites and redouble national pressures from church and activists for federal intervention. So far there was no violence on the part of blacks, but they were growing more and more frustrated and angry, with militants like Malcolm X calling for more extreme measures.
Nonviolent confrontation failed politically in Albany, Georgia, in 1962, where white authorities were equally nonviolent. In 1963 it succeeded in Birmingham, Alabama, where Police Commissioner Eugene ("Bull") Connor turned fire-hoses and police dogs on the marchers—in full view of reporters and television cameras. The civil rights activists thus exposed racist hatred to the scorn of national and world opinion. Jailed during the demonstrations, King wrote his classic "Letter from Birmingham Jail," the most influential and eloquent expression of the goals and philosophy of the civil rights movement. King's great speech, "I Have a Dream" during the March on Washington, August 28, 1963, galvanized the movement, putting forth a goal of an integrated color-blind society. President Lyndon Johnson, a long-time supporter of civil rights, had replaced Kennedy and he seized the moment to mobilize a majority coalition of northern Democrats, Republicans, white churches, and white labor unions to break a Senate filibuster and pass 1964 Civil Rights Act, which desegregated public facilities. Overnight Jim Crow vanished, with little protest or violence.
However, within days of the passage of the powerful new law, rioting broke out in black ghettos, as the civil rights leadership discovered it could not control the angry masses. Nor could it control the radical students in SNCC and like-minded groups who were moving rapidly to the left, rejecting alliances with whites, discarding the goal of integration and demanding instead black separatism and "Black Power."
In recent years blacks have made major gains in sports, entertainment and politics. George W. Bush appointed the first two blacks to head the cabinet, secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. In a stunning upset, Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, then defeated Republican John McCain
McCain hailed Obama's win:
- I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too. But we both recognize that though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound. A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.
The history of slavery has always been a major research topic for white scholars, but they generally focused on the political and constitutional themes until the 1950s, generally ignoring the black slaves themselves. During Reconstruction and the late 19th century, blacks became major actors in the South. The Dunning School of white scholars generally cast the blacks as pawns of white Carpetbaggers but W.E.B. Dubois, a black historian, and Ulrich B. Phillips, a white historian, studied the African-American experience in depth. Indeed, Phillips set the main topics of inquiry that still guide the analysis of slave economics.
In the black community, in the first half of the 20th century Carter G. Woodson was the major scholar studying and promoting the black historical experience. Woodson insisted that the study of African descendants be scholarly sound, creative, restorative, and, most important, directly relevant to the black community. He popularized black history with a variety of innovative strategies and vehicles, including Association for the Study of Negro Life outreach activities, Negro History Month (now Black History Month, in February), and a popular black history magazine. Woodson democratized, legitimized, and popularized black history.
Benjamin Quarles (1904–96) and John Hope Franklin (1915-2009) provided a bridge between the work of historians in black schools such as Woodson, and the black history that is now well established in mainline universities. Quarles grew up in Boston, attended Shaw University as an undergraduate, and received a graduate degree at the University of Wisconsin. He began in 1953 teaching at Morgan State College in Baltimore, where he stayed, despite a lucrative offer from Johns Hopkins. Franklin taught at Brooklyn College and had a major impact when he was a professor at the elite University of Chicago, 1964-83.
Black history always sought out black agency—even slaves had a certain amount of control over their lives. The assumptions was that slaves were passive and did not rebel was debated in the 1950s and rejected. Many of the white scholars were former Communists or members of the far left, and they looked for violent rebellion. They found few such rebellions, but much unrest. Herbert Gutman and Leon Litwack showed that in reconstruction how former slaves fought to keep their families together and struggled against tremendous odds to define themselves as free people. Robert Fogel, a former Communist who moved to the right, enraged the left when he used quantitative methods to show that the housing, food, clothing and living conditions of the slaves were reasonably favorable. He was awarded the Nobel prize in Economics for his work.
Today proponents of black history argue that it promotes diversity, develops self-esteem, and corrects myths and stereotypes. Opponents, including Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and Oscar Handlin, complain that such curricula are dishonest, divisive, and lack academic credibility and rigor.
Knowledge of black history
Surveys of 11th and 12th grade students and adults in 2005 show that American schools have made them very well informed about black history. Both groups were asked to name ten famous Americans, excluding presidents. Of the students, the three highest names were blacks: 67% named Martin Luther King, 60% Rosa Parks, and 44% Harriet Tubman. Among adults, King was 2nd (at 36%) and Parks was tied for 4th with 30%, while Tubman tied for 10th place with Henry Ford, at 16%. When distinguished historians were asked in 2006 to name the most prominent Americans, Parks and Tubman did not make the top 100.
