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Black Americans

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  1. Blacks under Slavery: 1600-1865
  2. Slavery in America
  3. The Civil Rights Movement
  4. Legal Action against Racism
  5. Culture Today
  6. Music and the Arts
  7. Religion
  8. The Family
  9. Education

Black Americans are those residents of the United States, who trace their ancestry to members of the Negroid race in Africa. They have, at various times in the history of the United States, been referred to as African, colored, Negro, Afro-American, and African-American, as well as black. The black population of the United States has grown from three-quarters of a million in 1790 to nearly 30 million in 1990. As a percentage of the total population, blacks declined from 19.3 in 1790 to 9.7 in 1930. A modest percentage increase has occurred since that time. Over the past 300 and more years in the United States, considerable racial mixture has taken place between persons of African descent and those with other racial backgrounds, mainly white European or American Indian ancestry. Shades of skin color now range from dark brown to ivory. The body type of black Americans ranges from short and stocky to tall and lean. Nose shapes vary from aquiline to extremely broad and flat, hair color from medium brown to brown black, and hair texture from tightly curled to limp and straight. Historically, the predominant attitude toward racial group membership in the United States has been that persons having any black African ancestry are considered to be black. In some parts of the United States, especially in the antebellum South, laws were written to define racial group membership in this manner. These laws were generally to the detriment of those who were not Caucasian. It is important to note, however, that ancestry and physical characteristics are only part of what has set black Americans apart as a distinct group. The concept of race, as it applies to the black minority in the United States, is as much a social and political concept as a biological one.

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