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Presentation Immigration and Relocation in U.S. History


Full-length portrait of an unidentified woman, seated, and full-length portrait of a child standing on her right

The story of people of African descent in the United States is not primarily a story of immigration. Most Africans who arrived in North America came against their will, caught up in a brutal system of human exploitation. They and their descendants in the U.S. endured harsh treatment and their role in U.S. society was fiercely contested.

The centuries-long battle African Americans waged for freedom, for dignity, and for full participation in American society utterly transformed the nation, and shaped the world we live in today. Today, there is no aspect of life in the United States that has not been touched by the African American experience; there is no institution, custom, or daily practice that has not been influenced or remade by the efforts of African American thinkers, workers, artists, activists, and organizers.

Now, tens of millions of Americans claim African ancestry, and the number of African immigrants to the U.S. has increased dramatically in recent decades. The story of African immigration is a long one, but its newest chapters are still being written today.