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United States Black History 

February is Black History Month in The United States - an annual celebration that has existed since 1926.

Scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who was determined to bring Black History into the mainstream public arena. Woodson devoted his life to making "the world see the Negro as a participant rather than as a lay figure in history."

Dr. Carter G. Woodson

In 1926 Woodson organized the first annual Negro History Week, which took place during the second week of February. Woodson chose this date to co-incide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln - two men who had greatly impacted the black population. Over time, Negro History Week evolved into the Black History Month that we know today - a four-week-long celebration of African American History.

During the course of the slave trade, millions of Africans became involuntary immigrants to the New World. Some African captives resisted enslavement by fleeing from slave forts on the West African coast. Others mutinied on board slave trading vessels, or cast themselves into the ocean. In the New World there were those who ran away from their owners, ran away among the Indians, formed maroon societies, revolted, feigned sickness, or participated in work slow downs. Some sought and succeeded in gaining liberty through various legal means such as "good service" to their masters, self-purchase, or military service. Still others seemingly acquiesced and learned to survive in servitude.

 The European, American, and African slave traders engaged in the lucrative trade in humans, and the politicians and businessmen who supported them, did not intend to put into motion a chain of events that would motivate the captives and their descendants to fight for full citizenship in the United States of America. But they did. When Thomas Jefferson penned the words, "All men are created equal," he could not possibly have envisioned how literally his own slaves and others would take his words. African Americans repeatedly questioned how their owners could consider themselves noble in their own fight for independence from England while simultaneously believing that it was wrong for slaves to do the same.

The first Africans at Jamestown were purchased as indentured servants from the Dutch. Over the course of two centuries, however, most Africans in the Americas were bought and sold as a source of slave labor, were denied the most basic human rights and were often subject to abusive treatment.

Antislavery sentiments in America date back to the 1600s. However, the abolition movement didn't come to the forefront until the early 1800s, when the first abolitionist periodicals were published. The movement gained momentum over the next few decades, leading to Lincoln's 1862 Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in rebel states.

Not all blacks were enslaved during the period prior to the Civil War. However, these free blacks were not treated as equal citizens. Free blacks, found primarily in Northern states, had to carry papers proving they were not slaves. Otherwise, they faced capture and transport to the South where they could be sold into slavery.

Although they often received lower pay, performed menial duties and faced further discrimination, black soldiers were allowed to enlist in the Union Army during the Civil War. They fought in segregated units, under the command of white officers.

Co. E, 4th U.S. Infantry, Ft. Lincoln

From 1865 to 1877, the Constitution was amended three times to provide equal rights to black Americans. Slavery was abolished, and citizenship and voting rights were guaranteed. 

Following the formal period of Reconstruction, laws were passed, severely limiting the freedoms given to blacks. Poll taxes and literacy tests made voting difficult, while Jim Crow laws, upheld by the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, created segregated public facilities. Schools such as Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute provided quality education for blacks.

During World War I, many blacks fled the South seeking new jobs in factories in Northern cities. This great migration continued through the early 1940s. This time period also brought an increased popularity in music and the arts, centered in the Harlem Renaissance.

In the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, segregated schools were declared unconstitutional. This landmark decision sparked the modern Civil Rights movement. Led by Martin Luther King Jr., blacks engaged in a series of nonviolent protests throughout the South to bring about the end of segregation and racial domination. Blacks gained political power as they were elected to office at all levels of government.

Black History Timeline



Howard Pyle illustrated many historical and adventure stories for periodicals, including Harper's Weekly. In 1917, he created this depiction of the 1619 arrival of Virginia's first blacks.


August 20. Twenty Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, aboard a Dutch ship. They were the first blacks to be forcibly settled as involuntary laborers in the North American British Colonies.


Massachusetts was the first colony to legalize slavery by statute.


September 13. The first documented attempt at a rebellion by slaves took place in Gloucester County, Virginia.


Maryland was the first state to try to discourage by law the marriage of white women to black men.


February 18. The Quakers of Germantown, Pennsylvania, passed the first formal antislavery resolution.


April 7. A slave insurrection occurred in New York City, resulting in the execution of 21 African Americans.


September 9. The Cato revolt was the first serious disturbance among slaves. After killing more than 25 whites, most of the rebels, led by a slave named Cato, were rounded up as they tried to escape to Florida. More than 30 blacks were executed as participants.


 Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave, was among the five victims in the Boston Massacre

Crispus Attucks

March 5. Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave, was among the five victims in the Boston Massacre. He is said to have been the first to fall.

 Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave, was among the five victims in the Boston Massacre


Jean Baptiste Point DuSable

Jean Baptiste Point DuSable decided to build a trading post near Lake Michigan, thus becoming the first permanent resident of the settlement that became Chicago.


April 19. Free blacks fight with the Minutemen in the initial skirmishes of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.


June 17. Peter Salem and Salem Poor were two blacks commended for their service on the American side at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Peter Salem has been credited with killing Major Pitcairn the leader of the British forces storming the hill. According to the story, the colonial troops were near defeat, and British Major John Pitcairn ordered them to surrender. Salem then stepped forward and shot Pitcairn. The British were temporarily stunned, and the Americans were able to retreat. Pitcairn later died of the wound.



July 2. Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery.

New York African Free School

November 1. The African Free School of New York City was opened.

December 31. George Washington reversed previous policy and allowed the recruitment of blacks as soldiers. Some 5,000 would participate on the American side before the end of the Revolution.


Richard Allen 



Absalom Jones


April 12. Richard Allen and Absalom Jones organized the Free African Society, a mutual self-help group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

July 13. The Continental Congress forbade slavery in the region northwest of the Ohio River by the Northwest Ordinance.

September. The Constitution of the United States allowed a male slave to count as three-fifths of a man in determining representation in the House of Representatives.


Benjamin Banneker, was a free African American mathematician, astronomer, clockmaker, and publisher., published the first almanac by a black.


February 12. Congress passed the first Fugitive Slave Law.

March 14. Eli Whitney obtained a patent for his cotton gin, a device that paved the way for the massive expansion of slavery in the South.


June 10. Richard Allen founded the Bethel African Methodist Church in Philadelphia.


August 30. A slave revolt near Richmond, Virginia, led by Gabriel Prosser and Jack Bowley, was first postponed and then betrayed. More than 40 blacks were eventually executed.


January 5. The Ohio legislature passed "Black Laws" designed to restrict the legal rights of free blacks. These laws were part of the trend to increasingly severe restrictions on all blacks in both North and South before the Civil War.


January 1. The federal law prohibiting the importation of African slaves went into effect. It was largely circumvented.


The Underground Railroad refers to the effort--sometimes spontaneous, sometimes highly organized--to assist persons held in bondage in North America to escape from slavery with the aid of abolitionists who were sympathetic to their cause. The Underground Railroad was operating between 1810 and 1861



April 9. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at the first independent black denomination in the United States.


August 18. General Andrew Jackson defeated a force of Native Americans and African-Americans to end the First Seminole War.


May 30. The Denmark Vesey conspiracy was betrayed in Charleston, South Carolina. It is claimed that some 5,000 blacks were prepared to rise in July.


September. David Walker's militant antislavery pamphlet, An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, was in circulation in the South. This work was the first of its kind by a black.

September 20-24. The first National Negro Convention met in Philadelphia.


