Angolan American

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Angolan Americans
Chucky and Chris Tucker.jpg
Total population
1642 (naturalized Angolans and Americans that descend of Angolan immigrant)
Regions with significant populations
Mainly Philadelphia, St. Louis, Phoenix, and Chicago
Related ethnic groups

Angolan Americans are Americans of Angolan descent or Angolan immigrants. According to estimates, by 2000 there were 1,642 people descended from Angolans immigrants in the U.S. However, the number the Angolan Americans is difficult to know and may be much higher as many African-Americans could be descendants of Angolan slaves. In 1644, of the 6,900 slaves bought on the African coast to clear the forests, lay roads, build houses and public buildings, and grow food, most came from the established stations in Angola.[1]


Slavery in the 17th century[edit]

From the 17th century to the early 19th century, many Angolans were brought as slaves to the United States. Angolan slaves may have been the first Africans to arrive in the Thirteen Colonies, according to Sheila Walker, an American researcher in cultural anthropology and film maker. This refers to an event in 1617 in Jamestown, Virginia, when Angolans were diverted by a Spanish ship to an English ship bound for Mexico.[2] These first Angolan slaves of Virginia (15 men and 17 women[2]) were Mbundu[3] and Bakongo, who spoke Kimbundu and Kikongo languages respectively. Many of these early slaves were literate.[4] [note 1]

Later, slaves were stolen by English and Dutch pirates from the Portuguese, when they left with the slaves from the Angolan port of Luanda.[3] Many of these slaves were imported by the Dutch to New York, which, at this time, was called New Amsterdam and was under Dutch control. So, the Angolans also were the first slaves in this New York City.[4] According to Harvard university professor Jill Lepore, the slaves of Angola who arrived in New Amsterdam were also, as was in the case of the first slaves who arrived in Virginia, Ambundu, and to a lesser extent, Kongos.[5] In 1621, an Angolan former slave arrived in Virginia, Anthony Johnson, was the first documented black slave in the English colonies to earn his freedom and, in turn, own slaves himself. Anthony Johnson was granted ownership of John Casor after a civil case in 1654.[6][7] The Angolan slavery trade in the United States reached its greatest magnitude between 1619 and 1650.[3] In 1644, 6,900 slaves on the African coast were bought to clear the forests, lay roads, build houses and public buildings, and grow food. Most of these were from the company's colonies in the West Indies, but came from its established stations in Angola.[1]

18th - 19th centuries[edit]

During the colonial period, the people from the region Congo-Angola were 25% of the slaves in North America. Based on the data mentioned, many Angolan slaves came from distinct ethnic groups, such as the Bakongo and the Tio[8] and Northern Mbunbu people (from Kingdom of Ndongo).[3] However, not all slaves kept the culture of their ancestors, the Bakongo were Catholics, because the kingdom of Kongo had voluntarily converted to Catholicism in 1491, after of the Portuguese conquered this territory.[9] The slaves of Angola were most of the slaves in South Carolina[10] and one of the main slaves´s groups in other places as Virginia (where most of slaves came from within the boundaries of the modern nation-states of Nigeria and Angola). Between 1710 and 1769, only 15% of the slaves who arrived in Virginia and South Carolina were from Angola.[11] Others places in the United States, such as Delaware and Indiana, also had Angolans slaves.[4]

Many of the Bakongo slaves who arrived in the United States in the 18th century were captured and sold as slaves by African kings to others tribes or enemies, because of the several civil wars throughout the kingdom. Some of the people sold from Kongo to United States were trained soldiers.[9] So, in 1739, there was an uprising in South Carolina, where possibly 40% of the slaves were Angolans. Led by an Angolan, Jemmy, a group of 20 Angolan slaves, likely Bakongos and described as Catholic, mutinied and killed at least 20 white settlers and several children, and then marched to Charlestown, where the uprising was harshly repressed. Forty of the slaves in the revolt (some them were Angolans) were decapitated and their heads were strung on sticks to serve as a warning to others. This episode, known as the Stono Rebellion, led the U.S. government to ban the importation of more slaves, because the country faced two serious problems: the first was racial discrimination and the second is that the country had more blacks than whites.[4] Later, some 300 Angolans former slaves founded their own community in the Braden River delta, near what is now downtown Bradenton, Florida and they gave it the name of Angola, in honor of the homeland where many came from, and tried to live as free men. However, this Angola was destroyed in 1821. Rich hunters and slaveholders hired 200 mercenaries who captured 300 black people and burned their houses. It is believed, however, that some Angolans fled by rafts and successfully reached Andros Island in The Bahamas, where they were established.[4]

Recent emigration[edit]

