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Yearsort iconEventsSubjectCountryStateEra
1901The last African American congressman elected in the 19th Century, George H. White, Republican of North Carolina, leaves office. No African American will serve in Congress for the next 28 years. 01-011901-2000
1901On October 11, when Bert Williams and George Walker record their music for the Victor Talking Machine Company, they become the first African American recording artists. 10-111901-2000
1901On October 16, only one month after becoming President, Theodore Roosevelt holds an afternoon meeting at the White House with Booker T. Washington. At the end of the meeting the President informally invites Washington to remain for dinner, making the Tuskegee educator the first black American to dine at the White House with a president. Roosevelts casual act generates a national furor. 10-161901-2000
1901Booker T. Washington's autobiography Up From Slavery is published. 19011901-2000
1902In May jockey Jimmy Winkfield wins the Kentucky Derby in an era when African American jockeys dominate the sport. 05-011901-2000
1903W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folks is published on April 27. In it Du Bois rejects the gradualism of Booker T. Washington, calling for agitation on behalf of African American rights. 04-271901-2000
1903Maggie Lena Walker founds St. Lukes Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Virginia. 04-281901-2000
1904Educator Mary McLeod Bethune founds a college in Daytona Beach, Florida that today is known as Bethune-Cookman University. 01-011901-2000
1904Sigma Pi Phi (the Boule) is founded in Philadelphia on May 15 by four wealthy African American college graduates. 01-011901-2000
1904Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller, who trains at the Royal Psychiatric Hospital at the University of Munich with Dr. Alois Alzheimer, becomes a widely published pioneer in Alzheimers disease research. Fuller also becomes the nations first black psychiatrist. 01-021901-2000
1905The black weekly newspaper, The Chicago Defender, is founded by Robert Abbott on May 5. 01-011901-2000
1905The Niagara Movement is created on July 11-13, by African American intellectuals and activists, led by W.E.B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter. 07-131901-2000
1905Nashville African Americans boycott streetcars to protest racial segregation. 08-011901-2000
1906The Azusa Street Revival begins in the former African Methodist Episcopal Church building at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles in April. The revival, led by black evangelist William J. Seymour, is considered the beginning of the worldwide Pentecostal Movement. 04-011901-2000
1906On August 13 in Brownsville, Texas, approximately a dozen black troops riot against segregation and in the process kill a local citizen. When the identity of the killer cannot be determined, President Theodore Roosevelt discharges three companies of black soldiers on November 6.The episode would be called the Brownsville Affray. 08-131901-2000
1906The Atlanta Race Riot on September 22-24 produces twelve deaths; ten blacks and two whites. 09-241901-2000
1906On December 4, seven students at Cornell University form Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the first college fraternity for black men. 12-041901-2000
1907Alain Locke of Philadelphia, a Harvard graduate, becomes the first African American Rhodes Scholar. 01-011901-2000
1907The Pittsburgh Courier is established by Edwin Harleston, a security guard and aspiring writer. Three years later attorney Robert Vann takes control of the paper as its editor-publisher. 01-021901-2000
1907Madam C.J. Walker of Denver develops and markets her hair straightening method and creates one of the most successful cosmetics firms in the nation. 01-031901-2000
1908On January 15, Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first black sorority, is founded on the campus of Howard University. 01-151901-2000
1908On August 14, the Springfield Race Riot breaks out in Springfield, Illinois, the home town of Abraham Lincoln. Two blacks and four whites are killed. This is the first major riot in a Northern city in nearly half a century. 08-141901-2000
1909The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is formed on February 12 in New York City, partly in response to the Springfield Riot. 02-121901-2000
1909On April 6, Admiral Robert E. Peary and African American Matthew Henson, accompanied by four Eskimos, become the first men known to have reached the North Pole. 04-061901-2000
1909On December 4, the New York Amsterdam News begins publication. 12-041901-2000
1909The Knights of Peter Claver, the first permanent national black Catholic fraternal order, is founded in Mobile, Alabama. 19091901-2000
1910Census of 1910: U.S. population: 93,402,151, Black population: 9,827,763 (10.7 percent) 01-011901-2000
1910The National Urban League is founded in New York City on September 29. The League is organized to help African Americans secure employment and to adjust to urban life. 09-291901-2000
1910The first issue of Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP, appears on November 1. W.E.B. Du Bois is the first editor. 11-011901-2000
1910On December 19, the City Council of Baltimore approves an ordinance segregating black and white neighborhoods. This ordinance is followed by similar statutes in Dallas, Texas, Greensboro, North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, Norfolk, Virginia, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Richmond, Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia, and St. Louis, Missouri. 12-191901-2000
1911Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity is founded at Indiana University on January 5. 01-051901-2000
1911Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is founded at Howard University on November 17. 11-171901-2000
1912W.C. Handy published "Memphis Blues" sheet music in Memphis 19121901-2000
1913The Jubilee year, the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, is celebrated throughout the nation over the entire year. 01-011901-2000
1913Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is founded at Howard University on January 13. 01-131901-2000
1913On April 11, the Woodrow Wilson administration initiates the racial segregation of work places, rest rooms and lunch rooms in all federal offices across the nation. 04-111901-2000
1913Bert Williams plays the lead role in Darktown Jubilee, making him the first African American actor to star in a motion picture. 05-011901-2000
1913Noble Drew Ali founds the Moorish Science Temple in Newark, New Jersey. 19131901-2000
1914Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity is founded at Howard University on January 9. 01-091901-2000
1914Cleveland inventor Garrett Morgan patents a gas mask called the Safety Hood and Smoke Protector. The mask, initially used to rescue trapped miners, is eventually adopted by the U.S. Army. 01-111901-2000
1914On August 1, World War I began in Europe. 08-011901-2000
1915The Great Migration of African Americans from the South to Northern cities begins. 01-011901-2000
1915On June 21, the Oklahoma Grandfather Clause is overturned in Guinn v. United States. 06-211901-2000
1915In September, Carter G. Woodson founds the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in Chicago. 09-011901-2000
1916Marcus Garvey founds the New York Division of the Universal Negro Improvement Association with sixteen members. Four years later the UNIA holds its national convention in Harlem. At its height the organization claims nearly two million members. 01-011901-2000
1916On July 25, Garrett Morgan uses his newly invented gas mask to rescue men trapped after an explosion in a tunnel 250 feet beneath Lake Erie. 07-251901-2000
1916In January the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) begins publishing the Journal of Negro History which becomes the first scholarly journal devoted to the study of African American history. 19161901-2000
1917The United States enters World War I on April 6. Some 370,000 African-Americans join the armed forces with more than half serving in the French war zone. Over 1,000 black officers command these troops. The French government awards the Croix de Guerre to 107 African American soldiers. 04-061901-2000
1917The East St. Louis Race Riot begins on July 1 and continues to July 3. Forty people are killed, hundreds more injured, and 6,000 driven from their homes. 07-031901-2000
1917Nearly 10,000 African Americans and their supporters march down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue on July 28 as part of a silent parade, an NAACP-organized protest against lynchings, race riots, and the denial of rights. This is the first major civil rights demonstration in the 20th Century. 07-281901-2000
1917In August, A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen found The Messenger, a black socialist magazine, in New York City. 08-241901-2000
1917On August 23, the Houston Mutiny and subsequent riot erupts between black soldiers and white citizens; two blacks and 11 whites are killed. Twenty-nine black soldiers are executed for participation in the riot. 08-281901-2000
1917On November 5, the Supreme Court in Buchanan v. Warley strikes down the Louisville, Kentucky ordinance mandating segregated neighborhoods. 11-051901-2000
1918On July 25-28, a race riot in Chester, Pennsylvania claims five lives, three blacks and two whites. 07-281901-2000
1918On July 26-29, in nearby Philadelphia, another race riot breaks out killing four, three blacks and one white. 07-291901-2000
1918The Armistice on November 11 ends World War I. However, the northern migration of African Americans continues. By 1930 there were 1,035,000 more black Americans in the North than in 1910. 11-111901-2000
