African American History

An Introduction, Third Edition

by Joanne Turner-Sadler (Author)
©2021 Textbook XXXVI, 408 Pages


Every year more colleges and high schools are offering classes (and often making them required classes) in Black history. Joanne Turner-Sadler provides a concise and probing treatment of 400 years of Black history in America that can be used with age groups ranging from high school through college and beyond. Equally the book provides a digestible overview for anyone interested in African American history and the constructs of the culture. In African American History: An Introduction, Third Edition the author touches on key figures and events that have shaped African American culture beginning with a look at Africa and its various civilizations and the migration of the African people to America. Some essential topics covered in this updated edition:
African Kingdoms and Rise of Slavery in Europe
The Roots of Oppression in the Americas
The Origins of the Black Middle Class
Emancipation, Civil Rights, and the Quest for Equality
The First Black President and the Growth of New Coalitions
Demographic and Ethnic Change beyond the 20th Century
Them Vs. Us: Tribalism and Voter Suppression
This book is an indispensable addition to all library collections as well as a teaching tool for instructors. It is heavily illustrated (photos, maps, timelines) with useful end-of-the-chapter questions, summaries, and activities for further study. Additionally, this book contains a handy bibliography of suggested readings.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Note to the Reader
  • Dedication
  • Contents
  • Prologue: African American History Is Now
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Significant Content Updates
  • New Chapters to Third Edition
  • Continuing Features
  • 1. Early African People and Civilizations
  • Africa: Home of the Human Race
  • Paleoanthropological Evidence
  • The Genetic Record
  • The Concept of Race
  • The Civilizations of Kush and Kemet
  • The Old Kingdom: Dynasties 1 and 2 (c. 3150–2649 B.C.E.)
  • The New Kingdom: Dynasties 18–20 (c. 1783–1550 B.C.E.)
  • Influential Women of the New Kingdom
  • Ancient Kemetic/Egyptian Education
  • The Late Period: Dynasty 25 (c. 750–675 B.C.E.)
  • The Kushite Female Rulers
  • The Kingdom of Axum (c. 100–940 C.E.)
  • Summary
  • References
  • 2. African Empires
  • Exploration and Sphere of Influence Before Enslavement
  • The Fall of the Roman Empire and Its Geopolitical Consequences
  • Africans in the Iberian Peninsula (c. 711 C.E.)
  • Africans in the Americas
  • The Medieval Empires of Africa
  • Ghana
  • Mali
  • Songhay
  • Kanem-Bornu
  • Other Kingdoms
  • Summary
  • References
  • 3. A Peculiar Institution—with Unintended Consequences
  • Slavery and Three Historical Considerations
  • The First Consideration: The Origins of European Enslavement of Africans
  • The Second Consideration: The Exclusivity of African Enslavement
  • The Third Consideration: The Mechanics of Why and How African Slavery Was Possible
  • The Challenges, Hardships, and Struggles of Newly Enslaved Africans
  • The Triangle Trade
  • The Colonial Plantation System
  • Two Early Courageous Abolitionists
  • Summary
  • References
  • Review
  • I. Checking What You Have Read
  • II. On Your Own
  • 4. Resistance to Enslavement in the Americas
  • Resistance in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Rebellions Against Enslavement in the English Colonies
  • Violent Protests Against Enslavement
  • Gabriel Prosser
  • Denmark Vesey
  • Nat Turner
  • John Brown
  • The Amistad Revolt
  • Non-Violent Protests Against Enslavement and the Abolitionist Movement
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Sojourner Truth
  • West Coast Abolitionists
  • Newspapers for Liberation
  • Prince Hall
  • The Road to Freedom
  • The Underground Railroad
  • A Matter of Conscience
  • The Great Compromise
  • Free Africans
  • The Free African Society
  • The Quality of Life
  • Early Repatriation
  • The Question of Emigration and Seeking a Better Life
  • Summary
  • References
  • 5. Choosing Sides in America’s Early Wars
  • The Revolutionary War
  • The War of 1812
  • Growing Tensions Between the North and South
  • The Missouri Compromise
  • The Compromise of 1850
  • The Kansas-Nebraska Act
  • Dred Scott
  • Secession of the Southern States
  • The Civil War
  • Africans Volunteer
  • Africans in the Union Army
  • Africans in the Union Navy
