African Americans (also known as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of people in the United States who have ancestors in any of the Black racial groupings of Africa, whether in their whole or in part. Afro-Americans are usually defined as descendants of enslaved Africans who were born in the United States, but other Black immigrants and their offspring may come to see themselves in this way, depending on their cultural background.
African Americans are the third most numerous ethnic group in the United States and the second most numerous racial group in the country, after White Americans and Hispanic and Latino Americans. The majority of African Americans are descended from individuals who were slaves inside the borders of what is now the United States. Most African Americans are descended from families of West/Central African and European heritage, with some having Native American ancestry as well. According to statistics from the United States Census Bureau, African immigrants are less likely than other immigrants to identify as African Americans. The vast majority of African immigrants (about 95 percent) identify with their individual ethnicities rather than with their new country of origin. Affluent immigrants from certain Caribbean, Central American, and South American countries, as well as their descendants are free to self-identify as "Latino" or "Hispanic."
Beginning in the 16th century, Africans from West Africa were sold to European slave merchants and transported over the Atlantic to the Thirteen Colonies, where they established a permanent presence. Following their arrival in the Americas, they were sold as slaves to European colonists and forced to labour on plantations, especially in the southern provinces of the United States. A few individuals were successful in obtaining independence via manumission or flight and went on to establish independent settlements before and during the American Revolutionary War. Despite the fact that the United States was established in 1783, the vast majority of Black people remained slaves, with the majority of them concentrated in the American South, with four million enslaved people finally freed after and at the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865. However, because of White supremacy, they were generally regarded as second-class citizens and were quickly disenfranchised in the South after gaining citizenship during the Reconstruction period. Because of the continued development of the Black community, participation in military conflicts in the United States, substantial migration out of the Southern United States, the elimination of legal racial segregation, and the civil rights movement, which sought political and social freedom, these circumstances have changed significantly. Barack Obama became the first African-American to be elected President of the United States when he was elected in 2008.