1919The Ku Klux Klan is revived in 1915 at Stone Mountain, Georgia, and by the beginning of 1919 operates in 27 states. Eighty-three African Americans are lynched during the year, among them a number of returning soldiers still in uniform. 01-011901-2000
1919The West Virginia State Supreme Court rules that an African American is denied equal protection under the law if his jury has no black members. 01-021901-2000
1919The Associated Negro Press is established in Chicago by Claude A. Barnett on March 2. 03-021901-2000
1919The twenty five race riots that take place throughout the nation prompt the term, Red Summer. The largest clashes take place on May 10 in Charleston, South Carolina, July 13 in Longview, Texas, July 19-23 in Washington, D. C, July 27-Aug. 1 in Chicago, September 28 in Omaha, and October 1-3 in Elaine, Arkansas. 07-231901-2000
1919Claude McKay publishes "If We Must Die," considered one of the first major examples of Harlem Renaissance writing. 08-011901-2000
1919Father Divine founds the Peace Mission Movement at his home in Sayville, New York. 09-011901-2000
1919South Dakota resident Oscar Micheaux releases his first film, The Homesteader, in Chicago. Over the next four decades Micheaux will produce and direct 24 silent films and 19 sound films, making him the most prolific black filmmaker of the 20th Century. 10-011901-2000
1920Census of 1920, Black population: 10,463,131 (9.9 percent), U.S. population: 105,710,620 01-011901-2000
1920The decade of the 1920s witnesses the Harlem Renaissance, a remarkable period of creativity for black writers, poets, and artists, including among others Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. 01-101901-2000
1920On January 16, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority is founded at Howard University. 01-161901-2000
1920Andrew Rube Foster leads the effort to establish the Negro National (Baseball) League on February 14 in Kansas City. Eight teams are part of the league. 02-141901-2000
1920On August 26, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified giving all women the right to vote. Nonetheless, African American women, like African American men, are denied the franchise in most Southern states. 08-261901-2000
1920Former heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson opens the Club Deluxe in Harlem. Two years later gangaster Owney Madden buys the club and changes its name to the Cotton Club. 19201901-2000
1920Marcus Garvey leads the first international convention of the Universal Negro Improvement Association which he calls the International Convention of Negro Peoples of the World. The meeting is held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 19201901-2000
1921Shuffle Along by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake opens on Broadway on May 23. This is the first major play of the Harlem Renaissance. 05-231901-2000
1921On May 31-June 1, at least 60 blacks and 21 whites are killed in the Tulsa Race Riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The violence destroys a thriving African American neighborhood and business district called Deep Greenwood. 06-011901-2000
1921In June Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander of the University of Pennsylvania, Eva B. Dykes of Radcliff and Georgiana R. Simpson of the University of Chicago become the first African American women to earn Ph.D. degrees. 07-011901-2000
1921Harry Pace forms Black Swan Phonograph Corporation, the first African American-owned record company in Harlem. His artists will include Mamie and Bessie Smith. 09-011901-2000
1921One of the earliest exhibitions of work by African American artists, including Henry Ossawa Tanner and Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, is held at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library. 10-011901-2000
1921Jesse Binga founds the Binga State Bank in Chicago. It will become the largest African American bank in the nation before it collapses during the 1929 Stock Market Crash. 19211901-2000
1922In September William Leo Hansberry of Howard University teaches the first course in African history and civilization at an American university. 09-011901-2000
1922Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority is founded on November 12 in Indianapolis, Indiana. 11-121901-2000
1922The Harmon Foundation is established in New York City to promote African American participation in the fine arts.12-011901-2000
1923On January 4, the small, predominately black town of Rosewood, Florida is destroyed by a mob of white residents from nearby communities.  The attack would be known as the Rosewood Massacre. 01-041901-2000
1923Marcus Garvey is imprisoned for mail fraud. He is sent to the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta in 1925. 02-011901-2000
1923In September, the Cotton Club opens in Harlem. 09-011901-2000
1923Bessie Smith signs with Columbia Records to produce race records. Her recording, "Down-Hearted Blues," becomes the first million-selling record by an African American artist. Two years later she records "St. Louis Blues" with Louis Armstrong. 10-011901-2000
1923On November 20, Garrett T. Morgan patents a caution light which improves the traffic signal. 11-201901-2000
1923The National Urban League publishes its first issue of Opportunity, A Journal of Negro Life. The magazine, edited by Charles S. Johnson, quickly becomes a forum for artists and authors of the Harlem Renaissance. 12-011901-2000
1923Rojo Jack is the first African American to particiapte in professional car racing when he competes in a race in Honolulu Hawaii.19231901-2000
1924Photographer James Van Der Zee begins his career by capturing images of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA. 02-011901-2000
1925The New Negro by Alain Locke is published in New York City. 01-011901-2000
1925The National Bar Association, an organization of black attorneys, is established on August 1 in Des Moines, Iowa. 08-011901-2000
1925On August 2, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids is organized with A. Philip Randolph as its first president. 08-021901-2000
1925On September 9, Ossian Sweet, a Detroit physician, is arrested for murder after he and his family kill a member of a white mob while defending their home. The Sweet family is represented at their trial by Clarence Darrow and acquitted of the charge. 09-091901-2000
1925The American Negro Labor Congress is founded in Chicago in October.19211901-2000
1925Although African Americans have been serving as U.S. ambassadors since 1869, Clifton Reginald Wharton becomes the first African American to permanently enter the U.S. Foreign Service.19251901-2000
1926Carter G. Woodson establishes Negro History Week in February between the Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass Birthdays. 02-011901-2000
1926Dr. Mordecai Johnson becomes the first African American president of Howard University in September. 09-011901-2000
1926The Carnegie Corporation purchases Arturo Schomburg's collection of books and artifacts on African American life. The collection becomes the basis for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. 10-011901-2000
1927Chicago businessman Abe Saperstein forms the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team in Chicago on January 30. 01-301901-2000
1927On December 2, Marcus Garvey is deported from the United States. 12-021901-2000
1927Floyd Joseph Calvin, a Pittsburgh Courier journalist, becomes the first black radio talk show host when he begins broadcasting from WGBS in Pittsburgh. 19271901-2000
1928On November 6, Oscar DePriest, a Republican, is elected to Congress from Chicagos South Side. He is the first African American to represent a northern, urban district. 11-061901-2000
1928The Atlanta Daily World begins publication in November. 12-011901-2000
1929Fats Waller's musical, Aint Misbehavin, opens on Broadway. 01-011901-2000
1930Census of 1930, Black population: 11,891,143 (9.7 percent), U.S. population: 122,775,04601-011901-2000
1930James V. Herring establishes the Howard University Gallery of Art, the first gallery in the United States directed and controlled by African Americans. It is also one of the earliest galleries to highlight African American art.02-011901-2000
1930Wallace Fard Muhammad founds Black Muslim movement in Detroit in 1930. Four years later Elijah Muhammad assumes control of the movement and transfers the headquarters to Chicago. 03-011901-2000
1931Walter White is named NAACP executive secretary. Soon afterwards the NAACP mounts a new strategy primarily using lawsuits to end racial discrimination. 01-011901-2000
1931The Scottsboro Boys are arrested in Alabama. Their trial begins on April 6. 04-061901-2000
1931William Grant Still becomes the first black symphony composer to have his music performed by a major symphony orchestra when the Rochester, New York, Philharmonic Orchestra presets "The Afro-American Symphony" in concert. 19311901-2000
1932The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment begins under the direction of the U.S. Public Health Service. The experiment ends in 1972. 01-011901-2000
1932Gospel Composer Thomas Dorsey writes "Take My Hand, Precious Lord." 02-011901-2000
1932Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president of the United States in November.11-011901-2000
1932The Los Angeles Sentinel is founded by Leon H. Washington. 12-011901-2000
1932Dudley Murphy releases the film The Emperor Jones starring Paul Robeson. 12-151901-2000
1934W.E.B. Du Bois resigns from the NAACP in a dispute over the strategy of the organization in its campaign against racial discrimination. Roy Wilkins becomes the new editor of Crisis magazine. 01-011901-2000
1934The Southern Tenant Farmers Union is organized by the Socialist Party. 02-011901-2000
1934Zora Neale Hurston's first novel, Jonahs Gourd Vine, is published. 03-011901-2000
1934After operating under a number of names, the Apollo Theater opens under its current name in Harlem. 04-011901-2000
