May 22, 2024

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African American Ethnic Term Goes Back Centuries In American History

The name African American was chosen by African American forefathers as this group is one of the founding groups of what we know today as the United States. The African American ethnic group has a deep, profound history in the United States, and much of this ethnic group’s expansive history has never been taught in full in any textbook in the nation. Many people, from school age to professors in college, have no idea that the ethnic term African American goes far back to the 18th century and was utilized by African Americans throughout the span of time since then.

One of the earliest known usages of the ethnic group term African American was used as early as the mid to late 1700s, and it is in a sermon written by an African American man who is believed to have been from the state of South Carolina, according to Yale Alumni Magazine, and published in Philadelphia. There is no doubt that it was written by an African American man because it states on the front of the pamphlet “By an African American” while inside the sermon, the writer references his color of his skin as being a descendant of the nation’s early arrivals who were Africa. If one references the highly likely state of this writer’s birth, South Carolina, one can infer that his forefather was brought to the state enslaved because in the 1700s, South Carolina was a slave state through and through.

Since the 1700s, the descendants of the African enslaved in the United States chose and utilized what their forefathers designated for them, despite the fact that the majority of white people in the government on down, did not recognize this designation on official paperwork, choosing to ignore the choice Black Americans made for themselves and for their ethnic group, to continue using what they wanted to call them. This is why for centuries African American isn’t used on official documents, however, it is used everywhere in Black America in the 1800s by very prominent African American men in the formation of leagues and conferences, including holidays.

African American Day was a holiday for the ethnic group, contributing to their growing, unique culture in the United States. Also called African American and Emancipation Day, it signified the groups freedom while making note of several prominent African American businessmen at the time who participated in the celebration.

Source: The Times-Picayune of 1885 (Louisiana)

The African American Conferences that were held where, again, several prominent men developed societies and other important establishments for African American people. Facts like these aren’t introduced to history books anywhere on the globe, yet they are recorded in the newspapers, many of which were owned by African Americans.

Source: Evening Herald, Fort Scott Kansas, May 1884

African Americans have always been a very political ethnic group as they have had to forcefully shove the political stance in their favor throughout history due to the racial climate of the country. The African American Political Rights League is an example of where African Americans came together to gain political power in the 1800s.

Source: The News Journal, Wilmington, Delaware, 1895

There are several other documented articles that timeline the formation of the African American ethnic group which sets the group apart from any other, as they developed their own place in the United States. It is erroneous to believe that the term African American was somehow “invented” by a politician named Jesse Jackson in the 1980s to which many still believe. In reality, the original, founding Black Americans termed their ethnic group African American which was also interchangeable with Black American, because they knew they needed a name other than what the white American called them all the time.

African Americans are and have been a significant large part of the founding of the United States, and in that they also built their own part of a segregated USA, along with the founding of their official name which is now recognized by the government in America and around the globe.