Many early African immigrants came to the United States as students during the early 1920’s. By the 1990’s, many were coming as refugees seeking a better life. Their physical resemblance to African Americans sometimes caused confusion, so they distinguished themselves from the descendants of slaves by retaining their native speech accents and many of their native customs and costumes. They typically have assimilated quickly into American lifestyles, establishing themselves in careers and professions that have provided comfortable livings, stability, and social respectability.
During the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, many thousands of Africans were forcibly brought to what is now the United States. Since the early twentieth century, it appears that more Africans have immigrated voluntarily than all those who had been brought earlier as slaves. Many have come as students to attend American schools. Others have been refugees fleeing repressive regimes, persecution, natural disasters, and harsh economic conditions in their home countries.
African immigration intensified after World War II, and an even more significant flow began during the 1970’s, after the American
During the 1990’s, the number of sub-Saharan immigrants tripled. Africans constituted only about 2 percent of all documented immigrants in 1991, but by 2000 their numbers had increased to about 5 percent. At the start of the twenty-first century, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that nearly 1 million African immigrants were living in the country, 50 percent of whom arrived and settled between 1990 and 2000. Only about 18 percent came before 1980; 26 percent came between 1980 and 1989. In 2001, 31 percent of African immigrants came from the
By 2004, of approximately 1 million African immigrants living in the United States, 35 percent were from West African countries such as
A high proportion of Africans who have immigrated to the United States have come from urban backgrounds and have already been accustomed to Western ways. Many speak English well when they arrive and are, for the most part, from families headed by married parents. These attributes have made it easier for immigrants to adapt to life in the United States, and a high proportion of them, about 95 percent, have settled in large cities. About half reside in
During the first decade of the twenty-first century, Africans who came to the United States as students made up only 13 percent of the total black population of the United States. However, that group accounted for 27 percent of all black students in twenty-eight top American universities. These figures are even more impressive in the elite Ivy League universities. Only 6.7 percent of all Ivy League students were from immigrant families, but 40 percent of all the universities’ black students were Africans.
Arthur, John A. The African Diaspora in the United States and Europe: The Ghanaian Experience. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2008. Examines Ghanaian communities in the United States, especially permanent residents since 1980 and the relationship between new African immigrants and native-born African Americans. D’Alisera, JoAnn. An Imagined Geography: Sierra Leonean Muslims in America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. Discusses attempts by Sierra Leonean Muslims to retain their religion, customs, and ethnic identity. Koser, Khalid, ed. New African Diasporas. New York: Routledge, 2003. Describes the waves of immigration of the late twentieth century from Africa to the United States and to northern Europe and the United Kingdom. Ndubuike, Darlington. The Struggles, Challenges, and Triumphs of the African Immigrants in America. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2002. Discusses the struggles of African immigrants in adapting to American society. Olupona, Jacob K., and Regina Gemignani, eds. African Immigrant Religions in America. New York: New York University Press, 2007. Collection of essays discussing African immigrants’ widely diverse African religious and moral traditions and their role in shaping Christianity in America.
African Americans and immigrants
Civil Rights movement
Clotilde slave ship
South African immigrants