The African-American history is intricately linked with the practice of slavery in America. It is also one of the greatest chapters in the history of humanity — the manner in which it began and the stage where it is now is as informative about the hypocrisy in human behavior as it is about its perseverance.
Yes, there was a time when even human beings were considered nothing more than possessions — possessions which were used and abused just like inanimate objects. In the new land of America, the new settlers from Britain wanted untiring and uncomplaining hands to work in their farms. During the same period, in the 17th century, there existed a ready slave market in Africa and the Caribbean, markets which became the sources for slaves in America.
Year 1619, a 20 member group of indentured slaves disembark at Virginia from a Dutch Ship, thus writing the first page of African-American history. Interestingly, a the-then report identifies this set of people as “cargo” from the ship.
Slaves who were required to work for their masters for per-designated number of years before being set free were known as indentured slaves. However, in reality indentured slaves used to be sold from one owner to another, with freedom remaining an ever elusive dream.
The year 1641 saw the legalization of Slavery in Massachusetts, a move which was replicated in other American states, and followed with more inhuman laws, one of which recognized as slaves the children of slave parents.
By the 1700s, the population of slaves had grown to around 25,000 — a factor which gave rise to a distinct set of traditions followed by the slave population. In terms of art, dance, and literature, the slave population began developing a unique cultural system, drawing from their roots in Africa.
The year 1739 saw the first slave revolt; it witnessed many killings among the white population, which also retaliated by brutally killing the participants of the revolt. However, the spirit of resistance does not die with the quelling of the revolt. This time it surfaced in the form of a poem by Lucy Terry. Named as Bar’s Fight, the poem provides an account of an attack on her by village by an American Indian horde. The first published written work, however, was by Phillis Wheatley. It was published in the year 1773. In the year 1852, came the much acclaimed Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s, considered to be a driving force behind the American Civil war that was fought on the issue of abolition of slavery.
In between all this, there were other major events that marked themselves on the calendar. The first black church was founded in Virginia, North America in 1758 — a sure sign of amalgamation with the American way of life, although in a restricted manner. America fought for Independence against Britain and won the war, with many black soldiers fighting alongside American forces. However, these black soldiers were never given the freedom that they were promised during the war. They were pulled back to slavery.
Two of the most significant events in the African-American history are the American Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. Central to the theme of both these events was the welfare of the black population.
The American Civil War was fought on the simmering issue of slavery.