The history of colonization is not simple to understand. The push for black emigration to Africa meant different things to different people of both races throughout the 1800s. For some, it was a product of their racism. For others, it was out of compassion. Nearly all black Americans who made their egress did so to escape the prejudicial brutality of white America. The nation had failed them so utterly that they were willing to give up all they had ever known for a place they had never seen.
From the post-war years until the turn of the century, thousands of black people willingly emigrated from their Southern homes to Africa in order to escape the disfranchisement, abuse, and lynching by white Americans. Many thousands more attempted and dreamed of making the voyage. Though colonization was condemned by black leaders such as Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, the back-to-Africa movement within black America took hold through the black community in two separate waves, mirroring the rises and falls of violence against African-Americans.