African American History Timeline

Abolition of slavery celebration, Washington D.C., April 19, 1866
Public domain illustration by Frederick Dielman, Courtesy Library of Congress (00651116)
1492-16001492Christopher Columbus makes his first voyage to the New World opening a vast new empire for plantation slavery.Exploration and DiscoveryThe Bahamas
1492-16001494The first Africans arrive in Hispaniola with Christopher Columbus. They are free persons.Africans in the New WorldDominican Republic
1492-16001501The Spanish king allows the introduction of enslaved Africans into Spain's American colonies.Spanish SlaverySpain
1492-16001511The first enslaved Africans arrive in Hispaniola.Spanish SlaveryDominican Republic
1492-16001513Thirty Africans accompany Vasco Nunez de Balboa on his trip to the Pacific Ocean.Exploration and DiscoveryPanama
1492-16001517Bishop Bartolome de Las Casas petitions Spain to allow the importation of twelve enslaved Africans for each household immigrating to America's Spanish colonies. De Las Casas later regrets his actions and becomes an opponent of slavery.Spanish SlaveryMexico
1492-16001518King Charles I of Spain grants the first licenses to import enslaved Africans to the Americas.Spanish SlaverySpain
1492-16001518The first shipload of enslaved Africans directly from Africa arrives in the West Indies. Prior to this time, Africans were brought first to Europe.Spanish SlaveryDominican Republic
1492-16001519Hernan Cortez begins conquest of the Aztec Empire.Colonial ConquestMexico
1492-16001520Enslaved Africans are used as laborers in Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico.Spanish SlaveryPuerto Rico
1492-16001522African slaves stage a rebellion in Hispaniola. This is the first slave uprising in the New World.Anti-Slavery ResistanceDominican Republic
1492-16001526Spanish colonists led by Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon build the community of San Miguel de Guadape in what is now Georgia. They bring along enslaved Africans, considered to be the first in the present-day United States. These Africans flee the colony, however,Africans in the New WorldUnited States
1492-16001527Esteban, a Moroccan-born Muslim slave, explores what is now the Southwestern United States.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited States
1492-16001540An African from Hernando de Soto's Expedition into the Lower Mississippi River valley decides to remain behind to make his home among the Native Americans there.Africans in the New WorldUnited States
1492-16001540Africans serve in the New Mexico Expeditions of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and Hernando de Alarcon.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited States
1492-16001542The Spanish Crown abolishes Indian slavery.EmancipationMexico
1492-16001550The first slaves directly from Africa arrive in the Brazilian city of Salvador.Portuguese SlaveryBrazil
1492-16001562An expedition to Hispaniola led by John Hawkins, the first English slave trader, sparks English interest in that activity. Hawkins' travels also call attention to Sierra Leone. Hawkins is knighted in 1588 for his service in England's victory over the SpanEnglish SlaveryGreat Britain
1492-16001565African farmers and artisans accompany Pedro Menendez de Aviles on the expedition that establishes the community of San Agustin (St. Augustine, Florida).Africans in the New WorldUnited States
1492-16001573Professor Bartolome de Albornoz of the University of Mexico writes against the enslavement and sale of Africans.Anti-Slavery CampaignMexico
1492-16001598Isabel de Olvera, a free mulatto, accompanies the Juan Guerra de Resa Expedition which colonizes what is now New Mexico.Africans in the New WorldUnited States
1601-17001603Mathieu Da Costa, a free black explorer, guides the French through parts of Canada and the Lake Champlain region of what is now New York state.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesNew York
1601-17001607Jamestown is founded in Virginia.Colonial AmericaColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001613Jan Rodriquez, a free sailor working for a Dutch fur trading company is assigned to live with and trade among the Native Americans on the island of Manhattan.Africans in Colonial AmericaUnited StatesNew York
1601-17001619Approximately 20 blacks from a Dutch slaver are purchased as indentured workers for the English settlement of Jamestown. These are the first Africans in the English North American colonies.Africans in Colonial AmericaColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001620The Pilgrims reach New England.Colonial AmericaColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1601-17001624The first African American child born free in the English colonies, William Tucker, is baptized in Virginia.17th Century Black ReligionColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001625The first enslaved Africans arrive in the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam (now New York City) with the Dutch West India Company. They quickly become the city's first municipal labor force, clearing land of timber, cutting lumber, cultivating crops, and consColonial SlaveryColonial AmericaNew York
1601-17001629The first enslaved Africans arrive in what is now Connecticut.Colonial SlaveryColonial AmericaConnecticut
1601-17001634Slavery is introduced in Maryland.Colonial SlaveryColonial AmericaMaryland
1601-17001636Dutch minister Everadus Bogardus summons a teacher from Holland to Manhattan Island to provide religious training to Dutch and African children. This is the first example of educational efforts in Colonial North America which are directed toward persons oBlack EducationUnited StatesNew York
1601-17001641Massachusetts explicitly permits slavery of Indians, whites, and Negroes in its Body of Liberties. It is the first mainland British colony to legalize slavery.Slave LawsColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1601-17001641Mathias De Sousa, an African indentured servant who came from England with Lord Baltimore, is elected to Maryland's General Assembly.Black PoliticsColonial AmericaMaryland
1601-17001642Virginia passes a fugitive slave law. Offenders helping runaway slaves are fined in pounds of tobacco. An enslaved person is to be branded with a large R after a second escape attempt.Slave LawsColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001643The New England Confederation reaches an agreement that makes the signature of a magistrate sufficient evidence to reenslave a suspected fugitive slave.Slave LawsColonial AmericaNew Hampshire
1601-17001645Merchant ships from Barbados arrive in Boston where they trade their cargoes of enslaved Africans for sugar and tobacco. The profitability of this exchange encourages the slave trade in New England.Colonial SlaveryColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1601-17001645Dutch colonists transfer some of their landholdings in New Amsterdam to their former enslaved Africans as compensation for their support in battles with Native Americans. A condition of the land transfer, however, is the guarantee of a specified amount ofEmancipationColonial AmericaNew York
1601-17001650Connecticut legalizes slavery. Rhode Island by this date has large plantations worked by enslaved Africans.Slave LawsColonial AmericaConnecticut
1601-17001650The Dutch West India Company introduces new rules concerning slavery in New Netherlands. After gaining freedom, former slaves, for example, are required to give fixed amounts of their crops to the company. After the English capture of the colony, greaterRacial RestrictionsColonial AmericaNew York
1601-17001651Anthony Johnson, a free African American, imports several enslaved Africans and is given a grant of land on Virginia's Puwgoteague River Other free African Americans follow this pattern.Africans in Colonial AmericaColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001652Massachusetts enacts a law requiring all African American and Native American servants to undergo military training so as to be able to help defend the colony.Racial RestrictionsColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1601-17001652Rhode Island enacts first anti-slavery law in the British colonies. The law limits slavery to ten years.Gradual EmancipationUnited StatesRhode Island
1601-17001653Enslaved African and Indian workers bulid wall across Manhattan Island to protect the Dutch colony from British invasion. The site of the wall is now Wall Street.Slave LaborUnited StatesNew York
1601-17001655Anthony Johnson successfully sues for the return of his slave John Casor, whom the court had earlier treated as an indentured servant.Africans in Colonial AmericaColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001656Fearing the potential for slave uprisings, Massachusetts reverses its 1652 statute and prohibits blacks from arming or training as militia. New Hampshire, and New York soon follow.Racial RestrictionsColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1601-17001657Virginia amends its fugitive slave law to include the fining of people who harbor runaway slaves. They are fined 30 pounds of tobacco for every night they provide shelter to a runaway slave.Slave LawsUnited StatesVirginia
1601-17001660A Connecticut law prohibits African Americans from serving in the militia.Racial RestrictionsColonial AmericaConnecticut
1601-17001662Virginia reverses the presumption of English law that the child follows the status of his father, and enacts a law that makes the free or enslaved status of children dependent on the status of the mother.Slave LawsColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001663Black and white indentured servants plan a rebellion in Gloucester County, Virginia. Their plans are discovered and the leaders are executed.Resistance to EnslavementColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001663Maryland slave laws rules that all Africans arriving in the colony are presumed to be slaves. Free European American women who marry enslaved men lose their freedom. Children of European American women and enslaved men are enslaved. Other North American cSlave LawsColonial AmericaMaryland
1601-17001663In South Carolina every new white settler is granted twenty acres for each black male slave and ten acres for each black female slave he or she brings into the colony.Colonial SlaveryColonial AmericaSouth Carolina
1601-17001663A planned revolt of enslaved Africans and indentured servants is uncovered in Gloucester County, Virginia.Resistance to EnslavementColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001664In Virginia, the enslaved African's status is clearly differentiated from the indentured servant's when colonial laws decree that enslavement is for life and is transferred to the children through the mother. Black and slave become synonymous, and enslaveSlave LawsColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001664Maryland establishes slavery for life for persons of African ancestry.Slave LawsColonial AmericaMaryland
1601-17001664New Jersey and New York also recognize the legality of slavery.Slave LawsColonial AmericaNew Jersey
1601-17001664Maryland enacts the first law in Colonial America banning marriage between white women and black men.Racial RestrictionsUnited StatesMaryland
1601-17001667England enacts strict laws regarding enslaved Africans in its colonies. An enslaved African is forbidden to leave the plantation without a pass, and never on Sunday. An enslaved African may not possess weapons or signaling mechanisms such as horns or whisSlave LawsColonial American. a.
1601-17001667Virginia declares that baptism does not free a slave from bondage, thereby abandoning the Christian tradition of not enslaving other Christians.Slave LawsColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001670The Massachusetts legislature passes a law that enables its citizens to sell the children of enslaved Africans into bondage, thus separating them from their parents.Slave LawsColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1601-17001670The Virginia Assembly enact law that allows all non-Christians who arrive by ship to be enslaved.Slave LawsUnited StatesVirginia
1601-17001670Massachusetts permits the separate sale of children of enslaved parents.Slave LawsUnited StatesMassachusetts
1601-17001671A Maryland law states that the conversion of enslaved African Americans to Christianity does not affect their status as enslaved people.Slave LawsColonial AmericaMaryland
1601-17001672King Charles II of England charters the Royal African Company, which dominates the slave trade to North America for the next half century.The Slave TradeColonial American. a.
1601-17001672Virginia law now bans prosecution for the killing of a slave if the death comes during the course of his his or her apprehension.Slave LawsUnited StatesVirginia
1601-17001673The Massachusetts legislature passes a law that forbids European Americans from engaging in any trade or commerce with an African American.Racial RestrictionsColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1601-17001675An estimated 100,000 Africans are enslaved in the West Indies and another 5,000 are in British North America.Black PopulationColonial American. a.
1601-17001676Nathaniel Bacon leads an unsuccessful rebellion of whites and blacks against the English colonial government in Virginia.Africans in Colonial AmericaColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001680Virginia enacts a law that forbids all blacks from carrying arms and requires enslaved blacks to carry certificates at all times when leaving the slaveowner's plantation.Racial RestrictionsUnited StatesVirginia
1601-17001681Maryland laws mandate that children of European servant women and African men are free.EmancipationColonial AmericaMaryland
1601-17001682A new slave code in Virginia prohibits weapons for slaves, requires passes beyond the limits of the plantation and forbids self-defense by any African Americans against any European American.Slave LawsColonial AmericaVirginia
1601-17001682New York enacts its first slave codes. They restrict the freedom of movement and the ability to trade of all enslaved people in the colony.Slave LawsUnited StatesNew York
1601-17001685New York law forbids enslaved Africans and Native Americans from having meetings or carrying firearms.Slave LawsColonial AmericaNew York
1601-17001688Quakers in Germantown, Pennsylvania denounce slavery in the first recorded formal protest in North America against the enslavement of Africans.The Abolition MovementColonial AmericaPennsylvania
1601-17001690By this year, all English colonies in America have enslaved Africans.Colonial SlaveryColonial American.a.
