What Do You Learn About in African American History?

African American history is a rich and complex story that spans centuries. It encompasses the struggles and achievements of a people who have faced countless challenges while contributing immeasurably to American culture. Here are some of the key topics you’ll learn about when studying African American history.

Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

The history of African Americans in the United States begins with the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, millions of Africans were forcibly taken from their homes, transported across the ocean, and sold into slavery in the Americas. The horrors of slavery are difficult to overstate, and its legacy continues to shape American society today.

The Civil War and Reconstruction

The Civil War was a turning point in African American history. It was fought in part over the question of whether or not slavery should be abolished, and ultimately resulted in the end of slavery in America.

Reconstruction was a period after the war when efforts were made to rebuild Southern society and grant rights to newly-freed slaves. However, these efforts were met with resistance from white supremacists who sought to maintain their power over black people.

The Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement was a pivotal moment in African American history that took place during the 1950s and 1960s. Led by activists such as Martin Luther King Jr., this movement sought to end segregation and discrimination against black Americans. It achieved many important victories, including the passage of landmark legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Contemporary Issues

Despite progress made during the Civil Rights Movement, many issues still plague African Americans today. These include systemic racism, police brutality, economic inequality, and voting rights restrictions. Understanding these issues is crucial for anyone seeking to fully grasp African American history.

  • Systemic Racism: Systemic racism refers to the ways in which racism is built into the very structure of American society. This includes things like housing discrimination, unequal access to education and healthcare, and disparities in the criminal justice system.
  • Police Brutality: Police brutality against African Americans has been a major issue in recent years, with numerous high-profile cases of black people being killed or injured by police officers.
  • Economic Inequality: African Americans still face significant economic disparities, with higher rates of poverty and lower median incomes than white Americans.
  • Voting Rights Restrictions: In recent years, there have been efforts to restrict voting rights for African Americans through measures such as voter ID laws and purging of voter rolls.


African American history is a complex and multifaceted topic that encompasses centuries of struggle and achievement. By studying this history, we can gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by black Americans and the contributions they have made to American culture. It is crucial that we continue to educate ourselves about this important subject so that we can work towards a more just and equitable society for all.