African Americans - Economy

African Americans have been key components in the Economic system of the United States since its inception. The initial relationship of the African American population to the economy was based upon enslaved labor. Africans were instrumental in establishing the industrial and agrarian power of the United States. Railroads, factories, residences, and places of business were often built by enslaved Africans. Now African Americans are engaged in every sector of the American economy, though the level of integration in some sectors is less than in others. A considerable portion of the African American population works in the industrial or service sectors. Others are found in the professions as opposed to small businesses. Thus, teachers, lawyers, doctors, and managers account for the principal professional workers. These patterns are based upon previous conditions of discrimination in businesses throughout the South. Most African Americans could find employment in communities where their professional services were needed; therefore, the above-mentioned professions and others that cater to the African American population provide numerous opportunities for employment. During the past twenty years, the number of businesses opened by African Americans has begun to increase again. During the period of segregation, many businesses existing solely for the convenience of the African American population flourished. When the civil rights movement ended most of the petty discriminations and it became possible for African Americans to trade and shop at other stores and businesses, the businesses located in the African American Community suffered. There is now a greater awareness of the need to see businesses as interconnected and interdependent with the greater American society. A larger and more equitable role is being played by women in the African American Community. Indeed, many of the chief leaders in the economic development of the African American community are and have been women. Both men and women have always worked in the majority of African American homes.

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