August 21-22 - In February 1831 Nat Turner received what he believed to be a sign from God (a solar eclipse) telling him that it was time for him and his companions to prepare for the revolt. On August 21 they began their attempt to overthrow the institution of slavery. In 48 hours they killed between 55 and 65 whites throughout Southampton County. This was the beginning of a slave uprising that was to become known as Nat Turner's rebellion. Over a thirty-six hour period, this band of slaves grew to sixty or seventy in number and killed fifty-eight White persons in and around Jerusalem, Virginia.

On August 23 Turner's black liberation army was met and overpowered by a superior state and Federal military force. Over 100 blacks were slain in the encounter and dozens more immediately executed.

Turner escaped and was not caught until October 30. On November 5 he was tried and convicted. Although he admitted to leading the rebellion, when asked how he pleaded, he said "not guilty." Six days later he was executed for trying to free his people from slavery.


July. The slaves carried on the Spanish ship, Amistad, took over the vessel and sailed it to Montauk on Long Island. They eventually won their freedom in a case taken to the Supreme Court.


July Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery. She would return South at least twenty times, leading over 300 slaves to freedom.


The Fugitive Slave Law or Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the United States Congress on September 18, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slaveholding interests and Northern Free-Soilers.


Daniel A. P. Murray born. Born in Baltimore on March 3. Murray, an African-American, was assistant librarian of Congress, and a collector of books and pamphlets by and about black Americans.

Publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, published on March 20, focused national attention on the cruelties of slavery.


January 1. Ashmum Institute, the precursor of Lincoln University, was chartered at Oxford, Pennsylvania.


Booker Taliaferro Washington

Booker Taliaferro Washington born. Born in Franklin County, Virginia, on April 5, Washington was the first principal of Tuskegee Institute (1881), and was the individual most responsible for its early development. Washington was considered the leading African-American spokesman of his day.


March 6. Supreme Court rules on the Dred Scott case. The Supreme Court decided that an African-American could not be a citizen of the U.S., and thus had no rights of citizenship. The decision sharpened the national debate over slavery.

Dred Scott was born in Virginia around 1799.Early in life he was the property of a man named Peter Blow.  Blow sold the slave Dred Scott to an army doctor named John Emerson.Dr. Emerson owned both Dred Scott and Dred's wife Harriet.

Dr. Emerson died in 1843, at which time the Scotts became the property of his widow Irene Emerson. And in 1846, Dred Scott filed a lawsuit against Irene Emerson in the courthouse in St. Louis, claiming he was a free man by virtue of the fact that Dr. Emerson had, for extended periods of time, taken him to parts of the country where slavery was outlawed.


John Brown

John Brown's raid. On October 16-17, John Brown raided the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia (today located in West Virginia). Brown's unsuccessful mission to obtain arms for a slave insurrection stirred and divided the nation. Brown was hanged for treason on December 2.

The last slave ship arrives. During this year, the last ship to bring slaves to the United States, the Clothilde, arrived in Mobile Bay, Alabama.


Abraham Lincoln elected president. Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president on November 6, 1860.

Census of 1860.

	U.S. population:  31,443,790 
	Black population:  4,441,790 (14.1%)


August 23. James Stone of Ohio enlisted to become the first black to fight for the Union during the Civil War. He was very light skinned and was married to a white woman. His racial identity was revealed after his death in 1862.


Slavery abolished in the District of Columbia. Congress abolished slavery in the District of Columbia -- an important step on the road for freedom for all African-Americans.

July 17. Congress allowed the enlistment of blacks in the Union Army. Some black units precede this date, but they were disbanded as unofficial. Some 186,000 blacks served; of these 38,000 died.


The Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation took effect January 1, legally freeing slaves in areas of the South in rebellion.

New York City draft riots. Anti-conscription riots started on July 13 and lasted four days, during which hundreds of black Americans were killed or wounded.

The Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Volunteers

The Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Volunteers. On July 18, the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Volunteers -- the all-black unit of the Union army portrayed in the 1989 Tri-Star Pictures film Glory -- charged Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina. Sergeant William H. Carney becomes the first African-American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery under fire.


Equal pay. On June 15, Congress passed a bill authorizing equal pay, equipment, arms, and health care for African-American Union troops.

The New Orleans Tribune. On October 4, the New Orleans Tribune began publication. The Tribune was one of the first daily newspapers produced by blacks.


Congress approves the Thirteenth Amendment. Slavery would be outlawed in the United States by the Thirteenth Amendment, which Congress approved and sent on to the states for ratification on January 31.

The Freedmen's Bureau. On March 3, Congress established the Freedmen's Bureau to provide health care, education, and technical assistance to emancipated slaves.

Death of Lincoln. On April 15, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated; Vice President Andrew Johnson, a Tennessee Democrat, succeeded him as president.

Ratification of Thirteenth Amendment. The Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery, was ratified on December 18.


Edward G. Walker and Charles L. Mitchell were the first blacks to sit in an American legislature, that of Massachusetts.

Founding of the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan, an organization formed to intimidate blacks and other ethnic and religious minorities, first met in Maxwell House, Memphis. The Klan was the first of many secret terrorist organizations organized in the South for the purpose of reestablishing white authority.

Buffalo Soldiers is a nickname originally applied to the members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army by the Native American tribes they fought, which was formed on September 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The term eventually encompassed these units: U.S. 9th Cavalry Regiment U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment 24th Infantry Regiment 25th Infantry Regiment 27th Cavalry Regiment  28th Cavalry Regiment.

Late 1800's photograph of members of the 10th Cavalry

The "Buffalo Soldiers" were established by Congress as the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular U.S. Army.


Reconstruction begins. Reconstruction Acts were passed by Congress on March 2. These acts called for the enfranchisement of former slaves in the South.


July 6. The South Carolina House became the first and only legislature to have a black majority, 87 blacks to 40 whites. Whites did continue to control the Senate and became a majority in the House in 1874.

July 28 The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting citizenship to any person born or naturalized in the United States.


Census of 1870

	U.S. population:  39,818,449 
	Black population:  4,880,009 (12.7%)

The first African-American senator Hiram R. Revels (Republican) of Mississippi took his seat February 25. He was the first black United States senator, though he served only one year.

Fifteenth Amendment ratified The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on March 30


March 1. Congress passed a Civil Rights Bill which banned discrimination in places of public accommodation. The Supreme Court overturned the bill in 1883.

Tennessee passed a law requiring segregation in railroad cars. By 1907 all Southern states had passed similar laws.


 The first African-American to graduate from West Point. On June 15, Henry Ossian Flipper became the first black American to graduate from West Point.

The end of Reconstruction A deal with Southern Democratic leaders made Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) president, in exchange for the withdrawal of federal troops from the South and the end of federal efforts to protect the civil rights of African-Americans.


President Garfield assassinated. President Garfield was shot on July 2; he died on September 19. Vice President Chester A. Arthur (Republican) succeeded Garfield as president.


Tuskegee Institute founded. Booker T. Washington became the first principal of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, on July 4. Tuskegee became the leading vocational training institution for African-Americans.


Segregation of public transportation. Tennessee segregated railroad cars, followed by Florida (1887), Mississippi (1888), Texas (1889), Louisiana (1890), Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Georgia (1891), South Carolina (1898), North Carolina (1899), Virginia (1900), Maryland (1904), and Oklahoma (1907).


Lynchings. Forty-nine black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1882.


