Historical Flashback: A look at the use of the term African American in the press

Historical Flashback: A look at the use of the term African American in the press

This is a historical flashback on the use of the nomenclature “African American” as a vernacular to describe people of African descent in the United States.

People of African descent, in the United States, prior to the end of slavery often referred to themselves as just African, when not using or knowing the terms for their origin ethnic group(s). African decent people were forced to not speak about their African origin ethnic groups, forced not to practice their traditional African religion and forced not to speak their home African descent languages. There is also history showing there were people of African decent residing in the Americas before the European Atlantic Slave Trade.

During the 1500s though the 1800s the common English European and English American term used for people of African descent was Negro or derogatory terms.

The term Colored became a popular vernacular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The term Negro began to replace the term Colored. The term Black became the more popular used nomenclature by the late 1960s and is still used today.

In the 1980s, African American became the term used to describe ethnic origin of black Americans. As most modern African counties, that exist today, are a result of the independent nations formed after the 1950s. The borders of many modern African nations are closely inline with those carved out on the continent as a result of the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885. The modern African nations’ boarders do not match up with the nations, empires, kingdoms and city states that existed prior to 1900 or pre-European occupation.

The term “black” is the common term to describe race. In the United States it is common that European descent Americans refer to themselves as “white” for race and terms such as Italian-American, Irish-American, Scottish-American, German-American, Polish-American, etc. to describe ethnic origin.

In European culture the term “white” was not always used to identify the collective population who have origins in European countries. The term “white” was also once not the collective racial term for all people of European descent in the United States. See link below.

Immigration: The U.S. once viewed Europeans who were non-British as undesirables in the 1880s and early 1900s

One well known example of some Americans using the term African is related to those who converted to Christianity.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church grew out of the Free African Society which Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and others established in Philadelphia in 1787. They proudly referred to themselves as African.

St. George’s United Methodist Church, located in Philadelphia, is the oldest Christian Methodist church in continuous use in the United States. The congregation was founded in 1767 and the church began in 1769.

When officials at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church pulled blacks off their knees while doing Christian praying, Free African Society members discovered just how far Christian European American Methodists would go to enforce racial discrimination against African Americans.

Although most of the Africans, who converted to Christianity, wanted to affiliate with the Protestant Episcopal Church, Allen led a small group who resolved to remain Methodists. In 1794 Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated with Allen as pastor. To establish Bethel’s independence from interfering white Methodists, Allen, a former Delaware enslaved African descent man, successfully sued in the Pennsylvania courts in 1807 and 1815 for the right of his congregation to exist as an independent institution. Because black Methodists Christians in other middle Atlantic communities encountered racism and desired Christian religious autonomy, Allen called them to meet in Philadelphia to form a new Wesleyan denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal.

Below is a look back at just a few examples of the use of the term African American was used in the newspapers before the 1980s. Please enjoy reading these historical newspaper article and enjoy some of the topic links shared within this topic.
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Video: Malcolm X on the use of the term Africans and African American

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Please click on the image below to enlarge for better viewing. Click your return arrow to return to this topic.

1859

1868

1870

1876

1877

1878

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1889

1899


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The black African Moors in Europe- U.S. newspapers from the 1880s and 1890s
https://dilemma-x.net/2015/09/18/the-black-african-moors-in-europe-newspapers-from-the-late-1880s/
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Released June 25, 2015: U.S. Hispanic or Latino population by race – America’s largest population after White is still Black or African American
https://dilemma-x.net/2015/07/29/released-june-25-2015-u-s-hispanic-or-latino-population-by-race-americas-largest-population-after-white-is-still-black-or-african-american/
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Historical Flashback: 1900 A look back at the disenfranchisement of African Americans in North Carolina
https://dilemma-x.net/2018/11/06/1900-a-look-back-at-the-disenfranchisement-of-african-americans-in-north-carolina/
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U.S. History: When African Americans were forced out of cities and counties – Wilmington, North Carolina
https://dilemma-x.net/2015/09/23/us-history-when-african-americans-were-forced-out-of-cities-and-counties/

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The African American vote- The battle between the Republicans and Democrats
https://dilemma-x.net/2016/09/07/the-african-american-vote-the-battle-between-the-republicans-and-democrats/

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The Swinging Pendulum -Hate vs Progress -Women’s Suffrage : The majority of white women rejected Hillary Clinton for Donald Trump
https://dilemma-x.net/2016/11/11/history-white-women-rejected-hillary-clinton-for-donald-trump/

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