1601-17001690Enslaved Africans and Native Americans in Massachusetts plan a rebellion.Resistance to EnslavementColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1601-17001690South Carolina enacts its first laws regulating slave movement and behavior.Slave LawsUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1601-17001691Virginia enacts a new law which punishes white men and women for marrying black or Indians. Children of such interracial liaisons become the property of the church for 30 years.Racial RestrictionsUnited StatesVirginia
1601-17001694The success of rice cultivation in South Carolina encourages the importation of larger numbers of enslaved laborers especially from Senegal and other rice producing regions of West Africa.Agricultural DevelopmentUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1601-17001695Rev. Samuel Thomas, a white cleric in Charleston, South Carolina, establishes the first school for African Americans in the British North American colonies.Black EducationUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1601-17001696Quaker religious leaders warn that members who own slaves may be expelled from the demonination.Anti-Slavery CampaignUnited StatesPennsylvania
1601-17001700The publication of Samuel Sewall's The Selling of Joseph, is considered the first major condemnation of slavery in print in British North America.Anti-Slavery CampaignUnited StatesMassachusetts
1701-18001702The New York Assembly enacts a law which prohibits enslaved Africans from testifying against whites or gathering in groups larger than three on public streets.Slave LawsUnited StatesNew York
1701-18001704French colonist Elias Neau opens a school for enslaved African Americans in New York City.Black EducationColonial AmericaNew York
1701-18001705The Colonial Virginia Assembly defined as slaves all servants brought into the colony who were not Christians in their original countries as well as Indians sold to the colonists by other Native Americans.Slave LawsUnited StatesVirginia
1701-18001708Africans in South Carolina outnumber Europeans, making it the first English colony with a black majority.Black PopulationColonial AmericaSouth Carolina
1701-18001711Great Britain's Queen Anne overrules a Pennsylvania colonial law prohibiting slavery.Colonial SlaveryColonial AmericaPennsylvania
1701-18001711A public slave market opens in New York City at the east end of Wall Street.The Slave TradeUnited StatesNew York
1701-18001712The New York City slave revolt begins on April 6. Nine whites are killed and an unknown number of blacks die in the uprising. Colonial authorities execute 21 slaves and six commit suicide.Resistance to EnslavementColonial AmericaNew York
1701-18001712New York City enacts an ordinance that prevents free blacks from inheriting land.Racial RestrictionsUnited StatesNew York
1701-18001713England secures the exclusive right to transport slaves to the Spanish colonies in America.Colonial SlaveryColonial American. a.
1701-18001716The first enslaved Africans arrive in Louisiana.Colonial SlaveryUnited StatesLouisiana
1701-18001718New Orleans is founded by the French. By 1721 the city has more enslaved black men than free white men.Colonial SlaveryUnited StatesLouisiana
1701-18001721South Carolina limits the vote to free white Christian men.Racial RestrictionsColonial AmericaSouth Carolina
1701-18001724Boston imposes a curfew on non-whites.Racial RestrictionsColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1701-18001724The French colonial government in Louisiana enacts the Code Noir, the first body of laws that govern both slaves and free blacks in North America.Racial RestrictionsUnited StatesLouisiana
1701-18001727Enslaved Africans and Native Americans revolt in Middlesex and Gloucester Counties in Virginia.Resistance to EnslavementColonial AmericaVirginia
1701-18001735South Carolina passes laws requiring enslaved people to wear clothing identifying them as slaves. Freed slaves are required to leave the colony within six months or risk reenslavement.Racial RestrictionsColonial AmericaSouth Carolina
1701-18001737An indentured black servant petitions a Massachusetts Court and wins his freedom after the death of his master.EmancipationColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1701-18001738The first permanent black settlement in what will become the United States is established by fugitive slaves at Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose (Fort Mose), Florida.Free Blacks in Colonial AmericaUnited StatesFlorida
1701-18001739The first major South Carolina slave revolt takes place in Stono on September 9. A score of whites and more than twice as many black slaves are killed as the armed slaves try to flee to Florida.Resistance to EnslavementColonial AmericaSouth Carolina
1701-18001739Nineteen white citizens of Darien, Georgia petition the colonial governor to continue the ban on the importation of Africans into the colony, calling African enslavement morally wrong.Resistance to EnslavementColonial AmericaGeorgia
1701-18001741During the New York Slave Conspiracy Trials, New York City officials execute 34 people for planning to burn down the town. Thirteen African American men are burned at the stake and another 17 black men, two white men and two white women are hanged. SeventResistance to EnslavementColonial AmericaNew York
1701-18001741South Carolina's colonial legislature enacts the most extensive slave restrictions in British North America. The laws ban the teaching of enslaved people to read and write, prohibits their assembling in groups or earning money for their activities. The laRacial RestrictionsColonial AmericaSouth Carolina
1701-18001746Lucy Terry, a slave, composes Bars Fight, the first known poem by an African American. A description of an Indian raid on Terry's hometown in Massachusetts, the poem will be passed down orally and published in 1855Enslaved People in Colonial AmericaColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1701-18001750Anthony Benezet persuades fellow Philadelphia Quakers to open the first free school for black children in the colonies.Black EducationUnited StatesPennsylvania
1701-18001752Twenty-one year old Benjamin Banneker of Maryland constructs one of the first clocks in Colonial America, the first of a long line of inventions and innovations until his death in 1806.Free Blacks in Colonial AmericaColonial AmericaMaryland
1701-18001758The African Baptist or Bluestone Church is founded on the William Byrd plantation near the Bluestone River, in Mecklenburg, Virginia, becoming the first known black church in North America18th Century Black ReligionColonial AmericaVirginia
1701-18001758A school for free black children is opened in Philadelphia.Black EducationColonial AmericaPennsylvania
1701-18001760Briton Hammon publishes A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Surprising Deliverance of Briton Hammon in Boston. This is believed to be the first autobiographical work written by an enslaved African living in British North America.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesMassachusetts
1701-18001761Jupiter Hammon, a Long Island enslaved person, publishes a book of poetry. This is believed to be the first volume of poetry written and published by an African American.Art and LiteratureColonial AmericaNew York
1701-18001762Virginia restricts voting rights to white men.Racial RestrictionsColonial AmericaVirginia
1701-18001770On March 5, Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave of African and Native American ancestry, becomes the first Colonial resident to die for American independence when he is killed by the British in the Boston Massacre.American RevolutionColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1701-18001773Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, written by Phillis Wheatley, an enslaved Bostonian, is published in that city. It is the first book written by an African American woman published in the United States and only the second book in the nation'Art and LiteratureColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1701-18001773The Silver Bluff Baptist Church, the oldest continuously operating black church, is founded in Silver Bluff, South Carolina near Savannah, Georgia.18th Century Black ReligionColonial AmericaGeorgia
1701-18001774A group of enslaved blacks petition the Massachusetts General Court (legislature) insisting they too have a natural right to their freedom.EmancipationColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1701-18001774First African Baptist Church, one of the earliest black churches in the United States, is founded in Petersburg, Virginia.Africans in Colonial AmericaUnited StatesVirginia
1701-18001775African Americans participate on the Patriot side in the earliest battles of the Revolution, Concord, Lexington and Bunker Hill. Two of the first of these Patriot soldiers were Peter Salem at the Battle of Concord and Salem Poor at the Battle of Bunker HiAfrican Americans in the MilitaryColonial AmericaMassachusetts
1701-18001775General George Washington reverses his earlier policy of rejecting the services of slaves and free blacks in the army. Five thousand African-Americans serve during the Revolutionary War including two predominantly black units in Massachusetts, one in ConnAfrican Americans in the MilitaryColonial AmericaConnecticut
1701-18001775The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully held in Bondage holds the first of four meetings in Philadelphia on April 14. This is the first abolitionist meeting in North America. In 1784 the organization becomes the Pennsylvania Abolition SocietThe Abolition MovementColonial AmericaPennsylvania
1701-18001775On Nov. 7, Lord Dunmore, British Governor of Virginia declares all slaves free who come to the defense of the British Crown against the Patriot forces. Dunmore eventually organizes the first regiment of black soldiers to fight under the British flag.African Americans in the American RevolutionColonial AmericaVirginia
1701-18001775The American War of Independence. Approximately 450,000 enslaved Africans comprise 20% of the population of the colonies at the time of the Declaration of Independence.African Americans in the American RevolutionUnied Statesn. a.
1701-18001776A passage in the Declaration of Independence authored by Thomas Jefferson at the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, condemned the slave trade.  The controversial passage is removed from the Declaration due to pressure from the southern coloniesAfrican Americans in the American RevolutionUnited StatesPennsylvania
1701-18001776Approximately 100,000 enslaved people flee their masters during the Revolution.African Americans in the American RevolutionUnied Statesn. a.
1701-18001777On July 8, Vermont becomes the first political jurisdiction in the United States to abolish slavery.EmancipationUnited StatesVermont
1701-18001778Boston businessman Paul Cuffe and his brother, John, refuse to pay taxes, claiming as blacks not allowed to vote they suffer taxation without representation.African Americans in the American RevolutionUnited StatesMassachusetts
1701-18001778The 1st Rhode Island Regiment comprised of enslaved and free black men is formed. It is the first and only all-black military unit to fight on the Patriot side in the American RevolutionAfrican Americans in the American RevolutionUnited StatesRhode Island
1701-18001780Massachusetts abolishes slavery and grants African American men the right to vote.EmancipationUnited StatesMassachusetts
1701-18001780The Free African Union Society is created in Newport, Rhode Island. It is the first cultural organization established by blacks in North America.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesRhode Island
1701-18001780Pennsylvania adopts first gradual emancipation law. All children of enslaved people born after Nov. 1, 1780 will be free on their 28th birthday.Gradual EmancipationUnited StatesPennsylvania
1701-18001780Paul Cuffee, a Boston merchant and shipowner, leads six other free blacks in petitioning the Massacusetts to end their taxation without representation.Free Blacks in Colonial AmericaUnited StatesMassachusetts
1701-18001781Twenty thousand black loyalists depart with British Troops from the newly independent United States. Approximately 5,000 African Americans served with Patriot forces. Three times that many served with the British although not all of them leave the new natAfrican Americans and the MilitaryUnited Statesn. a.