  • The Emancipation Proclamation
  • Discrimination in the Union’s Armed Forces
  • Jubilee at Last
  • The Spanish-American War
  • Summary
  • References
  • Review
  • I. Checking What You Have Read
  • II. On Your Own
  • 6. Reconstruction
  • The Fate of Newly Freed Africans
  • Reconstruction’s Constitutional Amendments
  • The Freedmen’s Bureau
  • Forty Acres and a Mule
  • The End of Reconstruction
  • Sharecropping: The New Agricultural Slavery
  • Freedmen and the Move West
  • African American Institutions: Building Community
  • The Black Church
  • The Founding of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • The Rise of Black Political Power in the “Old South”
  • The Party of Lincoln
  • The Fall of Black Political Power and Jim Crow
  • Black Codes
  • Ku Klux Klan and White Supremacists
  • The Repression of Constitutional Rights
  • Freedom and New Achievements in Post-Civil War America
  • Summary
  • References
  • 7. Westward Movement
  • African American Pioneers
  • Explorers
  • Fur Trappers
  • Cowboys
  • African American Women in the West
  • Buffalo Soldiers
  • African American Californians
  • Settlers
  • Summary
  • References
  • Review
  • I. Checking What You Have Read
  • II. On Your Own
  • 8. New Century, Old Problems
  • The Eye of the Storm
  • Race Riots and Lynching
  • The Red Summer of 1919
  • Black Wall Street
  • Rosewood
  • A Red Record
  • The Great Northern Migration
  • The North and More Problems
  • The Unions and African American Workers
  • A. Philip Randolph
  • A New Labor Union
  • World War I
  • African Americans Distinguish Themselves
  • The 369th Regiment (“Hellfighters”)
  • Summary
  • References
  • 9. The Early Struggle for Human Rights
  • The Problem of the 20th Century
  • Political and Social Activists
  • Marcus Garvey
  • Monroe Trotter
  • Mary B. Talbert
  • The “Great Debate”
  • The Normal/Industrial School Model
  • The Niagara Movement
  • The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
  • The National Urban League
  • The Pan-African Movement
  • Summary
  • References
  • Review
  • I. Checking What You Have Read
  • II. On Your Own
  • 10. African Americans in American Society
  • Early Literary Achievements
  • The Harlem Renaissance
  • Writers
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Popular Music
  • Classical Performance
  • Theater
  • Scholars and Scientists
  • Carter G. Woodson
  • Ernest Just
  • Benjamin Quarles
  • The Schomburg Collection
  • The Negro Baseball Leagues
  • Summary
  • References
  • 11. Old Problems, New Deals, and Continued Hard Times
  • The Great Depression
  • Leaving the Party of Lincoln
  • The New Deal
  • Two Influential Women
  • Unrest and Protests: The New Deal
  • Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
  • A Renewed Focus on Civil Rights
  • World War II
  • Discrimination in Employment
  • Service in World War II
  • An African American Naval Hero
  • The Tuskegee Airmen
  • The Red Ball Express
  • African Americans in the Midst of Combat
  • Trouble on the Home Front
  • Return to the Racist Nation
  • The Blood Bank
  • Resistance and Riots at Home
  • Notable Figures of the Period
  • Jesse Owens
  • Joe Louis
  • The African American Middle Class
  • The Multifaceted Issues of Class in African American Society
  • The Origins and Development of the Black Middle Class
  • Race and Distinctions Within the African American Community
  • Summary
  • References
  • Review
  • I. Checking What You Have Read
  • II. On Your Own
  • 12. The Modern Struggle for Civil Rights
  • The Civil Rights Era
  • Emmett Till
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
  • The Desegregation of Schools
  • The Little Rock Nine
  • James Meredith and “Ole Miss”
  • The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
  • The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
  • The Mississippi Freedom Summer Project
  • Sit-Ins, Freedom Riders, and Marches
  • Sit-Ins
  • Freedom Riders
  • Marches
  • The James Meredith March
  • The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts
  • Summary
  • References
  • 13. The Black Power Movement
  • Other Means of Protest
  • Black Power and Black Pride
  • The Black Panther Party for Self Defense
  • Other Activist Groups
  • US Movement
  • Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM)
  • The Republic of New Africa (RNA)
  • The Nation of Islam
  • Elijah Muhammad
  • Malcolm X
  • Louis Farrakhan
  • A New Cultural Renaissance
