We all know about the general history of most African Americans from our elementary school social studies classes, slavery and the whole bit, but you may have never heard the deeper story. Here are a few interesting facts about African American history in the United States that you may have never known or even heard about.
Some African Americans Owned Slaves
Unfortunately yes. There were freed African American property owners who owned other blacks as slaves. Most of these slave-owning blacks were the beginnings of a class of Americans that are now referred to as “the black elite” or “old black money.” Like white slave owners, they made a good amount of money off of the backs of free labor. The existence of black slaveowners is documented in the book Black Slaveowners by Larry Koger as well as other books penned about that era in American history.
Most African Americans have Native American Roots
A lot of African Americans claim Native American heritage. In fact, many geneological experts say that about 90% of African Americans are mixed with some level of Native American blood. This is because a lot of African Americans and Native Americans intermarried from as early as the year 1600, and were very close during slavery. In some other cases, Native Americans owned black slaves, and so intermixing occurred as well. It is not uncommon to find a Black American person with a Native American grandparent.
Who are the Gullahs or “Geechies”?
The Gullah people are a group of African Americans who reside in a coastal island off of South Carolina and Georgia in the United States of America. This group of African Americans are unique because they have managed to keep their cultural traditions, rooted in Africa, intact even through slavery. That includes their language (the Gullah speak an English based creole language with strong African roots and terminology), music, physical attributes, folk beliefs, and food (rice is very important in the Gullah culture). The word Gullah is believed to come from Angola or Gola, both places that are located in West Africa. So most people who can prove Gullah roots can say with assuredness that their people originated in West Africa.
The word Geechie, which is sometimes seen as an insult, is another term used to describe the Gullah people and is believed to come from the word “Kissi” an ethnic group central to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
“Descendants Of Freedmen Of The Five Civilized Tribes” http://www.freedmen5tribes.com/index.html
“Gullah & Geechee” http://www.charlestonblackheritage.com/gullah.html
Larry Koger, “Black Slaveowners” 1985