1701-18001784Connecticut and Rhode Island adopt gradual emancipation laws.Gradual EmancipationUnited StatesConnecticut
1701-18001784Congress rejects Thomas Jefferson's proposal to exclude slavery from all western territories after 1800.The Slavery ControversyUnited StatesNew Jersey
1701-18001784Prince Hall establishes the first black Masonic lodge in the United States. African Lodge #459 is granted a Masonic charter by the Grand Lodge of England.Free Blacks in Antebellum AmericaUnited StatesMassachusetts
1701-18001784The New York African Society, a spiritual and benevolent association, is created by free blacks in New York City.Free Blacks in Antebellum AmericaUnited StatesNew York
1701-18001785New York frees all slaves who served in the Revolutionary Army.EmancipationUnited StatesNew York
1701-18001785The New York Society for the Promoting of the Manumission of Slaves is founded by prominent New Yorkers including John Jay and Alexander Hamilton.Anti-Slavery CampaignUnited StatesNew York
1701-18001787On July 13, Congress enacts the Northwest Ordinance, which establishes formal procedures for transforming territories into states. It provides for the eventual establishment of three to five states in the area north of the Ohio River, to be considered equEmancipationUnited StatesNew York
1701-18001787The U.S. Constitution is drafted. It provides for the continuation of the slave trade for another 20 years and required states to aid slaveholders in the recovery of fugitive slaves. It also stipulates that a slave counts as three-fifths of a man for purpThe Slavery ControversyUnited StatesNew York
1701-18001787Free blacks in New York City found the African Free School, where future leaders Henry Highland Garnett and Alexander Crummell are educated.Black EducationUnited StatesNew York
1701-18001787Richard Allen and Absalom Jones form the Free African Society in Philadelphia.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesPennsylvania
1701-18001788In Massachusetts, following an incident in which free blacks were kidnapped and transported to the state from the island of Martinique, the Massachusetts legislature declares the slave trade illegal and provides monetary damages to victims of kidnappings.EmancipationUnited StatesMassachusetts
1701-18001790Free African Americans in Charleston form the Brown Fellowship Society.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1701-18001790Census of 1790 (First Census of the U.S. Population): Total population, 3,929,214, Black Population: 757,208 (19.3%) including 59,150 free African Americans.Black PopulationUnited StatesNew York
1701-18001791In February Major Andrew Ellicott hires Benjamin Banneker to assist in a survey of the boundaries of the 100-square-mile federal district that would later become the District of Columbia.Free Blacks in Antebellum AmericaUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1701-18001792Benjamin Banneker's Almanac is published in Philadelphia. It is the first book of science published by an African American.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesPennsylvania
1701-18001793The United States Congress enacts the first Fugitive Slave Law. Providing assistance to fugitive slaves is now a criminal offense.Racial RestrictionsUnited StatesPennsylvania
1701-18001793Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin in Georgia which he patents on March 13.  The development of the cotton gin provides a major boost to the slave-based cotton economy of the South.Antebellum SlaveryUnited StatesGeorgia
1701-18001794Mother Bethel AME Church is established in Philadelphia by Richard Allen.18th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesPennsylvania
1701-18001794New York adopts a gradual emancipation law.Gradual EmancipationUnited StatesNew York
1701-18001795Bowdoin College is founded in Maine. It later becomes a center for Abolitionist activity; Gen. Oliver O. Howard (Howard University) graduated from the college; Harriet Beecher Stowe taught there and began to write Uncle Tom's Cabin while there (in 1850)The Abolition MovementUnited StatesMaine
1701-18001796On August 23, The African Methodist Episcopal Church is organized in Philadelphia.18th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesPennsylvania
1701-18001798Joshua Johnston of Baltimore, Maryland becomes the first black portrait painter to gain widespread recognition in the United StatesArt and LiteratureUnited StatesMaryland
1701-18001798Venture Smith's A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, A Native of Africa But Resident Above Sixty Years in the United States of America appears as the first slave narrative written by the person in bondage. Earlier narratives were written byArt and LiteratureUnited StatesConnecticut
1701-18001800On August 30, Gabriel Prosser attempts a slave rebellion in Richmond, Virginia.Resistance to EnslavementUnited StatesVirginia
1701-18001800The United States Congress rejects 85 to 1 an antislavery petition offered by free Philadelphia African Americans.Free Blacks in Antebellum AmericaUnited StatesPennsylvania
1701-18001800Census of 1800, U.S. Population: 5,308,483, Black Population: 1,002,037 (18.9%) including 108,435 free African Americans.Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001802The Ohio Constitution outlaws slavery. It also prohibits free blacks from voting.Antebellum SlaveryUnited StatesOhio
1801-19001802James Callender claims that Thomas Jefferson has for many years past kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves, Sally Hemings. His charge is published in the Richmond Recorder that month, and the story is soon picked up by the Federalist press aroundBlack WomenUnited StatesVirginia
1801-19001803On April 30, Louisiana is purchased from the French. The new territory nearly doubles the size of the United States.U.S. ExpansionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001804Lemuel Haynes is the first African American to receive an honorary degree in U.S. history when Middlebury College awards him a Master's Degree at its second commencement.Humanitarian HonorsUnited StatesVermont
1801-19001804In 1804 the Ohio legislature passes the Ohio Black Codes and in doing so becomes the first non-slaveholding state to place restrictions exclusively on its African American residents.Racial RestrictionsUnited StatesOhio
1801-19001804The Lewis and Clark Expedition explores newly purchased Louisiana and the Pacific Northwest. An African American, York, is prominent in the expedition.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesOregon
1801-19001807New Jersey disfranchises black voters.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNew Jersey
1801-19001808The United States government abolishes the importation of enslaved Africans when it enacts the Slave Importation Ban.  The ban, however, is widely ignored. Between 1808 and 1860, approximately 250,000 blacks are illegally imported into the United States.The Slave TradeUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001809New York recognizes marriage within the African American community.Family and Interpersonal RelationshipsUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001810Census of 1810, U.S. Population: 7,239,881, Black Population: 1,377,808 (19 percent) including 186,446 free African Americans.Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001810The U.S. Congress prohibits African Americans from carrying mail for the U.S. Postal Service.Free Blacks in Antebellum AmericaUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001810By 1810, 75 percent of the African Americans in Delaware are free. This is the largest percentage of free blacks in a slave state.EmancipationUnited StatesDelaware
1801-19001810The African Insurance Company of Philadephia is the first black-owned insurance company in the United States.Black BusinessUnited StatesPennsylvania
1801-19001811Andry's Rebellion on January 8-11. A slave insurrection led by Charles Deslondes, begins on the Louisiana plantation of Manual Andry.Resistance to EnslavementUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001812Previously independent African American schools become part of the Boston public school system.Black EducationUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001812Two African American regiments are formed in New York to fight in the War of 1812.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001814Six hundred African American troops are among the U.S. Army of 3,000 led by General Andrew Jackson which defeats British forces at the Battle of New Orleans. The black troops were led by Major Joseph Savary, the highest ranking black officer in the historAfrican Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001815Richard Allen officially creates the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first wholly African American church denomination in the United States.19th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesPennsylvania
1801-19001815Abolitionist Levi Coffin establishes the Underground Railroad in Indiana.  Eventually it will spread across the North with routes originating in the South and stretching to British Canada.Resistance to EnslavementUnited StatesIndiana
1801-19001816The American Colonization Society is founded by Bushrod Washington (the nephew of George Washington) and other prominent white Americans who believe enslaved African Americans should be freed and settled in Africa.Gradual EmancipationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001817Francis Johnson of Philadelphia becomes the first black bandleader and composer to publish sheet music. In 1837 he becomes the first American to perform before Queen Victoria in England.19th Century Black MusicUnited StatesPennsylvania
1801-19001817Escaped slaves from Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama join the military campaign of the Florida Seminoles to keep their homelands.Resistance to EnslavementUnited StatesFlorida
1801-19001818Connecticut disfranchises black voters.Black PoliticsUnited StatesConnecticut
1801-19001818Thomas Day of North Carolina is considered the first widely known furniture and cabinet maker in the United States.Business and LaborUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1801-19001820Census of 1820, U.S. Population: 9,638,452, Black Population: 1,771,656 (18.4 percent) including 233,504 free African Americans.Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001820The Compromise of 1820 allows Missouri into the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free state. It also sets the boundary between slave and free territory in the West at the 36th parallel.The Slavery ControversyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001821New York maintains property qualifications for African American male voters while abolishing the same for white male voters. Missouri disfranchises free black male voters.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001821Thomas Jennings of New York City became the first African American to receive a patent from the United States government.  His patent came because he developed a process for dry cleaning clothes.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001821The African Grove Theater Group, the first black acting company, is founded in New York City.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001822Denmark Vesey is arrested for planning a slave rebellion in South Carolina.Resistance to EnslavementUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1801-19001822Rhode Island disfranchises black voters.Black PoliticsUnited StatesRhode Island
1801-19001823The African Grove Theater performs The Drama of King Shotaway, the first play written by an African American, Wiliam Henry Brown.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001827Freedom's Journal begins publication on March 16 in New York City as the first African American owned newspaper in the United States. The editors are John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish.The Black PressUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001827Slavery is officially abolished in New York.Gradual EmancipationUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001828Theodore Sedgewick Wright is the first black graduate of the Princeton Theological Seminary.Black EducationUnited StatesNew Jersey
1801-19001829More than half of Cincinnati's African American residents are driven out of the city by white mob violence. The Cincinnati riots usher in a more than century-long period of white violence against Northern black urban communities.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesOhio
1801-19001829David Walker of Boston publishes An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the Worldwhich calls for a slave uprising in the South.Resistance to EnslavementUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001829The Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first permanent order of black Catholic nuns, is founded in Baltimore, Maryland.19th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesMaryland
1801-19001830Census of 1830, U.S. Population: 12,866,020, Black Population: 2,328,842 (18.1 percent) including 319,599 free African Americans.Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001830African American delegates from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia meet in Philadelphia in the first of a series of National Negro Conventions to devise ways to challenge slavery in the South and racial discrimination in the North.Free Blacks in Antebellum AmericaUnited StatesPennsylvania
1801-19001831North Carolina enacts a statute that bans teaching slaves to read and write.Antebellum SlaveryUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1801-19001831Nat Turner leads a slave rebellion in Southampton, Virginia, killing at least 57 whites.Resistance to EnslavementUnited StatesVirginia
1801-19001831Alabama makes it illegal for enslaved or free blacks to preach.Antebellum SlaveryUnited StatesAlabama
1801-19001831William Lloyd Garrison of Boston founds The Liberator, the first abolitionist newspaper in the United States.The Abolition MovementUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001831Jarena Lee's The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee, A Coloured Lady, was the first autobiography by an African American woman.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesPennsylvania
1801-19001832Oberlin College is founded in Ohio. It admits African American men, black women and white women. By 1860 one third of its students are black.Black EducationUnited StatesOhio
1801-19001832The Female Anti-Slavery Society, the first African American women's abolitionist society, is founded in Salem, Massachusetts.The Abolition MovementUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001832The Georgia Infirmary, founded by white philanthropists in Savannah, is the first hospital in the United States dedicated to black patient care.Health and MedicineUnited StatesGeorgia
1801-19001833The American Anti-Slavery Society is established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Abolition MovementUnited StatesPennsylvania
1801-19001834African Free Schools are incorporated into the New York Public School system.Black EducationUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001834Henry Blair of Maryland received a patent from the U.S. government for developing a mechanical corn planter.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesMaryland
1801-19001834South Carolina bans the teaching of blacks, enslaved or free, in its borders.Antebellum SlaveryUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1801-19001834David Ruggles, abolitionist activist, opens the first African American bookstore in the nation, in New York City.Black BusinessUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001836Texas declares its independence from Mexico. In its Constitution as an independent nation, Texas recognizes slavery and makes it difficult for free blacks to remain there.Antebellum SlaveryUnited StatesTexas
1801-19001836The Gag Rule prohibits Congress from considering petitions regarding slavery.The Slavery ControversyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001837The Institute for Colored Youth is founded in Southeastern Pennsylvania. It later becomes Cheyney University.Black EducationUnited StatesPennsylvania
1801-19001837The Philadelphia Vigilence Committee is organized to help fugitive slaves escape their pursuers.Anti-Slavery CampaignUnited StatesPennsylvania
1801-19001838Pennsylvania disfranchises black voters.Black PoliticsUnited StatesPennsylvania
1801-19001839On August 29, American vessels tow the Spanish ship the Amistad and its 53 slaves into New London, Connecticut. Their fate is decided by the United States Supreme Court in United States v. The Amistad on March 9, 1841 when the Court rules them free and thMajor Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001840Census of 1840, U.S. Population: 17,069,453, Black Population: 2,873,648 (16.1 percent) including 386,293 free African Americans.Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001842Frederick Douglass leads a successful campaign against Rhode Island's proposed Dorr Constitution which would continue the prohibition on black voting rights.Black PoliticsUnited StatesRhode Island
1801-19001842The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Prigg v. Pennsylvania that states did not have to offer aid in the hunting or recapture of fugitive slaves within their borders.Anti-Slavery CampaignUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001843Rev. Henry Highland Garnet delivers his controversial "Address to the Slaves" at the National Negro Convention meeting in Buffalo, New York, which calls for a servile insurrection.Resistance to EnslavementUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001843Sojourner Truth and William Wells Brown begin their campaigns against slavery.The Abolition MovementUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001844On June 25, the Legislative Committee of the Provisional Government of Oregon enacts the first of a series of black exclusion laws.Free Blacks in Antebellum AmericaUnited StatesOregon
1801-19001845Texas is annexed to the United States.Antebellum SlaveryUnited StatesTexas
1801-19001845Frederick Douglass publishes his autobiography, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.The Abolition MovementUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001845Macon B. Allen of Worcester, Massachusetts is the first African American admitted to the bar in any state when he is allowed to practice law in Massachusetts.The Legal SystemUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001845William Henry Lane (Master Juba) of New York City is the first acclaimed black dance performer.Dance and TheaterUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001846War with Mexico.The Slavery ControversyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001847Frederick Douglass begins publication of The North Star in Rochester, New York.The Black PressUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001847Missouri bans the education of free blacks.Antebellum SlaveryUnited StatesMissouri
1801-19001847Missouri abolitionists file a lawsuit on behalf of Dred Scott to gain his freedom. The case is eventually decided by the U.S. Supreme Court a decade later.The Abolition MovementUnited StatesMissouri
1801-19001847David Jones Peck is the first African American graduate of a U.S. medical school. He graduates from Rush Medical College in Chicago.Health and MedicineUnited StatesIllinois
