There are some people out there who get upset whenever we say, “Black labor built this country.” But these are, indeed, #facts. Here’s a quick history lesson.
The first slaves were brought to the United States in 1619. Their job was simple: make white settlers money.
Fast-forward to the late 18th century. Cotton was king and the U.S. was making stacks of cash, especially with all that free labor.
Over $600 million—or just about half of the country’s economic activity in 1836—came directly or indirectly from cotton. According to Cornell history professor Edward Baptist, author of The Half Has Never Been Told, cotton-producing slaves were just 6 percent of the population but created almost half of the year’s economic activity.
And African-American contributions aren’t limited to the South. Check out the video above to see exactly what we mean when we say, “We built this.”