People of African Origin in the New World

America ancient symbol.

We see blacks in the USA, they came from Africa and were taken during the era of slavery in the 15th century.

Slavery is the practice or system of owning slaves, while slave trade is the practice of selling and buying human being as commodities.

Origins of slavery and slave trade

There were things that caused black people to be taken as slaves. Those things are:
1. Emergency of European merchant class
The class emerged in the 15th century. They got much support from their rulers during their trade. Their moving to Africa for accumulation of capital led to the taking of among other things, slaves.
2. The role of explorers
Explorers conducted route of explorations, they were financed by their kings. For example, King Henry the Navigator financed routes of exploration.
These explorations led to Christopher Columbus, reaching America accidentally in the year 1492. America was then started to be used by Europeans, and Africans were needed for labour.
3. Richness of the New World
The new world and the island were found with rich soil, tropical climate, and abundant minerals like silver and gold.
The African labour was considered able to survive under tropical diseases as the climate existing was the same with that of West Africa.
4. The proximity of Africa to America
West Africa is nearer to America. This made it easy to access slave who were cheap in Africa.
5. Marine technology
The trafficking of Africans as slaves was made possible by the ship building technology.
6. The European prior experience of the African labour
Even before the establishment of investment in America, the Portuguese and Spaniards had already experienced the taking of slaves from west Africa.

Problems Experienced by the Blacks in the New World

Political problems
- no right to franchise (vote and be voted)
- no equality before the law
- no right to form political organizations
- no right to have representatives
Economic problems
- no right to land ownership
- they were subjected to long working hours
- they were paid low wages
Social conditions
- they were slaves, person property
- freely murdered by white masters
- segregation based on their colour
- lack of job security as they worked under poor condition without being given gumboots, dust absorbers, gloves and combats.

Black solidarity and back to Africa movement

After encountering problems in the New World, Africans decided to unite together so that they could fight these problems. In their fight against persecution, discrimination and the difficulties they encountered in the foreign country, there are those who decided to set up a movement to return to Africa. But others refused and continued to fight.

Objectives of back to Africa movement

Back to Africa movement was a movement championed by blacks who came to believe that it was not possible to get their rights within USA. The movement originated during the 19th century.
As early as 1820 Blacks had started returning to Africa. The first group was settled as colonists in Sierra Leone, but they died of diseases. In 1821 another group settled in Liberia.

The following were the objectives of back to Africa movement:

1. To awaken the Blacks in the New World and other parts of the world to know that they are oppressed and exploited.
2. To unite all black people in USA so as to fight injustice.
3. To restore African dignity and respect in the new world and world wide against the white humiliation.
4. To defend black people culture.
5. To free Africans against European domination.
6. To remove inferiority complex of the Africans.

Successes of the back to Africa movement

1. The movement created unity and solidarity among the blacks in America against whites oppression and exploitation.
2. The movement brought awareness to the Africans in the need to liberate themselves.
3. Some blacks were expatriated back to Africa. Thousands of Africans were sent to Sierra Leone and more to Liberia.
4. The movement created threat to the whites who felt that blacks were now united to defend their colour pride and so they had to respect them.

Problems of the back to Africa movement

In the 1920s Back to Africa movement collapsed. The following were the problems which led to the collapse of the movement.
1. Opposition from the colonial master
Colonial master refused to accept the movement plan of sailing the freed slaves to Africa. For example, in Lagos the mission church refused UNIA to use its hall for a meeting.
2. Some of the American capitalist worked against the movement
European capitalist feared the movement would lead to draining of African cheap labour form the USA and Carribean island. They worked to paralyze the movement.
3. Division within the black themselves
For example, William Du Bois and his followers opposed back to Africa movement. They argued that they were born in America, had contributed lot to the development of it and so they would live and die in America.
4. Problem of funds to run Back to Africa Movement
Due to lack of money the movement became a failure as it was difficult to organize it with an empty pocket.
5. Opposition from Africans in Africa
Africans opposed the coming of Black people from America to Africa. The indigenous feared to be dominated by the black people from America.
6. The imprisonment of Marcus Garvey
Garvey was the leader of the back to Africa movement. His act of arrest in 1923 affected the movement. When he was released in 1925, he was not allowed to live in the USA.

The civil rights movement

The American Civil Rights Movement refer to the political, social and legal struggle by black Americans to gain full citizenship rights and to achieve racial equality. In this movement, black demanded total democracy that would allow both blacks and whites to participate fully in political, social and economic affairs in the USA.
Civil rights first massive direct action came in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955.

Objectives of civil rights movement

1. Elimination of racial segregation
2. Demand for equal employment  opportunities
3. Demand for the right to vote and be voted.
4. Restoration of black people freedom.
5. To unite all black people in the US to speak as one.
6. To create self awareness among the blacks and erode the feeling s of African inferiority complex.

Achievement of the civil rights movement

1. Black children to attend separate school made unconstitutional in 1954
States were ordered to integrate their schools.
2. The passing of civil rights acts
Many civil rights and voting rights acts were passed by the congress promising political equality for African Americans.
3. Equal employment opportunities
All people were given the same right to be employed regardless of color. Black Americans, they started slowly to get job opportunities.
4. Some of the racist white government employees and bosses were fired
For example in Birmingham protests of 1963, that started with a boycott, for employment and demand for an end of segregated facilities in the sales stores. During this protests, protesters who included the children were attacked by the police using high pressure water jets and police dogs. When this ended, the leader of Birmingham police department, Eugene Connor was fired by the government, and public places were made more open to blacks.
5. The movement achieved the restoration of blacks dignity and humanity
This is because this movement focused on liberating Africans and making them to be honored in America. Procedures, the African people began to be respected as others.
6. Rise of awareness among the blacks
This was through the speeches and lectures given by the leaders.

Problems of the civil right movement

1. The Ku Klux Klan
The clan began as a secret society on Christmas Eve of 1865. They were killing the black people to disappoint them in their struggle of civil rights. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Died of the Ku Klux Klan.
2. Division among civil right activists
Black people differed in strategy and ideology. While some like the Black Panther Party called for use of violent means, other like Martin Luther Jr. Advocated for non violent method. Ideologically, Malcom X wanted the creation of independent black state, other like King wanted integration with the whites.
3. The hand of American government
The government particularly in southern states passed laws such as the ‘Jim Crow Laws’ to maintain the whites supremacy and segregation. These severe laws restricted African American people peoples right, depriving them of voting, pinning them to worst and lowest paid jobs and excluding them from schools attended by whites.
4. The economic weakness of African Americans
The people of African origin were financially poor that they failed to raise enough resources to support the civil rights movement activities like mass rallies and publications. Their low financial status made them depend on the whites hence could not easily fight segregation.
5. The small number of African American
Compared to the whites, African Americans were few that were easily absorbed by the majority whites. Their small number made them weak to stand firm against inequalities.
6. Low education status of the black people
African Americans were mostly denied education and the few educated mostly received poor education. Due to this their awareness and consciousness was kept low that they could hardly know their rights and stand firm to protest inequality.

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