1801-19001848On February 2 in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico cedes California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah and gives up claim to Texas at conclusion of War in exchange for $20 million.U.S. ExpansionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001848On July 19-20, Frederick Douglass is among the handful of men who attend the first Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York.The Abolition MovementUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001849The California Gold Rush begins. Eventually four thousand African Americans will migrate to California during this period.Free Blacks in Antebellum AmericaUnited StatesCalifornia
1801-19001849Harriett Tubman escapes from slavery and begins her efforts to rescue enslaved people.Resistance to EnslavementUnited StatesMaryland
1801-19001849On December 4, Benjamin Roberts files a school desegregation lawsuit on behalf of his daughter, Sarah, who is denied admission to a Boston school. The lawsuit is unsuccessful.Black EducationUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001850Census of 1850, U.S. Population: 23,191,876, Black Population: 3,638,808 (15.7 percent) including 433,807 free African Americans.Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001850The Compromise of 1850 revisits the issue of slavery. California enters the Union as a free state, but the territories of New Mexico and Utah are allowed to decide whether they will enter the Union as slave or free states. The 1850 Compromise also allowedThe Slavery ContoversyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001850On August 27, Lucy Stanton of Cleveland completes the course requirements for Oberlin Collegiate Institute (now Oberlin College) and becomes the first African American woman to graduate from an American college or university.Black EducationUnited StatesOhio
1801-19001850The American League of Colored Workers, formed in New York City, is the first African American labor union in the United States.Black LaborUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001851Sojourner Truth delivers her famous "Aren't I a Woman" speech at the Women's Rights Convention, Akron, Ohio on May 29.The Abolition MovementUnited StatesOhio
1801-19001852Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes her novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, which becomes a best selling book and a major influence on the Anti-Slavery Movement.The Abolition MovementUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001852Martin R. Delany publishes The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States.Free Blacks in Antebellum AmericaUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001852The Jackson Street Hospital in Augusta, Georgia is established as the second medical facility dedicated solely to the care of African American patients.Health and MedicineUnited StatesGeorgia
1801-19001853Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield (the Black Swan) debuts at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and performs before Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace a year later.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001853William Wells Brown of Buffalo, New York, becomes the first African American novelist when he publishes Clotel, or the President's Daughter.  The novel is published in England, however and thus he is not considered the first published black novelist in thArt and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001854On May 24, Virginia fugitive slave Anthony Burns is captured in Boston and returned to slavery under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act. Fifty thousand Boston residents watch his transport through the streets of the city in shackles. A Boston churchResistance to EnslavementUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001854On May 30, the Kansas-Nebraska Act is passed by Congress. The Act repeals the Missouri Compromise and permits the admission of Kansas and Nebraska Territories to the Union after their populations decide on slavery.The Slavery ControversyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001854The Republican Party is formed in Jackson, Michigan in the summer in opposition to the extension of slavery into the western territories.The Slavery ControversyUnited StatesMichigan
1801-19001854Bleeding Kansas is an outgrowth of the controversy over the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Between 1854 and 1858 armed groups of pro- and anti-slavery factions often funded and sponsored by organizations in the North and South, compete for control of Kansas TerritoThe Slavery ControversyUnited StatesKansas
1801-19001854On October 13, Ashmun Institute, the first institution of higher learning for young black men, is founded by John Miller Dickey and his wife, Sarah Emlen Cresson. In 1866 it is renamed Lincoln University (Pa.) after President Abraham LincolnBlack EducationUnited StatesPennsylvania
1801-19001854James A. Healy is ordained in France as the first black Jesuit priest. He becomes Bishop of Portland, Maine in 1875, a diocese that includes all of Maine and New Hampshire, and holds that post for 25 years.19th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesMaine
1801-19001855The Massachusetts Legislature outlaws racially segregated schools.Black EducationUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001855William C. Nell of Boston publishes The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, considered the first history of African Americans.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001855In November, John Mercer Langston is elected town clerk of Brownhelm Township, Ohio, becoming the first black elected official in the state of Ohio.Black PoliticsUnited StatesOhio
1801-19001855Frederick Douglass is nominated by the Liberty Party of New York for the office of secretary of state. He is the first black candidate in any state to be nominated for a statewide office.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001856Wilberforce University becomes the first school of higher learning owned and operated by African Americans. It is founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop Daniel A. Payne becomes the institution's first president.Black EducationUnited StatesOhio
1801-19001857On March 6, the Dred Scott Decision is handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001858Arkansas enslaves free blacks who refuse to leave the state.Antebellum SlaveryUnited StatesArkansas
1801-19001859On October 16, John Brown leads twenty men, including five African Americans (John Copeland, Shields Green, Lewis S. Leary, Dangerfield Newby, and Osborne Anderson), in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the Federal Armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now WeResistance to EnslavementUnited StatesWest Virginia
1801-19001859Harriett Wilson of Milford, New Hampshire publishes Our Nig; or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, the first novel by an African American woman.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew Hampshire
1801-19001860Census of 1860, U.S. Population: 31,443,321, Black Population: 4,441,830 (14.1 percent) including 488,070 free African Americans.Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001860On November 6, Abraham Lincoln is elected president.The Civil WarUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001860On December 20, South Carolina secedes from the Union.The Civil WarUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1801-19001861Congress passes the First Confiscation Act which prevents Confederate slave owners from reenslaving runaways.African Americans and the Civil WarUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001861On May 2, black men in New Orleans organize the First Louisiana Native Guard of the Confederate Army. In doing so they create the first and only military unit of black officers and enlisted men to pledge to fight for Southern independence. By February 186Black Soldiers in the Civil WarUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001861By February, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas secede. They form the Confederate States of America on March 4. After the firing on Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina on April 12, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North CThe Civil WarUnited Statesn.a.
1801-19001861The Civil War. Approximately 200,000 blacks (most are newly escaped/freed slaves) serve in Union armed forces and over 20,000 are killed in combat.African Americans in the Civil WarUnited Statesn.a.
1801-19001862The Port Royal (South Carolina) Reconstruction Experiment begins in March.African Americans in the Civil WarUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1801-19001862On April 16, Congress abolishes slavery in the District of Columbia.EmancipationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001862In May the coastal pilot Robert Smalls escapes Charleston, South Carolina with The Planter, a Confederate vessel and sixteen enslaved people.African Americans in the Civil WarUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1801-19001862Congress permits the enlistment of African American soldiers in the U.S. Army on July 17.African Americans in the MilitaryUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001862With the southern states absent from Congress, the body recognizes Haiti and Liberia, marking the first time diplomatic relations are established with predominately black nations.African Americans in the Civil WarUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001862On September 22, President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamationand announces that it will go into effect on July 1, 1863 if the states then in rebellion have not by that point returned to the Union.EmancipationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001862Educator Mary Jane Patterson is generally recognized as the first African American woman to receive a B.A. degree when she graduated from Oberlin College in 1862.  Lucy Stanton Day Sessions graduated from Oberlin twelve years earlier but was not in a progBlack EducationUnited StatesOhio
1801-19001863Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation takes effect on January 1, legally freeing slaves in areas of the South still in rebellion against the United States.EmancipationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001863The New York City draft riots erupt on July 13 and continue for four days, during which at least 100 of the city's residents are killed. This remains the highest death toll in any urban conflict in the 19th or 20th Centuries.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001863On July 18, the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, the first officially recognized all-black military unit in the Union army, assaults Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina in an unsuccessful effort to take the fortification. Sergeant William H. CAfrican Americans in the MilitaryUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1801-19001863Robert Smalls of Charleston, South Carolina, is the first and only African American to be commissioned a captain in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.Black Soldiers in the Civil WarUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1801-19001863Susie King Taylor of Savannah is the first black Army nurse in U.S. history.Health and MedicineUnited StatesGeorgia
1801-19001864The Fort Pillow Massacre takes place in West Tennessee on April 12. Approximately 300 of the 585 soldiers of the Union garrison at Fort Pillow are killed including many after the Union forces surrender. Only 14 Confederate soldiers die in the battle.Afrrican Americans in the MilitaryUnited StatesTennessee
1801-19001864In June Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler of Boston is the first African American woman to earn a medical degree when she graduates from the New England Female Medical College in Boston.Health and MedicineUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001864On June 15, Congress passed a bill authorizing equal pay, equipment, arms, and health care for African American troops in the Union Army.African Americans in the MilitaryUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001864On October 4, La Tribune de la Nouvelle Orleans (the New Orleans Tribune) begins publication. The Tribune is the first black-owned daily newspaper.The Black PressUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001865On February 1, 1865, Abraham Lincoln signs the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawing slavery throughout the United States.Reconstruction AmendmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001865On March 3, Congress established the Freedmen's Bureau to provide health care, education, and technical assistance to emancipated slaves. Congress also charters the Freedman's Bank to promote savings and thrift among the ex-slaves.African Americans and ReconstructionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001865Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9 at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War.The Civil WarUnited StatesVirginia
1801-19001865On April 15, President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in Washington, D.C.Political AssassinationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001865On June 19, enslaved African Americans in Texas finally receive news of their emancipation. From that point they commemorate that day as Juneteenth.EmancipationUnited StatesTexas
1801-19001865Between September and November, a number of ex-Confederate states pass so called Black Codes.Jim Crow LegislationUnited Statesn.a.
1801-19001865The Ku Klux Klan is formed on December 24th in Pulaski, Tennessee by six educated, middle class former Confederate veterans.  The Klan soon adopts terror tactics to thwart the aspirations of the formerly enslaved and their supporters.African Americans and ReconstructionUnited StatesTennessee
1801-19001865Twenty thousand African American troops are among the 32,000 U.S. soldiers sent to the Rio Grande as a show of force against Emperor Maximilian's French troops occupying Mexico. Some discharged black soldiers join the forces of Mexican resistance leader BAfrican Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesTexas
1801-19001865John S. Rock is the first African American to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.The Legal SystemUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001865Martin R. Delany's appointment as Major by President Abraham Lincoln makes him the highest ranking African American officer during the Civil War.Black Soldiers in the Civil WarUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001865On January 16, General William T. Sherman issues Special Field Order No. 15 which gives 400,000 acres of abandoned coastal land in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to formerly enslaved people.  This order becomes the basis for subsequent "40 acres andReconstructionUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1801-19001865With the approval of the Georgia Legislature on December 6, the 13th Amendmenttook effect and outlawed slavery throughout the United States and its possessions.Reconstruction AmendmentsUnited StatesGeorgia
1801-19001866Fisk University is founded in Nashville, Tennessee on January 9.Black EducationUnited StatesTennessee
1801-19001866On April 9, Congress overrides President Andrew Johnson's veto to enact the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The act confers citizenship upon black Americans and guarantees equal rights with whites.African Americans and ReconstructionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001866On May 1-3, white civilians and police in Memphis, Tennessee kill forty-six African Americans and injure many more, burning ninety houses, twelve schools, and four churches in what will be known as the Memphis Massacre.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesTennessee
1801-19001866On June 13, Congress approves the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing due process and equal protection under the law to all citizens. The amendment also grants citizenship to African Americans.African Americans and ReconstructionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001866Congress authorizes the creation of four all-black regiments in the United States Army. Two cavalry regiments, the 9th and 10th and two infantry regiments, the 24th and 25th will become the first and only units in which black soldiers can serve until theAfrican Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001866Police in New Orleans supporting the Democratic Mayor storm a Republican meeting of blacks and whites on July 30, killing 34 black and 3 white Republicans. Over 150 people are injured in the attack.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001867On January 8, overriding President Andrew Johnson's veto, Congress grants the black citizens of the District of Columbia the right to vote. Two days later it passes the Territorial Suffrage Act which allows African Americans in the western territories toAfrican Americans and ReconstructionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001867Morehouse College is founded in Atlanta on February 14.Black EducationUnited StatesGeorgia
1801-19001867The Reconstruction Acts are passed by Congress on March 2. Congress divides ten of the eleven ex-Confederate states into military districts. These acts also reorganize post-war Southern governments, disfranchising former high ranking Confederates and enfrAfrican Americans and ReconstructionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001867On March 2, Howard University is chartered by Congress in Washington, D.C. The institution is named after General Oliver O. Howard who heads the Freedman's Bureau.Black EducationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001868On July 21, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, granting citizenship to any person born or naturalized in the United States.Reconstruction AmendmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001868Opelousas, Louisiana is the site of the Opelousas Massacre on September 28, in which an estimated 200 to 300 black Americans are killed by whites opposed to Reconstruction and African American voting.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001868On November 3, Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant (Republican) is elected president.ReconstructionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001868On November 3, John Willis Menard is elected to Congress from Louisiana's Second Congressional District. Menard is the first African American elected to Congress. However, neither he nor his opponent will be seated due to disputed election results.Black PoliticsUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001868Howard University Medical School opens on November 9. It is the first medical school in the United States established for the training of African American doctors.Health and MedicineUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001869On February 26, Congress sends the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution to the states for approval. The amendment guarantees African American males the right to vote.Civil Rights LegislationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001869On April 6, Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett is appointed minister to Haiti. He is the first black American diplomat and presidential appointee.Presidential AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001869Isaac Myers organizes the Colored National Labor Union in Baltimore.Black LaborUnited StatesMaryland