1935On March 20, the Harlem Race Riot, a one day riot erupts leaving two people dead. 03-201901-2000
1935On April 1, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Norris v. Alabama that a defendant has a right to trial by a jury of his or her peers. 04-011901-2000
1935The Michigan Chronicle is founded in Detroit by Louis E. Martin. 05-011901-2000
1935On November 5, the Maryland Supreme Court rules in Murray v. Pearson that the University of Maryland must admit African Americans to its law school or establish a separate school for blacks. The University of Maryland chooses to admit its first black students. 11-051901-2000
1935On December 24, Mary McLeod Bethune calls together the leaders of 28 national womens organizations to found the National Council of Negro Women in New York City. 12-241901-2000
1936The first meeting of the National Negro Congress takes place in Chicago on February 14, 1936. Nearly 600 black organizations are represented. 02-141901-2000
1936On June 24, Mary McLeod Bethune is named Director of the Division of Negro Affairs, the National Youth Administration. She is the highest ranking black official in the Roosevelt Administration and leads the Black Cabinet. She is also the first black woman to receive a presidential appointment. 06-241901-2000
1936Track star Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics between August 3 and August 9. 08-091901-2000
1936Dr. William Augustus Hinton's book, Syphilis and Its Treatment, is the first published medical textbook written by an African American. 09-011901-2000
1937William H. Hastie, former advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt, is confirmed on March 26 as the first black federal judge after his appointment by Roosevelt to the federal bench in the Virgin Islands. 03-261901-2000
1937The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids is recognized by the Pullman Company. 04-011901-2000
1937On June 22, boxer Joe Louis wins the heavyweight championship in a bout with James J. Braddock in Chicago. 06-221901-2000
1937In October, Katherine Dunham forms the Negro Dance Group, a company of black artists dedicated to presenting aspects of African American and African-Caribbean Dance. The company eventually becomes the Katherine Dunham Group. 10-011901-2000
1937Hugh Morris Gloster founds the College Language Association (CLA) in Atlanta, Georgia. 19371901-2000
1938On June 22, Joe Louis beats Max Schmeling in a rematch of his 1936 defeat by the German boxer. 06-221901-2000
1938Jacob Lawrence holds his first solo exhibition at the Harlem YMCA and completes his Toussaint L'Overture series. 07-011901-2000
1938In November Crystal Bird Fauset of Philadelphia becomes the first African American woman elected to a state legislature when she is chosen to serve in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. 11-011901-2000
1938On December 12, the U.S. Supreme Court in Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada rules that a state that provides in-state education for whites must provide comparable in-state education for blacks. 12-121901-2000
1939Popular contralto Marian Anderson sings at Lincoln Memorial before 75,000 people on Easter Sunday after the Daughters of the American Revolution refuse to allow her to perform at Constitution Hall. 01-011901-2000
1939Bill Bojangles Robinson organizes the Black Actors Guild. 02-011901-2000
1939World War II begins in Europe on September 1 when Germany invades Poland03-011901-2000
1939Jane M. Bolin becomes the first African American woman judge in the United States when she is appointed to the domestic relations court of New York City. 04-011901-2000
1940Census of 1940, U.S. population 131,669,275, Black population: 12,865,518 (9.8 percent) 01-011901-2000
1940On February 29, Hattie McDaniel receives an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in her role in Gone With the Wind. She becomes the first black actor to win an academy award. 02-291901-2000
1940Richard Wright publishes his first novel, Native Son. 03-011901-2000
1940Dr. Charles R. Drew presents his thesis, Banked Blood at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. The thesis includes his research which discovers that plasma can replace whole blood transfusions. 04-011901-2000
1940In October, Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr., is named the first African American general in the regular army. 10-011901-2000
1940The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is established in New York City.19401901-2000
1941Mary Lucinda Dawson founds the National Negro Opera Company in Pittsburgh.01-011901-2000
1941The U.S. Army creates the Tuskegee Air Squadron who will soon be known as the Tuskegee Airmen. 02-011901-2000
1941On June 25, President Franklin Roosevelt issues Executive Order 8802, desegregating war production plants and creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC). 06-251901-2000
1941On December 8, the United States enters World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Dorris "Dorie" Miller is later awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism during that battle. 12-081901-2000
1941-1945The desperate need for factory labor to build the war machine needed to win World War II leads to an unprecedented migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West. This migration transforms American politics as blacks increasingly vote in their new homes and put pressure on Congress to protect civil rights throughout the nation. Their activism lays much of the foundation for the national Civil Rights Movement a decade later. 01-011901-2000
1942While teaching at Livingstone College in North Carolina, Margaret Walker publishes For My People, which she began as her master's thesis at the University of Iowa. 01-011901-2000
1942The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is founded in Chicago by James Farmer, Jr., George Houser, Bernice Fisher, James Russell Robinson, Joe Guinn, and Homer Jack. 02-011901-2000
1942The U.S. Marine Corps accepts African American men for the first time at a segregated training facility at Camp Montford Point, North Carolina.  They will be known as the Montford Point Marines. 03-011901-2000
1942Charity Adams Earley becomes the first black woman commissioned officer in the Womens Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) while serving at Fort Des Moines. 04-011901-2000
1942Hugh Mulzac becomes the first African American captain in the American Merchant Marine. 19421901-2000
1943The Naval Academy at Annapolis and other naval officer schools accept African American men for the first time.01-011901-2000
1943The Detroit Race Riot, June 20-21, claims 34 lives including 25 African Americans. Other riots occur in Harlem, Mobile, Alabama, and Beaumont, Texas. 06-211901-2000
1943The first black cadets graduate from the Army Flight School at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. 07-011901-2000
1943By summer, fourteen thousand African American soldiers of the 93rd Infantry Division and the 32nd and 33rd companies of the Womens Army Auxiliary Corps (approximately 300 women) are stationed in the Arizona desert at Fort Huachuca for training. They are the largest concentration of black military personnel in the history of the nation. 08-011901-2000
1943Two American Navy Destroyer ships, the USS Mason, and the submarine chaser, PC1264, are staffed entirely by African American crews. 09-011901-2000
1943The black 99th Pursuit Squadron (Tuskegee Airmen) flies its first combat mission in Italy. 10-011901-2000
1944On April 3, the U.S. Supreme Court in Smith v. Allwright declares white only political primaries unconstitutional. 04-031901-2000
1944Frederick Douglass Patterson establishes the United Negro College Fund on April 25 to help support black colleges and black students. The fund is incorporated in New York. 04-251901-2000
1944Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, is elected to Congress from Harlem in November. 05-011901-2000
1944Swedish Nobel Prize winner Gunnar Myrdal publishes An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy after being commissioned in 1938 by the Carnegie Corporation to study African American issues. 06-011901-2000
1945President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies in Warm Springs, Georgia, on April 12.04-121901-2000
1945The United Nations is founded in San Francisco on April 25.04-251901-2000
1945On May 8, Germany surrenders on Victory in Europe (VE) day.05-081901-2000
1945Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. is named commander of Goodman Field, Kentucky. He is the first African American to command a military base. 06-011901-2000
1945Japan surrenders on Victory over Japan (VJ) day ending World War II on September 2. By the end of the war one million African American men and women have served in the U.S. military.09-021901-2000
1945Nat King Cole becomes the first African American to have a radio variety show. The show airs on NBC. 10-011901-2000
1945Ebony magazine, created by Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company, published its first issue on November 1. 11-011901-2000
1946Dr. Charles S. Johnson becomes the first African American president of Fisk University in Nashville. 01-011901-2000
1946The U.S. Supreme Court in Morgan v. Virginia rules that segregation in interstate bus travel is unconstitutional. 02-011901-2000
1946Charles Spurgeon Johnson, President of Fisk University in Nashville, becomes the first African American President of the Southern Sociological Society. 19461901-2000
1946Channing H. Tobias is the first African American to head the Phelps-Stokes Fund, a philanthropic organization that supports black education. 19461901-2000
1947On April 10, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers becomes the first African American to play major league baseball in the 20th Century. 04-101901-2000
1947The NAACP petition on racism, An Appeal to the World, is presented to the United Nations. 05-011901-2000
