Facts about African-Americans

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Fact 1 African American History Month is in February of each year. In 1925, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and its founder, Carter G. Woodson, announced Negro History Week. It was first celebrated the following year, 1926, during the week in February that held the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The observance was expanded to a full month in 1976, America’s bicentenary.

Fact 2 The ‘˜Great Migration’, the relocation of more than 6 million African Americans from the South to northern and western states during the period 1915 to 1970, had huge influences on the American economy, its politics and culture, especially its music.

Fact 3 In 2011 African Americans and mult-racial African Americans made up almost 14% of the US population (43.9 million people). It is estimated that by 2060 the African American population will exceed 77 million, 18.4% of the total population.

Fact 4 Only four African Americans have ever been elected to the US Senate, and only two currently sitting senators are African American. Five more African American senators were appointed, either to fill vacant seats, or through state appointments prior to the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment. A tenth African American, former Louisiana Governor Pinchback, appointed by his state legislature, was denied his Senate seat by Congress.

Fact 5 During the Civil War, about 10% of the total Union Army was made up of African American men (180,000). Of these, about half (90,000) were former slaves from the Confederate states. Ten Thousand African American men died in battle, and another 30,000 from infections or disease.

Fact 6 Ralph Bunch was the first African American to become a Nobel laureate, winning the 1950 Peace Prize for his mediation of the 1947 conflict in Palestine. He was also the first person of African descent to win a Nobel Prize. Since then, three other African Americans have been honored by the Nobel Institute: Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Barack Obama both received the Peace Prize, and Toni Morrison, the first African American woman to be a Nobel Laureate, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

Fact 7 African American athletes have made huge contributions to sport and life in America. Beginning with Jesse Owens historic victories in the 1934 Olympics in Berlin, through Jackie Robinson’s removing of the color bar in professional baseball, to the modern-day dominance of their respective sports by Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods, African American athletes have had monumental impacts not only in their own countries but around the world.

Fact 8 The man who pioneered the first blood plasma banks, which led to our present-day blood banks, is an African American, Dr Charles R Drew. His research into blood and blood plasma in the late 1930s drew him to the attention of the British who asked him to set up a pilot program in Great Britain for the collection, storage and distribution of blood plasma. The program was a success, and Drew was appointed the first director of the American Red Cross Plasma Bank.

Fact 9 African Americans have made great contributions in the field of music. But it wasn’t until 1958 that any African American artist won a Grammie (awarded for excellence in the field of recorded music). In that year both Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald won awards; Basie for Best Performance, Dance Band and Best Jazz Performance, Group, Fitzgerald for Best Vocal Performance, Female.

Fact 10 The first African American landowners in the United States were Anthony and Mary Johnson. Both were slaves on the Virginia tobacco plantation owned by Edward Bennett. In and around 1626-1640 they were granted their freedom and purchased a small estate on the Eastern Shore.

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