Sadly, there seems to still be a conversation regarding if "black Americans" are really African or who to whom the term "African-American" really refers to; and then there is this nonsense about us being the real native/aboriginal Americans (similar to the Africans who migrated to the Solomon and Melanesian Islands centuries before the slave trade). This conversation is really disheartening to hear 500+ years later, especially when this discord on identity is part of what allowed our ancestors to end up enslaved and colonized.
The term "African-American" was NOT a mid - late 1900's invention. At no point in "black American" history did at least some of our ancestors not identify as African or use that term interchangeably with "Black" "Negro" etc. American slavery systematically made us feel physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually displaced from Africa, and the need of acceptance in America made some of ostensibly cling to a wholly American identity collectively, we BLACK AMERICANS (meaning those descended from Africans enslaved in the deep south of the North American continent) have ALWAYS declared to be from and of Africa.
We are African, independent of anyone else's validation. Regardless of if we can name your tribe or ancestor's village. 500 year later, the continents entire blood likely flows through our vein. From Africa, to the Caribbean though America and back again. I am African.
The foregoing is a compilation of historical items that demonstrate the aforementioned. The hyphenation is not a fad. This is who we've always been...who we've always seen ourselves as.
The African Union Society and the Free African Society
On November 10, 1780, the African Union Society (AUS) of Newport, Rhode Island was established.
It was the first attested Black Mutual Aid Society. Former slaves, including Newport Gardner and Pompe (Zingo) Stevens, were two of the leaders in creating the AUS. In 1787 Richard Jones and Absalom Jones founded the second attested Black Mutual Aid Society, the
Free African Society of Philadelphia.
“Early mutual benefit societies, like the African Union Society…or the African Society formed in 1796 in Boston, provided proper burials, administered the wills of their members, and cared for widows and orphans. In addition to concerning themselves with the financial needs of their free black members, they were also committed to the antislavery cause. These organizations linked the maintenance of a free society to abolition and the welfare of free blacks to the welfare of slaves, attacking the inconsistency of a “freedom loving” nation’s toleration of slavery. In an Essay on Freedom, one member of the African Society of Boston attacked slavery and the hypocrisy of a people who “love freedom themselves… [but who] prevent [others] from its enjoyment.. . .”
-An excerpt from Early Black Benevolent Societies (1780-1830);
Daughters of Africa Society
The following…item[s] are rare survivors, the original manuscript documents of an [two] early African American benevolent societie[s].
Both functioned to provide financial assistance to infirm members and burial funds for the deceased. And both policed the conduct of their members and held them to account for immoral behavior.
The Education of Africans
In this announcement the Presbyterian minister John Gloucester, along with Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, solicits aid for the Augustine Society, a seminary “to educate African youth for the Gospel Ministry, by giving them a classical and scientifick [sic]
education, preparatory to theology.” After a month in operation the seminary had “five remarkably promising African youth engaged in the study of the Latin tongue, English grammar, geography, etc.” The “African youth” included Allen and Gloucester’s sons.
Petition of the Africans, Living in Boston
This is an excerpt in "Crossing the Danger Water Three Hundred Years of African-American Writing" edited by Deirdre Mullane. The petitioners were requesting, kindly, freedom in a colonial American court of law.