1801-19001869George Lewis Ruffin is the first African American to receive a law degree from any institution when he graduates from Harvard Law School.The Legal SystemUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001870Census of 1870, U.S. population: 39,818,449, Black population: 4,880,009 (12.7 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001870Hiram R. Revels (Republican) of Mississippi takes his seat in the U.S. Senate on February 25. He is the first black United States senator, though he serves only one year, completing the unexpired term of Jefferson Davis.Black PoliticsUnited StatesMississippi
1801-19001870The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified on March 30.Reconstruction AmendmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001870In June Richard T. Greener becomes the first African American undergraduate to graduate from Harvard University.Black EducationUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001870The Preparatory High School for Colored Youth opens in Washington, D.C. It is the first public high school for African Americans in the nation. The institution is later named the M Street High School and finally Dunbar High School in honor of Paul LawrencBlack EducationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001871In February Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1871 popularly known as the Ku Klux Klan Act.Civil Rights LegislationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001871On October 6, Fisk University's Jubilee Singers begin their first national tour. The Jubilee Singers become world-famous singers of black spirituals, performing before the Queen of England and the Emperor of Japan. The money they earn finances the construBlack EntertainmentUnited StatesTennessee
1801-19001871George Washington, an early black settler in Washington Territory becomes the first African American to found a predominately white town when he establishes Centerville, later Centralia, Washington.Municipal AffairsUnited StatesWashington
1801-19001872Lt. Governor Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback of Louisiana serves as governor of the state for one month from December 1872 to January 1873. He is the first African American to hold that position.Black PoliticsUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001872Charlotte Ray of Washington, D.C. is the first African American woman and only the third woman admitted to the bar to practice law in the U.S.The Legal SystemUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001873The 43rd Congress has seven black members.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001873On April 14, the U.S Supreme Court in the Slaughterhouse Cases rules that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment protects national, not state, citizenship.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001873Bishop Patrick Healy serves as President of Georgetown University from 1873 to 1881. He is the first African American to preside over a predominately white university.Black EducationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001873On Easter Sunday more than 100 African Americans were killed in northwest Louisiana while defending Republicans in local office against white militia. The incident became known as the Colfax Massacre. Later that year in what would be known as the CoushattRacial ViolenceUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001874The Freedman's Bank closes after African American depositors and investors lose more than one million dollars.Black BusinessUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001875Federal troops are sent to Vicksburg, Mississippi in January to protect African Americans attempting to vote and to allow the safe return of the African American sheriff who had been forced to flee the city.African Americans and ReconstructionUnited StatesMississippi
1801-19001875On February 23rd Jim Crow laws are enacted in Tennessee. Similar statutes had existed in the North before the Civil War.Jim Crow LegislationUnited StatesTennessee
1801-19001875Congress enacts the Civil Rights Act of 1875 on March 1, guaranteeing equal rights to black Americans in public accommodations and jury duty.Civil Rights LegislationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001875Blanche Kelso Bruce (Republican) of Mississippi becomes the first African American to serve a full six year term as senator when he takes his seat in the United States Senate on March 3.Black PoliticsUnited StatesMississippi
1801-19001875The 44th Congress has eight black members.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001875Jockey Oliver Lewis wins the first Kentucky Derby race. Over the next 27 years fourteen black jockeys would ride the wining horse at the Derby.African American AthletesUnited StatesKentucky
1801-19001876Lewis H. Latimer, while working for the Boston patent attorney office of Crosby and Gould, assists Alexander Graham Bell in obtaining a patent for the telephone on March 7.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001876In May, Edward Alexander Bouchet receives a Ph.D. from Yale University. He is the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from an American university and only the sixth American to earn a Ph.D. in physics.Black EducationUnited StatesConnecticut
1801-19001876Race riots and other forms of terrorism against black voters in South Carolina over the summer including the infamous Hamburg Massacre where blacks are killed while celebrating the Fourth of July, prompt President Grant to sent federal troops to restore oRacial ViolenceUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1801-19001876On October 13 Meharry Medical College is founded in Nashville by the Freedman's Aid Society of the Methodist Church.Health and MedicineUnited StatesTennessee
1801-19001876The presidential election of 1876, pitting Samuel Tilden (Democrat) against Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican), is inconclusive when the votes in the Electoral College are disputed.ReconstructionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001877The Compromise of 1877 (also known as the Wormley House Compromise because the meeting takes place in a black-owned hotel in Washington, D.C.) is an arrangement worked out in January of that year which effectively ends Reconstruction. Although DemocraticReconstructionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001877The 45th Congress has three black members.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001877On June 15, Henry O. Flipper became the first African American to graduate from West Point.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001877In July, 30 African American settlers from Kentucky establish the town of Nicodemus in western Kansas. This is the first of hundreds of all or mostly black towns created in the West.Black Settlement in the WestUnited StatesKansas
1801-19001877George Washington Henderson of the University of Vermont is the first African American elected to Phi Beta Kappy, the oldest humanities honor society in the U.S.Black EducationUnited StatesVermont
1801-19001877President Rutherford B. Hayes appoints Frederick Douglass as the first black U.S. Marshal. His jurisdication is the District of Columbia.Pre-1970 PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001878Marie Selika Williams becomes the first African American woman entertainer to perform at the White House when she presents a musical program to President Rutherford B. Hayes and assembled guests.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001879Mary Eliza Mahoney becomes the first African American professional nurse, graduating from the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston.Blacks in the ProfessionsUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001879Approximately six thousand African Americans leave Louisiana and Mississippi counties along the Mississippi River for Kansas in what will be known as the Exodus.Henry Adams and Benjamin "Pap" Singleton were two of the major leaders of the Exodus.Black Settlement in the WestUnited StatesKansas
1801-19001880Census of 1880, U.S. population: 50,155,783, Black population: 6,580,793 (13.1 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001880On May 14, Sgt. George Jordan of the Ninth Cavalry, commanding a detachment of Buffalo Soldiers, leads a successful defense of Tularosa, New Mexico Territory, against Apache Indians.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesNew Mexico
1801-19001880The U.S. Supreme Court in Strauder v. West Virginia rules that African Americans cannot be excluded from juries solely on the basis of race.Civil RightsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001881In January the Tennessee State Legislature votes to segregate railroad passenger cars. Tennessee's action is followed by Florida (1887), Mississippi (1888), Texas (1889), Louisiana (1890), Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Georgia (1891), South Carolina (1Jim Crow LegislationUnited StatesTennessee
1801-19001881Spelman College, the first college for black women in the U.S., is founded on April 11 by Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles.Black EducationUnited StatesGeorgia
1801-19001881On the Fourth of July 25-year-old Booker T. Washington opens Tuskegee Institute in central Alabama.Black EducationUnited StatesAlabama
1801-19001882The Virginia State Assembly established the first state mental hospital for African Americans and locates it near Petersburg.Health and MedicineUnited StatesVirginia
1801-19001882George Washington Williams's History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880 is considered teh first history of African Americans that met the standards of professionally written history of that era.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001883The 50th Congress has no black members. Intimidation keeps most black voters from the polls.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001883On October 16, U. S. Supreme Court in a decision known as the Civil Rights Casesdeclares invalid the Civil Rights Act of 1875, stating the Federal Government cannot bar corporations or individuals from discriminating on the basis of race.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001883On November 3, white conservatives in Danville, Virginia, seize control of the local racially integrated and popularly elected government, killing four African Americans in the process.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesVirginia
1801-19001884Judy W. Reed of Washington D.C. becomes the first African American woman to receive a patent. She is granted patent number 305,474 on September 23 for her creation of a dough kneader and roller.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001884Granville Woods founds the Woods Railway Telegraph Company in Columbus, Ohio. The company manufactured and sold telephone and telegraph equipment.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesOhio
1801-19001885On June 25, African American Priest Samuel David Ferguson is ordained a bishop of the Episcopal Church at a ceremony at Grace Church, New York City.19th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001886The Knights of Labor, founded and headquartered in Philadelphia, reaches it peak membership of 700,000 with approximately 75,000 African American members.Black LaborUnited StatesPennsylvania
1801-19001886The American Federation of Labor is organized on December 8 in Columbus, Ohio. All major unions of the federation excluded black workers.Black LaborUnited StatesOhio
1801-19001886Norris Wright Cuney becomes chairman of the Texas Republican Party. He is the first African American to head a major political party at the state level in U.S. historyPre-1970 PoliticsUnited StatesTexas
1801-19001887On July 14, 1887, the directors of the International League (Major League Baseball) voted to prohibit the signing of additional black players while allowing those under contract such as Frank Grant of Buffalo and Moses Fleetwood Walker of Syracuse franchiAfrican American AthletesUnited Statesn.a.
1801-19001887The National Colored Farmers' Alliance is formed in Houston County, Texas.Black FarmersUnited StatesTexas
1801-19001888On April 11, Edward Park Duplex is elected mayor of Wheatland, California. He is believed to be the first African American mayor of a predominantly white town in the United States.Black PoliticsUnited StatesCalifornia
1801-19001888Two 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, D.C, open their doors.Black BusinessUnited StatesVirginia
1801-19001889Florida becomes the first state to use the poll tax to disenfranchise black voters.Black PoliticsUnited StatesFlorida
1801-19001889Frederick Douglass is appointed Minister to Haiti.Presidential AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001890Census of 1890, U.S. population: 62,947,714, Black population: 7,488,676 (11.9 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001890The Afro-American League is founded on January 25 in Chicago under the leadership of Timothy Thomas Fortune.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesIllinois
1801-19001890On November 1, the Mississippi Legislature approves a new state Constitution that disenfranchises virtually all of the state's African American voters. The Mississippi Plan used literacy and understanding tests to prevent African Americans from casting baJim Crow LegislationUnited StatesMississippi
1801-19001890William Henry Lewis and William Tecumseh Sherman Jackson were the first known black players on a white college football team when they played at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Lewis was team captain for the 1891-92 season.African American AthletesUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001891Dr. Daniel Hale Williams founds Provident Hospital in Chicago, the first African American-owned hospital in the nation.Health and MedicineUnited StatesIllinois
1801-19001892On June 15 operatic soprano Sissieretta Jones becomes the first African American to perform at Carnegie Hall.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001892On July 14 three companies of the 24th Infantry occupy the Coeur d'Alene Mining District in northern Idaho which has been declared under martial law following a violent strike by silver miners. They remain for four months.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesIdaho
1801-19001892In October activist Ida B. Wells begins her anti-lynching campaign with the publication of Southern Horrors: Lynch Law and in All Its Phases and a speech in New York City's Lyric HallThe Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001892The National Medical Association is formed in Atlanta by African American physicians because they are barred from the American Medical Association.Health and MedicineUnited StatesGeorgia
1801-19001892First intercollegiate football game between African American colleges takes place between Biddle University (now Johnson C. Smith University) and Livingston College.African American AthletesUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1801-19001892A record 230 people are lynched in the United States this year, 161 are black and 69 white. In the period between 1882 and 1951, Tuskegee Institute compiled nationwide lynching statistics. In that 69 year period, 4,730 people were lynched including 3,437Racial ViolenceUnited Statesn.a.
1801-19001892The Baltimore Afro-American newspaper is founded by former slave John H. Murphy, Sr.The Black PressUnited StatesMaryland
1801-19001893Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performs the first successful operation on a human heart in his Chicago hospital. The patient, a victim of a chest stab wound, survives and lives for twenty years after the operation.Health and MedicineUnited StatesIllinois
1801-19001894The Church of God in Christ is founded in Memphis by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason.19th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesTennessee
1801-19001895White terrorists attack black workers in New Orleans on March 11-12. Six blacks are killed.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001895In June, W.E.B. Du Bois becomes the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University.Black EducationUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001895Booker T. Washington delivers his famous Atlanta Compromise address on September 18 at the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition. He says the Negro problem would be solved by a policy of gradualism and accommodation.Segregated AmericaUnited StatesGeorgia
1801-19001895Three black Baptist organizations, the Foreign Mission Baptist Convention of the United States (1880), the American National Baptist Convention (1886) and the Baptist National Educational Convention (1893) combined at Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta19th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesGeorgia
1801-19001896Plessey v. Ferguson is decided on May 18 when the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Southern segregation laws and practices (Jim Crow) do not conflict with the 13th and 14th Amendments. The Court defends its ruling by articulating the separate but equal doctrMajor Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001896On July 21 the National Association of Colored Women is formed in Washington, D.C. Mary Church Terrell is chosen as its first president.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001896In September George Washington Carver is appointed director of agricultural research at Tuskegee Institute. His work advances peanut, sweet potato, and soybean farming.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesAlabama
1801-19001896John Shippen became the first black professional golfer when he participated in a tournament in England.African American AthletesUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001897The American Negro Academy is established on March 5 in Washington, D.C. to encourage African American participation in art, literature and philosophy.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001897The first Phillis Wheatley Home is founded in Detroit. These homes, established in most cities with large African American populations, provide temporary accommodations and social services for single African American women.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesMichigan
1801-19001898In January the Louisiana Legislature introduces the Grandfather Clause into the state's constitution. Only males whose fathers or grandfathers were qualified to vote on January 1, 1867, are automatically registered. Others (African Americans) must complyJim Crow LegislationUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001898The Spanish-American War begins on April 21. Sixteen regiments of black volunteers are recruited; four see combat in Cuba and the Philippines Five African Americans win Congressional Medals of Honor during the war. A number of black officers command troopAfrican Americans and the MilitaryUnited Statesn.a.
