The New York Times has an interesting op-ed story by Maurice A. Barboza and Gary B. Nash that talks about black Americans in the Revolutionary War and their recognition (or lack of recognition) by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
In 1994 the D.A.R. settled a lawsuit involving discrimination. As part of the settlement, the D.A.R. was to identify every African-American soldier who served in the Revolutionary War. The patriotic organization was to publish the names they had and to do research to identify more black soldiers, those who were somewhere, undiscovered, in historical records.
By early 2000, six years after the settlement agreement, the names of only 1,656 black patriots had been published in 11 D.A.R.-issued pamphlets. Yet some historians estimate 5,000 African-Americans served in the Revolutionary War. The organization's own genealogist, James Dent Walker, said estimates were "deceptively low" and that "no one took the time to examine the records."
You can read the article on the New York Times' Web site at: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/31/opinion/31barboza.html?ex=1092286188&ei=1&en=28d43c35322eeb00
In a recent e-mail to me, African-American genealogist Tony Burroughs disputed the claim of 5,000, saying that it should be much higher. Burroughs stated, "The article was correct in stating scholars estimated 5,000 Blacks fought in the Revolutionary War. What the article didn't state was that that 5,000 estimate was from historian William Cooper Nell's research in the 1850s. Every historian since then has repeated that number. I recall Jimmy Walker, the first one to do original research to identify Blacks in the Revolutionary War since Nell, saying in a lecture on the Rev. War, that he found 5,000 Blacks in New England alone."