Civil Rights Act overturned. On October 15, the Supreme Court declared the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. The Court declared that the Fourteenth Amendment forbids states, but not citizens, from discriminating.

Sojourner Truth dies. Sojourner Truth, a courageous and ardent abolitionist and a brilliant speaker, died on November 26.


A political coup and a race riot. On November 3, white conservatives in Danville, Virginia, seized control of the local government, racially integrated and popularly elected, killing four African-Americans in the process.


Lynchings. Fifty-three black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1883.


Cleveland elected president. Grover Cleveland (Democrat) was elected president on November 4.


Lynchings. Fifty-one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1884.

Moses "Fleetwood" Walker becomes first African-American player in major league baseball, signing with the Toledo club in the American Association.

Walker, a star catcher at Oberlin College, despite a creditable performance with Toledo, was cut from the squad after the season, but continued to play in organized baseball with minor league teams.

Several African-American players were active on the rosters of white minor league teams during the period.


A black Episcopal bishop. On June 25, African-American Samuel David Ferguson was ordained a bishop of the Episcopal church.


Lynchings. Seventy-four black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1885.


The Carrollton Massacre. On March 17, 20 black Americans were massacred at Carrollton, Mississippi.


Labor organizes. The American Federation of Labor was organized on December 8, signaling the rise of the labor movement. All major unions of the day excluded black Americans.


Lynchings. Seventy-four black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1886.


Lynchings. Seventy black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1887.


Two of the first African-American banks. Two of America's first black-owned banks -- the Savings Bank of the Grand Fountain United Order of the Reformers, in Richmond Virginia, and Capital Savings Bank of Washington, DC, opened their doors.


Harrison elected president. Benjamin Harrison (Republican) was elected president on November 6.


Lynchings. Sixty-nine black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1888.


Lynchings. Ninety-four black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1889.


Census of 1890.

	U.S. population:  62,947,714
	Black population:  7,488,676 (11.9%)

The Afro-American League. On January 25, under the leadership of Timothy Thomas Fortune, the militant National Afro-American League was founded in Chicago.


African-Americans are disenfranchised. The Mississippi Plan, approved on November 1, used literacy and "understanding" tests to disenfranchise black American citizens. Similar statutes were adopted by South Carolina (1895), Louisiana (1898), North Carolina (1900), Alabama (1901), Virginia (1901), Georgia (1908), and Oklahoma (1910).


A white supremacist is elected. Populist "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman was elected governor of South Carolina. He called his election "a triumph of ... white supremacy."


Lynchings. Eighty-five black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1890.


Lynchings. One hundred and thirteen black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1891.


Grover Cleveland elected president. Grover Cleveland (Democrat) was elected president on November 8.


Lynchings. One hundred and sixty-one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1892.


Lynchings. One hundred and eighteen black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1893.


The Pullman strike. The Pullman Company strike caused a national transportation crisis. On May 11, African-Americans were hired by the company as strike-breakers.


Lynchings. One hundred and thirty-four black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1894.


Douglass dies. African-American leader and statesman Frederick Douglass died on February 20.


A race riot. Whites attacked black workers in New Orleans on March 11-12. Six blacks were killed.


The Atlanta Compromise. Booker T. Washington delivered his famous "Atlanta Compromise" address on September 18 at the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition. He said the "Negro problem" would be solved by a policy of gradualism and accommodation.


The National Baptist Convention. Several Baptist organizations combined to form the National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A.; the Baptist church is the largest black religious denomination in the United States.


Lynchings. One hundred and thirteen black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1895.


Plessy v. Ferguson. The Supreme Court decided on May 18 in Plessy v. Ferguson that "separate but equal" facilities satisfy Fourteenth Amendment guarantees, thus giving legal sanction to Jim Crow segregation laws.


Black women organize. The National Association of Colored Women was formed on July 21; Mary Church Terrell was chosen president.


McKinley elected president. On November 3, William McKinley (Republican) was elected president.

George Washington Carver. George Washington Carver was appointed director of agricultural research at Tuskegee Institute. His work advanced peanut, sweet potato, and soybean farming.


Lynchings. Seventy-eight black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1896.


American Negro Academy. The American Negro Academy was established on March 5 to encourage African-American participation in art, literature and philosophy.

Lynchings. One hundred and twenty-three black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1897.


The Spanish-American War. The Spanish-American War began on April 21. Sixteen regiments of black volunteers were recruited; four saw combat. Five black Americans won Congressional Medals of Honor.


The National Afro-American Council. Founded on September 15, the National Afro-American Council elected Bishop Alexander Walters its first president.


A race riot. On November 10, in Wilmington, North Carolina, eight black Americans were killed during white rioting.


Black-owned insurance companies. The North Carolina Mutual and Provident Insurance Company and the National Benefit Life Insurance Company of Washington, DC were established. Both companies were black-owned.


Lynchings. One hundred and one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1898.


A lynching protest. The Afro-American Council designated June 4 as a national day of fasting to protest lynchings and massacres.


Lynchings. Eighty-five black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1899.


Census of 1900.

	U.S. population:  75,994,575
	Black population:  8,833,994 (11.6%)

Lynchings. One hundred and six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1900.


A World's Fair. The Paris Exposition was held, and the United States pavilion housed an exhibition on black Americans. The "Exposition des Negres d'Amerique" won several awards for excellence. Daniel A. P. Murray's collection of works by and about black Americans was developed for this exhibition.


The last African-American congressman for 28 years. George H. White gave up his seat on March 4. No African-American would serve in Congress for the next 28 years.


President McKinley assassinated. President McKinley died of an assassin's bullet on September 14, a week after being shot in Buffalo, New York. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt succeeded him as president.


Washington dines at the White House. On October 16, after an afternoon meeting at the White House with Booker T. Washington, President Theodore Roosevelt informally invited Washington to remain and eat dinner with him, making Washington the first black American to dine at the White House with the president. A furor arose over the social implications of Roosevelt's casual act.

Jazz great Louis Armstrong is born in New Orleans.


Lynchings. One hundred and five black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1901.


Lynchings. Eighty-five black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1902.


The Souls of Black Folk. W. E. B. Du Bois's celebrated book, The Souls of Black Folk, was published on April 27. In it, Du Bois rejected the gradualism of Booker T. Washington, calling for agitation on behalf of African-American rights.


Lynchings.Eighty-four black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1903.


College founded. Educator Mary McCleod Bethune founds a college in Daytona Beach, Florida, known today as Bethune-Cookman College.


Lynchings. Seventy-six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1904.


The Niagara Movement. On July 11-13, African-American intellectuals and activists, led by W. E. B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter, began the Niagara Movement.


Lynchings. Fifty-seven black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1905.


Soldiers riot. In Brownsville, Texas on August 13, black troops rioted against segregation. On November 6, President Theodore Roosevelt discharged three companies of black soldiers involved in the riot.


A race riot. On September 22-24, in a race riot in Atlanta, ten blacks and two whites were killed.


Lynchings. Sixty-two black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1906.


Arthur John Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946), better known as Jack Johnson and nicknamed the “Galveston Giant”, was an American boxer and arguably the best heavyweight of his generation. He was the first black world heavyweight boxing champion (1908-1915).He  won the world heavyweight title on December 26, 1908, when he fought the Canadian world champion Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia


Thurgood Marshall born. Born in Baltimore on July 2, Thurgood Marshall, was the attorney for the NAACP in the famous case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), in which the Supreme Court found segregated schools to be inherently unequal. He later became the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court.