1947John Hope Franklin's From Slavery to Freedom is published. The work will become the most popular textbook on African American history published in the 20th Century. 19471901-2000
1948On July 26, President Harry Truman issues Executive Order 9981 directing the desegregation of the armed forces. 07-261901-2000
1948Alice Coachman becomes the first African American woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal. She wins the high jump competition in the London Olympics. 08-011901-2000
1948On October 1, the California Supreme Court voids the law banning interracial marriages in the state.10-011901-2000
1948On May 3, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Shelley v. Kraemer that state and local governments cannot enforce racially restrictive housing covenants. 19481901-2000
1948Timmie Rogers, comedian, dancer, and singer, launches the first all-black variety show, Sugar Hill Times, on CBS Television. 19481901-2000
1948E. Franklin Frazier of Howard University becomes the first African American President of the American Sociological Association. 19481901-2000
1949In June Wesley Brown becomes the first African American to graduate from the Naval Academy at Annapolis. 06-011901-2000
1949Businessman Jesse Blayton, Sr., establishes WERD-AM, the first black owned radio station. It begins broadcasting in Atlanta on October 3. 10-031901-2000
1949William A. Hinton is the first black professor at the Harvard University Medical School. 19491901-2000
1950U.S. Census, U.S. population: 150,697,361, Black population: 15,044,937 (10 percent) 01-011901-2000
1950On May 1, Gwendolyn Brooks of Chicago becomes the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize. She wins the prize in Poetry. 05-011901-2000
1950Chuck Cooper, Nathaniel Clifton, and Earl Lloyd become the first African Americans to play professional basketball in the modern National Basketball Association (NBA). Cooper played for the Boston Celtics; Clifton played for the New York Knicks, and Lloyd played for the Washington Capitols.19501901-2000
1950Juanita Hall became the first African American to win a Tony award. She was honored for her role in the Broadway play, South Pacific. 19501901-2000
1951On May 24, the U.S. Supreme Court rules racial segregation in District of Columbia restaurants is unconstitutional.05-241901-2000
1951On May 24, a mob of 3,500 whites attempt to prevent a black family from moving into a Cicero, Illinois apartment. Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson calls out the Illinois National Guard to protect the family and restore order.05-241901-2000
1951Harry T. Moore, a Florida NAACP official, is killed by a bomb in Mims, Florida, on December 25. 12-251901-2000
1951Johnson Publishing Company publishes the first issue of Jet, a weekly news magazine for an African American audience. 19511901-2000
1952Tuskegee Institute reported no lynchings in the United States for the first time in 71 years of tabulation. 01-011901-2000
1952Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. is appointed commander of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing in Korea. 02-011901-2000
1952Ralph Ellison publishes Invisible Man. 03-011901-2000
1953On June 19, Baton Rouge, Louisiana African Americans begin a boycott of their city's segregated municipal bus line. 06-191901-2000
1953On December 31, Hulan Jack becomes the first African American borough president of Manhattan. At the time he is the highest ranking black elected official in the nation. 12-311901-2000
1953James Baldwin publishes his first novel, the semi-autobiographical Go Tell It On The Mountain. 19531901-2000
1953When he joins the Chicago Bears Willie Thrower becomes the first black NFL quarterback in the modern era. 19531901-2000
1953Ralph Bunche becomes the first African American president of the American Political Science Association. 19531901-2000
1954On May 17, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education declares segregation in all public schools in the United States unconstitutional, nullifying the earlier judicial doctrine of separate but equal. 05-171901-2000
1954On October 27, Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr., becomes the first black Air Force general after serving in the Korean War, appointed to brigadier general by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He also is the first African American to command an airbase. 10-271901-2000
1954Malcolm X becomes Minister of the Nation of Islam's Harlem Temple 7. 11-011901-2000
1954Attorney Frankie Muse Freeman (born Marie Frankie Muse) was the lead attorney for the NAACP in Davis et al. v. the St. Louis Housing Authority which ended racial discrimination in public housing in the city. Freeman was the first black woman to win a major civil rights case. 19541901-2000
1954On May 3 in Hernandez v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Mexican Americans and all other racial groups in the U.S. are entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 19541901-2000
1955Fourteen-year-old Chicago resident Emmett Till is lynched while vacationing in Money, Mississippi on August 28. 08-281901-2000
1955Chuck Berry, an early breakthrough rock and roll artist, records "Maybellene" with Chicago's Chess Records. 09-011901-2000
1955Rosa Parks refuses to relinquish her bus seat to a white man on December 1, initiating the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Soon afterwards Dr. Martin Luther King becomes the leader of the Boycott. 12-011901-2000
1955On January 7 Marian Anderson becomes the first African American to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera 19551901-2000
1955On January 15 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10590 which creates the President's Committee on Government Policy to enforce the federal government's policy of nondiscrimination in federal employment.19551901-2000
1955On May 7 Reverend George W. Lee, an NAACP activist, is killed in Belzoni, Mississippi.19551901-2000
1955On May 31 the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brown II that public school desegregation must occur with all deliberate speed. 19551901-2000
1955Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the 26 year old pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, is elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association which leads the year-long boycott against the city's racially segregated bus line. 19551901-2000
1956Autherine Lucy is admitted to the University of Alabama on February 3. She is suspended on February 7 after a riot ensues at the university to protest her presence. Lucy is expelled on February 29. 02-291901-2000
1956On November 11, Nat King Cole becomes the first African American to host a prime time variety show on national television. He appears on NBC. 11-111901-2000
1956Harry Belafonte's "Calypso," released by RCA Records, is the first album in history to sell more than one million copies. 11-121901-2000
1956On November 13, the U.S. Supreme Court in Gayle v. Browder bans segregation in intrastate travel, effectively giving a victory to those supporting the Montgomery Bus Boycott. 11-131901-2000
1956On April 10 popular entertainer Nat King Cole is assaulted on stage during a segregated performance at the Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama. 19561901-2000
1956The Mississippi Sovereignty Commisison is formed in Jackson, the state captial, to maintain racial segregation in Mississippi.19561901-2000
1957Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first legislation protecting black rights since Reconstruction. The act establishes the Civil Rights section of the Justice Department and empowers federal prosecutors to obtain court injunctions against interference with the right to vote. It also creates the federal Civil Rights Commission with the authority to investigate discriminatory conditions and recommend corrective measures. 01-011901-2000
1957Dorothy Irene Height is appointed president of the National Council of Negro Women, a position she holds for 41 years. She later launches a crusade for justice for black women and works to strengthen the black family. 02-011901-2000
1957In September President Dwight D. Eisenhower sends federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to ensure the enforcement of a Federal court order to desegregate Central High School and to protect nine African American students enrolled as part of the order. The troops remain at the high school until the end of the school year. 09-011901-2000
1957The Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) was founded at a mass meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. 19571901-2000
1957Perry H. Young becomes the first black pilot for a commercial passenger airline (New York Airways).  The following year, 1958, Ruth Carol Taylor becomes the first commercial passenger airline flight attendant (Mohawk Airlines).   19571901-2000
1958On January 12, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is organized in Atlanta with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as its first President. 01-121901-2000
1958The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater is formed in New York. 02-011901-2000
1958Louis E. Lomax becomes the first African American newscaster for a major network station. He is hired by WNTA-TV in New York City. 03-011901-2000
1958Althea Gibson becomes the first African American woman to win the U.S. Open tennis championship in Forest Hills. 09-101901-2000
1959On January 12, Berry Gordy, Jr., founds Motown Records in Detroit. 01-121901-2000
1959Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" opens in New York on March 11 with Sidney Poitier in the starring role. It is the first play by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. 03-111901-2000
1959On April 26, Mack Charles Parker is lynched near Poplarville, Mississippi.04-261901-2000