- Earle, Jonathan, and Malcolm Swanston. The Routledge Atlas of African American History (2000) excerpt and text search
- Finkelman, Paul, ed. Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass (3 vol 2006)
- Franklin, John Hope, and Alfred Moss, From Slavery to Freedom. A History of African Americans, (2001), standard textbook; first edition in 1947 excerpt and text search
- Litwack, Leon, and August Meier. Black Leaders of the 19th Century. (1988)
- Franklin, John Hope, and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century. (1982), short biographies by scholars.
- Harris, William H. The Harder We Run: Black Workers Since the Civil War. (1982). online edition
- Hine, Darlene Clark, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn and Elsa Barkley Brown, eds. Black Women in America - An Historical Encyclopedia, (2005) excerpt and text search
- Hine, Darlene Clark, et al. The African-American Odyssey (2 vol, 4th ed. 2007) textbook excerpt and text search vol 1
- Holt, Thomas C. ed. Major Problems in African-American History: From Freedom to "Freedom Now," 1865-1990s (2000) reader in primary and secondary sources
- Horton, James Oliver, and Lois E. Horton. Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America: From the Civil War to the Millennium (2002), well-balanced survey
- Kelley, Robin D. G., and Earl Lewis, eds. To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans. (2000). 672pp; 10 long essays by leading scholars online edition, leftist emphasis
- Lowery, Charles D. and John F. Marszalek, eds. Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Present (1992) online edition
- Mandle, Jay R. Not Slave, Not Free: The African American Economic Experience since the Civil War (1992) online edition
- Painter, Nell Irvin. Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present. (2006), 480 pp survey; leftist emphasis
- Palmer, Colin A. ed. Encyclopedia Of African American Culture And History: The Black Experience In The Americas (6 vol. 2005)
- Salzman, Jack, David Lionel Smith, and Cornel West, eds. Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. (5 vol. 1996).
- Smallwood, Arwin D The Atlas of African-American History and Politics: From the Slave Trade to Modern Times (1997)
Slave era pre 1860
- Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (2000) ACLS E-book
- Blassingame, John W. The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South (2nd ed. 1979) excerpt and text search
- Fogel, Robert. Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, (2 vol, 1974). (with Stanley Engerman), highly controversial quantitative study by a conservative
- Fogel, Robert. Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery, (2 vol, 1989).
- Genovese, Eugene. Roll Jordan Roll: The World the Slaves Made (1974), highly influential study of slavery excerpt and text search, by a former Communist who is now a prominent conservative
- Gomez, Michael. Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (1998) 384pp excerpt and text search
- Horton, James Oliver, and Lois E. Horton. Slavery and the Making of America (2006), well-balanced survey
- Horton, James Oliver. In hope of liberty: culture, community, and protest among northern free Blacks, 1700-1860 (1998) ACLS E-book
- Kolchin, Peter. American Slavery, 1619-1877 (wnd ed. 2003), a short survey excerpt and text search
- Kulikoff, Allan. Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680 - 1800 (1986)
- Miller, Randall M., and John David Smith, eds. Dictionary of Afro-Amerian Slavery (1988)
- Rothman, Adam. Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South. (2005). 282 pp. excerpt and text search
- Sobel, Mechal. The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteenth-Century Virginia (1987).
- White, Deborah Gray. Ar'n't I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South, (2nd ed. 1999) excerpt and text search
- Wood, Peter H. Black majority: Negroes in colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion (1975) ACLS E-book
Emancipation and Reconstruction Era: 1860-1890
- Boles, John B. Black Southerners, 1619–1869. (1983)
- Butchart, Ronald E. Northern Schools, Southern Blacks, and Reconstruction: Freedmen's Education, 1862-1875 (1980) onlineedition
- Cimbala, Paul A. and Trefousse, Hans L. (eds.) The Freedmen's Bureau: Reconstructing the American South After the Civil War. 2005.
- Click, Patricia C. Time Full of Trial: The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, 1862-1867 (2001) online edition
- Crouch, Barry. The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Texans (1992)
- Du Bois, W. E. Burghardt. "The Freedmen's Bureau" (1901) by leading black scholar online edition
- Du Bois, W. E. Burghardt. Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 (1935)
- Durrill, Wayne K. "Political Legitimacy and Local Courts: 'Politicks at Such a Rage' in a Southern Community during Reconstruction" in Journal of Southern History, Vol. 70 #3, 2004 pp 577–617 online edition
- Foner Eric. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (1988), the standard history of Reconstruction.
