Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for honoring and remembering the central role of blacks in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every sitting U.S. President has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.
For many of us, Black History Month is a beautiful time to honor and remember leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Harriet Tubman, and the list goes on and on.
However, I want to propose that we take time this February and every February after, to also take advantage of the profound opportunity to remember a people created in God’s Image who are many times overlooked: Black Immigrants.
Here are 7 facts to help us remember Black Immigrants during Black History Month:
- According to studies, although only 7% of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are Black, they make up 20% of the population facing deportation.
- Black immigrants from Africa are more likely than natural-born citizens to have earned a college degree or higher.
- Despite Black Immigrants’ educational achievements and high participation rates in the workforce, they have an unemployment rate of 7.4%, one of the highest among immigrant groups. The median household income of Black immigrants is $4,200 less than that of all immigrants.
- In 2015, there were 619,000 Undocumented Black Immigrants living in the U.S., which accounts for 15% of foreign-born Blacks.
- When compared to other Immigrant groups, Black Immigrants are more likely to be U.S. Citizens or proficient English speakers.
- There are 3.7 million Black Immigrants living in the U.S. These immigrants comprise 8.4% of all immigrants in the country and come from a diverse set of places. Just less than half—48%—of all black immigrants come from the Caribbean, 43 percent from African countries, and 3.6% from South America. Since 2000, the number of Black Immigrants living in the U.S has risen 71% overall. Roughly, one-in-ten Black living in the U.S. (9%) are foreign-born.
- 3% of Black Immigrants (36,000 African Immigrants) are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) eligible. Top countries of origin for Black DACA recipients: Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and Nigeria.
This Black History Month, may we strive to remember Black Immigrants in the U.S.–both the injustices they face and the gifts and talents they display. May we remember that Black Immigrants are a significant and important part of the U.S population. Let’s not overlook these truths. They deserve to be honored and remembered as well.
By Rondell Treviño