African Americans represent the third largest ethnic and racial group after the Hispanic and white Americans in the United States. The history of African Americans in the United States begins with the practice of slavery in the 17th century (Carson et al.). Slavery continued in America until the people of color were liberated after the 1865 civil war. However, even after the civil war, black people continued to be marginalized and seen as second class citizens. For instance, white supremacy led to the enactment of the 1790 Naturalization act that limited voting and citizenship to the whites (Carson et al.). African Americans are primarily descendants of slaves captured from the African continent in the colonial period. They came from diverse African ethnic groups in central and western Africa such as the Sahel. Besides, small numbers of the slaves were captured from southeastern and eastern Africa (Gates). Racial discrimination by the whites in the United States denied the African Americans their rightful share of resources. While a variation existed in the ethnicity of the slaves, they were united by the common issue of racial discrimination and marginalization. Therefore, the challenges faced in America forced them to abandon their tribal differences and unit to forge a new history (Carson et al.). Unity in the struggle against slavery gained the African Americans the freedom they enjoy today. For instance, they now have the freedom to own property including large tracks of land. Besides, black people continue to be seen as equals to the whites in the community. Slavery, therefore, played a critical role in shaping the history of the United States as it is known today. Some of the essential events that shape the shaped the history of the African American’s include the middle passage and the abolitionist movement.
Firstly, the middle passage stage represents a dark period for African American’s when they were forcefully moved to Europe. The process started when ships left for the African continent with manufactured products to trade for slaves (Bell). The slaves kidnapped or purchased from Africa were then transported to Europe through the Atlantic. The middle passage caused the death of approximately two million Africans (Gates). Later, abolitionists in the United States and Britain used complex propaganda that helped in campaigning against slavery. People opposed to slavery criticized the involuntary relocation of people and subsequent exploitation. The arguments and propaganda against slavery as advocated by the abolitionists gained the broad support of the black community. To gain freedom, the slaves volunteered themselves for the American civil war (Bell). In this case, the warring parties promised those who volunteered for the conflict freedom. The practice of slavery was protected by the state’s laws in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Slavery was mainly practiced in Britain which was one of the dominant colonial powers. However, slavery was later illegalized by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 to protect the dignity of the black people (Bell). However, some states attempted to extend slavery and marginalization of the black people due to the increased demands of slave labor in the cotton firms. However, Congress during the Jefferson government illegalized the importation of slaves into the country. In essence, slavery played a critical role in shaping the lives of African American communities.
The media plays a vital role in influencing the opinions of people on the issue of slavery and racial discrimination in the colonial period. Dunlap in his article in the New York Times illustrates the impacts of racial differences on American history. The piece analyses the work done by Henry Raymond on racial antagonism in the historical period. It critics Raymond’s article on the Christana resistance condemning slaves who escaped from their masters disregarding the Fugitive act. The act allowed the slave owners to reclaim or recapture escapees in any state using any force deemed necessary (Dunlap). He notes that the slaves acted with malice and sought to disregard the laws imposed on them by the state. However, Dunlap supports the actions of the escapees by noting that the escaped slaves only desired their freedom and that the crowd at Christiana acted correctly. According to Dunlap, Raymond only wrote the article to support his antislavery political ideas in the 1850s. Unlike Raymond, Dunlap uses his New York article to criticize slavery and the historical injustices suffered by the black people. The history of black people is also depicted in Donaldson’s guardian article that highlights the misrepresentation of black people in the media. According to Donaldson, the media plays a critical role in creating negative perceptions of black people in the community. Misreporting in the press causes limited working opportunities for blacks because they are not seen as the right fit for employment (Donaldson). Therefore, negative portrayals of black people by the media act as barriers for the advancement of black people in society. Unlike the Donaldson and Dunlap articles, the NBC article “Resisting Slavery” highlights the struggles black people went through to attain freedom. According to the report, black people were subjected to inhumane acts in the slavery period (AAA). The article evokes sympathy for the black people and helps in discouraging discriminating of the blacks. Lastly, the Prager University video shows that the media is a powerful tool in swaying the public’s opinion on how they view historical events. Therefore it is essential for the media agencies to use their work to promote positive coexistence in society.
Ultimately, African Americans and the issue of slavery plays a critical role in shaping American society as it is known today. Some of the essential events that shape the shaped the history of the African American’s include the middle passage and the abolitionist movement. Firstly, the middle passage stage represents a dark period for African American’s when they were relocated to Europe. The slaves kidnapped or purchased from Africa were then transported to Europe through the Atlantic. However, abolitionists in Europe helped in campaigning against slavery. They sought to overturn the laws enacted across Europe in support of slavery. In this case, they believed that black people had rights and it was wrong to subject them to horrific experiences. The practice of slavery was protected by the state’s laws in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. However, slavery was later illegalized by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 giving the black people their much-desired freedom. The media still plays a critical role in shaping the perception of people on the issue of slavery and racial discrimination. For instance, Donaldson argues in his article that the media plays a critical role in creating negative perceptions of black people in the community. Misreporting in the press causes limited working opportunities for blacks because they are not seen as the right fit for employment (Donaldson). Therefore, negative portrayals of black people by the media act as barriers for the advancement of black people in society.
Bell, Karen B. “Rice, resistance, and forced transatlantic communities 🙁 Re) envisioning the African diaspora in low country Georgia, 1750-1800.” The Journal of African American History 95.2 (2010): 157-182.
Carson, Clayborne, Emma Jones Lapsansky-Werner, and Gary B. Nash. “The struggle for freedom: A history of African Americans.” (2011).
Donaldson, Leigh. “When the media misrepresents Black men, the effects are felt in the real world.” The Guardian (2015).
Dunlap w. David. “Born Into a Racial Turmoil That Has Never Ended” The New York Times (2017).
Gates Jr, Henry Louis. “How many slaves landed in the US.” The Root 1 (2014).
The American Anthropological Association (AAA). “1800s-1850s: Resisting slavery”. NBC NEWS (2008).