- Gutman, Herbert G. The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925 (1977)
- Hahn, Steven. A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (2003), 1865-1950 ACLS E-book
- Jones, Jacqueline. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present (1985)
- Kolchin, Peter. First Freedom: The Responses of Alabama's Blacks to Emancipation and Reconstruction 1972.
- Litwack, Leon F. Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery. 1979,
- Oubre, Claude F. Forty Acres and a Mule: The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Land Ownership 1978.
- Quarles, Benjamin. The Negro in the Civil War'. (1953) by leading African American historian
- Rabinowitz, Howard N. Race Relations in the Urban South, 1865-1890 (1978)
- Ransom, Roger L. Conflict and Compromise. (1989), econometric history
- Richardson, Joe M. Christian Reconstruction: The American Missionary Association and Southern Blacks, 1861-1890 (1986).
- Rodrigue, John C. "Labor Militancy and Black Grassroots Political Mobilization in the Louisiana Sugar Region, 1865-1868" in Journal of Southern History, Vol. 67 #1, 2001 pp 115–45; online edition also in JSTOR
- Schwalm, Leslie A. "'Sweet Dreams of Freedom': Freedwomen's Reconstruction of Life and Labor in Lowcountry South Carolina," Journal of Women's History, Vol. 9 #1, 1997 pp 9–32 online edition
- Span, Christopher M. "'I Must Learn Now or Not at All': Social and Cultural Capital in the Educational Initiatives of Formerly Enslaved African Americans in Mississippi, 1862-1869," The Journal of African American History, 2002 pp 196–222 online edition
- Williamson, Joel. After Slavery: The Negro in South Carolina during Reconstruction, 1861-1877 1965.
Jim Crow Era: 1877-1954
- Anderson, James D. The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935 (1988) online edition
- Bayor, Ronald H. Race and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Atlanta (1996)
- Bond, Horace Mann. “The Extent and Character of Separate Schools in the United States.” Journal of Negro Education 4(July 1935):321–27. in JSTOR
- Brundage, W. Fitzhugh, ed Booker T. Washington and Black Progress: Up from Slavery 100 Years Later (2003)
- Bullock, Henry Allen. A History of Negro Education in the South: From 1619 to the Present (1967) ACLS E-book
- Cartwright, Joseph H. The Triumph of Jim Crow: Tennessee Race Relations in the 1880s (1976)
- Dailey, Jane, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, and Bryant Simon, eds. Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights (2000), essays by scholars on impact of Jim Crow on black communities online edition
- Gaines, Kevin. Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the Twentieth Century (1996). online edition
- Gatewood, Jr., Willard B. Aristocrats of Color: The Black Elite, 1880-1920 (2000)
- Gilmore, Glenda Elizabeth. Gender and Jim Crow Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920 (1996) online edition; also excerpt and text search
- Gosnell, Harold F. Negro politicians: the rise of Negro politics in Chicago, (1935, 1967) ACLS E-book
- Hahn, Steven. A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (2003), 1865-1950 ACLS E-book; also excerpt and text search
- Jones, Jacqueline. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present (1985)
- Harlan. Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1900 (1972) the standard biography, vol 1
- Harlan. Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee 1901-1915 (1983), the standard scholarly biography vol 2 online edition vol 2
- Harlan. Louis R. Booker T. Washington in Perspective: Essays of Louis R. Harlan (1988) online edition
- Harlan. Louis R. "The Secret Life of Booker T. Washington." Journal of Southern History 37#3 (1971). pp 393–416 Documents Booker T. Washington's secret financing and directing of litigation against segregation and disfranchisement. in JSTOR
- McMurry, Linda O. George Washington Carver, Scientist and Symbol (1982) online edition
- Jones, Jacqueline. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present (1985) excerpt and text search
- Lemann, Nicholas. The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America (1992) excerpt and text search
- Lewis, David Levering. W. E. B. DuBois, 1868-1919: Biography of a Race (2 vol 1993, 2000). excerpt and text search vol 1, winner of Pulitzer Prize; W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century 1919-1963 (2000) excerpt and text search vol 2
- Litwack, Leon F. Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow (1998) excerpt and text search
- Logan, Rayford. The Betrayal of the Negro: From Rutherford B. Hayes to Woodrow Wilson (Originally Published as: The Negro in American Life and Thought: The Nadir: 1877-1901) (1970) excerpt and text search
- McMillen, Neil R. Dark Journey: Black Mississippians in the Age of Jim Crow. (1989). excerpt and text search
- Meier, August. Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington (1963),
- Meier, August. "Toward a Reinterpretation of Booker T. Washington." 23 Journal of Southern History 22#2 (1957) in JSTOR