1801-19001898The National Afro-American Council is founded on September 15 in Rochester, New York. The organization elects Bishop Alexander Walters as its first president.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001898On November 10, in Wilmington, North Carolina, eight black Americans were killed as white conservative Democrats forcibly removed from power black and white Republican officeholders in the city.  The episode would be known as the Wilmington Riot.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1801-19001898The North Carolina Mutual and Provident Insurance Company of Durham, North Carolina and the National Benefit Life Insurance Company of Washington, D.C. are established.Black BusinessUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1801-19001898The U.S. Supreme Court in Williams v. Mississippi upholds the provisions of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 which effectively disfranchises virtually all of the black voters in the state.Civil RightsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001899In May, the 24th Infantry returns to occupy the Coeur d'Alene Mining District in northern Idaho after violence again erupts.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesIdaho
1801-19001899The Afro-American Council designates June 4 as a national day of fasting to protest lynching and massacres.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1801-19001899Scott Joplin composes the Maple Leaf Rag, which introduces ragtime music to the United States.19th Century Black MusicUnited StatesMissouri
1801-19001900Census of 1900, U.S. population: 75,994,575, Black population: 8,833,994 (11.6 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1801-19001900In January James Weldon Johnson writes the lyrics and his brother John Rosamond Johnson composes the music for Lift Every Voice and Sing in their hometown of Jacksonville, Florida in celebration of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. The song is eventually a19th Century Black MusicUnited StatesFlorida
1801-19001900The New Orleans Race Riot (also known as the Robert Charles Riot) erupts on July 23 and lasts four days. Twelve African Americans and seven whites were killed.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesLouisiana
1801-19001900On August 23, the National Negro Business League is founded in Boston by Booker T. Washington to promote business enterprise.Black BusinessUnited StatesMassachusetts
1801-19001900In September Nannie Helen Burroughs leads the founding of the Women's' Convention of the National Baptist Convention at its meeting in Richmond, Virginia.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesVirginia
1801-19001900This year marks the beginning of significant West Indian immigration to the United States.Black ImmigrantsUnited Statesn. a.
1801-19001900By 1900 nearly two-thirds of the landowners in the Mississippi Delta were black farmers, most of whom had bought and cleared land after the Civil War.African American FarmersUnited StatesMississippi
1801-19001900An estimated 30,000 black teachers have been trained since the end of the U.S. Civil War in 1865. They are a major factor in helping more than half the black population achieve literacy by this date.Black EducationUnited Statesn.a.
1901-20001901The 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1901-20001901On 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.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001901On 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 TuskSegregated AmericaUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001901Booker T. Washington's autobiography Up From Slavery is published.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001902In May jockey Jimmy Winkfield wins the Kentucky Derby in an era when African American jockeys dominate the sport.African American AthletesUnited StatesKentucky
1901-20001903W.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.Segregated AmericaUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001903Maggie Lena Walker founds St. Lukes Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Virginia.Black BusinessUnited StatesVirginia
1901-20001904Educator Mary McLeod Bethune founds a college in Daytona Beach, Florida that today is known as Bethune-Cookman University.Black EducationUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001904Sigma Pi Phi (the Boule) is founded in Philadelphia on May 15 by four wealthy African American college graduates.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001904Dr. 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.Health and MedicineUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001905The black weekly newspaper, The Chicago Defender, is founded by Robert Abbotton May 5.The Black PressUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001905The 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.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001905Nashville African Americans boycott streetcars to protest racial segregation.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesTennessee
1901-20001906The 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 Moveme20th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001906On 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 blackAfrican Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesTexas
1901-20001906The Atlanta Race Riot on September 22-24 produces twelve deaths; ten blacks and two whites.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001906On December 4, seven students at Cornell University form Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the first college fraternity for black men.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001907Alain Locke of Philadelphia, a Harvard graduate, becomes the first African American Rhodes Scholar.Black EducationUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001907The 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.The Black PressUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001907Madam C.J. Walker of Denver develops and markets her hair straightening method and creates one of the most successful cosmetics firms in the nation.Black BusinessUnited StatesColorado
1901-20001908On January 15, Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first black sorority, is founded on the campus of Howard University.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001908On 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001909The 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.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001909On 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.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001909On December 4, the New York Amsterdam News begins publication.The Black PressUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001909The Knights of Peter Claver, the first permanent national black Catholic fraternal order, is founded in Mobile, Alabama.20th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001910Census of 1910: U.S. population: 93,402,151, Black population: 9,827,763 (10.7 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001910The 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.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001910The first issue of Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP, appears on November 1. W.E.B. Du Bois is the first editor.The Black PressUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001910On 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 CJim Crow LegislationUnited StatesMaryland
1901-20001911Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity is founded at Indiana University on January 5.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesIndiana
1901-20001911Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is founded at Howard University on November 17.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001912W.C. Handy published "Memphis Blues" sheet music in Memphis20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesTennessee
1901-20001913The Jubilee year, the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, is celebrated throughout the nation over the entire year.Black Holidays and CelebrationsUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001913Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is founded at Howard University on January 13.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001913On 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.Segregated AmericaUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001913Bert Williams plays the lead role in Darktown Jubilee, making him the first African American actor to star in a motion picture.Black HollywoodUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001913Noble Drew Ali founds the Moorish Science Temple in Newark, New Jersey.20th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesNew Jersey
1901-20001914Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity is founded at Howard University on January 9.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001914Cleveland 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.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesOhio
1901-20001914On August 1, World War I began in Europe.African Americans in World War IUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001915The Great Migration of African Americans from the South to Northern cities begins.Black MigrationUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001915On June 21, the Oklahoma Grandfather Clause is overturned in Guinn v. United States.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001915In September, Carter G. Woodson founds the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in Chicago.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001916Marcus 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.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001916On 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.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesOhio
1901-20001916In 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.Black EducationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001917The 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 1African Americans in World War IUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001917The 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001917Nearly 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 demonsRacial ViolenceUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001917In August, A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen found The Messenger, a black socialist magazine, in New York City.The Black PressUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001917On 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesTexas
1901-20001917On November 5, the Supreme Court in Buchanan v. Warley strikes down the Louisville, Kentucky ordinance mandating segregated neighborhoods.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001918On July 25-28, a race riot in Chester, Pennsylvania claims five lives, three blacks and two whites.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001918On July 26-29, in nearby Philadelphia, another race riot breaks out killing four, three blacks and one white.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001918The 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.Black MigrationUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001919The 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001919The West Virginia State Supreme Court rules that an African American is denied equal protection under the law if his jury has no black members.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesWest Virginia
1901-20001919The Associated Negro Press is established in Chicago by Claude A. Barnett on March 2.The Black PressUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001919The 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, SeRacial ViolenceUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001919Claude McKay publishes "If We Must Die," considered one of the first major examples of Harlem Renaissance writing.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001919Father Divine founds the Peace Mission Movement at his home in Sayville, New York.20th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001919South 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.Black HollywoodUnited StatesSouth Dakota
1901-20001920Census of 1920, Black population: 10,463,131 (9.9 percent), U.S. population: 105,710,620Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001920The 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.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001920On January 16, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority is founded at Howard University.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001920Andrew 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.African American AthletesUnited StatesMissouri
1901-20001920On 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.Black WomenUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001920Former 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.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001920Marcus 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.Black Nationalism and Black PowerUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001921Shuffle Along by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake opens on Broadway on May 23. This is the first major play of the Harlem Renaissance.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001921On 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesOklahoma
1901-20001921In 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.Black EducationUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001921Harry Pace forms Black Swan Phonograph Corporation, the first African American-owned record company in Harlem. His artists will include Mamie and Bessie Smith.Black BusinessUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001921One 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.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001921Jesse 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.Black BusinessUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001922In September William Leo Hansberry of Howard University teaches the first course in African history and civilization at an American university.Black EducationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001922Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority is founded on November 12 in Indianapolis, Indiana.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesIndiana
1901-20001922The Harmon Foundation is established in New York City to promote African American participation in the fine arts.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001923On 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001923Marcus Garvey is imprisoned for mail fraud. He is sent to the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta in 1925.Crime and PunishmentUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001923In September, the Cotton Club opens in Harlem.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001923Bessie 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.20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001923On November 20, Garrett T. Morgan patents a caution light which improves the traffic signal.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesOhio
1901-20001923The 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.The Black PressUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001923Rojo Jack is the first African American to particiapte in professional car racing when he competes in a race in Honolulu Hawaii.African American AthletesUnited StatesHawaii
1901-20001924Photographer James Van Der Zee begins his career by capturing images of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001925The New Negro by Alain Locke is published in New York City.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001925The National Bar Association, an organization of black attorneys, is established on August 1 in Des Moines, Iowa.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesIowa
1901-20001925On August 2, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids is organized with A. Philip Randolph as its first president.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001925On 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesMichigan
1901-20001925The American Negro Labor Congress is founded in Chicago in October.Blacks and Organized LaborUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001925Although 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.International DiplomacyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001926Carter G. Woodson establishes Negro History Week in February between the Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass Birthdays.Black Holidays and CelebrationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001926Dr. Mordecai Johnson becomes the first African American president of Howard University in September.Black EducationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001926The 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.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001927Chicago businessman Abe Saperstein forms the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team in Chicago on January 30.African American AthletesUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001927On December 2, Marcus Garvey is deported from the United States.Crime and PunishmentUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001927Floyd Joseph Calvin, a Pittsburgh Courier journalist, becomes the first black radio talk show host when he begins broadcasting from WGBS in Pittsburgh.Radio and TelevisionUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001928On 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001928The Atlanta Daily World begins publication in November.The Black PressUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001929Fats Waller's musical, Aint Misbehavin, opens on Broadway.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001930Census of 1930, Black population: 11,891,143 (9.7 percent), U.S. population: 122,775,046Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001930James 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.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001930Wallace 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.20th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesMichigan
1901-20001931Walter White is named NAACP executive secretary. Soon afterwards the NAACP mounts a new strategy primarily using lawsuits to end racial discrimination.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001931The Scottsboro Boys are arrested in Alabama. Their trial begins on April 6.Crime and PunishmentUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001931William 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.20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001932The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment begins under the direction of the U.S. Public Health Service. The experiment ends in 1972.Health and MedicineUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001932Gospel Composer Thomas Dorsey writes "Take My Hand, Precious Lord."20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001932Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president of the United States in November.Blacks and the Great DepressionUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001932The Los Angeles Sentinel is founded by Leon H. Washington.The Black PressUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001932Dudley Murphy releases the film The Emperor Jones starring Paul Robeson.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001934W.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.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001934The Southern Tenant Farmers Union is organized by the Socialist Party.Racial AlliancesUnited StatesArkansas
1901-20001934Zora Neale Hurston's first novel, Jonahs Gourd Vine, is published.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001934After operating under a number of names, the Apollo Theater opens under its current name in Harlem.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001935On March 20, the Harlem Race Riot, a one day riot erupts leaving two people dead.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001935On 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.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001935The Michigan Chronicle is founded in Detroit by Louis E. Martin.The Black PressUnited StatesMichigan
1901-20001935On 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 studMajor Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesMaryland
1901-20001935On 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.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001936The first meeting of the National Negro Congress takes place in Chicago on February 14, 1936. Nearly 600 black organizations are represented.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001936On 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 womanPresidential AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001936Track star Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics between August 3 and August 9.African American AthletesUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001936Dr. William Augustus Hinton's book, Syphilis and Its Treatment, is the first published medical textbook written by an African American.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesMassachusetts
1901-20001937William 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.Judicial AppointmentsUnited StatesVirgin Islands
1901-20001937The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids is recognized by the Pullman Company.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001937On June 22, boxer Joe Louis wins the heavyweight championship in a bout with James J. Braddock in Chicago.African American AthletesUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001937In 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.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001937Hugh Morris Gloster founds the College Language Association (CLA) in Atlanta, Georgia.Black EducationUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001938On June 22, Joe Louis beats Max Schmeling in a rematch of his 1936 defeat by the German boxer.African American AthletesUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001938Jacob Lawrence holds his first solo exhibition at the Harlem YMCA and completes his Toussaint L'Overture series.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001938In 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001938On December 12, the U.S. Supreme Court in Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canadarules that a state that provides in-state education for whites must provide comparable in-state education for blacks.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesMissouri
1901-20001939Popular 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.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001939Bill Bojangles Robinson organizes the Black Actors Guild.Black HollywoodUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001939World War II begins in Europe on September 1 when Germany invades PolandAfrican Americans in World War IIUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001939Jane 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.Judicial AppointmentsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001940Census of 1940, U.S. population 131,669,275, Black population: 12,865,518 (9.8 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia.