1959Ella Fitzgerald and William "Count" Basie become the first African American performers to win Grammy awards. 19591901-2000
1960Census of 1960, U.S. population: 179,323,175, Black population: 18,871,831 (10.6 percent) 01-011901-2000
1960On February 1, 1960, four students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro begin a sit-in at Woolworth's Drug Store to protest company policy which bans African Americans from sitting at its counters. 02-011901-2000
1960On April 15, 150 black and white students gather at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina to form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). 04-151901-2000
1960The Civil Rights Act of 1960 is signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on May 6. The Act established federal inspection of local voter registration rolls and introduces penalties for anyone who obstructs a citizen's attempt to register to vote or to cast a ballot. 05-061901-2000
1960On Nov. 8, Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy defeats Vice President Richard Nixon in one of the closest elections in history. Many observers credit African American voters with Kennedy's narrow margin of victory.11-081901-2000
1961On May 4, seven blacks and four whites leave Washington, D.C., for the Deep South on the first Freedom Ride for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). 01-011901-2000
1961Riots on the University of Georgia campus in September fail to prevent the enrollment of the institutions first two African American students, Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter (Gault).02-011901-2000
1962Ernie Davis, a running back at Syracuse University, becomes the first African American athlete to receive college football's Heisman Trophy. 01-011901-2000
1962On October 1, James Meredith becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. On the day he enters the University, he is escorted by U.S. marshals after federal troops are sent in to suppress rioting and maintain order. 10-011901-2000
1963Martin Luther King, Jr. writes his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" on April 16. 04-161901-2000
1963On May 3, Birmingham police use dogs and fire hoses to attack civil rights demonstrators.05-031901-2000
1963Despite Governor George Wallace's vow to block the schoolhouse door to prevent their enrollment on June 11, Vivian Malone and James Hood register for classes at the University of Alabama. They are the first African American students to attend the university.06-111901-2000
1963On June 12, Mississippi NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Evers is assassinated outside his home in Jackson. 06-121901-2000
1963Over 200,000 people gather in Washington, D.C. on August 28 as part of the March on Washington, an unprecedented demonstration demanding civil rights and equal opportunity for African Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech here. 08-281901-2000
1963Former tennis champion Althea Gibson becomes the first African American woman to compete in a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tournament in Cincinnati. 09-101901-2000
1963On September 15, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is bombed in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four girls: Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, ages 11-14. 09-151901-2000
1963Iota Phi Theta Fraternity is founded on September 19 at Morgan State University in Baltimore. 09-191901-2000
1963President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas on November 22.11-221901-2000
1963Wendell Oliver Scott became the first black driver to win a major NASCAR race, the Grand National (now Winston Cup) race. 19631901-2000
1963Marian Anderson and Ralph Bunche are the first black winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 19631901-2000
1964On January 8, President Lyndon Johnson in his first State of the Union Address declares unconditional war on poverty in America, thus initiating a broad array of government programs designed to assist the poorest citizens of the nation including a disproportionate number of African Americans.01-081901-2000
1964The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizes the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. 02-011901-2000
1964On February 25, Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) wins the first of three world heavyweight championships in a bout with Sonny Liston in Miami, Florida. 02-251901-2000
1964Sidney Poitier wins the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film, "Lilies of the Field." He is the first African American male actor to win in that category. 03-011901-2000
1964On March 12, Malcolm X announces his break with the Nation of Islam and his founding of the Muslim Mosque in Harlem. On June 28 he founds the Organization of Afro-American Unity in New York City. 03-121901-2000
1964On June 21 civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner are abducted and killed by terrorists in Mississippi.06-121901-2000
1964The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed by Congress on July 2. The act bans discrimination in all public accommodations and by employers. It also establishes the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) to monitor compliance with the law. 07-021901-2000
1964The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) delegation led by Fannie Lou Hamer is denied seating at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in August. 08-011901-2000
1964On August 20, President Lyndon Johnson signs the Economic Opportunity Act, initiating the federally-sponsored War on Poverty. The act includes Head Start, Upward Bound, and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA).08-201901-2000
1965Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, New York on February 21. 02-211901-2000
1965On March 7, six hundred Alabama civil rights activists stage a Selma-to-Montgomery protest march to draw attention to the continued denial of black voting rights in the state. The marchers are confronted by Alabama State Troopers whose attack on them at the Edmund Pettus Bridge is carried on national television. On March 21, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. leads a five-day, 54-mile march retracing the route of the original activists. The 3,300 marchers at the beginning of the trek eventually grow to 25,000 when they reach the Alabama capitol on March 25. After the protest march, President Lyndon Johnson proposes the Voting Rights Act to guarantee black voting throughout the South. 03-071901-2000
1965In March, the White House releases "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action," popularly known as the Moynihan Report. 03-201901-2000
1965Alex Haley publishes The Autobiography of Malcolm X. 07-011901-2000
1965The Voting Rights Act is signed into law on August 6. 08-061901-2000
1965The Watts Uprising (also known as the Watts Rebellion) occurs in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles on August 11-16. Thirty four people are killed and one thousand are injured in the five day confrontation. 08-161901-2000
1965Maulana Karenga founds the black nationalist organization US in Los Angeles following the Watts Uprising. 09-011901-2000
1966On January 13, Robert Weaver, President Lyndon Baines Johnsons nominee to head the newly created Department of Housing and Urban Development, is confirmed for the post by the U.S. Senate. Weaver becomes the first African American to hold a cabinet post. 01-131901-2000
1966On January 25th Constance Baker Motley is appointed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson to the Federal Bench in New York City. She becomes the first African American woman elevated to a Federal judgeship. 01-251901-2000
1966In May, Stokely Carmichael becomes chairman of SNCC at its headquarters in Atlanta and publicly embraces the concept of black power.   05-011901-2000
1966On June 5, James Meredith begins a solitary "March Against Fear" for 220 miles from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi to protest racial discrimination. Soon after crossing into Mississippi Meredith is shot by a sniper. Civil Rights leaders including Martin Luther King (SCLC), Floyd McKissick (CORE) and Stokely Carmichael (SNCC) vow to continue the march which eventually reaches Jackson. While in Greenwood, Carmichael gives his first Black Power speech on June 26. 06-051901-2000
1966On October 15, The Black Panther Party is formed in Oakland, California by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. 10-151901-2000
1966Andrew F. Brimmer is appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to be the first African American to serve on the Federal Reserve Board. 11-011901-2000
1966James T. Whitehead, Jr., becomes the first African American to pilot a U-2 spy plane. 11-051901-2000
1966On November 8, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts becomes the first African American to be popularly elected to the U.S. Senate. 11-081901-2000
1966On November 8, Julian Bond wins a seat in the Georgia State Senate. However he is denied the seat by the Georgia Legislature because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. Bond is eventually seated after a bitter court battle. 11-081901-2000
1966Ruby Doris Smith Robinson becomes Executive Director of SNCC. 19661901-2000
1967On April 4, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers the speech, "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence" at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church, New York City.  It is his first public criticism of the Vietnam War. 04-041901-2000
1967H. Rap Brown becomes chairman of SNCC on May 12 at its headquarters in Atlanta. 05-121901-2000
1967On June 12, the U.S. Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia strikes down state interracial marriage bans. 06-121901-2000
