The vast majority of Americans of African ancestry in the United States are descendants of the 400,000 black slaves forcibly brought to the New World prior to 1860. Most of these slaves came from a small section (approximately 300 miles long) of the Atlantic coast between the Congo and Gambia rivers in East Africa. Much of African culture is based on oral tradition, but records such as slave sales and slave advertisements may give a clue toward slave origins in Africa. Getting your slave ancestor back to Africa may just not be possible, but your best chances lie with scrutinizing every record you can find for clues and by being familiar with the slave trade in the area in which you are researching. Learn everything you can about how, when and why slaves were transported to the state in which you last found them with their owner. If your ancestors came into this country, then you will need to learn the history of the Underground Railroad so that you can track their movements back and forth the border.
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
History of Slavery in the United States