1901-20001940On 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.Black HollywoodUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001940Richard Wright publishes his first novel, Native Son.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001940Dr. 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.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001940In October, Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr., is named the first African American general in the regular army.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001940The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is established in New York City.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001941Mary Lucinda Dawson founds the National Negro Opera Company in Pittsburgh.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001941The U.S. Army creates the Tuskegee Air Squadron who will soon be known as the Tuskegee Airmen.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001941On June 25, President Franklin Roosevelt issues Executive Order 8802, desegregating war production plants and creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC).African Americans in World War IIUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001941On 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.African Americans in World War IIUnited StatesHawaii
1901-20001941The 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 voteAfrican Americans in World War IIUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001942While 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.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1901-20001942The 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.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001942The 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.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1901-20001942Charity Adams Earley becomes the first black woman commissioned officer in the Womens Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) while serving at Fort Des Moines.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesIowa
1901-20001942Hugh Mulzac becomes the first African American captain in the American Merchant Marine.African Americans in World War IIUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001943The Naval Academy at Annapolis and other naval officer schools accept African American men for the first time.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesMaryland
1901-20001943The Detroit Race Riot, June 20-21, claims 34 lives including 25 African Americans. Other riots occur in Harlem, Mobile, Alabama, and Beaumont, Texas.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesMichigan
1901-20001943The first black cadets graduate from the Army Flight School at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001943By 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 thAfrican Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesArizona
1901-20001943Two American Navy Destroyer ships, the USS Mason, and the submarine chaser, PC1264, are staffed entirely by African American crews.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001943The black 99th Pursuit Squadron (Tuskegee Airmen) flies its first combat mission in Italy.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001944On April 3, the U.S. Supreme Court in Smith v. Allwright declares white only political primaries unconstitutional.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001944Frederick 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.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001944Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, is elected to Congress from Harlem in November.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001944Swedish 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.Segregated AmericaUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001945President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies in Warm Springs, Georgia, on April 12.African Americans in World War IIUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001945The United Nations is founded in San Francisco on April 25.African Americans in World War IIUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001945On May 8, Germany surrenders on Victory in Europe (VE) day.African Americans in World War IIUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001945Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. is named commander of Goodman Field, Kentucky. He is the first African American to command a military base.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesKentucky
1901-20001945Japan 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.African Americans in World War IIUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001945Nat King Cole becomes the first African American to have a radio variety show. The show airs on NBC.African Americans and the MediaUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001945Ebony magazine, created by Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company, published its first issue on November 1.The Black PressUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001946Dr. Charles S. Johnson becomes the first African American president of Fisk University in Nashville.Black EducationUnited StatesTennessee
1901-20001946The U.S. Supreme Court in Morgan v. Virginia rules that segregation in interstate bus travel is unconstitutional.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001946Charles Spurgeon Johnson, President of Fisk University in Nashville, becomes the first African American President of the Southern Sociological Society.Black EducationUnited StatesTennessee
1901-20001946Channing H. Tobias is the first African American to head the Phelps-Stokes Fund, a philanthropic organization that supports black education.Black EducationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001947On April 10, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers becomes the first African American to play major league baseball in the 20th Century.African American AthletesUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001947The NAACP petition on racism, An Appeal to the World, is presented to the United Nations.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001947John 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.Black EducationUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001948On July 26, President Harry Truman issues Executive Order 9981 directing the desegregation of the armed forces.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001948Alice Coachman becomes the first African American woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal. She wins the high jump competition in the London Olympics.African American AthletesUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001948On October 1, the California Supreme Court voids the law banning interracial marriages in the state.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001948On May 3, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Shelley v. Kraemer that state and local governments cannot enforce racially restrictive housing covenants.housing segregationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001948Timmie Rogers, comedian, dancer, and singer, launches the first all-black variety show, Sugar Hill Times, on CBS Television.Radio and TelevisionUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001948E. Franklin Frazier of Howard University becomes the first African American President of the American Sociological Association.Black EducationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001949In June Wesley Brown becomes the first African American to graduate from the Naval Academy at Annapolis.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesMaryland
1901-20001949Businessman Jesse Blayton, Sr., establishes WERD-AM, the first black owned radio station. It begins broadcasting in Atlanta on October 3.African Americans and the MediaUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001949William A. Hinton is the first black professor at the Harvard University Medical School.Black EducationUnited StatesMassachusetts
1901-20001950U.S. Census, U.S. population: 150,697,361, Black population: 15,044,937 (10 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001950On May 1, Gwendolyn Brooks of Chicago becomes the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize. She wins the prize in Poetry.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001950Chuck 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 LloydAfrican American AthletesUnited Statesn.a.
1901-20001950Juanita Hall became the first African American to win a Tony award. She was honored for her role in the Broadway play, South Pacific.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001951On May 24, the U.S. Supreme Court rules racial segregation in District of Columbia restaurants is unconstitutional.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001951On 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001951Harry T. Moore, a Florida NAACP official, is killed by a bomb in Mims, Florida, on December 25.Political AssassinationsUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001951Johnson Publishing Company publishes the first issue of Jet, a weekly news magazine for an African American audience.Black PublicationsUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001952Tuskegee Institute reported no lynchings in the United States for the first time in 71 years of tabulation.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001952Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. is appointed commander of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing in Korea.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001952Ralph Ellison publishes Invisible Man.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001953On June 19, Baton Rouge, Louisiana African Americans begin a boycott of their city's segregated municipal bus line.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesLouisiana
1901-20001953On 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001953James Baldwin publishes his first novel, the semi-autobiographical Go Tell It On The Mountain.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001953When he joins the Chicago Bears Willie Thrower becomes the first black NFL quarterback in the modern era.African American AthletesUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001953Ralph Bunche becomes the first African American president of the American Political Science Association.Black EducationUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001954On 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.Black EducationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001954On 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.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001954Malcolm X becomes Minister of the Nation of Islam's Harlem Temple 7.20th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001954Attorney 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 majohousing segregationUnited StatesMissouri
1901-20001954On 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.Civil RightsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001955Fourteen-year-old Chicago resident Emmett Till is lynched while vacationing in Money, Mississippi on August 28.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesMississippi
1901-20001955Chuck Berry, an early breakthrough rock and roll artist, records "Maybellene" with Chicago's Chess Records.20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001955Rosa Parks refuses to relinquish her bus seat to a white man on December 1, initiating the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Soon afterwards Dr. Martin Luther Kingbecomes the leader of the Boycott.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001955On January 7 Marian Anderson becomes the first African American to perform with the New York Metropolitan OperaBlack EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001955On 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.Civil RightsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001955On May 7 Reverend George W. Lee, an NAACP activist, is killed in Belzoni, Mississippi.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesMississippi
1901-20001955On May 31 the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brown II that public school desegregation must occur with all deliberate speed.Civil RightsUnited StatesDustrict of Columbia
1901-20001955Rev. 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.Civil Rights EraUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001956Autherine 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.Black EducationUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001956On November 11, Nat King Cole becomes the first African American to host a prime time variety show on national television. He appears on NBC.African Americans and the MediaUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001956Harry Belafonte's "Calypso," released by RCA Records, is the first album in history to sell more than one million copies.20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001956On 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.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001956On April 10 popular entertainer Nat King Cole is assaulted on stage during a segregated performance at the Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001956The Mississippi Sovereignty Commisison is formed in Jackson, the state captial, to maintain racial segregation in Mississippi.Segregated AmericaUnited StatesMississippi
1901-20001957Congress 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 iCivil Rights LegislationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001957Dorothy 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.Black WomenUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001957In 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. ThBlack EducationUnited StatesArkansas
1901-20001957The Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) was founded at a mass meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001957Perry 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).Black TransportationUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001958On January 12, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is organized in Atlanta with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as its first President.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001958The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater is formed in New York.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001958Louis E. Lomax becomes the first African American newscaster for a major network station. He is hired by WNTA-TV in New York City.African Americans and the MediaUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001958Althea Gibson becomes the first African American woman to win the U.S. Open tennis championship in Forest Hills.African American AthletesUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001959On January 12, Berry Gordy, Jr., founds Motown Records in Detroit.Black BusinessUnited StatesMichigan
1901-20001959Lorraine 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.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001959On April 26, Mack Charles Parker is lynched near Poplarville, Mississippi.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesMississippi
1901-20001959Ella Fitzgerald and William "Count" Basie become the first African American performers to win Grammy awards.20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001960Census of 1960, U.S. population: 179,323,175, Black population: 18,871,831 (10.6 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001960On 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.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1901-20001960On April 15, 150 black and white students gather at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina to form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1901-20001960The 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 voteCivil Rights LegislationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001960On 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.Black PoliticsUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001961On 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).The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001961Riots 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).Black EducationUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001962Ernie Davis, a running back at Syracuse University, becomes the first African American athlete to receive college football's Heisman Trophy.African American AthletesUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001962On 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.Black EducationUnited StatesMississippi
1901-20001963Martin Luther King, Jr. writes his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" on April 16.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001963On May 3, Birmingham police use dogs and fire hoses to attack civil rights demonstrators.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001963Despite 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 universiBlack EducationUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001963On June 12, Mississippi NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Evers is assassinated outside his home in Jackson.Political AssassinationsUnited StatesMississippi
1901-20001963Over 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" speechThe Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001963Former tennis champion Althea Gibson becomes the first African American woman to compete in a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tournament in Cincinnati.African American AthletesUnited StatesOhio
1901-20001963On 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001963Iota Phi Theta Fraternity is founded on September 19 at Morgan State University in Baltimore.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesMaryland
1901-20001963President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas on November 22.Political AssassinationsUnited StatesTexas
1901-20001963Wendell Oliver Scott became the first black driver to win a major NASCAR race, the Grand National (now Winston Cup) race.African American AthletesUnited StatesVirginia
1901-20001963Marian Anderson and Ralph Bunche are the first black winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.Humanitarian AwardsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001964On 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 dispropWar on PovertyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001964The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizes the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesMississippi
1901-20001964On February 25, Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) wins the first of three world heavyweight championships in a bout with Sonny Liston in Miami, Florida.African American AthletesUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001964Sidney 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.Black HollywoodUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001964On 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.20th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001964On June 21 civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner are abducted and killed by terrorists in Mississippi.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesMississippi
1901-20001964The 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.Civil Rights LegislationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001964The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) delegation led by Fannie Lou Hamer is denied seating at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in August.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesNew Jersey
1901-20001964On 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).War on PovertyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001965Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, New York on February 21.Political AssassinationsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001965On 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 tThe Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001965In March, the White House releases "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action," popularly known as the Moynihan Report.The Black FamilyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001965Alex Haley publishes The Autobiography of Malcolm X.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001965The Voting Rights Act is signed into law on August 6.Civil Rights LegislationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001965The 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001965Maulana Karenga founds the black nationalist organization US in Los Angeles following the Watts Uprising.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001966On 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.Presidential AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001966On 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.Judicial AppointmentsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001966In May, Stokely Carmichael becomes chairman of SNCC at its headquarters in Atlanta and publicly embraces the concept of black power.Black Nationalism and Black PowerUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001966On 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 MartinThe Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesMississippi
1901-20001966On October 15, The Black Panther Party is formed in Oakland, California by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001966Andrew F. Brimmer is appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to be the first African American to serve on the Federal Reserve Board.Presidential AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001966James T. Whitehead, Jr., becomes the first African American to pilot a U-2 spy plane.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited Statesn.a.
