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You often hear African Americans complaining about the 4th of July as not being a day worthy of celebration. There are moments in history that changed the fabric of this country.

From the very inception of this country Blacks have been here. One fifth of the total population of Colonial America were enslaved 500,000 black men, women and children. Native Americans were not counted in the population.

We Built This Country

By 1770, there may have been 40,000 or more free African Americans in the Thirteen Colonies.

Prior to the revolution, many free African Americans supported the anti-British cause, most famously Crispus Attucks believed to be the first person killed at the Boston Massacre.

The Continental Army and the Navy recruited both free and enslaved blacks from the very start of the Revolutionary War, because many blacks were already experienced sailors, having served in British and state navies, as well as on merchant vessels in the North and the South.

In April 1775 at Lexington and Concord, African Americans again responded to the call and fought with Patriot forces. The Battle of Bunker Hill also had African American soldiers, fighting along side white Patriots. By the winter of 1777-1778, the Continental Army had dwindled to 18,000 from disease and desertion. During the course of the war, about one fifth of the northern army was African American. At the Siege of Yorktown in 1781, Baron Closen, a German officer in the French Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment, estimated the American army to be about one quarter black.

More blacks were elected to public office during the period from 1865 to 1880 than at any other time in American history. Although no state elected a black governor during Reconstruction, a number of state legislatures were effectively under the control of a strong African American caucus. Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback (May 10, 1837  – December 21, 1921) was the first non-white and first person of African American descent to become governor of a U.S. state. A Republican, he served as the 24th Governor of Louisiana for 35 days, from December 9, 1872, to January 13, 1873. Earlier in 1871 he became acting lieutenant governor upon the death of Oscar Dunn, the first elected African-American lieutenant governor of a U.S. state.

These are not the only people who made our country great, but a few that need to be called out this Independence Day.

Make sure to read: What Is the 4th Of July?

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