  • The Black Arts Movement
  • American Popular Culture
  • African American History or Black Studies
  • Black Power and Politics
  • The Congressional Black Caucus
  • Women in Politics
  • The Rainbow Coalition
  • Summary
  • References
  • Review
  • I. Checking What You Have Read
  • II. On Your Own
  • 14. African Americans and Military Conflicts
  • The Asian and Middle Eastern Conflict
  • The Korean Conflict
  • The Vietnam War
  • Opposition to the War
  • Muhammad Ali and the Conscientious Objection
  • The Persian Gulf Wars
  • The Persian Gulf War (Desert Storm)
  • The Iraq War
  • Who Fights in These Wars?
  • Global War on Terror
  • Summary
  • References
  • 15. From a Legal Point of View
  • Civil Rights and Legislative and Judicial Milestones
  • Laws and Amendments That Hurt
  • The Three-Fifths Compromise
  • Slave Codes to Black Codes and Jim Crow
  • Plessy v. Ferguson
  • Laws and Amendments That Helped
  • The Early Civil Rights Acts
  • The Early Education Cases
  • Brown v. Board of Education
  • Civil Rights Legislation of the 1900s
  • Voting Rights
  • Affirmative Action: A Tool of Opportunity
  • Croson v. Richmond
  • Bakke v. Regents of the University of California
  • University of Michigan
  • Fisher v. University of Texas
  • Summary
  • References
  • Review
  • I. Checking What You Have Read
  • II. On Your Own
  • 16. Achievement Against the Odds
  • Black Creativity Redefines American Culture
  • Entertainment
  • Sports
  • Law
  • Education and Government
  • The Military
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Science and Invention
  • African American Inventors
  • Contemporary African American Scientists
  • Notable Professional Black Achievers
  • Significant Contributors to Government/Public Service
  • Media/Entertainment
  • Business
  • Summary
  • References
  • 17. The Quest for Quality Education: Past and Present
  • Education: The Mainstay of African Americans
  • Schooling vs. Education
  • Early/Global Models of Education
  • Schooling in America for Blacks
  • School Choice
  • The Policies, Practices, and New Education Initiatives
  • No Child Left Behind Legislation
  • Alternative School Choices for African Americans
  • Independent Schools
  • Charter Schools
  • School Vouchers
  • The Privatization of Public School Administration and Management
  • Higher Education and African Americans
  • Remembering Their Roots
  • Summary
  • References
  • Review
  • I. Checking What You Have Read
  • II. On Your Own
  • 18. Barack Obama: The 44th President of the United States
  • The President and His Lineage
  • Higher Education and Career
  • The Roots of Community Activism
  • Early Political Career
  • Personal Struggles and Search for Identity
  • The Presidential Campaigns
  • The 2008 Election
  • 2012: The Re-Election of Obama
  • The Politics of Race and Division
  • The Presidency of Barack Obama: Challenges and Successes
  • The Obama Political Legacy
  • Summary
  • References
  • 19. 2016 Presidential Election: A Campaign of Polar Opposites
  • The 2016 Major U.S. Presidential Candidates
  • Hillary Clinton: Democratic Insider and Operative
  • Senator Bernie Sanders: Independent and “Insurgent Progressive”
  • The Republican Candidates
  • Donald Trump: Nativist, TV Reality Personality, Republican Nominee
  • The 2016 Presidential Campaign
  • Some Major Campaign Issues
  • Immigration
  • Affordable Health Care
  • Gun Violence
  • BlackLivesMatter
  • Cyber Security
  • Summary
  • References
  • Review
  • I. Checking What You Have Read
  • II. On Your Own
  • 20. The Browning of America and Its Implications
  • The New Demographics of a Changing Population
  • The New Civil Rights Challenges
  • Popular Vote vs. Electoral College
  • Post-Obama Neo-Conservative Policies and Practices
  • The New National Conservatism
  • Voter Suppression Practices
  • Post-Obama Political Era: Trump Versus Biden
  • President Joseph Biden: Diversity Without Division
  • Summary
  • References
  • 21. The Road Ahead: Issues and Challenges
  • Understanding the Interplay of Race, Culture, and History
  • Race and Inequality: Why the Disparities?
  • The Legacy of White Supremacy
  • BlackLivesMatter: A Community Response to Injustice
  • BlackLivesMatter Movement Goes Global
  • A Future of Uncertainty Beyond 2020: What’s Next?
  • The Color of a Pandemic
  • The 2020 Presidential Election
  • Summary
  • References
  • Review
  • I. Checking What You Have Read
  • II. On Your Own
  • Epilogue
  • Index

