Beyond Black History Month Event Speakers & Suggestions  Links for Teachers & Kids Books and Shopping History of Blacks BEFORE Slavery Black History Month 2006
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Beginnings

 

 

The first Black Americans were the 20 blacks who arrived at Jamestown, Virginia about the latter end of August in 1619.  Surviving evidence indicates that the first Black settlers were not slaves.  It appears from the record that they were assigned the same status--indentured servitude--as most of the first White immigrants.  At the time of the first detailed census in 1624-25, the 23 Blacks in Virginia--11 males, ten females, and 2 children--constituted some two percent of the total population of 1227.  Among the Blacks identified by name were Angelo, Edward, Antonio, Mary and John Pedro.


The first Black born in English America, a boy named William, was delivered in 1623 or 1624.  In an early edition of J.C. Hotten's Lists of Emigrants to America, the first Black family is identified as "Antoney Negro; Isabell Negro; and William theire Child Baptised."


The first settler in Chicago was Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, a Black trader and trapper, who built the first house on the banks of the Chicago River in the 1770's.


The first national Black convention met at Philadelphia's Bethal African Methodist Episcopal Church on September 15, 1830.  There were 38 delegates from eight states.  Richard Allen was elected President.


The first Negro History Week was celebrated in the second week of February, 1926.  Dr. Carter G. Woodson organized the celebration "to include the birthday of Lincoln and the generally accepted birthday of Douglass."


The first performance of Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing, widely regarded as the Black National Anthem, occurred on February 12, 1900 at a celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. The song was written especially for the occasion by James Weldon Johnson and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson.  The anthem was sung for the first time by a chorus of 500 schoolchildren.

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