African American Leadership, Politics, And Institutions Essay

3462 words - 14 pages

African Americans have a long history in the Americas. Their experience in United States is however laden with historical records of oppression and segregation. It has been difficult to shed off slavery tags that emanates from their historical entry into the Americas. There are many issues that emerge when considering the experience of African Americans. One of the most important issues that has been extensively studied in regard to African American experience is the issue of leadership and politics. For a long time, African-American leadership has been sidelined until the rise of civil rights movements starting from 1950s. Since then, African Americans have exerted their position in United States leadership culminating in election of current President Barrack Obama, who became the first African-American president of the country. African American leadership and participation in politics and public institution is a case example of resilience in a hostile environment laden with segregation and historical tag of slavery.
Before delving into the issue of leadership and political participation, it is important to operationalize the term African Americans as shall be used in this paper and in historical context. African Americans are a group of people with an African decent but have genuine citizenship of the United States of America (Dorsey, 2007). Their history in Americans started during the 15th century when plantation farming was introduced and they were used to supply cheap labor that was required to work in the American plantations. During the colonization period, American people had established plantation agriculture in most of its colonies. Therefore, the need for workers in the colonies emerged and the only solution for the great need for labourforce was through slavery. The American leadership legalized the practice of enslaving black people in all the American colonies to facilitate labor in the farms. With the legalization of the practice, many Africans were taken as slaves and transported through the sea to provide labor in the American plantations. The process of slavery was performed in a very inhuman manner. In the slave trade, the blacks were regarded as trade goods and thus, they had no rights. At the dawn of the American Revolution, more than 20% of the population in all the American colonies was of African descent (Amadu, 2007). Robin, (2000) argues that, during the era of the revolution, more than half of all the African Americans lived in Maryland and Virginia. In Chesapeake, the black people made up to 60% of the total population. The majority of the African Americans were slaves. According to the official US census taken in 1790, only 8% of the black population was free (Dorsey, 2007). However, whether free or enslaved, the blacks in the American colonies established familial relationships, survival strategies and various forms of resistances to their conditions. As indicated above, the slaves were like farming tools to...

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