African Americans are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the black racial groups of Africa. The term typically refers to descendants of enslaved black people who are from the United States.
Black and African Americans are the third largest racial and ethnic group in the United States (after White Americans and Hispanic and Latino Americans). Most African Americans are descendants of enslaved peoples within the boundaries of the present United States. On average, African Americans are of West/Central African and European descent, and some also have Native American ancestry. According to US Census Bureau data, African immigrants generally do not self-identify as African American. The overwhelming majority of African immigrants identify instead with their own respective ethnicities (~95%). Immigrants from some Caribbean, Central American and South American nations and their descendants may or may not also self-identify with the term.
African-American history starts in the 16th century, with peoples from West Africa forcibly taken as slaves to Spanish America, and in the 17th century with West African slaves taken to English colonies in North America. After the founding of the United States, black people continued to be enslaved, and the last four million black slaves were only liberated after the Civil War in 1871. Due to notions of white supremacy which existed across the south, the United States Federal Government occupied the southern United States and instituted sweeping land reforms in the thirty years following the Civil War, which expanded and protected voting and civil rights across the United States. This period was known as Reconstruction and has widely been credited with building their status as equals to White Americans. Today, African Americans constitute the majority of rural landowners across the southern United States and majorities or pluralities in several urban areas. African Americans have served in most federal offices, with the notable exception of President and Vice-President of the United States. Both parties have nominated African Americans to lead the United States, with Tennessee Senator Edward Brooke nominated by the Nationals in the 1984 U.S. Presidential Election and more recently Georgia Senator John Lewis was nominated by the Social Labor party during the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election. Brooke lost to Walter Mondale and Lewis lost to Victor Ashe.
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