A race riot. Many were killed and wounded in a race riot on August 14-19, in Abraham Lincoln's home town of Springfield, Illinois.


Taft elected president. On November 3, William Howard Taft (Republican) was elected president.


Lynchings. Eighty-nine black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1908.



The NAACP is formed. On February 12 -- the centennial of the birth of Lincoln -- a national appeal led to the establishment of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an organization formed to promote use of the courts to restore the legal rights of black Americans.


Lynchings. Sixty-nine black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1909.


Census of 1910.

	U.S. population:  93,402,151
	Black population:  9,827,763 (10.7%)

Crisis debuts. The first issue of Crisis, a publication sponsored by the NAACP and edited by W. E.B. Du Bois, appeared on November 1.


Segregated neighborhoods. On December 19, the City Council of Baltimore approved the first city ordinance designating the boundaries of black and white neighborhoods. This ordinance was followed by similar ones in Dallas, Texas, Greensboro, North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, Norfolk, Virginia, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Richmond, Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia, and St. Louis, Missouri. The Supreme Court declared the Louisville ordinance to be unconstitutional in 1917.


Lynchings. Sixty-seven black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1910.


Wilson elected president. Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) was elected president on November 5.


Lynchings. Sixty-one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1912.


Jubilee year. The fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation was celebrated throughout the year.


Harriet Tubman dies. Harriet Tubman -- former slave, abolitionist, and freedom fighter -- died on March 10.


Federal segregation. On April 11, the Wilson administration began government-wide segregation of work places, rest rooms and lunch rooms.


Lynchings. Fifty-one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1913.


Lynchings. Fifty-one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1914.

World War I. World War I began in Europe.


Booker T. Washington dies. Renowned African-American spokesman Booker T. Washington died on November 14.


Lynchings. Fifty-six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1915.


Lynchings. Fifty black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1916.



World War I. America entered World War I on April 6. 370,000 African-Americans were in military service -- more than half in the French war zone.


A race riot. One of the bloodiest race riots in the nation's history took place in East St. Louis, Illinois, on July 1-3. A Congressional committee reported that 40 to 200 people were killed, hundreds more injured, and 6,000 driven from their homes.


NAACP protest. Thousands of African-Americans marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue on July 28, protesting lynchings, race riots, and the denial of rights.


A race riot. On August 23, a riot erupted in Houston between black soldiers and white citizens; 2 blacks and 11 whites were killed. 18 black soldiers were hanged for participation in the riot.


The Supreme Court acts. On November 5, the Supreme Court struck down the Louisville, Kentucky ordinance mandating segregated neighborhoods.


Lynchings. Thirty-six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1917.


A race riot. On July 25-28, a race riot occurred in Chester, Pennsylvania. 3 blacks and 2 whites were killed.


A race riot. On July 26-29, a race riot occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 3 blacks and 1 white were killed.


World War I ends. The Armistice took effect on November 11, ending World War I. The northern migration of African-Americans began in earnest during the war. By 1930 there were 1,035,000 more black Americans in the North, and 1,143,000 fewer black Americans in the South than in 1910.


Lynchings. Sixty black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1918.


"Red Summer." This was the year of the "Red Summer," with 26 race riots between the months of April and October. These included disturbances in the following areas:

	May 10         		Charleston, South Carolina.
	July 13        		Gregg and Longview counties, Texas.
	July 19-23		Washington, D. C.
	July 27			Chicago.
	October 1-3    		Elaine, Arkansas.

Lynchings. Seventy-six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1919.


Census of 1920.

	U.S. population:  105,710,620
	Black population:  10,463,131 (9.9%)

The Harlem Renaissance. The decade of the Twenties witnessed the Harlem Renaissance, a remarkable period of creativity for black writers, poets, and artists, including these authors:

	Claude McKay,	Harlem Shadows, 1922
	Jean Toomer,	Cane, 1923
	Alaine Locke,	The New Negro, 1925
	Countee Cullen,	Color, 1925

The rise of Marcus Garvey. On August 1, Marcus Garvey's Universal Improvement Association held its national convention in Harlem, the traditionally black neighborhood in New York City. Garvey's African nationalist movement was the first black American mass movement, and at its height it claimed hundreds of thousands of supporters.


Harding elected president. On November 3, Warren G. Harding (Republican) was elected president.

Lynchings. Fifty-three black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1920.

Andrew "Rube" Foster, renowned pitcher and owner of the Chicago American Giants, calls Midwestern team owners to Kansas City. The result of the meeting is the formation of the Negro National League.

The League begins the 1920 season on May 2 with the following teams onboard: Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Dayton Marcos, Detroit Stars, Indianapolis ABCs, Kansas City Monarchs and Cuban Stars.



A race riot. On May 31-June 1, in a race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 21 whites and 60 blacks were killed. The violence destroyed a thriving African American neighborhood and business district.

Lynchings. Fifty-nine black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1921.


An anti-lynching effort. On January 26, a federal anti-lynching bill was killed by a filibuster in the United States Senate.


Lynchings. Fifty-one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1922.


President Harding dies. President Warren Harding died on August 3; Vice President Calvin Coolidge succeeded him as president.


Lynchings. Twenty-nine black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1923.


Lynchings. Sixteen black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1924.

The first Negro World Series is played between the Kansas City Monarchs (Negro National League Champions) and the Hilldale Club (Eastern Colored League Champions)

Malcolm X born. On May 19, in Omaha, Nebraska, civil rights leader Malcolm X was born.


Sleeping car porters organize. On August 25, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was organized. A. Philip Randolph was chosen president.


Lynchings. Seventeen black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1925.


Daniel A. P. Murray dies. Assistant Librarian of Congress and African-American historian Daniel A. P. Murray died in Washington, DC, on March 31.


Pianist, composer, and self-proclaimed inventor of jazz Jelly Roll Morton records several of his masterpieces, including "Black Bottom Stomp" and "Dead Man Blues."


Claude McKay

Poet and novelist Claude McKay publishes Home to Harlem, the first fictional work by an African-American to reach the best-seller lists.



Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr. becomes the first black colonel in the U.S. Army. He later oversees race relations and the morale of black soldiers in World War II and becomes the first black general in 1940.


August 9. Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Berlin.


June 22. Joe Louis defeated James J. Braddock to become heavyweight boxing champion of the world.


October 16. Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., became the first black general in the United States Army.


June 25. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order forbidding discrimination in defense industries after pressure from blacks led by A. Philip Randolph.


June. Some blacks and whites organized the Congress of Racial Equality in Chicago. They led a sit-in at a Chicago restaurant.


Pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group, "Tuskegee Airmen," the elite, all-African American 332nd Fighter Group at Ramitelli, Italy., from left to right, Lt. Dempsey W. Morgran, Lt. Carroll S. Woods, Lt. Robert H. Nelron, Jr., Capt. Andrew D. Turner, and Lt. Clarence P. Lester. (U.S. Air Force photo)

"The Tuskegee Airmen" are a group of African American pilots who flew with distinction during World War II.  The Tuskegee Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air. Four hundred and fifty of the pilots who were trained at Tuskegee Institute served overseas in either the 99th Pursuit Squadron (later the 99th Fighter Squadron) or the 332nd Fighter Group. The 99th Fighter Squadron trained in and flew aircraft in combat in North Africa, Sicily and Italy from April 1943 until July 1944 when they were transferred to the 332nd Fighter Group in the 15th Air Force They .flew theP-40 Warhawk, briefly with P-39 Airacobras (March 1944), later with P-47 Thunderbolts (June-July 1944), and finally with the airplane that they would become most identified with, the P-51 Mustang (July 1944).