1967The six-day Newark Riot begins on July 12 and claims 23 dead, 725 injured and 1,500 arrested. 07-121901-2000
1967Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall takes his seat as the first African American Justice on the United States Supreme Court on July 13. 07-131901-2000
1967On July 23, the Detroit Race Riot erupts. Between July 23 and July 28, 43 are killed, 1,189 are injured and over 7,000 are arrested. 07-231901-2000
1967On November 13, Carl Stokes and Richard G. Hatcher are elected the first black mayors of Cleveland and Gary, Indiana, respectively. 11-131901-2000
1967Renee Powell becomes the first African American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour.19671901-2000
1967Albert William Johnson is the first African American awarded a dealership from a major automaker when he opens an Oldsmobile dealership in a predominately black neighborhood in Chicago. 19671901-2000
1968On February 8, three students at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg are killed by police in what will be known as the Orangeburg Massacre. 02-081901-2000
1968The "Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders," popularly known as the "Kerner Report," is released in March. 03-011901-2000
1968Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4. In the wake of the assassination 125 cities in 29 states experience uprisings. By April 11, 46 people are killed and 35,000 are injured in these confrontations. 04-041901-2000
1968In April Congress enacts the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which outlaws discrimination in the sale and rental of housing. 04-301901-2000
1968New York Senator and Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated on June 5 in Los Angeles.06-051901-2000
1968On June 19, the Poor Peoples Campaign brings 50,000 demonstrators to Washington, D.C. 06-191901-2000
1968Arthur Ashe becomes the first African American to win the Men's Singles competition in the U.S. Open. 07-011901-2000
1968San Francisco State University establishes the nations first Black Studies Program in September.09-011901-2000
1968In November Shirley Chisholm of New York is the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. 11-011901-2000
1968Elizabeth Duncan Koontz becomes the first African American to serve as president of the National Education Association (NEA).19681901-2000
1969The Ford Foundation gives one million dollars to Morgan State University, Howard University, and Yale University to help prepare faculty members to teach courses in African American studies.01-011901-2000
1969On May 5, Moneta Sleet, Jr. of Ebony magazine, becomes the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in Photography. 05-051901-2000
1969On September 22, the African American Studies Program begins offering courses at Harvard University.09-221901-2000
1969Robert Chrisman and Nathan Hare publish the first issue of The Black Scholar in November. 11-011901-2000
1969Howard N. Lee becomes the first African American mayor of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. At the time he is the first African American mayor of a predominately white Southern city.12-011901-2000
1969On December 4, Chicago police kill Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clarke. 12-041901-2000
1969Jimi Hendrix headlines the Woodstock Musical Festival near Bethel, New York between August 15 and August 18. Over 500,000 people attend what is to that point the largest musical concert in history. 19691901-2000
1970Census of 1970, U.S. population: 204,765,770, Black population: 22,580,289 (11.1 percent) 01-011901-2000
1970Dr. Clifton Wharton, Jr., is named president of Michigan State University on January 2. He is the first African American to lead a major, predominately white university in the 20th Century. 01-021901-2000
1970On February 18, Bobby Seale and six other six defendants (popularly known as the Chicago Seven) are acquitted of the charge of conspiring to disrupt the 1968 Democratic National Convention. 02-181901-2000
1970The first issue of Essence magazine appears in May. 05-011901-2000
1970On May 15, two students, Philip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green, are killed by police in a confrontation with students at Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi. 05-151901-2000
1970On July 1, Kenneth Gibson becomes the first black mayor of an eastern city when he assumes the post in Newark, New Jersey. 07-011901-2000
1970The first issue of Black Enterprise magazine appears in August. 08-011901-2000
1970The San Rafael, California courthouse shooting on August 7 results in the death of Judge Harold Haley and three others including Jonathan Jackson, the younger brother of imprisoned Black Panther George Jackson. UCLA Philosophy Professor Angela Davis is implicated in the shooting and becomes the subject of a nationwide FBI-led search. Davis is captured and brought to trial. She is acquitted of all charges on June 4, 1972. 08-071901-2000
1970On October 12, Charles Gordone becomes the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in Drama for his play, "No Place to Be Somebody." 10-121901-2000
1970The Joint Center for Political Studies is established in Washington, D.C.11-011901-2000
1971On January 12th the Congressional Black Caucus is formed in Washington, D.C. 01-121901-2000
1971In July Captain Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. is promoted to Rear Admiral. He becomes the first African American to achieve Flag Rank in the U.S. Navy. 07-071901-2000
1971On September 9, nearly 1,200 inmates seize control of half of the New York State Prison at Attica in what will be known as the Attica Prison Riot. Four days later 29 inmates and ten hostages are killed when state troopers and correctional officers suppress the uprising. 09-091901-2000
1971On December 18, Rev. Jesse Jackson founds People United to Save Humanity (PUSH) in Chicago. 12-181901-2000
1971Johnson Products, a hair care company, becomes the first black-owned company to be listed on a major U.S. stock exchange (AMEX).19711901-2000
1971Leroy Satchel Paige becomes the first former Negro Leagues baseball player inducted int the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. 19711901-2000
1971Beverly Johnson is the first black woman to appear on the cover of a major fashion magazine (Glamour). 19711901-2000
1972On March 10-12 several thousand African Americans gather in Gary, Indiana, for the first National Black Political Convention. 03-121901-2000
1972Over the summer New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm makes an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. She is the first African American to campaign for the nomination. 08-011901-2000
1972In November Barbara Jordan of Houston and Andrew Young of Atlanta become the first black Congressional representatives elected from the U.S. South since 1898. 11-011901-2000
1972The first Haitian boat people arrive in south Florida.12-011901-2000
1972Wilt Chamberlain of the Los Angeles Lakers becomes the first National Basketball Association player to score over 30,000 points during his career.19721901-2000
1973On May 29, Thomas Bradley is elected the first black mayor of Los Angeles in the modern era. He is reelected four times and thus holds the mayors office for 20 years. 05-291901-2000
1973The National Black Feminist Organization is established by Eleanor Holmes Norton. 06-011901-2000
1973Marion Wright Edelman creates the Children's Defense Fund. 07-011901-2000
1973On October 16, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. is elected the first black mayor of Atlanta. 10-161901-2000
1973On Nov. 6, Coleman Young is elected the first black mayor of Detroit. 11-061901-2000
1974On April 8, Henry (Hank) Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th home run surpassing Babe Ruth to become the all-time leader in home runs in major league baseball. 04-081901-2000
1974On June 21, U.S. District Judge W. Arthur Garrity issues a court order in Morgan v. Hennigan that initiates a busing program, involving several thousand students.  The order is designed to desegregate the public schools of Boston. 06-211901-2000
1974The largest single gift to date from a black organization is the $132,000 given by the Links, Inc., to the United Negro College Fund on July 1. 07-011901-2000
1974On November 5, Mervyn Dymally is elected Lieutenant Governor of California along with George Brown who is elected Lieutenant Governor of Colorado the same day. They are the first African Americans to hold these posts in the 20th century. 11-051901-2000
1975The Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta) becomes the only black medical school established in the United States in the 20th Century. The first dean and president of the Morehouse School of Medicine is Dr. Louis Sullivan who later becomes the U.S. Surgeon General. 01-011901-2000
1975Wallace D. Muhammad assumes control of the Nation of Islam after the death of his father, Elijah Muhammad. He changes the organizations direction and its name to the World Community of al-Islam. 02-011901-2000
1975Arthur Ashe becomes the first African American to win the British Men's Singles at Wimbledon. 05-011901-2000
1975General Daniel Chappie James of the Air Force becomes the first African American four star general. 06-011901-2000
1975On October 12, Frank Robinson becomes the first black Major League Baseball manager when he takes over the Cleveland Indians. 10-121901-2000
1975Lee Elder becomes the first African American golfer to compete in the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. 19751901-2000
1975William Venoid Banks becomes the first African American to own a television station when he launches WGPR-TV in Detroit.19751901-2000
1975

John Hope Franklin is the first African American elected president of the Organization of American Historians (OAH).  Four years later he will be the fiirst African American elected president of the American Historical Association (AHA).

