Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Notable African Americans

« Back to Projects Dashboard

Project Tags

view all

Profiles

  • Whoopi Goldberg
    Whoopi Goldberg (pron.: /ˈhwʊpi/, born Caryn Elaine Johnson; November 13, 1955) is an American comedian, actress, singer-songwriter, political activist, author and talk show host. G...
  • Vanessa Williams
    Although she was forced to turn in her Miss America crown (1983) after Penthouse magazine published nude photos of her, Vanessa Williams bounced back with a successful career as a singer and branched o...
  • Michelle Obama, First Lady of the USA
    Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) is an American lawyer and writer. She is married to the 44th and current President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first Africa...
  • Malia Obama
    Malia Obama is the elder daughter of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama of the United States. She graduated from Sidwell Friends School in 2016 and will be a member of the Harvard Col...
  • J. Rosamond Johnson (deceased)
    J. Rosamond Johnson was an American composer and singer during the Harlem Renaissance. Johnson is most notable as the composer of the hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which has come to be known in the...

African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the Black racial groups of Africa. The term may also be used to include only those individuals who are descended from enslaved Africans. As a compound adjective the term is usually hyphenated as African-American.

Black and African Americans constitute the third largest racial and ethnic group in the United States (after White Americans and Hispanic and Latino Americans). Most African Americans are of West and Central African descent and are descendants of enslaved peoples within the boundaries of the present United States. On average, African Americans are of 73.2–80.9% West African, 18–24% European, and 0.8–0.9% Native American genetic heritage, with large variation between individuals. According to US Census Bureau data, African immigrants generally do not self-identify as African American. The overwhelming majority of African immigrants identify instead with their own respective ethnicities (~95%). Immigrants from some Caribbean, Central American and South American nations and their descendants may or may not also self-identify with the term.

African-American history starts in the 16th century, with peoples from West Africa forcibly taken as slaves to Spanish America, and in the 17th century with West African slaves taken to English colonies in North America. After the founding of the United States, black people continued to be enslaved, with four million denied freedom from bondage prior to the Civil War. Believed to be inferior to white people, they were treated as second-class citizens. The Naturalization Act of 1790 limited U.S. citizenship to whites only, and only white men of property could vote. These circumstances were changed by Reconstruction, development of the black community, participation in the great military conflicts of the United States, the elimination of racial segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement which sought political and social freedom. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American to be elected president of the United States.