Portal:African American

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African Americans, also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans, are citizens of the United States who have total or partial antebellum ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa.[1] Specifically, most African Americans are of West and Central African descent and are descendants of enslaved peoples within the boundaries of the present-day U.S.[1][2]

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Jackie Robinson

African Americans are a demographic minority in the United States. The first achievements by African Americans in various fields historically establish a foothold, providing a precedent for more widespread cultural change. The shorthand phrase for this is "breaking the color barrier."

One commonly cited example is that of Jackie Robinson, who was the first African American of the modern era to become a Major League Baseball player, ending 60 years of segregated leagues. Segregated Negro Leagues had been established for decades, featuring many talented athletes.

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African American boy selling newspapers, 1921
Credit: National Photo Company Collection
African American boy selling The Washington Daily News in 1921 — sign on his hat reads, "Have you read The News? One cent" — headline reads "Millionaire tax rends G.O.P."


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We deem it a settled point that the destiny of the colored man is bound up with that of the white people of this country. ... We are here, and here we are likely to be. To imagine that we shall ever be eradicated is absurd and ridiculous. We can be remodified, changed, assimilated, but never extinguished. We repeat, therefore, that we are here; and that this is our country; and the question for the philosophers and statesmen of the land ought to be, What principles should dictate the policy of the action toward us? We shall neither die out, nor be driven out; but shall go with this people, either as a testimony against them, or as an evidence in their favor throughout their generations.
Frederick Douglass (c.1818–1895),
Essay in North Star (Nov. 1858); as quoted in Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism (1992) by Derrick Bell, p. 40.

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Frederick Douglass portrait.jpg

Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, circa 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an American abolitionist, women's suffragist, editor, orator, author, statesman, minister and reformer. Escaping from slavery, he made strong contributions to the abolitionist movement, and achieved a public career that led to his being called "The Sage of Anacostia" and "The Lion of Anacostia". Douglass is one of the most prominent figures in African American and United States history. He was a firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. He was fond of saying, "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."

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  1. ^ a b Gomez, Michael Angelo (1998). Exchanging Our Country Marks : The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South. University of North Carolina Press. p. 12. ISBN 0807861715. 
  2. ^ Rucker, Walter C. (2006). The river flows on: Black resistance, culture, and identity formation in early America. LSU Press. p. 126. ISBN 0-8071-3109-1.