On August 24, 1854, the National Emigration Convention of Colored People convened in Cleveland, Ohio. The US in the fourth year of the long, bloody, American Civil War (1861-1865) over slavery. The leader of the movement, Martin R. Delany, proposed a practical plan for African-Americans in the US to emigrate to the West Indies or Central or South America. As outlined in the convention’s manifesto, “Political Destiny of the Colored Race,” the leadership believed that life in Caribbean and Central/ South America would give African Americans equal opportunity for “the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty.” Delaney was one of the first three African Americans admitted to Harvard Medical School and the first African-American field officer in the US Army during the Civil War.
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