←xxii | xxiii→

Prologue: African American History Is Now

There seems to be a tendency to isolate ethnic studies from other academic disciplines that are considered more mainstream. Whether the subject is Native Americans, Latino, or Asian peoples, these groups’ role, significance, and importance to the development of American institutions should not be viewed as isolated events. A more holistic perspective is needed that acknowledges a series of events that have collectively impacted all Americans. By adopting an integrated approach to the study of African American history, three things are gained: (1) a more comprehensive awareness of the contributions of Black people to larger national institutions is gained; (2) a more dynamic and contextual connection to broader issues related to America’s past and present racial challenges are recognized; and (3) issues surrounding diversity, culture and race are better understood in a cause and effect manner. African American History completes the mosaic of a rich tapestry of struggle and achievement against odds within American History.

←xxiv | xxv→


In the Gospel of Luke (12:48) it reads, “To whom much has been given, much is required.” The inspiration for this book is deeply rooted in the fertile soil of my parents’ love, faith, traditions, and the countless sacrifices made on my behalf. This book parallels their struggles, those of my parents’ generation, and all the generations who sought to realize the fruits of American opportunity. A lifetime debt of gratitude is owed to my parents—Mr. Odell and Elizabeth Turner.

I am indebted to friends and colleagues, who contributed their thoughts and ideas initially to the second edition of this book. Specifically, Adriane Williams and Beverly Weeks whose insightful feedback were reliable “sounding boards.” Ed Clausen was a thoughtful benefactor to the book as well. I would also like to thank Marianne Partee and J. Glenn Davis for their suggestions and technical assistance. In this third edition, I would like to recognize the continued support from my colleagues at Daemen College. This includes friends and colleagues who contributed their thoughts and ideas to this edition. Equally, Tiffany Hamilton was a thoughtful commenter towards the direction of this book.

The editorial and production team at Peter Lang Publishing was invaluable with the development of the original book. Many thanks to Phyllis ←xxv | xxvi→Korper, who was a guiding force, assisting me through the publication process of the first book. For this third edition, I wish to thank the current editorial and production team at Peter Lang Publishing. Gratitude is owed to Patricia Mulrane Clayton and Jacqueline Pavlovic at Peter Lang Publishing Their stewardship of the third edition brought the book to fruition.

Lastly, I am eternally grateful to my friend and mentor, Mr. Dominic Langston. He provided research assistance for the third edition. Mr. Langston generously gave countless hours to the book’s first and third editions with proof-reading and “unfiltered” feedback. He was a wealth of information and with much patience helped me to refine parts of the book to achieve greater clarity that enhanced the contextual meanings of complex historical relationships for younger adult readers. Mr. Langston’s contributions to this book were innumerable. Ultimately, the publication of this book will provide a reader friendly, concise, academic platform to share the history of African peoples in the Americas.

