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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 typically refers to descendants of enslaved black people who are from the United States. 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 descendants of enslaved peoples within the boundaries of the present United States. On average, African Americans are of West/Central African and European descent, and some also have Native American ancestry. 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.

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Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry in Cuba, after the Spanish-American War

The 10th Cavalry Regiment is a unit of the United States Army. Formed as a segregated African-American unit, the 10th Cavalry was one of the original "Buffalo Soldier" regiments. It served in combat during the Indian Wars in the western United States, the Spanish–American War in Cuba and in the Philippine–American War. It was the only African-American unit under American command that fought German soldiers (advisors) in World War I. The regiment was trained as a combat unit but later relegated to non-combat duty and served in that capacity in World War II until its deactivation in 1944.

The 10th Cavalry was reactivated as an integrated combat unit in 1958. Portions of the regiment have served in conflicts ranging from the Vietnam War to the current Iraq War. The current structure is by squadron, with the 1st, 4th, and 7th Squadrons assigned to three brigades of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado.

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4th United States Colored Infantry Regiment, c. 1864
Credit: Unknown photographer
"The men in this picture are from Company E, 4th United States Colored Infantry. Theirs was one of the detachments assigned to guard the nation's capital during the American Civil War", c. 1864


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We deem it a settled point that the destiny of the colored man is bound up with that of the white people of this country. ... We are here, and here we are likely to be. To imagine that we shall ever be eradicated is absurd and ridiculous. We can be remodified, changed, assimilated, but never extinguished. We repeat, therefore, that we are here; and that this is our country; and the question for the philosophers and statesmen of the land ought to be, What principles should dictate the policy of the action toward us? We shall neither die out, nor be driven out; but shall go with this people, either as a testimony against them, or as an evidence in their favor throughout their generations.
Frederick Douglass (c.1818–1895),
Essay in North Star (Nov. 1858); as quoted in Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism (1992) by Derrick Bell, p. 40.

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Frederick Douglass portrait.jpg

Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, circa 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an American abolitionist, women's suffragist, editor, orator, author, statesman, minister and reformer. Escaping from slavery, he made strong contributions to the abolitionist movement, and achieved a public career that led to his being called "The Sage of Anacostia" and "The Lion of Anacostia". Douglass is one of the most prominent figures in African American and United States history. He was a firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. He was fond of saying, "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."

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