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"A" is for African Americans

South Carolina from A to Z logo

"A" is for African Americans. The first African-Americans to live in what is now South Carolina were slaves in the 16th century failed Spanish settlements. Within the first year of permanent English settlement, there were enslaved Africans in the colony. By 1708 the colony had a black majority population. At least 25 separate West African ethnicities have been identified among the colony's slave population. On the eve of the Civil War the state's population was nearly sixty percent black. It was not until the 1920s—when thousands of black Carolinians fled the Jim Crow South—that blacks became a minority of the population. In 2000, 29.5% of the state's population was African-American. The presence of a large African-American population throughout South Carolina's history has had a significant impact on the state's cultural, economic, and political development.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.