←xxvi | xxvii→


This book is intended as an introduction to the study of African American history. It serves to guide readers through a series of historical topics about people of African descent. There is a diversity of resources cited in the book that are designed to aid in further topical investigations. The book is meant to be a general guide for those who seek a fact-based introduction to the study of African American history.

Like the two previous editions, the third edition seeks to offer the readers a balanced, fact-based, and meaningful analysis of the role that African Americans have played within American history. The struggles that peoples of African heritage face today is related to the legacy of decisions, polices, practices, and beliefs made generations ago. The impact of historic events still influences Black lives today.

This third edition was developed based on the students’ questions, professional insights, and teaching activities. This text provides readers with greater information along with a chronologically based survey of American history. The third edition builds on the two previous texts but it has been updated and now includes topics relevant to current events. An emphasis has been placed on helping readers to draw connections and parallels to current social, political, economic, educational, and legal issues without guided ←xxvii | xxviii→commentary. Ideally, readers will able to easily digest the materials and formulate fact-based opinions about the role that people of African descent played in the development of America—past and present.

Significant Content Updates

Specifically, this book examines the relationships of Africa to Africans in the Americas today. It documents the history of people of African descent who were forced to leave their homes and survive in the United States of America. Who were these people? What made them so strong? How they survived and under what circumstances and the future of African Americans are some of the questions addressed in this book.

New factual data was added throughout the book based on information that appeared in earlier editions. Specifically, updated information has been added to the following chapters:

Updated Chapter One of this book focuses on the fact that race is a false concept and that humankind is one family, not three sub-groups of races. It also highlights the research showing that the beginning of the human race is in Africa. Furthermore, this chapter confronts the myth that Africans contributed nothing of worth to civilization. This chapter discusses records that show the first high civilization was created by African people, most specifically, the ancient Egyptians. New Content about Egyptian education has been included.

Updated Chapter Two addresses how this pattern of nation building continued right up through the Moors of North Africa and the West African empires. It focuses on the relationships of Africans with Europeans prior to entering the Atlantic slave trade. This chapter outlines the accomplishments of the West African empires and the early connections of Africans not only to Europe but also to the Americas through the Olmecs. New Content about education and Timbuktu as related to Medieval Empires of Africa has been added to this chapter.

Chapter Three outlines the events that forced a once-great people into enslavement. It addresses the establishment of chattel slavery ←xxviii | xxix→and how only Africans were targeted. Indentured servitude is addressed as it was the method used for the first Blacks brought to America as well as for Whites. This chapter, while looking at the hardship and injustice of enslavement, also highlights the accomplishments of people such as Benjamin Banneker, scientist and mathematician, who assisted in the surveying of Washington, D.C.

Chapter Four chronicles the struggle against enslavement that took several forms in the Americas, both violent and non-violent. It discusses resistance in the New World such as in South America and the Quilombos communities of Brazil, the Caribbean, Toussaint L’Ouverture in Haiti, and by slave revolts of Nat Turner and others in the English colonies. This chapter also describes the non-violent efforts of abolitionists and people like Harriett Tubman.

Chapter Five addresses the early wars in which African Americans participated, beginning with the Revolutionary War and the founding of America. African Americans fought in every war, notwithstanding the fact that many Whites opposed it. However, African Americans did so and with great distinction. This chapter also examines the effects of these wars on all Americans including those of African descent.

Updated Chapter Six details the period of Reconstruction in the South and the implications for African Americans. This chapter focuses on the establishment of the Freedmen’s Bureau, the rise of Black political power, and also the rise in terrorist groups designed to threaten Blacks. In addition, this chapter covers the advent of sharecropping as well as the establishment of African American institutions such as churches, colleges, and universities. The beginnings of the Black middle class and the movement of Blacks to the West is also covered. New Content has been added to include expanded sections about the historical emergence and development of the Black middle during the Reconstruction Era.