19751901-2000
1976The United States Naval Academy at Annapolis admits women for the first time in June. Janie L. Mines becomes the first African American women cadet to enter. She graduates in 1980. 09-011901-2000
1976College and university enrollment for African American students rises sharply from 282,000 in 1966 to 1,062,000 in 1976.09-021901-2000
1976Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan becomes the first African American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention which meets that year in New York City. 19761901-2000
1976Clara Stanton Jones of Detroit becomes the first African American elected President of the American Library Association. 19761901-2000
1977In January, Patricia Harris is appointed by President Jimmy Carter to head Housing and Urban Development. She becomes the first African American woman to hold a cabinet position. 01-011901-2000
1977In January, Congressman Andrew Young is appointed by President Jimmy Carter to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He is the first African American to hold that post. 01-011901-2000
1977The eighth and final night for the miniseries based on Alex Haley's Roots is shown on February 3. This final episode achieves the highest ratings to that point for a single television program. 02-031901-2000
1977On March 8, Henry L. Marsh III became the first African American mayor of Richmond, Virginia 03-081901-2000
1977In September, Randall Robinson founds TransAfrica (now TransAfrica Forum), a lobbying group for Africa, in Washington, D.C. 09-011901-2000
1978Minister Louis Farrakhan breaks with the World Community of al-Islam and becomes the leader of the revived Nation of Islam. 01-011901-2000
1978On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court in Regents of the University of California Regents v. Bakke narrowly uphold affirmative action as a legal strategy for addressing past discrimination. 06-281901-2000
1978On September 15, Muhammad Ali becomes the first boxer to win the heavyweight championship three times when he defeats Leon Spinks at the Superdome in New Orleans. 09-151901-2000
1978Max Robinson becomes the first black network anchor when he begins broadcasting for ABC-TV News from Chicago.19781901-2000
1978Faye Wattleton becomes the first black woman to head Planned Parenthood. 19781901-2000
1978Jill Brown becomes the first black female pilot for a commercial passenger airline (Texas International Airlines). 19781901-2000
1979The Sugar Hill Gang records "Rappers Delight" in Harlem. 01-011901-2000
1979Franklin Thomas is named president of the Ford Foundation. 02-011901-2000
1979Frank E. Petersen, Jr. becomes the first African American to earn the rank of General in the United States Marines. 03-011901-2000
1979In September Hazel W. Johnson becomes the first African American woman to be promoted to the rank of General in the United States Army. 09-011901-2000
1979Richard Arrington, Jr. is elected the first African American mayor of Birmingham, Alabama. 10-011901-2000
1979The Nobel Prize in Economics goes to Sir Arthur Lewis of Princeton University. He is the first black person to win the award in a category other than peace. 11-011901-2000
1980Census of 1980, U.S. population: 226,504,825, Black population: 26,482,349 (11.8 percent) 01-011901-2000
1980In January Willie Lewis Brown, Jr. becomes the first African American Speaker in a state legislature when he is selected for the post in the California Assembly. Brown holds the Speakership until 1995 when he is elected Mayor of San Francisco. 01-011901-2000
1980On May 17-18 rioting breaks out in Liberty City, Florida (near Miami) after police officers are acquitted for killing an unarmed black man. The riot which generates 15 deaths is the worst in the nation since Detroit in 1967. 05-181901-2000
1980Toni Cade Bambara's The Salt Eaters wins the American Book Award. 06-011901-2000
1980Robert L. Johnson begins operation of Black Entertainment Television (BET) out of Washington, D.C. 07-011901-2000
1980The Mariel boatlift transports 125,000 Cubans to Florida including a large number of Afro-Cubans.19801901-2000
1982The struggle of Rev. Ben Chavis and his followers to block a toxic waste dump in Warren County, North Carolina launches a national campaign against environmental racism. 01-011901-2000
1982Bryant Gumbel is named anchor of The Today Show, becoming the first African American to hold the post on a major network. 09-011901-2000
1982Michael Jackson's album, Thriller, is released. It will eventually sell 45 million copies worldwide, becoming the best selling album in music history. 19821901-2000
1983Vanessa Williams becomes the first African American crowned Miss America on September 18 in Atlantic City. In July 1984 she relinquishes her crown to Suzette Charles when nude photos of her appear in Penthouse magazine. 07-011901-2000
1983On April 12, Harold Washington is elected the first black mayor of Chicago. 08-121901-2000
1983On August 30, Guion (Guy) S. Bluford, Jr., a crew member on the Challenger, becomes the first African American astronaut to make a space flight. 08-301901-2000
1983On November 2, President Ronald Reagan signs a bill establishing January 20 as a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. 11-021901-2000
1983Alice Walker's The Color Purple wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. 12-011901-2000
1983Harvey Bernard Gantt becomes the first African American mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. 12-151901-2000
1983Robert C. Maynard become the first African American to own the major daily newspaper in a large city when he becomes the majority stockholder of the Oakland Tribune. 19831901-2000
1984On January 2, W. Wilson Goode becomes the first African American mayor of Philadelphia. 01-021901-2000
1984Rev. Jesse Jackson wins approximately one fourth of the votes cast in the Democratic primaries and caucuses and about one eighth of the convention delegates in a losing bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. 01-311901-2000
1984In August Carl Lewis wins four Gold Medals at the Olympics in Los Angeles, matching the record set by Jesse Owens in 1936. 08-011901-2000
1984In September The Cosby Show starring Bill Cosby makes its television debut. The show runs for eight seasons and will become the most successful series in television history featuring a mostly African American cast. 09-011901-2000
1984Russell Simmons forms Def Jam Records in Harlem. 10-011901-2000
1985In May, Philadelphia's African American mayor, Wilson Goode, orders the Philadelphia police to bomb the headquarters of MOVE, a local black nationalist organization. The bombing leaves 11 people dead and 250 homeless. 05-011901-2000
1985Gwendolyn Brooks of Chicago is named U.S. Poet-Laureate. She is the first African American to hold that honor. 19851901-2000
1985Grambling State University's football coach Eddie Robinson becomes the coach with the most wins in college football history. 19851901-2000
1986On January 20, the first national Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is celebrated. 01-201901-2000
1986On January 28, Dr. Ronald McNair and six other crew members die when the space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 01-281901-2000
1986The Oprah Winfrey Show with Oprah Winfrey as the talk show host, becomes nationally syndicated. 02-011901-2000
1986Spike Lee releases his first feature film, She's Gotta Have It, initiating a new wave of interest in black films and African American filmmakers. 03-011901-2000
1986On November 22 Mike Tyson defeates Trevor Berbick for the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship in a title fight in Las Vegas. At the age of 20, Tyson is the youngest fighter to win the crown. 19861901-2000
1987Rita Dove wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. 01-011901-2000
1987On August 6, Reginald Lewis orchestrates the leveraged buyout of Beatrice Foods to become the first African American CEO of a billion dollar corporation. 08-061901-2000
1987Neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson makes medical history when he leads a seventy-member surgical team at Johns Hopkins Hospital in a 22 hour operation separating Siamese twins (the Binder twins) joined at the cranium. 09-011901-2000
1987On October 28, Brigadier General Fred A. Gordon is appointed Commandant of the Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.10-281901-2000
1987On December 8, Kurt Lidell Schmoke became the first African American elected mayor of Baltimore by popular vote. 12-081901-2000
1987August Wilson's play, Fences, wins a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award. 19871901-2000
1987Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole becomes the first African American woman president of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.19871901-2000
1987Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. 19871901-2000
1988In his second try for the Democratic Presidential nomination Jesse L. Jackson receives 1,218 delegate votes at the Democratic National Convention on July 20. The number needed for the nomination, which goes to Michael Dukakis, was 2,082. 07-201901-2000
1988In September, Temple University offers the first Ph.D. in African American Studies.09-011901-2000
1988On November 4, Comedian Bill Cosby announces his gift of $20 million to Spelman College. This is the largest donation ever made by a black American to a college or university. 11-041901-2000
