African American Experiences

In the middle of the 1500s, Africans were transported to America by European Mariners. In American history, the forced migration played a distinctive role. Slaves in America toiled in mines and sugar farms. Slavery persisted until it was outlawed in the late 18th century. Through abolitionist movements, white and freed African slaves in Northern America advocated the end of slavery. Freed Africans were able to integrate into American culture and buy property. Trouble started, though, when the government initially refused to acknowledge the freed Africans as American residents. Formerly held African slaves were accepted and recognized as residents of the United States thanks to the first amendment to the constitution. The Jim Crow laws affirmed segregation in public place for white and African Americans. The civil rights movement helped in shaping African American experience in different spheres. They include political position, right to vote, education for all and religion and economic status.


Throughout the American history, the social and legal discrimination discriminated against African Americans. The minority group was denied access to literacy, education, employment, health service and right to vote. The white dominated American society institutionalized discrimination using the separate but equal” doctrine under the Jim Crow laws. Conversely, the former African slaves could not let go of their traditions. The situation contributed to further marginalization in all African-American way of life. Today, the oral traditions continuously enrich the political, religious and business worlds of the African-American experience. Nevertheless, the experiences have the significant cultural influence to the mainstream American society and culture.

The Great Migration

After the end of slavery trade, more than one 50,000 African Americans moved from to the northern states including Chicago. The migrants sought employment in the growing number of industries in the north. The institution foundation established before the World War one offered a base for community development. The Baptist and old-line AME churches experienced considerable growth and boosted by the Olivet Baptist Church. The church had the highest number of African American (10,000) in the USA. The migrants introduced Chicago’s religious culture, through the establishment of spiritual and Pentecostal churches thus delivered demonstrative church services compared to the middle and upper-class populations. African American businesses grew, defender circulation sprouts out and more candidates represented in the city councils.

The bulging pay envelopes had great fulfillment to the expectations of the migrants. However, the racial tension threatened the life in the ‘Promised Land.' In the north, the migrants faced widespread employment discrimination (Herndon 1937). The migrants were offered low wages compared to their white counterpart. The white and black tendered to regard each other with suspicion over unionization textile and meatpacking factories. The exclusion of the black workers to join unions was hard in the burgeoning labor market (Herndon, 1937). It was even worse for the African- American women. The women faced male chauvinism from their male counterparts and could not secure formal employment due to illiteracy. The African traditions expressed women as homemakers (Beale 2012). It was hard for these workers to find homes putting the community into a difficult position. The attempts to enter the white households led to a violent reaction. The tension erupted into days of rioting resulting in death and injuries to migrants.

Harlem Renaissance

Between 1920 and 1930, the Harlem Renaissance was one of the most influential movements in African-American history. The campaign led to the recognition of the African literature, art, politics, poems, and music (Thurman, 2009). Great cartoonist such as Seuss expressed African community experiences through drawings. (Seuss, 2006).The African American produced great works that addressed their deep-rooted experiences. The new Negro movement led to the emergence of great pianists, singers, band leaders, composers, dancers, actors, and writers.

The African–American writers, however, relied on white publishers and publishing houses in Harlem, New York. W.E.B Dubois, for instance, criticized white novelist who branded African Americans’ culture as primitive and those who tried to reinforce negative stereotypes for African American. The organizations such as the National League Urban League and NAACP concentrated more on economic empowerment and political issues during the great depression. By the end of Harlem Renaissance, the movement had a great impact around the globe that opened opportunities for mainstream culture to African American writers and artist.

The Harlem Renaissance had a great impact on cultural identity. The movement fought for affirmative action in the labor market as promised by President Lyndon Jonson (Katznelson & Norton, 2006). Moreover, it played an essential role in the political history of the black Americans. Other important political association at the time included The United Negro Improvement Association. The political movements shaped the Africa-American experiences to date.

African American in the Second World War

The African Americans were ready to serve the military in the World War Two. They got encouragement from President Franklin D. Roosevelt who preached freedom of worship, freedom of speech and other wants. The African Americans lacked these freedoms in their community and led to over three million registering for military service. During the war, the white and black was a separate unit. The black servicemen were frustrated and wanted to end racism, and they fought for the US. The military used the Double V strategy in their quest for a win in the war (Engelhardt, 2015). In the attack at the Pearl Harbor, Dorie Miller shot down several Japanese planes using a machine gun.

During the WWII Benjamin O. Davis was promoted to a general’s position to become the first African-American general in American history. African American served with pride and accomplished significantly and celebrated the win of USA. However, discrimination slowed black soldier’s high morale. President Harry Truman through an executive order integrated the United States Armed Forces (Engelhardt, 2015). The integration led to equal opportunity and treatment for all people serving in the military without considering national origin, religion, color and race.

Civil Rights Movement

Nonviolence civil rights movement gave birth to the Black Art Movement. The Black Art Movement led to the rise of literature and music reflecting and embracing pronounced racial and political consciousness. Ultimately, in the 1960s, the African American moved towards equity while still maintaining their unique history. The rich religious, political, cultural, economic movements characterized the unique history.


The civil rights movement gained momentum in the late 1950s. President JF Kennedy promised to pass the civil rights bill into legislation during presidential campaigns. In July 1964, the president signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Later, the president signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Open Housing Act in 1968 (Katznelson, & Norton, 2006). The new laws ended the Jim Crow legislation that enacted the ‘equal but separate’ principle. It was illegal to discriminate or deny access to public schools, motels, restaurants, and other public places (Beale, 2012). The Departments of Health, Defense, and Labor collaborated to protect the racial minorities from discrimination. However, the legislative work of the civil right revolution did not accomplish much after the Second World War. Discrimination was rampant in all departments and African-Americans missed the chance of becoming a middle-class population in two decades.


Engelhardt, B.C ( 2015). Fighting for the Double V: Memories of Six African American Veterans of World War II. Retrieved on 24 July 2017 from

Herndon, A., International Labor Defense., & League of Struggle for Negro Rights (U.S.). (1937). "You cannot kill the working class,." New York: International Labor Defense and the League of Struggle for Negro Rights

Hughes L. (1926). The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain. Retrieved on 24 July 2017 from

Katznelson, I., & Norton. (2006). When affirmative action was white: An untold history of racial inequality in twentieth-century America. New York: W.W. Norton.

Seuss, (2006). Theodor Seuss Geisel: The early works of Dr. Seuss. Miamisburg, OH: Checker Book Pub.

Thurman, W. (2009). Negro life in New York's Harlem: A lively picture of a popular and interesting section. Girard, KS: Haldeman-Julius Publications.

Beale F. (2012) Double Jeopardy To Be Black and Female. Retrieved on 24 July 2017 from

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