Chapter Seven continues with a look at what happened after the Civil War when African Americans moved westward. This chapter focuses on the ways they attempted to escape oppression and better ←xxix | xxx→their lives by becoming cowboys, fur traders, and settlers. Others the Buffalo Soldiers who protected the White settlers.

Chapter Eight covers the Great Northern Migration from the South, which was the attempt by African Americans to escape sharecropping, the new form of enslavement. Unfortunately, Blacks could not escape the race riots of the times. This chapter covers the race riots that Blacks were subjected to as they settled in the North and other parts of the country. It addresses Rosewood, the Chicago race riots as well as Black Wall Street, a prominent and highly successful Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This chapter also covers the Blacks and their role in World War I.

Chapter Nine addresses the early struggle for civil rights with the formation of the National Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The chapter highlights the political and social activists of the time such as Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and others. This chapter also addresses the debate over the type of higher education that African Americans should receive in America.

Chapter Ten is devoted to the explosion of creativity and talent of the Harlem Renaissance that greatly affected American society. While the chapter highlights the great writers, visual and preforming artists, it also recognizes the scholars. This chapter also delves into the involvement of African Americans in organized sports with their own baseball leagues and later in the major leagues.

Updated Chapter Eleven addresses the Great Depression, its effect on African Americans and the change in party affiliation from the Republican Party to Democratic Party. It also looks at African Americans and their role in World War II, such as the Tuskegee Airmen. While this chapter examines the continuation of race problems in America, it also addresses some proud moments for African Americans. Additionally, this chapter delves deeper into the formation of the African American middle class.

Chapter Twelve speaks to the Civil Rights Movement that defined the 1960s in American history. It focuses on the various non-violent ←xxx | xxxi→protests and the leaders of the movement such as Martin Luther King, Jr. This chapter also highlights the legislation that desegregated schools and the events that led to the Voting Rights legislation that was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Chapter Thirteen focuses on the Black power movement. This chapter addresses the activist organizations that were founded due to civil unrest in the nation. Of these groups, one of the best known is the Black Panthers. The chapter also describes the FBI’s goal of destabilizing and destroying these groups. In addition, this chapter also describes the rise of Black power and pride.

Updated Chapter Fourteen discusses the wars and military conflicts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and African American participation in them. This chapter also considers some of the injustices that continue to plague Blacks in the United States and the Armed Services. New Content is included about the desegregation of the Armed Forces and the transition from the “Cold War” to the global war on terror.

Chapter Fifteen highlights some of the laws that have affected African Americans, both positively and negatively. This chapter examines the early elementary and higher education Supreme Court decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education and later ones such as the 2003 Supreme Court ruling in the University of Michigan case and Fisher v. University of Texas in 2013.

Chapter Sixteen focuses on the accomplishments of African Americans in every field of endeavor. It includes public figures in government, and entrepreneurship such as Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Reginald Lewis. This chapter also includes scientists and inventors, notably Katherine Johnson who worked on the NASA space mission.

New Chapters to Third Edition

Chapter Seventeen addresses continuing issues involving the fight for quality schooling. It looks at the early forms of schooling for Blacks and the school models of the twenty-first century. This ←xxxi | xxxii→chapter particularly focuses on charter schools, school vouchers, and the privatization of public schools to make them profitable for outside investors.

Chapter Eighteen provides an in-depth look into the background and the presidency of the first Black president of the United States, Barack Obama. It chronicles his rise to the highest political office of the land. This chapter also details his two-terms in office, successes, as well as the backlash against him. The chapter analyzes the attempts to nullify and block President Obama’s work on behalf of the American people by Republicans in the Congress.

Chapter Nineteen focuses on the 2016 presidential election and Hillary Clinton’s bid to become the first woman president of the United States. It covers the major candidates and the campaign issues. This chapter also addresses the disaffection with Clinton as the Democratic candidate. This chapter also discusses Russian interference in the 2016 election, other issues, and the ultimate election of Donald Trump by the Electoral College.