1989On January 29, Barbara C. Harris is installed as the first woman bishop in the Episcopal (Anglican) Church. 01-291901-2000
1989On February 7, Ronald H. Brown is elected chair of the Democratic National Committee, becoming the first African American to head one of the two major political parties. 02-071901-2000
1989In March Frederick Drew Gregory becomes the first African American to command a space shuttle when he leads the crew of the Discovery. 03-011901-2000
1989On August 10, General Colin L. Powell is named chair of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first African American to hold the post. 08-101901-2000
1989On November 7, L. Douglas Wilder wins the governorship of Virginia, making him the first African American to be popularly elected to that office. On the same day David Dinkins and Norm Rice are the first African Americans elected as mayors of New York and Seattle respectively. 11-071901-2000
1989Bill White becomes the first African American league president when he is chosen to head Major League Baseball's National League.19891901-2000
1989Art Shell becomes the first African American head coach in National Football League (NFL) in the post-World War II era when he is hired to lead the Oakland Raiders. 19891901-2000
1989Mahlon Martin becomes the first African American to head the Rockefeller Foundation. 19891901-2000
1990Census of 1990, U.S. population: 248,709,878, Black population: 29,986,060 (12 percent) 01-011901-2000
1990August Wilson wins a Pulitzer Prize for the play The Piano Lesson. 03-011901-2000
1990In November when Sharon Pratt Kelly is elected mayor of Washington, D.C., she becomes the first African American woman to lead a large American city. 11-011901-2000
1990Marcelite Jordan Harris is the first black woman brigadier general in the U.S. Army and the first woman to command a mostly male battalion.19901901-2000
1990Walter E. Massey is the first African American to head the National Science Foundation. 19901901-2000
1990Donna Marie Cheek becomes the first black member of the U.S. Equestrian Team.19901901-2000
1990Carole Ann-Marie Gist of Detroit, Michigan becomes the first African American to win the Miss USA pageant. 19901901-2000
1991On January 15, Roland Burris becomes the first black attorney general of Illinois. From 2009 to 2011 he serves as U.S. Senator from Illionis, completing the unexpired term of Barack Obama who is elected President of the United States.  01-151901-2000
1991On March 3, Los Angeles police use force to arrest Rodney King after a San Fernando Valley traffic stop. The beating of King is captured on videotape and broadcast widely prompting, an investigation and subsequent trial of three officers. 03-031901-2000
1991On April 10, Emanuel Cleaver II is sworn in as the first African American mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. 04-101901-2000
1991On June 18, Wellington Webb becomes the first African American mayor of Denver, Colorado. 06-181901-2000
1991On October 23, Federal Judge Clarence Thomas, nominated by President George H.W. Bush, is confirmed by the U.S. Senate and takes his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. 10-231901-2000
1991Julie Dash releases Daughters of the Dust, the first feature film by an African American woman. 11-011901-2000
1991Physicist Walter Massey becomes the first African American director of the National Science Foundation. 19911901-2000
1992In March Willie W. Herenton was elected the first African American mayor of Memphis, Tennessee. 03-011901-2000
1992On April 29, a Simi Valley, California jury acquits the three officers accused of beating Rodney King. The verdict triggers a three day uprising in Los Angeles called the Rodney King Riot that results in over 50 people killed, over 2,000 injured and 8,000 arrested. 04-291901-2000
1992On September 12, Dr. Mae Carol Jemison becomes the first African American woman in space when she travels on board the space shuttle Endeavor. 09-121901-2000
1992On November 3, Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois becomes the first African American woman elected to the United States Senate. 11-031901-2000
1992William "Bill" Pinkney becomes the first African American and only the fourth American to singlehandedly navigate a sailboat around the world. 19921901-2000
1993In April Freeman Robertson Bosley Jr. becomes the first African American mayor of St. Louis, Missouri. 04-011901-2000
1993Joycelyn M. Elders becomes the first African American and the first woman to be named United States Surgeon General on September 7. 09-071901-2000
1993On October 7, Toni Morrison becomes the first black American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The work honored is her novel, Beloved. 10-071901-2000
1994On June 12, O.J. Simpson's former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman are found stabbed to death. O.J. Simpson emerges as the leading suspect and is subsequently arrested on June 17 after a two hour low speed pursuit of Simpson and his friend Al Cowlings that is seen on television by an estimated 95 million people. 06-121901-2000
1994Corey D. Flourney is elected president of the 400,000 member Future Farmers of America convention in Kansas City, Missouri. 19941901-2000
1995On May 6, Ron Kirk won the mayoral race in Dallas, becoming the first African American mayor of the city. 05-061901-2000
1995On October 3, after an eight month televised trial, O.J. Simpson is acquitted of the charges of murder in the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. 10-031901-2000
1995The Million Man March organized by Minister Louis Farrakhan and other political activists is held in Washington, D.C. on October 17. 10-171901-2000
1995Dr. Helene Doris Gayle becomes the first woman and the first African American Director of the National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.11-011901-2000
1995Lonnie Bristow is the first African American president of the American Medical Association. 19951901-2000
1996Commerce Secretary Ron Brown is killed in a plane crash near Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 3. 04-031901-2000
1996On April 9, George Walker becomes the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music. The winning composition, "Lilies for Soprano or Tenor and Orchestra," is based on a poem by Walt Whitman. 04-091901-2000
1996In May, President Bill Clinton signs into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act which replaces Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with state block grants. It also substantially cuts programs designed to help the poor. 05-011901-2000
1996On November 5, California voters pass Proposition 209 which outlaws affirmative action throughout the state. 11-051901-2000
1996Margaret Dixon is the first African American elected president of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). 19961901-2000
1997On April 13, golfer Tiger Woods wins the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. At 21 he is the youngest golfer ever to win the title. He is also the first African American to hold the title. 04-131901-2000
1997In June, Harvey Johnson, Jr. was sworn in as the first black mayor of Jackson, Mississippi.06-011901-2000
1997On October 25 African American women participate in the Million Woman March in Philadelphia, focusing on health care, education, and self-help. 10-251901-2000
1997In December, Lee Patrick Brown becomes Houston's first African American mayor. 12-011901-2000
1997Wynton Marsalis's "Blood on the Fields" becomes the first jazz composition to win a Pulitzer Prize in Music. 19971901-2000
1997President Bill Clinton makes a formal apology to black men exploited in the U.S. Public Health Service Tuskegee Syphilis Study. 19971901-2000
1997Lois Jean White is the first African American to be elected president of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA). 19971901-2000
1998On June 7, churchgoers discover the dismembered body of James Byrd, Jr., in Jasper, Texas. It is later determined that three white supremacists chained Byrd, who is black, to the back of a pick-up truck and dragged him to his death.06-071901-2000
1998President Bill Clinton appoints prominent historian John Hope Franklin to lead the President's Commission on Race to promote a national dialogue on issues affecting African Americans in the United States, and to ease racial tensions. 19981901-2000
1998Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins becomes the first African American president of the National League of Women Voters. 19981901-2000
1999On January 13, after thirteen seasons and six NBA championships, professional basketball star Michael Jordan retires from the game as a player. 01-131901-2000
1999On September 10, Serena Williams wins the U.S. Open Womens Singles Tennis Championship in Flushing Meadows, the first African American woman to do so since Althea Gibson's win in 1958. 09-101901-2000
1999Maurice Ashley becomes the world's first black chess grandmaters, the game's highest rank.19991901-2000
2000Census of 2000, U.S. population: 281,421,906, Black population: 34,658,190 (12.3 percent) 01-011901-2000
2000Rev. Vashti M. McKenzie becomes the first woman bishop of the African Methodist Zion Church.02-011901-2000
2000Lillian Elaine Fishbourne is the first black woman admiral in the U.S. Navy. 20001901-2000
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