African Americans in Erie County: A Brief History

This historical overview is intended to provide a context in which to better understand and appreciate the larger story told here in A Shared Heritage: A Driving and Digital Tour of People and Places of Erie County African American History.  This synopsis of a rich and layered history is adapted in part from Sarah S. Thompson’s excellent book, Journey from Jerusalem: An Illustrated Introduction to Erie’s African American History, 1795-1995 (Erie County Historical Society, 1996), and organized as follows:  

I: Settlement and Slavery to the Civil War: 1795-1865

II: Community Strength at the Margins of the City: 1865-1930

III: Thriving Amid Depression, War, and Social Change: 1930-1960

IV: Ongoing Challenges: 1970-present