By the end of the war, the Tuskegee Airmen were credited with 109 Luftwaffe aircraft shot down, a patrol boat run aground by machine-gun fire, and destruction of numerous fuel dumps, trucks and trains. The squadrons of the 332nd Fighter Group flew more than 15,000 sorties on 1,500 missions. The Tuskegee Airmen were awarded several Silver Stars, 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 8 Purple Hearts, 14 Bronze Stars and 744 Air Medals.

Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., commander of the Tuskegee Airmen 332nd Fighter Group, in front of his P-47 Thunderbolt in Sicily.(U.S. Air Force photo)



April 24. The United Negro College Fund was founded.

October 2. The first working, production-ready model of a mechanical cotton picker was demonstrated on a farm near Clarksdate, Mississippi.


Ebony, a monthly magazine for the African American market, was founded by John H. Johnson and has published continuously since the Autumn of 1945



April 19. Jackie Robinson became the first black to play major league baseball.


Hazel Scott was the first African American woman to have her own television show

Hazel Scott was the first African American woman to have her own television show, The Hazel Scott Show, which premiered on the DuMont Television Network on 3 July 1950.

September 22. Ralph J. Bunche won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a mediator in Palestine.


Jet magazine was founded in 1951 by John H. Johnson, head of Chicago's Johnson Publishing Co.



May 17. Brown v. Board of Education: In the 1950’s, school segregation was widely accepted throughout the nation. In fact, law in most Southern states required it. In 1952, the Supreme Court heard a number of school-segregation cases, including Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. This case decided unanimously in 1954 that segregation was unconstitutional, overthrowing the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that had set the “separate but equal” precedent.


 Montgomery Bus Boycott: Rosa Parks, a 43-year-old black seamstress, was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat near the front of a bus to a white man. The following night, fifty leaders of the Negro community met at Dexter Ave. Baptist Church to discuss the issue. Among them was the young minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The leaders organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which would deprive the bus company of 65% of its income, and cost Dr. King a $500 fine or 386 days in jail. He paid the fine, and eight months later, the Supreme Court decided, based on the school segregation cases, that bus segregation violated the constitution.

December 1. Rosa Parks refused to change seats in a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. On December 5 blacks began a boycott of the bus system which continued until shortly after December 13, 1956, when the United States Supreme Court outlawed bus segregation in the city.

Desegregation at Little Rock: Little Rock Central High School


Desegregation at Little Rock: Little Rock Central High School was to begin the 1957 school year desegregated. On September 2, the night before the first day of school, Governor Faubus announced that he had ordered the Arkansas National Guard to monitor the school the next day. When a group of nine black students arrived at Central High on September 3, they were kept from entering by the National Guardsmen. On September 20, judge Davies granted an injunction against Governor Faubus and three days later the group of nine students returned to Central High School. Although the students were not physically injured, a mob of 1,000 townspeople prevented them from remaining at school. Finally, President Eisenhower ordered 1,000 paratroopers and 10,000 National Guardsmen to Little Rock, and on September 25, Central High School was desegregated.

Desegregation at Little Rock: Little Rock Central High School

February 14. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was formed with Martin Luther King, Jr.,, as president.

August 29. Congress passed the Voting Rights Bill of 1957, the first major civil rights legislation in more than 75 years.

Nat King Cole Show

 November 5  The Nat King Cole Show debuted on NBC-TV.  Initially begun as a 15-minute show on Monday night, the show was expanded to a half hour in July 1957.


Motown Records, Inc., also known as Tamla-Motown incorporated on January 12, 1959 by Berry Gordy, Jr.

 Motown played an important role in the racial integration of popular music as the first record label owned by an African American and primarily featuring African American artists to regularly achieve crossover success and have a widespread, lasting effect on the music industry and society in general.


 February 1, 1960 Sit-in Campaign: After having been refused service at the lunch counter of a Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina, Joseph McNeill, a college student, returned the next day with three classmates to sit at the counter until they were served. They were not served. The four students returned to the lunch counter each day. When an article in the New York Times drew attention to the students' protest, more students, both black and white, joined them, and students across the nation were inspired to launch similar protests. “In a span of two weeks, there were sit-ins in eleven cities”. Despite beatings, being doused with ammonia, heavy court fines, arrest and imprisonment, new waves of students appeared at lunch counters to continue the movement through February and March. “By late March, the police had orders not to arrest the demonstrators because of the national publicity the sit-ins were attracting”. Senator John F. Kennedy, one of the candidates in the presidential election that year, sent a statement to the sit-in students in Atlanta expressing the sentiment that “they have shown that the new way for Americans to stand up for their rights is to sit down”. This represented one of the few times that either presidential candidate addressed a civil rights issue during the campaign.

On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.
(Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)


The F. W. Woolworth Company (often referred to as Woolworth's) was a retail company that was one of the original American five-and-dime stores. The first Woolworth's store was founded, with a loan of $300, in 1878 by Frank Winfield Woolworth. Despite growing to be one of the largest retail chains in the world through most of the 20th century, increased competition led to its decline beginning in the 1980s. In 1997, F. W. Woolworth Company converted itself into a sporting goods retailer, closing its remaining retail stores operating under the "Woolworth's" brand name and renaming itself Venator Group. By 2001, the company focused exclusively on the sporting goods market, changing its name to the present Foot Locker Inc (NYSE: FL). Retail chains using the Woolworth name survive in Germany, Austria, Mexico, and South Africa.


February 1. Sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, initiated a wave of similar protests throughout the South.

April 15-17. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee was founded in Raleigh, North Carolina.


Freedom Rides: In 1961, busloads of volunteers of mixed races waged a cross-country campaign to try to end the segregation of bus terminals. Their plan was to test the Supreme Court’s ruling that segregated seating on interstate buses and trains was unconstitutional. Their legal action, however, was met with violence at many stops along the way. Local segregation laws were frequently used to arrest and try the freedom riders. But as one group was arrested, more arrived to take their place. Throughout the summer, more than 300 Freedom Riders traveled through the deep south in an effort to integrate the bus terminals. When freedom riders were savagely beaten in Montgomery, Alabama, one of President Kennedy’s representatives was also knocked unconscious and left lying in the street for half an hour. Kennedy felt this gave him justification to send in 600 federal marshals in a showdown between the state of Alabama and the federal government. After this confrontation, Kennedy made a deal with Democratic governors and congressmen who held power in the South. He would not send in federal troops as long as they made sure there was no mob violence against the riders.

Freedom Rides: In 1961, busloads of volunteers of mixed races waged a cross-country campaign to try to end the segregation of bus terminals.


Sidney Poitier becomes first Black Actor to win Academy Award for Best Actor

Birmingham: In May 1963, Dr. King, the Reverend Abernathy and the Reverend Shuttlesworth lead a protest march in Birmingham. The protestors were met with policemen and dogs. The three ministers were arrested and taken to Southside Jail. Dr. King was held in solitary confinement for three days, during which he wrote, smuggled out of jail, and had printed his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” a profoundly moving justification for the moral necessity of non-violent resistance to unjust laws.

