Based on the state’s black and white population, New York has undergone a drastic demographic change from 1790 to 1990. At the beginning of 1970, there were 314,142 whites and 25,978 blacks residing in New York. During this time there were 4,654 freed African Americans and there were 21,324 enslaved African Americans. The U.S. Census Bureau recordings during this period seemed to be lower compared to the population of American Indians, Eskimo and Aleut, Asian and Pacific Islander, and other races which were excluded.
There were several changes to the racial groups and how they were recorded. For example, the Gradual Emancipation Law which was passed in 1799. This was the very first act that granted all children born after July 4th, 1799 in New York State, would have the right to be free when they are older. Around the 1880’s, this law was established to abolish slavery; however no one was freed at first and this became the beginning of the end for slavery in New York. Also, by 1830, there were 75 slaves listed on the census and by 1840 the number of slaves dropped to 4, and later by 1850, there were no longer any slaves recorded in the state.
Although slavery came to an end, African Americans did not have the same equal opportunity as whites. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which declared that all slaves in the state are granted freedom. Although Lincoln issued this Act, there were still rivalries among states fighting to have slavery ongoing. As shown on the census, after 1870, there were no longer any recordings of slaves or freed slaves. Additionally, in 1860 the census displayed no record of Asian and Pacific Islander population until 1870.
Due to the Jim Crow laws issued in the South, many African Americans had to face challenges where they were limited to education and job opportunities and had to face an unequal system. At the beginning of the 1880’s, the black population started to migrate to Northern cities, meanwhile, the white population requested more laws to restrict job opportunities. The Great Migration took place between 1916 to 1970, where six million African Americans fled the South and moved to the North. Between 1910 and 1920, the census shows that the black population has risen to a great extent due to the migration.
The black experience during the Great Migration became a significant movement for African Americans. Their population increased during 1920 and 1970 as well. For example, in 1920, the black population was 198,483 and rose to 412,814 in 1930. Shortly afterwards, black migration had slowed down due to the Great Depression that took place in the 1930’s. This had created an economic downturn where unemployment rates went up and the stock market prices increased. After the Great Depression came to an end, the United States turned their attention to World War II; however the population picked up its pace and by 1940, the black population increased to 571,221. After World War II had ended, the census showed a huge impact of black population from 1950 (918,181) to 1970 (2,168,949).
Based on the recordings of the New York State Census, it seemed that there were a lot of drastic measures and changes that took place between 1970 to 1990. African Americans became populated over the years and due to the movements and acts such as the Jim Crow Era, the Great Migration and the Emancipation Proclamation, they had to overcome obstacles in order to achieve their goals.