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date: 23 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay explores several overlapping waves of black population movement from the African background through the early twenty-first century. It shows how enslaved people dominated the first two great migrations—from Africa to the tobacco-producing colonies of British North America and later from the Upper South to the cotton-producing lands of the Deep South. In the wake of the Civil War and the emancipation of some 4 million enslaved people, the great farm-to-city migration gradually transformed African Americans from a predominantly rural southern people into the most urbanized sector of the nation’s population. While massive black population movements resulted in substantial disruption of established patterns of cultural, institutional, and political life, African Americans built and rebuilt forms of community under the impact of new conditions, including the rise of a new wave of voluntary black migration from Africa and elsewhere by the close of the 20th century.

Keywords: Africa, African Americans, British North America, Civil War, Deep South, emancipation, great migrations, rural, Upper South, urban

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