Dr. King, the Reverend Shuttlesworth and the Reverend Abernathy

June-August. Civil rights protests took place in most major urban areas.

August 28. The March on Washington was the largest civil rights demonstration ever. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

In September 1963, the Ku Klux Klan bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing four little girls who, dressed in the “Youth Sunday” best, were preparing to lead the 11:00 am adult service. The bombing came without warning. Since 1911, this church had served as the center of life for Birmingham’s African American community. By the end of the day, riots and fires had broken out throughout Birmingham and another 2 teenagers were dead. This murderous act shocked the nation and galvanized the civil rights movement.  

The crater and other damage caused by the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which killed four little girls.


January 23. The Twenty-fourth Amendment forbade the use of the poll tax to prevent voting.

February 25 1964 Muhammad Ali knocked out, Sonny Liston in seven rounds, thus becoming the new heavyweight world champion.  Ali defended his title nine times from 1965 to 1967. Ali often proclaimed his invincibility in verse and boasted, "I am the greatest!"

March 12. Malcolm X announced his split from  Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam. 

April 3- Malcolm X gives his speech “The Ballot or the Bullet” at the Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cleveland chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sponsored the event.

July 2- The Civil Rights Act of 1964: In his first address to Congress and the nation as president, Johnson called for passage of the civil rights bill as a monument to the fallen Kennedy. While the House of Representatives passed the measure by a lopsided 290-130 vote, every one knew that the real battle would be in the Senate, whose rules had allowed southerners in the past to mount filibusters that had effectively killed nearly all civil rights legislation. But Johnson had the civil rights leaders mount a massive lobbying campaign, including inundating the Capitol with religious leaders of all faiths and colors. The strategy paid off, and in June the Senate voted to close debate; a few weeks later, it passed the most important piece of civil rights legislation in the nation's history, and on July 2, 1964, President Johnson signed it into law. The heart of the law deals with public accommodations, so that African Americans could no longer be excluded from restaurants, hotels and other public facilities.

July 18-August 30. Beginning in Harlem, serious racial disturbances occurred in more than six major cities.


Selma: Outraged over the killing of a demonstrator by a state trooper in Marion, Alabama, the black community of Marion decided to hold a march. Martin Luther King agreed to lead the marchers on Sunday, March 7, from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital, where they would appeal directly to governor Wallace to stop police brutality and call attention to their struggle for suffrage. When Governor Wallace refused to allow the march, Dr. King went to Washington to speak with President Johnson, delaying the demonstration until March 8. However, the people of Selma could not wait and they began the march on Sunday. When the marchers reached the city line, they found a posse of state troopers waiting for them. As the demonstrators crossed the bridge leading out of Selma, they were ordered to disperse, but the troopers did not wait for their warning to be headed. They immediately attacked the crowd of people who had bowed their heads in prayer. Using tear gas and batons, the troopers chased the demonstrators to a black housing project, where they continued to beat the demonstrators as well as residents of the project who had not been at the march. 

Bloody Sunday received national attention, and numerous marches were organized in response. Martin Luther King led a march to the Selma Bridge that Tuesday, during which one protestor was killed. Finally, with President Johnson's permission, Dr. King led a successful march from Selma to Montgomery on March 25. President Johnson gave a rousing speech to congress concerning civil rights as a result of Bloody Sunday, and passed the Voting Rights Act within that same year. John Lewis, former freedom rider and voting rights registration organizer, and one of the young men beaten on the Selma Bridge that Sunday, currently serves as a U.S. Congressman for the State of Georgia.

Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits literacy tests and poll taxes which had been used to prevent blacks from voting. According to a report of the Bureau of the Census from 1982, in 1960 there were 22,000 African-Americans registered to vote in Mississippi, but in 1966 the number had risen to 175,000. Alabama went from 66,000 African-American registered voters in 1960 to 250,000 in 1966. South Carolina's African-American registered voters went from 58,000 to 191,000 in the same time period.

January 2. The SCLC launched a voter drive in Selma, Alabama. which escalated into a nationwide protest movement.

February 21. Malcolm X is assassinated in Harlem by members of the Nation of Islam.

August 11-21. The Watts riots left 34 dead, more than 3,500 arrested, and property damage of about 225 million dollars.

I Spy was an American television secret agent adventure series. It ran for three seasons on NBC from 1965 to 1968 and teamed Robert Culp as international tennis player Kelly Robinson, and Bill Cosby as his trainer Alexander Scott. In reality, they were both top agents for the Pentagon and, while ostensibly traveling as "tennis bums" (a talented amateur who plays tennis with rich people in return for food and lodging), they were usually busy chasing villains, spies, and beautiful women.I Spy broke new ground in that it was the first American television drama to feature an African-American actor (Cosby) in a lead role.


August On August 23, 1966, Muhammad Ali applied with the Selective Service for conscientious objector status on religious grounds (as a minister with the Nation of Islam).

Appearing at his scheduled induction into the U.S. Armed Forces on April 28, 1967 in Houston, he refused three times to step forward at the call of his name. An officer warned him he was committing a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Once more, Ali refused to budge when his name was called. As a result, he was arrested and on the same day the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title. Other boxing commissions followed suit.

At the trial on June 20, 1967, after only 21 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Ali guilty.

On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court reversed his conviction for refusing induction by unanimous decision in Clay v. United States.


"I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong-No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder kill and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end." —Muhammad Ali

On September 8, 1966 "Star Trek" premiered on NBC TV. It featured Nichelle Nichols in a prominent supporting role as the Chief Communications Officer (4th in command of The Star ship Enterprise) which for the times, was unprecedented. Her character was Lieutenant Nyota Uhura.

 Uhura" comes from the Swahili word uhuru, meaning "freedom",Nyota  means star in the African languages Swahili and Lingala.

Nichelle  almost left "Star Trek" after the first year because she thought of it as an interruption in her career plans. What made her stay remains as powerful and moving each time she tells it.

The day after Nichols told series creator Gene Roddenberry she planned to beam off the show, she went to a NAACP fund-raiser. She was told there was a big fan at the event who wanted to meet her.

"I thought it was a Trekkie, and so I said, 'Sure.' And I stood up, and I looked across the room, and there was Dr. Martin Luther King walking towards me with this big grin on his face," Nichols says. "He reached out to me and said, 'Yes, Ms. Nichols, I am your greatest fan.'

"He said that 'Star Trek' was the only show that he and his wife, Coretta, would allow their three little children to stay up and watch."

She told King about her plans to leave the series.

"I never got to tell him why, because he said, 'You can't,'" Nichols says. "He said 'You're part of history, and this is your responsibility even though it might not have been your career choice.'"

He said it was her duty to stay on the show and be a positive role model.

Nichols went back to work and told Roddenberry she would stay. When Roddenberry heard what King had said, he cried.

October. The Black Panther Party For Self Defense was founded  to promote civil rights and self-defense by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.

Bobby Seale and Huey Newton Black Panther Party 

Original six Black Panthers (November, 1966) Top left to right: Elbert "Big Man" Howard; Huey P. Newton (Defense Minister), Sherman Forte, Bobby Seale (Chairman). Bottom: Reggie Forte and Little Bobby Hutton (Treasurer).