After the abolition of slavery in 1865 and until the 1970s, few Angolans emigrated to the United States. Large-scale Angolan immigration to the United States did not begin until the 1970s due to start of regional wars in their country. Although, initially, most Angolans refugees emigrated to France, Belgium, and Portugal - the country to which Angola belonged in colonial times and with which they share a language - the restrictions conducted by European Economic Community on immigration forced many of them to emigrate to others countries, such as the United States, in the 1980s.[12] Before then, only 1,200 Angolans emigrated to the United States. After that, the number of Angolans who emigrated to the United States would start increase. Between 1980 and 1989 1,170 Angolans entered the United States. Between 1990 and 2000, 1,995 more Angolans emigrated to the U.S. 4,365 Angolans were registered as living in United States in 2000.[13]

They settled primarily in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Phoenix, and Chicago.[12] There are also some Angolans in Brockton, Massachusetts; they were attracted to the area by the presence of an already-established Cape Verdean community.[14] This was due to Cape Verdeans speaking Portuguese as do many of the immigrants from Angola. In 1992 leaders of the Angolan communities of these cities formed the Angolan Community in the USA (ACUSA). The Chicago branch has aided new immigrants.[12]


Currently, most Americans who are descendants of Angolans emigrated to United States since the 20th century and speak Portuguese and English. Despite the large family sizes in Angola, most Angolan immigrants in United States are single men or small family groups. Angolan communities tend to have, in cities such as Chicago, holiday festivals, Angolan music or read newspapers about events that occur in Angola.[12] The main communities are concentrated in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Phoenix and Chicago. Meanwhile, the states with the largest Angolan American communities are Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey. According to estimates by 2000 there were only 1,642 people descended from Angolan Americans in the U.S. Moreover, according to the same census for that year, 4,365 people born in Angola lived in the United States, of which 1,885 were white, 1,635 black, 15 of Asian race, 620 racially mixed and another 210 of unspecified race.[13]


  • The term "Gullah" (referred to an ethnic group of African origin and African language and culture - Gullah people - established in parts of Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia) may derive from a word of Angola.[15]
  • "Angola" became the name given to the communities created by Angolan slave fugitives and the term itself also came to represent the struggle for freedom.
  • Several anthropologists and American historians are involved in Project called Angola, the historical study of the various Angolans living in the U.S.
  • In Louisiana, about 50 miles from Baton Rouge there a place called Angola. This is an old plantation of 7,200 hectares, where most of the slaves were from Angola and, in 1835, was became the prison State of Louisiana, known today by The Farm or Angola.
  • There are also cities from U.S. named "Angola" as the of New York, Delaware and Indiana, where there were also Angolan slaves.
  • In Virginia also had a farm called "Angola", owned by Anthony Johnson, an Angolan who took the name of his boss when he was released.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Following the Portuguese conquest (and according to the Washington Post), many of these first slaves had had contact with Europeans "for many years," specifically since 1484, when the Portuguese ships of Cão reached the Zaire or Congo rivers, the second largest in Africa (after the Nile) and the Portuguese established relationships with the king of the Kongo, Manicongo.[4]


  1. ^ a b SLAVERY in NEW YORK. Retrieved in September 14, 2012, to 01:20 pm
  2. ^ a b Hoge Lusofonia. Angolanos participaram na criação dos EUA (In Portuguese: Angolans participated in the creation of USA). Retrieved September 8, 2012, to 19:45 pm.
  3. ^ a b c d ANGOLAN ORIGINS OF MELUNGEONS IN 17TH CENTURY VIRGINIA. Accessed on 15 October 2010 at 08:29
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Portuguese Times (In Portuguese). Retrieved in September 07, 2012, to 20:40 pm
  5. ^ 1620 – 1664 Des Congolais, esclaves à Nieuw Amsterdam (in French: From Congo: slaves in New Amsterdam). Posted by SOUINDOULA, Simão
  6. ^ Breen 1980, p. 13-15.
  7. ^ Breen, T. H. (2004). "Myne Owne Ground" : Race and Freedom on Virginia's Eastern Shore, 1640-1676. Pg 12: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199729050. 
  8. ^ The Black collegian online. Posted by James A. Perry. Retrieved in September 07, 2012, to 17:10 pm.
  9. ^ a b John K. Thornton: "The African Roots of the Stono Rebellion", in A Question of Manhood, ed. Darlene Clark Hine and Earnestine Jenkins, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1999, pp.116–117, 119, accessed 12 Apr 2009
  10. ^ South Carolina – African-Americans – Buying and Selling Human Beings. Retrieved in September 11, 2012, to 00:14 pm Written by Michael Trinkley
  11. ^ VEA-Angola - Musées -
  12. ^ a b c d Poe, Tracy N. (2005), "Angolans", The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago, Chicago Historical Society, retrieved 2009-03-15 
  13. ^ a b lusotopia: Emigração Angolana (In Portuguese: Angolan Emigration).
  14. ^ Latour, Francie (2000-06-25), "Trouble's Temptations: Angolan-American activists worry that young immigrants from their homeland will be drawn into the cycle of violence that plagues Cape Verdeans", The Boston Globe, retrieved 2009-03-15 
  15. ^ "Geechee and Gullah Culture", The New Georgia Encyclopedia

External links[edit]