- Myrdal, Gunnar. An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944). Highly influential and detailed analysis of the Jim Crow system in operation. excerpt and text search
- Norrell, Robert J. Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington (2009), new, favorable scholarly biography
- Norrell, Robert J. "Booker T. Washington: Understanding the Wizard of Tuskegee" New Coalition News & Views Summer 2004 online edition
- Sterner, Richard. The Negro's share: a study of income, consumption, housing, and public assistance (1943), statistical analysis of 1930s ACLS E-book
- Walker, Juliet E. K. Encyclopedia of African American Business History (1999) online edition
- Woodward, C. Vann. The Strange Career of Jim Crow (3d ed., 1974), in ACLS E-books
- Woodward, C. Vann. Origins of the New South, 1877-1913 (1951) ACLS E-book
- Wintz, Cary D. African American Political Thought, 1890-1930: Washington, Du Bois, Garvey, and Randolph (1996) online edition
Civil Rights Era: 1954 - present
- Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 (1989) excerpt and text search; Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 (1999) excerpt and text search; At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 (2007)
- Carson, Clayborne. In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (1981)
- Cashman, Sean Dennis. African-Americans and the Quest for Civil Rights, 1900-1990 (1991)
- Collier-Thomas, Bettye, and V.P. Franklin. Sisters in the Struggle : African-American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement (2001) excerpt and text search
- Eagles, Charles, ed. The Civil Rights Movement in America (1986), 200pp; 12 short essays by scholars and text search
- Farley, Reynolds, and William H. Frey. "The Segregation of Whites from Blacks During the 1980s: Small Steps Toward a More Integrated Society," American Sociological Review, Vol. 59, No. 1 (Feb., 1994), pp. 23–45 heavily statistical; in JSTOR
- Fredrickson, George M. Black Liberation: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United States and South Africa (2nd ed. 1996)excerpt and text search
- Garrow, David. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., And The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1989) excerpt and text search
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- Graham, Hugh Davis. The Civil Rights Era: Origins and Development of National Policy, 1960-1972 (1990)
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- Horne, Gerald. '"'Myth' and the Making of 'Malcolm X'", The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 2 (Apr., 1993), pp. 440–450 in JSTOR
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Historiography and teaching
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- Dagbovie, Pero Gaglo. "Exploring a Century of Historical Scholarship on Booker T. Washington." Journal of African American History 2007 92(2): 239-264. Issn: 1548-1867 Fulltext: Ebsco
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- Eyerman, Ron. Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity (2002) argues that slavery emerged as a central element of the collective identity of African Americans in the post-Reconstruction era.
- Fields, Barbara J. "Ideology and Race in American History," in J. Morgan Kousser and James M. McPherson, eds., Region, Race, and Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of C. Vann Woodward (1982)
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- Goggin, Jacqueline. Carter G. Woodson: A Life in Black History (1993)
- Hall, Stephen Gilroy. "'To Give a Faithful Account of the Race': History and Historical Consciousness in the African-American Community, 1827-1915." PhD disseratation, Ohio State U. 1999. 470 pp. DAI 2000 60(8): 3084-A. DA9941339 Fulltext: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
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- Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks, "African-American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 17 (1992): 251-274.
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- Hine, Darlene Clark. Hine Sight: Black Women and the Re-Construction of American History (1994) excerpt and text search
- Hornsby Jr., Alton, et al. eds. A Companion to African American History. (2005). 580 pp. 31 long essays by experts covering African and diasporic connections in the context of the transatlantic slave trade; colonial and antebellum African, European, and indigenous relations; processes of cultural exchange; war and emancipation; post-emancipation community and institution building; intersections of class and gender; migration; and struggles for civil rights. ISBN 0-631-23066-1
- McMillen, Neil R. "Up from Jim Crow: Black History Enters the Profession's Mainstream." Reviews in American History 1987 15(4): 543-549. Issn: 0048-7511 in Jstor
- Meier, August, and Elliott Rudwick. Black History and the Historical Profession, 1915-1980 (1986)
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- Quarles, Benjamin. Black Mosaic: Essays in Afro-American History and Historiography (1988).