The Black Panther Party Ten Point Plan

    We believe that Black and oppressed people will not be free until we are able to determine our destinies in our own communities ourselves, by fully controlling all the institutions which exist in our communities.

    We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every person employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the American businessmen will not give full employment, then the technology and means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.

    We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of our fifty million Black people. Therefore, we feel this is a modest demand that we make.

    We believe that if the landlords will not give decent housing to our Black and oppressed communities, then housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that the people in our communities, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for the people.

    We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of the self. If you do not have knowledge of yourself and your position in the society and in the world, then you will have little chance to know anything else.

    We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventive medical programs to guarantee our future survival. We believe that mass health education and research programs must be developed to give all Black and oppressed people access to advanced scientific and medical information, so we may provide our selves with proper medical attention and care.

    We believe that the racist and fascist government of the United States uses its domestic enforcement agencies to carry out its program of oppression against black people, other people of color and poor people inside the united States. We believe it is our right, therefore, to defend ourselves against such armed forces and that all Black and oppressed people should be armed for self defense of our homes and communities against these fascist police forces.

    We believe that the various conflicts which exist around the world stem directly from the aggressive desire of the United States ruling circle and government to force its domination upon the oppressed people of the world. We believe that if the United States government or its lackeys do not cease these aggressive wars it is the right of the people to defend themselves by any means necessary against their aggressors.

    We believe that the many Black and poor oppressed people now held in United States prisons and jails have not received fair and impartial trials under a racist and fascist judicial system and should be free from incarceration. We believe in the ultimate elimination of all wretched, inhuman penal institutions, because the masses of men and women imprisoned inside the United States or by the United States military are the victims of oppressive conditions which are the real cause of their imprisonment. We believe that when persons are brought to trial they must be guaranteed, by the United States, juries of their peers, attorneys of their choice and freedom from imprisonment while awaiting trial.

    When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are most disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpation, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.


May 1-October 1. This was the worst summer for racial disturbances in United States history.


April 4. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. In the following week riots occurred in at least 125 places throughout the country.


October 16 at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico two American track and field runners, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, made a  stand against racism in the United States.

Smith and Carlos were both competitors in the 200-meter race. Smith won the gold with the time of 19.5 seconds and Carlos won the bronze. At the medal ceremony, Smith and Carlos stood on the platform wearing black socks without shoes, they both wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge, and Smith wore a black scarf around his neck. As the American flag was raised and the National Anthem was played, Smith and Carlos bowed their heads and each raised a gloved fist in the black power salute. Because of their actions, the Olympic Committee barred them from competing in other events. John Carlos and Tommie Smith are true heroes.


James Brown


"Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" is a 1968 recording by James Brown.  It is notable both as one of Brown's signature songs and one of the most popular "black power" anthems of the 1960s. In the song, Brown addresses the prejudice towards blacks in America, and the need for black empowerment. He proclaims that "we done made us a chance to do for ourself/we're tired of beating our head against the wall/workin' for someone else".


September 17, 1968 "Julia" debuts on NBC. Diahann Carroll became the first African American woman to have the lead in a hit TV show.


The series revolved around the lives of Julia Baker, (Diahann Carroll) a widowed black nurse and her young son, Corey (Marc Copage). Julia's husband had been killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam, and the series began with the now fatherless Baker family moving into an integrated apartment building in Los Angeles while Julia secured employment at the medical offices of Astrospace Industries. She worked with a gruff but lovable elderly white physician, Dr. Chegley (Lloyd Nolan), Julia's closest friends were her white neighbors, the Waggedorns--Marie, a scatter-brained housewife; Len, a police officer; and Earl J. Waggedorn, their son and Corey's pal.


Sly and The Family Stone

Sly and The Family Stone


Sly and The Family Stone, a multi racial group, unheard of for the times, recorded a landmark 1969 song about acceptance, "Everyday People". The band exemplified racial harmony, ethnic diversity and a voice for women in its lineup. Sly and the Family Stone came together late in 1966, with keyboardist/vocalist Sly Stone (born Sylvester Stewart) recruiting family members: his sister Rose (keyboards, vocals), brother Freddie Stone (guitar) and cousin Larry Graham (bass). The group was rounded out by Cynthia Robinson (trumpet), Greg Errico (drums) and Jerry Martini (sax). 


 "Everyday People".-Sometimes I'm right and I can be wrong My own beliefs are in my song The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then Makes no difference what group I'm in I am everyday people, yeah yeah 

There is a blue one who can't accept the green one For living with a fat one trying to be a skinny one And different strokes for different folks And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo-bee Oh sha sha - we got to live together I am no better and neither are you We are the same whatever we do You love me you hate me you know me and then You can't figure out the bag l'm in I am everyday people, yeah yeah 

There is a long hair that doesn't like the short hair For bein' such a rich one that will not help the poor one And different strokes for different folks And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo-bee Oh sha sha-we got to live together 

There is a yellow one that won't accept the black one That won't accept the red one that won't accept the white one And different strokes for different folks.



The Jackson 5 perform "Can You Remember" in 1969 on the Hollywood Palace. The song is one of their early cuts on their debut album for Motown, "Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5."


October 29. The Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools had to end at once and that unitary school systems were required.


July 1. Kenneth Gibson became the first black mayor of an Eastern city in Newark, New Jersey.

Ralph Abernathy and Kenneth Gibson

The Flip Wilson Show, debuted on NBC in 1970. Flip Wilson played host to many entertainers and performed in comedy sketches. His characters included Reverend Leroy, pastor of the Church of What’s Happening Now; and Geraldine, whose line “The devil made me do it” became a national expression. In its first two seasons, the series hit the number two spot in overall ratings.

The show aired through 1974, gaining high ratings and great popularity. Wilson won a Golden Globe award for best actor in a television series, and the show won eighteen Emmys in the 1972 and 1973 seasons.

Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor and Buddy Hackett


March 24. The Southern Regional Council reported that desegregation in Southern schools was the rule, not the exception. The report also pointed out that the dual school system was far from dismantled.

" The Hippest Trip In America" -Soul Train began airing in selected cities across the United States, on a weekly basis, on October 2, 1971.During the heyday of Soul Train in the 1970s and 1980s, the program was widely influential among younger black Americans, many of whom turned to it not only to hear the latest songs by well-known black artists but also for clues about the latest fashions and dance trends. Moreover, for many white Americans in that era who were not living in areas that were racially diverse, Soul Train provided a unique window into black culture. 

Don Cornelius, creator, executive producer and the host  introduced the world to "The Soul Train Dancers" and the "Soul Train Scramble Board", where two dancers are given sixty seconds to unscramble a set of letters which form the name of that show's performer or a famous person in African American history. 

Near the program's conclusion, there is also the popular "Soul Train Line", in which all the dancers form a two lines with space in the middle for individual dancers to strut down and dance in consecutively. Sometimes, new dance styles or moves are featured or introduced by particular dancers. Don cornelius ended every show with this sign off-"...and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace... and SOUL!"


