Between 1712 and 1719, most African slaves imported to Louisiana were from modern day Senegal and Guinea, many thousands being imported to Louisiana from there. A large number of the imported slaves were members of the Wolof and Bambara ethnic groups. Saint-Louis and Goree Island were sites where a great number of slaves destined for Louisiana departed from Africa. However, between 1719 and 1731 most of the slaves who came to Louisiana came directly from modern day Benin. The import of slaves of Benin was also significant during the period of Spanish control of Louisiana (1763 - 1800); many slaves imported during this period were members of the Nago people, a Yoruba subgroup.
The slaves brought with them their cultural practices, languages, and religious beliefs rooted in spirit and ancestor worship, which were key elements of Louisiana Voodoo. In addition, in the late nineteenth century, many Afro-Haitians also migrated to Louisiana, contributing to the Voodoo tradition of the state.
Before the American Civil War (1861 to 1865), African Americans comprised the majority of the population in the state, with most being enslaved and working as laborers on sugar cane and cotton plantations.
Tens of thousands left in the Great Migration in the first half of the 20th century, seeking work and political opportunities elsewhere. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, African Americans were 31.2% of the state's population.