The Back-to-Africa movement, also known as the Colonization movement or Black Zionism, originated in the United States in the 19th century. It encouraged those of African descent to return to the African homelands of their ancestors. This movement would eventually inspire other movements ranging from the Nation of Islam to the Rastafari movement, and proved to be popular among African-Americans.
In the early 19th century, the black population in the United States increased dramatically. Many of these African Americans were freed people seeking a better life. Many Southern freed blacks migrated to the industrial North to seek employment while others moved to surrounding Southern states. Their progress was met with hostility as many whites were not used to sharing space with blacks in a context outside of chattel slavery. Many did not believe that free Africans had a place in America and thought the very existence of free blacks undermined the system of slavery and encouraged slaves to revolt. In the North, whites feared that they would lose jobs to free African Americans, while other whites did not like the idea of blacks integrating with whites, but such sentiment was not exclusive to northerners. In Virginia, for example, one proponent of the Colonization movement, Solomon Parker of Hampshire County, was quoted as having said: “I am not willing that the Man or any of my Blacks shall ever be freed to remain in the United States.... Am opposed to slavery and also opposed to freeing blacks to stay in our Country and do sincerely hope that the time is approaching when our Land shall be rid of them. Riots swept the nation in waves, usually in urban areas where there had been recent migration of blacks from the South. During the height of these riots in 1819, there were 25 recorded riots, with many killed and injured. The back-to-Africa movement was seen as the solution to these problems by both groups, but more so with the white population than the blacks. Blacks often viewed the project with