The 1972 NBC television program Sanford and Son chronicled the adventures of Fred G. Sanford, a cantankerous widower living with his grown son, Lamont (played by Demond Wilson), in the Watts section of  Los Angeles, California. Independent producers, Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin licensed the format of a British program, Steptoe & Son, which featured the exploits of a cockney junk dealer, and created Sanford and Son as an American version. Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons and Good Times, all produced by Lear and Yorkin, featured mostly black casts--the first such programming to appear since the Amos 'n' Andy show was canceled in a hailstorm debate in 1953.The starring role of Sanford and Son was portrayed by actor-comedian Redd Foxx. It was Foxx's enormously funny portrayal of sixty-five year old Fred G. Sanford that quickly earned Sanford and Son a place among the top-ten watched television programs to air on NBC television. He was supported by Lamont, his  son, and a multi-racial cast of regular and occasional characters who served as the butt of Sanford's jokes and insults. the show also dealt with race relations and the issues of the time. It also the first show to ever explore the issue of "DWB" (Driving While Black) in a courtroom scene.  



May 29. Thomas Bradley was elected the first black mayor of Los Angeles.

October 16. Maynard H. Jackson was elected the first black mayor of Atlanta

Maynard H. Jackson Jr., left, Atlanta's first black mayor, is shown with boxing great Muhammad Ali, right, and attorney Leroy Johnson in 1970


April 8. Henry Aaron hit his 715th home run to become the all-time leading hitter of home runs.


 Roots: The Saga of an American Family is a novel written by Alex Haley and first published in 1976. It was adapted into a 12-hour television miniseries. Roots remains one of television's landmark programs. The twelve-hour mini-series aired on ABC from 23-30 January 1977. For eight consecutive nights it riveted the country. ABC executives initially feared that the historical saga about slavery would be a ratings disaster. Instead, Roots scored higher ratings than any previous entertainment program in history. It averaged a 44.9 rating and a 66 audience share for the length of its run.


In 1979 "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang became a Top 40 hit on the U.S. Billboard pop singles chart.


Black Entertainment Television network was launched on January 25, 1980, by its founder, Robert L. Johnson.

May 18. Racial disturbances beginning on May 17 resulted in 15 deaths in Miami, Florida. This was the worst riot since those in Watts and Detroit in the 1960s.



May 23. Lee P. Brown was named the first black police commissioner of Houston, Texas.

Thriller is the sixth studio album by American recording artist Michael Jackson and the best-selling album of all time. The album was released on November 30, 1982 by Epic Records as the follow-up to Jackson's critically and commercially successful 1979 album Off the Wall. Thriller explores similar genres to those of Off the Wall, including funk, disco, soul, soft rock, R&B and pop.

.In 1983, MTV played the music video Thriller every hour on the hour. Michael Jackson, changed MTV and the world in which we live. He was the driving force behind what is perhaps the last great era in pop music .

Unlike many artists who phone in videos with concert footage or pack them full of scantily clad models, Jackson used his MTV time to tell stories (as in Thriller and Smooth Criminal), push the boundaries of special effects (as in Billie Jean), produce full, Broadway-choreography (as in Beat It). He single-handedly fortified the fledgling music television channel and turned the music video into an art form.


February 23. Harold Washington won the Democratic party nomination for mayor of Chicago. On April 12 he would win the election for mayor.

June 22. The state legislature of Louisiana repealed the last racial classification law in the United States. The criterion for being classified as black was having 1/32nd Negro blood.

November 2. President Ronald Reagan signed the bill establishing January 20 a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

August 30. Guion (Guy) S. Bluford, Jr. was the first black American astronaut to make a space flight on board the space shuttle Challenger.


The Cosby Show, starring Bill Cosby,dominated Thursday evenings from 1984 to 1992. Focusing on the everyday adventures of an upper-middle-class black family, the series revived a television genre (situation comedy), saved a beleaguered network (NBC). The Cosby Show premiered on 20 September 1984 and shot to the top of the ratings almost immediately.



January 16. A bronze bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., was the first of any black American in the halls of Congress.

January 20. The first national Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday was celebrated.

September 8 The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated talk show in television history broadcasts nationally .


January 31 Doug Williams, first African-American to start and win a Super Bowl at Quarterback. Williams engineered a 42-10 rout, in which the Redskins set an NFL record by scoring five touchdowns in the second quarter. Williams completed 18 of 29 passes for 340 yards, with four TD passes, and was named Super Bowl MVP

In 1988, Public Enemy released It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, which focused on politics, corporate control, structural racism and police brutality.




October 1 General Colin Powell became  Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense.


The Arsenio Hall Show was an Emmy Award winning talk show that aired late weeknights in syndication from January 2, 1989 to May 27, 1994, and starred comedian/actor Arsenio Hall.



Riots break out in Los Angeles, sparked by the acquittal of four white police officers caught on videotape beating Rodney King, a black motorist. The riots cause at least 55 deaths and $1 billion in damage.



Carol Moseley Braun becomes the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate, representing the state of Illinois.


Mae Carol Jemison (born October 17, 1956) is an American physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.




Joycelyn Elders becomes the first African American woman to serve as the U.S. surgeon general.




October 16 “Million Man March” advocating "unity, atonement and brotherhood". The event included efforts to register African Americans to vote in US Elections and increase black involvement in volunteerism and community activism.

Million Man March

The Million Man March on the Mall, looking towards the U.S. Capitol as seen from the top of the Smithsonian Castle Building's Clock Tower. Photo by Jim Wallace -Smithsonian


Organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, the march also drew participants from other churches, as well as many schools and social organizations. Many of the participants said they were optimistic that the peaceful day of praying, singing and speechmaking would lead to more understanding between the races.




On September 7, 1996 West rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur was shot to death in a drive by shooting in Las Vegas. On March 3, 1997 East rapper Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G. was shot to death. They both were killed in a feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers. That was a wake up call to many other rappers that music should be a positive force for people.


Still today some rappers still demean women and glorify thugs, drug dealers and murderers.




Tiger Woods becomes the first African American golfer to win the Masters Tournament.




In January President-elect George Bush nominates Colin Powell to be Secretary of State. Condoleezza Rice takes the position of National Security Advisor for the Bush administration. This is the first time either of these posts is held by an African American.





March 24. Halle Berry becomes the first African-American woman to receive an Academy Award for best actress and Denzel Washington becomes only the second African-American man to win in the best actor category






Citizen Change is a national, non-partisan and non-profit organization created to educate, motivate, and empower the more than 42 million Americans aged 18 to 30 that are eligible to vote  --also known as the “forgotten ones.”

 Founded by businessman, entertainer, actor, producer and designer Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Citizen Change has one mission: to make voting relevant to a generation that hasn't reached full participation in the political process.






In January Condoleezza Rice becomes the Secretary of State. She is the first African American woman to hold the post.




Tony Dungy became the first African American head coach to win the Super Bowl when his Colts defeated the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007




On November 4, Barack Obama, the only sitting African American U.S. Senator, is elected President of the United States.



Barack H. Obama is the 44th President of the United States sworn in office January 20,2009




February 3, 2009  Eric Himpton Holder, Jr. was sworn in as the first African American Attorney General  of the United States.


Charles Frank "Charlie" Bolden, Jr. (born August 19, 1946 in Columbia, South Carolina, United States) is the current Administrator of NASA, a retired United States Marine Corps major general, and former NASA astronaut.

A 1968 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he became a Marine Aviator and test pilot. After his service as an astronaut, he became Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy. Bolden is the virtual host of the Shuttle Launch Experience attraction at Kennedy Space Center. 

On May 23, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Bolden as NASA Administrator Bolden was confirmed by the Senate on July 15, 2009. He is the first African American to head the agency on a permanent basis.