- Rabinowitz, Howard N. "More Than the Woodward Thesis: Assessing The Strange Career of Jim Crow", Journal of American History 75 (Dec. 1988): 842-56. in JSTOR
- Reidy, Joseph P. "Slave Emancipation Through the Prism of Archives Records" (1997) online
- Roper, John Herbert. U. B. Phillips: A Southern Mind (1984), on the white historian of slavery
- Trotter, Joe W. "African-American History: Origins, Development, and Current State of the Field," OAH Magazine of History 7#4 Summer 1993 online edition
- Wright, William D. Black History and Black Identity: A Call for a New Historiography (2002), proposes new racial and ethnic terminology and classifications for the study of black people and history. excerpt and text search
- Aptheker, Herbert, ed. A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States. (7 vol 1951-1994), by a prominent Communist
- Berlin, Ira, ed. Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War (1995)
- Bracey, John H., and Manisha Sinha, eds. African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the Slave Trade to the Twenty-First Century, (2 vol 2004)
- Chafe, William Henry, Raymond Gavins, and Robert Korstad, eds. Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South (2003) excerpt and text search
- Finkenbine, Roy E. Sources of the African-American Past: Primary Sources in American History (2nd Edition) (2003)
- Hampton, Henry, and Steve Fayer, eds. Voices of Freedom (1990), oral histories of civil rights movement
- King, Martin Luther. I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World, (1992) excerpt and text search
- King, Martin Luther. Why We Can't Wait (1963; 2000)
- King, Martin Luther. The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Volume VI: Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948-March 1963 (2007) excerpt and text search
- Levy, Peter B. Let Freedom Ring: A Documentary History of the Modern Civil Rights Movement (1992) online edition
- Rawick, George P. ed. The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography (19 vols., (1972) oral histories with ex-slaves conducted in 1930s by WPA
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- Washington, Booker T. "The Awakening of the Negro," The Atlantic Monthly, 78 (September, 1896).
- Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery: An Autobiography (1901).
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- Wright, Kai, ed. The African-American Archive: The History of the Black Experience Through Documents (2001)
- Library of Congress - African American History and Culture
- Encyclopedia Britannica - Guide to Black History
- Tennessee Technological University - African-American History and Studies
- Wood (1974)
- Eugene Genovese, Roll Jordan Roll (1974) p. 283
- Michael L. Nicholls, "Strangers Setting Among Us: The Sources and Challenge of the Urban Free Black Population of Early Virginia". Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 2000 108(2): 155-179. 0042-6636 in JSTOR
- Howard. Bodenhorn, "A Troublesome Caste: Height and Nutrition of Antebellum Virginia's Rural Free Blacks." Journal of Economic History 1999 59(4): 972-996. 0022-0507 in JSTOR
- James MacPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom (1988) page 495
- Lincoln's letter to O. H. Browning, Sep 22, 1861
- Lincoln's Letter to A. G. Hodges, April 4, 1864
- It also freed 1,000 or so slaves in Delaware and some lifetime servants in West Virginia, as well as black slaves owned by Indians in Oklahoma.
- Robert Terrill, "Protest, Prophecy, and Prudence in the Rhetoric of Malcolm X," Rhetoric & Public Affairs 4#1 Spring 2001, pp. 25-53 in Project Muse; Akinyele O. Umoja, "The Ballot and the Bullet," Journal of Black Studies 29 (1999): 558-79; Sean Dennis Cashman, African-Americans and the Quest for Civil Rights, 1900-1990 (1991), 184-215.
- Edward I. Berry, "Doing Time: King's 'Letter from Birmingham Jail." Rhetoric & Public Affairs 9#1 Spring 2005, pp. 109-131 in Project Muse
- Mark Vail, "The 'Integrative' Rhetoric of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' Speech," Rhetoric & Public Affairs 9#1 Spring 2006, pp. 51-78 in Project Muse; Alexandra Alverez, "Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream': The Speech Event as Metaphor," Journal of Black Studies 3 (1998):337–57
- Akinyele O. Umoja, "1964: The Beginning of the End of Nonviolence in the Mississippi Freedom Movement," Radical History Review, Jan 2003; 2003: 201 - 226. online in Duke journals
- McCain statement Nov. 4, 2008
- Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, "Making Black History Practical and Popular: Carter G. Woodson, the Proto Black Studies Movement, and the Struggle for Black Liberation." Western Journal of Black Studies 2004 28(2): 372-383. Issn: 0197-4327 Fulltext: Ebsco
- Abul Pitre and Ruth Ray, "The Controversy Around Black History." Western Journal of Black Studies 2002 26(3): 149-154. Issn: 0197-4327 Fulltext: Ebsco
- Sam Wineburg and Chauncey Monte-Sano, "'Famous Americans': The Changing Pantheon of American Heroes," Journal of American History (March 2008) 94#4 pp. 1186–1202.