Most black Americans trace their original roots to an area in western Africa. During the early 1500's, black slaves from western Africa were brought to European colonies in the Americas. From the 1500's to the mid-1800's, Europeans shipped about 12 million black slaves from Africa to the Western Hemisphere.
The first black African slaves in America arrived during the early 1600's, when slavery based on race became a way of life in all 13 colonies (settlements in America that were founded by Great Britain). Virginia made slavery legal in colonial America in 1661. By 1750, about 200,000 slaves lived in the colonies.
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