Chapter Twenty focuses on the “browning of America” and the ramifications of forthcoming population changes. It also looks at the changes in demographics which will ultimately affect voting. Additionally this chapter looks at efforts to suppress minority voting and the new national conservative political philosophy during the Trump era.

Chapter Twenty-One tackles the issue of race, culture, and history in relationship to African Americans and economic security. The chapter describes the role of BlackLivesMatter and the social unrest by diverse groups regarding police brutality. This chapter also seeks to explore the disparities of wealth for African Americans when compared to others. It looks at identity politics, tribalism, and the effect of White supremacy on economic and other issues of concern for African Americans.

←xxxii |

Continuing Features

Like the first two editions of this text, each chapter provides the following segments:

Basic content facts with names, dates, and details.

Summary of major themes and some narrative remarks help congeal the information in a contextual manner that demonstrates its significance.

Review sections that are designed to assess the reader’s understanding of how the facts and information relates to larger historical themes. Also included are a series of thought-provoking research questions that educators may use for intensive writing assignments.

References have been moved to the end of each chapter to help students, teachers, and casual readers locate helpful primary sources.

←xxxiii | xxxiv→

←xxxiv | 1→

Early African People and Civilizations

Africa: Home of the Human Race

The origins of African people is many thousands of years old. In fact, it starts with the beginning of the human species. Scientific evidence, such as DNA genome typing and the discoveries made by the Leaky family in Africa, confirms the origins of humans about 200,000 years ago. These early humans gradually migrated to other land masses. Scientists and scholars agree that Africa is the birthplace of modern humans.

Paleoanthropological Evidence

Paleoanthropology is the study of bones and bone fragments of humans from the ancient past. The oldest paleo anthropologic finds that trace the history of the development of man have been discovered in Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia. The Louis Leakey family began to find hominid fossils (ancient skeletal remains) in Tanzania in the Olduvai Gorge in the 1950s. In 1972, Richard Leakey found remains of what was then thought to be the oldest bones discovered to date. What was unique about this find was that this hominid made tools.

←1 | 2→

Then, a few years later, an Ethiopian team led by Donald Johanson discovered a fossilized skeleton, which they named “Lucy.” The evidence pointed to her existence about 3.2 million years ago. There were several species of humans in ancient Africa about 2–3 million years ago. One of the most famous of the Australopithecus afarensis species was “Lucy,” Other types included Australopithecus robustus, who lived about 2 million years ago and Homo erectus. Homo Habilis lived between 2 and 1.5 million years ago. There was also Homo neanderthalensis. Eventually, Homo sapiens (“modern” humans) appeared about 200,000 years ago.

The Genetic Record

In addition to the fossil remains that have been discovered, mitochondrial DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) studies also suggest Africa as the origin of the human race. In fact, DNA studies trace the human race to one African woman. It is known that genes carry information about cells, therefore controlling heredity. Mitochondrial DNA is a specific genetic code that is found in the area of a cell outside the nucleus. This area contains the energy needed to keep the cell alive. This cell is important because it is only transmitted from the mother and can be used to trace family descent or history. Scientists who are trained in molecular biology have studied these cells and provide additional evidence.

Research by Rebecca Cann, Allan Wilson, and Mark Stoneking in 1988 has traced the descendants of all humans to one African woman. To do this, they compared the DNA of many different people from around the world. This African woman is thought to have lived somewhere between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago. Cann and her associates do not claim that she was the only woman living at that time, only a common ancestor. They hypothesize that there were a fairly large number of men and women living then, but that only her line, or “gene pool,” survived through thousands of years of evolution.


XXXVI, 408
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2006 (April)
USA Schwarze Geschichte Black History culture migration war education slavery
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. XXXVI, 408 pp., 43 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Joanne Turner-Sadler (Author)

Joanne Turner-Sadler is Assistant Professor of Education at Daemen College in Amherst, New York. She has a bachelors in sociology, a M.A. in education, and a doctorate in education administration. She has been an elementary school teacher, Supervisor of Curriculum, and Coordinator of the African American Program for the Buffalo public schools. Dr. Sadler is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, an international women’s community service organization.


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446 pages