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To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded to a month. Since then, U.S. presidents have proclaimed February as National African-American History Month.

The following facts are made possible by the invaluable responses to the U.S. Census Bureau’s surveys. We appreciate the public’s cooperation as we continuously measure America’s people, places and economy.  

Note: The reference to the black population in this publication is to single-race black people (“black alone”) unless otherwise noted.

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Did You Know?

47.4 million

The black population, either alone or in combination with one or more races, in the United States.

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2.1 million

The number of black military veterans in the United States nationwide.

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29.5 %

The percentage of the employed black population 16 and older working in management, business, science and arts occupations in 2017.

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87.3 %

Percentage of African-Americans 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher.

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121,466

The number of black-owned employer firm businesses in the United States in 2016.

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Income, Poverty and Health Insurance

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More Stats

See a detailed profile on the black population from the 2017 American Community Survey. Statistics include:

  • Families and children
  • Marital status
  • Grandparents living with grandchildren
  • Jobs
  • Labor force participation
  • Occupation
  • Commuting
  • Housing

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