The African-American diaspora refers to communities of people outside of the United States of African descent who previously lived in the United States. These people were mainly descended from formerly enslaved African persons in the United States or its preceding European colonies in North America that had been brought to America via the Atlantic slave trade and had suffered in slavery between the years of 1526 and 1865. The African-American diaspora was primarily caused by the intense racism and views of being inferior to white people[1] that African Americans have suffered through driving them to find new homes free from discrimination and racism. This would become common throughout the history of the African-American presence in the United States and continues to this day. The spreading of the African American diaspora would begin as soon as slaves were brought over to the New World and would first become a large movement during the American Revolution and into the 19th century by escaping slave owners for a chance at freedom[2] and through serving in both the British and colonial army for their freedom. Canada would abolish slavery in 1803 opening its doors for freemen and fugitive slaves from the states resulting in thousands migrating there to escape slavery.[3] Today many African Americans especially women are leaving the U.S. for an easier life in places like South Africa, Mexico, and the Caribbean.[4]


18th century

The spread of the African-American diaspora began during the 18th century through the escape of slaves from their masters and through the Revolutionary war. During the Revolutionary War, slaves were offered freedom in exchange for their services in both the British and Union Army. Ultimately about 5,000 would serve for the union and another 20,000 for the British during the Revolution.[5] Newly freed African Americans who fought for either side would end up living as freedmen in Nova Scotia Canada, in England, or in British Sierra Leone.[6]

19th century

During the 19th century, the formation of the American Colonization Society (ACS) in 1817 would begin the Back to Africa movement with the goal of resettling free African Americans and newly emancipated slaves back to their home country. it would create the colony of Liberia and would send over 13,000 freedmen. However, the ACS was greatly disliked by both African Americans who believed they were entitled to the same rights as any white man and America was just as much of their country as any white man.[7]Between 1800 and 1865 over 30,000 African Americans would escape to Canada through the Underground Railroad to escape life in the south. After the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, the 13th Amendment was ratified by Congress abolishing slavery in all forms and freeing all persons of color from slavery. Throughout the rest of the 19th and into the 20th century African Americans would flee the harsh realities of the South such as lynching and other racism and would mainly relocate to Canada.[8]

20th century

During the 20th century, African Americans continued to face racism and discrimination being denied work in higher-paying jobs and would be severely restricted through Jim Crow laws.[9] Organized crime stopped African Americans from gaining jobs and homes and threatened the lives of those who tried to give them jobs or sell them land.[10] During this time period, Canada would abolish its immigration policies that discriminated against African Americans and it would prompt more African-American communities to be introduced.[8]

21st century

Today African Americans are still leaving America to escape racism and find an easier way of life outside the U.S.. Racism is still more present than ever with police-involved black murders being 350% higher than whites as well as being imprisoned at a much higher rate.[11] Today they search for lives in Africa, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe free from the hardships faced in the U.S.. Today living outside the U.S offers a lower cost of living and a safer more secure lifestyle and people report feeling less oppressed and more accepted.[12][4] Today many people migrating will up businesses that will sell vacations and help other African Americans leave the country as well as create their own side hustles and find jobs to help fellow African Americans to make the move. Because the cost of living outside the U.S. is greatly lower it can allow more people to migrate permanently or temporally out of the U.S.[4]

West Africa

Main articles: African-American settlement in Africa, Americo-Liberians, Sierra Leone Creoles, and African Americans in Ghana

Sierra Leone

Many freed slaves were discontent with where they were resettled in Canada after the Revolutionary War and were eager to return to their homeland. Beginning in 1787, the British government made their first attempt to settle people in Sierra Leone. About 300 Black Britons, known as the Black Poor of London, were settled on the Sierra Leonean peninsula in West Africa. Within two years, most members of the settlement would die from disease or conflict with the local Temne people. In 1792, a second attempt at settlement was made when 1,100 freed slaves established Freetown with support from British abolitionist Thomas Clarkson. Their numbers were further bolstered when over 500 Jamaican Maroons were transported first to Nova Scotia, and then to Sierra Leone in 1800.[13] The descendants of the freedmen in Freetown are the Sierra Leone Creole people.[14]

Colored soldiers served in the Revolutionary War in exchange for their freedom. Many would end up in Canada or Sierra Leone, both of witch were under British control.


In the early 19th century, the American Colonization Society was established with the stated aim of sending formerly enslaved African-Americans back to Africa. There, they would establish independent colonies on the West African coast. Gaining support from both American slaveowners and abolitionists, in the 1840s ships containing both African Americans and Black West Indian settlers landed on the West African coast and established the nation of Liberia. There, they formed the Americo-Liberian ethnic group in contrast to the indigenous Africans who lived in Liberia.[15]


Main articles: Black Canadians, Black Nova Scotians, and American Canadians

African-Americans who settled in Canada before Confederation include three major waves:

Other, smaller waves of African-American settlement occurred in Western Canada in the 19th and early 20th centuries, with African-Americans from California taking up an allowance from the Colony of Vancouver Island to settle on the island in the 1860s, as well as settlements by African-Americans from Oklahoma and Texas in Amber Valley, Campsie, Junkins (now Wildwood) and Keystone (now Breton) in Alberta, as well as a former community in the Rural Municipality of Eldon, north of Maidstone, Saskatchewan.[10]


Main articles: Haitian emigration, Samaná Americans, and Merikins


Main articles: Mascogos and American immigration to Mexico

Some African American expats have moved to Mexico to escape racism in the United States.[16]


Main articles: African Americans in France, Black British, Americans in the United Kingdom, Americans in Germany, and Americans in Ireland

In the 1780s with the end of the American Revolutionary War, hundreds of black loyalists, especially soldiers, from America were resettled in London.[17] However, they were never awarded pensions, and many of them became poverty-stricken and were reduced to begging on the streets. Reports at the time stated they: ''had no prospect of subsisting in this country but by depredations on the public, or by common charity.'' A sympathetic observer wrote that ''great numbers of Blacks and People of Colour, many of them refugees from America and others who have by land or sea been in his Majesty's service great distress.'' Even towards white loyalists there was little good will to new arrivals from America.[18] Later some, many of whom had fallen into poverty, emigrated to Sierra Leone with help from Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor.[19]

The African-American population in Britain did not grow until World War II. By the end of 1943 there were 3,312 African-American GIs based at Maghull and Huyton, near Liverpool.[20]


Main article: African Americans in Israel

South Africa

Approximately 3,000 African Americans live in South Africa.[21]


Main articles: Black people in Japan and Americans in Japan


Further information: Americans in China

There is an African American presence in China. African Americans came to China during World War II. The first African American contact with China came during the Boxer Rebellion.[22]

See also


  1. ^ Keim, Curtis; Somerville, Carolyn (2017). Mistaking Africa Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind (4th ed.). 1290 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10104: Westview Press. ISBN 978-0-8133-4983-1.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location (link)
  2. ^ Browne, Simone. Dark Matters. Available from: St. Mary's College of Maryland, Duke University Press, 2015.
  3. ^ Gallant, Sigrid Nicole. “Perspectives on the Motives for the Migration of African-Americans to and from Ontario, Canada: From the Abolition of Slavery in Canada to the Abolition of Slavery in the United States.” The Journal of Negro History, vol. 86, no. 3, 2001, pp. 391–408. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/1562457. Accessed 13 Dec. 2023.
  4. ^ a b c Girma, Lebawit Lily. "Black Women Are Banding Together to Leave America Behind. Here's Why". Bloomberg.Com, Feb. 2023, p. N.PAG. EBSCOhost.
  5. ^ Bill (February 1, 2022). "Freedom Denied? Enslaved Soldiers During the Revolution – Fort Stanwix National Monument". U.S. National Park Service. Archived from the original on Dec 3, 2023. Retrieved 2023-12-04.
  6. ^ "African Americans & the Revolution | NCpedia". Retrieved 2023-12-05.
  7. ^ "Re-Creating 1834 Debates on Abolition". Hartford Courant. 2003-05-22. Retrieved 2023-12-04.
  8. ^ a b "Significant events in Black history in Canada". 2021-01-29. Retrieved 2023-12-10.
  9. ^ "African Americans in the Twentieth Century –". Retrieved 2023-12-11.
  10. ^ a b "African American Exodus to Canada". Oklahoma Historical Society – The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Retrieved 2023-12-11.
  11. ^ "Racial Discrimination in the United States". Human Rights Watch. 2022-08-08.
  12. ^ Brown, DeNeen L. (September 26, 2022). "The Case for Leaving America to Escape Racism". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 13, 2023.
  13. ^ Sivapragasam, Michael (June 2018). After the treaties: a social, economic and demographic history of Maroon society in Jamaica, 1739–1842 (Thesis). University of Southampton. pp. 136–154.
  14. ^ Hargreaves, J.; Porter, A. (1963). "The Sierra Leone Creoles – Creoledom: A Study of the Development of Freetown Society". The Journal of African History. 4 (3, 0000539): 468–469. doi:10.1017/S0021853700004394. S2CID 162611104.
  15. ^ Murray, Robert P., Whiteness in Africa: Americo-Liberians and the Transformative Geographies of Race (2013). Theses and Dissertations—History. 23.
  16. ^ Racism in the U.S. Prompts a Growing Community of Thriving, Black Expats in Mexico
  17. ^ Winch, Julie (2003). A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195163407.
  18. ^ Winch, Julie (2003). A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten. Oxford University Press. pp. 60–61. ISBN 9780195163407.
  19. ^ Zuberi, Tukufu; McDaniel, Antonio (15 April 1995). Swing Low, Sweet Chariot: The Mortality Cost of Colonizing Liberia in the ... University of Chicago Press. pp. 25–26. ISBN 9780226557243.
  20. ^ "Liverpool's Black Population During World War II", BASA Newsletter No. 20, January 1998, p. 10.
  21. ^ The Discomfort of African Americans in South Africa
  22. ^ Africans and African Americans in China: A Long History, A Troubled Present, and a Promising Future?