The slave trade was a tragic episode in African history and began before August 1619 when the first slaves arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. During the course of the slave trade, an estimated 50 million African men, women, and children were lost to their native continent, though only about 15 million arrived safely to a new home. The others lost their lives on African soil or along the Guinea coast, or finally in holds on the ships during the dreaded Middle Passage across the Atlantic Ocean.
The first American to shed blood in the revolution that freed America from British rule was Crispus Attucks (d. March 5, 1770, Boston Massacre), an African American seaman and slave. African Americans also fought in wars including the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, the Battle of Rhode Island on August 29, 1778, the battles of Ticonderoga, White Plains, Bennington, Brandywine, Saratoga, Savannah, Yorktown, Bunker Hill, and other revolutionary war battles; the War of 1812, including the Battle of New Orleans; the Civil War, the Spanish-American War; World Wars I and II, Korea, and the Vietnam War.
The history of the United States is rich with inspirational stories of great men and noble women whose actions, words, and achievements have united Americans and contributed to the success and prosperity of the United States. From the earliest days of the United States, the course of its history has been greatly influenced by Black heroes and pioneers in many diverse areas, from science, medicine, business, and education to government, industry, and social leadership. In spite of the African slave trade, many Africans and African Americans continued to move forward in society. During the Reconstruction period, two African Americans served in the United States Senate and 14 sat in the House of Representatives. Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, distinguished African American author, editor, publisher, and historian, who is known as the “Father of Black History,” founded Negro History Week in 1926, which became Black History Month in 1976, intended to encourage further research and publishing regarding the untold stories of African American heritage.
March 5, the anniversary of the death of Crispus Attucks, the first black American martyr of the Boston Massacre, known as "Black American Day" on which day schools shall include exercises and instruction on the development of black people in the United States.