1901-20001966On November 8, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts becomes the first African American to be popularly elected to the U.S. Senate.Black PoliticsUnited StatesMassachusetts
1901-20001966On 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001966Ruby Doris Smith Robinson becomes Executive Director of SNCC.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001967On 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.The Civil Rights MovementUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001967H. Rap Brown becomes chairman of SNCC on May 12 at its headquarters in Atlanta.Black Nationalism and Black PowerUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001967On June 12, the U.S. Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia strikes down state interracial marriage bans.Major Judicial DecisionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001967The six-day Newark Riot begins on July 12 and claims 23 dead, 725 injured and 1,500 arrested.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesNew Jersey
1901-20001967Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall takes his seat as the first African American Justice on the United States Supreme Court on July 13.Judicial AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001967On 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesMichigan
1901-20001967On November 13, Carl Stokes and Richard G. Hatcher are elected the first black mayors of Cleveland and Gary, Indiana, respectively.Black PoliticsUnited StatesIndiana
1901-20001967Renee Powell becomes the first African American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour.African American AthletesUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001967Albert 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.Black BusinessUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001968On February 8, three students at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg are killed by police in what will be known as the Orangeburg Massacre.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesSouth Carolina
1901-20001968The "Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders," popularly known as the "Kerner Report," is released in March.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001968Dr. 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.Political AssassinationsUnited StatesTennessee
1901-20001968In April Congress enacts the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which outlaws discrimination in the sale and rental of housing.Civil Rights LegislationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001968New York Senator and Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated on June 5 in Los Angeles.Political AssassinationsUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001968On June 19, the Poor Peoples Campaign brings 50,000 demonstrators to Washington, D.C.War on PovertyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001968Arthur Ashe becomes the first African American to win the Men's Singles competition in the U.S. Open.African American AthletesUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001968San Francisco State University establishes the nations first Black Studies Program in September.Black EducationUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001968In November Shirley Chisholm of New York is the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001968Elizabeth Duncan Koontz becomes the first African American to serve as president of the National Education Association (NEA).Black EducationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001969The 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.Black EducationUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001969On May 5, Moneta Sleet, Jr. of Ebony magazine, becomes the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in Photography.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001969On September 22, the African American Studies Program begins offering courses at Harvard University.Black EducationUnited StatesMassachusetts
1901-20001969Robert Chrisman and Nathan Hare publish the first issue of The Black Scholar in November.Black EducationUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001969Howard 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1901-20001969On December 4, Chicago police kill Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clarke.Black Nationalism and Black PowerUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001969Jimi 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.Black EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001970Census of 1970, U.S. population: 204,765,770, Black population: 22,580,289 (11.1 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001970Dr. 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.Black EducationUnited StatesMichigan
1901-20001970On 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.Black Nationalism and Black PowerUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001970The first issue of Essence magazine appears in May.The Black PressUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001970On 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesMississippi
1901-20001970On July 1, Kenneth Gibson becomes the first black mayor of an eastern city when he assumes the post in Newark, New Jersey.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNew Jersey
1901-20001970The first issue of Black Enterprise magazine appears in August.The Black PressUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001970The 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 imBlack Nationalism and Black PowerUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001970On October 12, Charles Gordone becomes the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in Drama for his play, "No Place to Be Somebody."Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001970The Joint Center for Political Studies is established in Washington, D.C.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001971On January 12th the Congressional Black Caucus is formed in Washington, D.C.Black OrganizastionsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001971In 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.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001971On 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 suppresCrime and PunishmentUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001971On December 18, Rev. Jesse Jackson founds People United to Save Humanity(PUSH) in Chicago.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001971Johnson Products, a hair care company, becomes the first black-owned company to be listed on a major U.S. stock exchange (AMEX).Black BusinessUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001971Leroy Satchel Paige becomes the first former Negro Leagues baseball player inducted int the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York.Black AthletesUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001971Beverly Johnson is the first black woman to appear on the cover of a major fashion magazine (Glamour).Black EntertainmentUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001972On March 10-12 several thousand African Americans gather in Gary, Indiana, for the first National Black Political Convention.Black PoliticsUnited StatesIndiana
1901-20001972Over 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001972In November Barbara Jordan of Houston and Andrew Young of Atlanta become the first black Congressional representatives elected from the U.S. South since 1898.Black PoliticsUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001972The first Haitian boat people arrive in south Florida.20th Century Black ImmigrantsUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001972Wilt Chamberlain of the Los Angeles Lakers becomes the first National Basketball Association player to score over 30,000 points during his career.Black AthletesUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001973On 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001973The National Black Feminist Organization is established by Eleanor Holmes Norton.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001973Marion Wright Edelman creates the Children's Defense Fund.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001973On October 16, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. is elected the first black mayor of Atlanta.Black PoliticsUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001973On Nov. 6, Coleman Young is elected the first black mayor of Detroit.Black PoliticsUnited StatesMichigan
1901-20001974On 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.African American AthletesUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001974On 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.Black EducationUnited StatesMassachusetts
1901-20001974The 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.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001974On 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001975The 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. SurgeoBlack EducationUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001975Wallace 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.20th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesMichigan
1901-20001975Arthur Ashe becomes the first African American to win the British Men's Singles at Wimbledon.African American AthletesUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001975General Daniel Chappie James of the Air Force becomes the first African American four star general.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesColorado
1901-20001975On October 12, Frank Robinson becomes the first black Major League Baseball manager when he takes over the Cleveland Indians.African American AthletesUnited StatesOhio
1901-20001975Lee Elder becomes the first African American golfer to compete in the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.Black AthletesUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001975William Venoid Banks becomes the first African American to own a television station when he launches WGPR-TV in Detroit.Radio and TelevisionUnited StatesMichigan
1901-20001975John 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).Black EducationUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001976The 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.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesMaryland
1901-20001976College and university enrollment for African American students rises sharply from 282,000 in 1966 to 1,062,000 in 1976.Black EducationUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001976Texas 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001976Clara Stanton Jones of Detroit becomes the first African American elected President of the American Library Association.Black EducationUnited StatesMichigan
1901-20001977In 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.Presidential AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001977In 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.Presidential AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001977The 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.African Americans and the MediaUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001977On March 8, Henry L. Marsh III became the first African American mayor of Richmond, VirginiaBlack PoliticsUnited StatesVirginia
1901-20001977In September, Randall Robinson founds TransAfrica (now TransAfrica Forum), a lobbying group for Africa, in Washington, D.C.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001978Minister Louis Farrakhan breaks with the World Community of al-Islam and becomes the leader of the revived Nation of Islam.20th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesChicago
1901-20001978On 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.Affirmative ActionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001978On 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.African American AthletesUnited StatesLouisiana
1901-20001978Max Robinson becomes the first black network anchor when he begins broadcasting for ABC-TV News from Chicago.Radio and TelevisionUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001978Faye Wattleton becomes the first black woman to head Planned Parenthood.Health and MedicineUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001978Jill Brown becomes the first black female pilot for a commercial passenger airline (Texas International Airlines).Black TransportationUnited StatesTexas
1901-20001979The Sugar Hill Gang records "Rappers Delight" in Harlem.20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001979Franklin Thomas is named president of the Ford Foundation.Black EducationUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001979Frank E. Petersen, Jr. becomes the first African American to earn the rank of General in the United States Marines.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001979In September Hazel W. Johnson becomes the first African American woman to be promoted to the rank of General in the United States Army.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001979Richard Arrington, Jr. is elected the first African American mayor of Birmingham, Alabama.Black PoliticsUnited StatesAlabama
1901-20001979The 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.Black EducationUnited StatesNew Jersey
1901-20001980Census of 1980, U.S. population: 226,504,825, Black population: 26,482,349 (11.8 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001980In 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001980On 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001980Toni Cade Bambara's The Salt Eaters wins the American Book Award.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001980Robert L. Johnson begins operation of Black Entertainment Television (BET) out of Washington, D.C.African Americans and the MediaUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001980The Mariel boatlift transports 125,000 Cubans to Florida including a large number of Afro-Cubans.International RefugeesUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001982The 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.The EnviromentUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1901-20001982Bryant Gumbel is named anchor of The Today Show, becoming the first African American to hold the post on a major network.African Americans and the MediaUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001982Michael Jackson's album, Thriller, is released. It will eventually sell 45 million copies worldwide, becoming the best selling album in music history.20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001983Vanessa 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.Beauty PageantsUnited StatesNew Jersey
1901-20001983On April 12, Harold Washington is elected the first black mayor of Chicago.Black PoliticsUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001983On August 30, Guion (Guy) S. Bluford, Jr., a crew member on the Challenger,becomes the first African American astronaut to make a space flight.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001983On November 2, President Ronald Reagan signs a bill establishing January 20 as a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.Black Holidays and CelebrationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001983Alice Walker's The Color Purple wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001983Harvey Bernard Gantt becomes the first African American mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina.Black PoliticsUnited StatesNorth Carolina
1901-20001983Robert 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.Newspapers and Other Print MediaUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001984On January 2, W. Wilson Goode becomes the first African American mayor of Philadelphia.Black PoliticsUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001984Rev. 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.Black PoliticsUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001984In August Carl Lewis wins four Gold Medals at the Olympics in Los Angeles, matching the record set by Jesse Owens in 1936.African American AthletesUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001984In 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.African Americans and the MediaUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001984Russell Simmons forms Def Jam Records in Harlem.Black BusinessUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001985In 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.Black Nationalism and Black PowerUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001985Gwendolyn Brooks of Chicago is named U.S. Poet-Laureate. She is the first African American to hold that honor.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001985Grambling State University's football coach Eddie Robinson becomes the coach with the most wins in college football history.Black AthletesUnited StatesLouisiana
1901-20001986On January 20, the first national Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is celebrated.Black Holidays and CelebrationsUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001986On 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.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001986The Oprah Winfrey Show with Oprah Winfrey as the talk show host, becomes nationally syndicated.African Americans and the MediaUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001986Spike Lee releases his first feature film, She's Gotta Have It, initiating a new wave of interest in black films and African American filmmakers.Black HollywoodUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001986On 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.Black AthletesUnited StatesNevada
1901-20001987Rita Dove wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001987On August 6, Reginald Lewis orchestrates the leveraged buyout of Beatrice Foods to become the first African American CEO of a billion dollar corporation.Black BusinessUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001987Neurosurgeon 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.Health and MedicineUnited StatesMaryland
1901-20001987On October 28, Brigadier General Fred A. Gordon is appointed Commandant of the Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001987On December 8, Kurt Lidell Schmoke became the first African American elected mayor of Baltimore by popular vote.Black PoliticsUnited StatesMaryland
1901-20001987August Wilson's play, Fences, wins a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001987Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole becomes the first African American woman president of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.Black EducationUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001987Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesOhio
1901-20001988In his second try for the Democratic Presidential nomination Jesse L. Jacksonreceives 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.Black PoliticsUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001988In September, Temple University offers the first Ph.D. in African American Studies.Black EducationUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001988On 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.Black EducationUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001989On January 29, Barbara C. Harris is installed as the first woman bishop in the Episcopal (Anglican) Church.20th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesMassachusetts
1901-20001989On 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001989In March Frederick Drew Gregory becomes the first African American to command a space shuttle when he leads the crew of the Discovery.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001989On 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.African Americans and the MilitaryUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001989On 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 andBlack PoliticsUnited StatesVirginia
1901-20001989Bill White becomes the first African American league president when he is chosen to head Major League Baseball's National League.African American AthletesUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001989Art 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.African American AthletesUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001989Mahlon Martin becomes the first African American to head the Rockefeller Foundation.Black EducationUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001990Census of 1990, U.S. population: 248,709,878, Black population: 29,986,060 (12 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001990August Wilson wins a Pulitzer Prize for the play The Piano Lesson.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001990In 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001990Marcelite Jordan Harris is the first black woman brigadier general in the U.S. Army and the first woman to command a mostly male battalion.African Americans in the MilitaryUnited StatesVirginia
1901-20001990Walter E. Massey is the first African American to head the National Science Foundation.Science and TechnologyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001990Donna Marie Cheek becomes the first black member of the U.S. Equestrian Team.African American AthletesUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001990Carole Ann-Marie Gist of Detroit, Michigan becomes the first African American to win the Miss USA pageant.Beauty PageantsUnited StatesKansas
1901-20001991On 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.Black PoliticsUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001991On 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.Crime and PunishmentUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001991On April 10, Emanuel Cleaver II is sworn in as the first African American mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.Black PoliticsUnited StatesMissouri
1901-20001991On June 18, Wellington Webb becomes the first African American mayor of Denver, Colorado.Black PoliticsUnited StatesColorado
1901-20001991On 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.Judicial AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001991Julie Dash releases Daughters of the Dust, the first feature film by an African American woman.Black HollywoodUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001991Physicist Walter Massey becomes the first African American director of the National Science Foundation.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001992In March Willie W. Herenton was elected the first African American mayor of Memphis, Tennessee.Black PoliticsUnited StatesTennessee
1901-20001992On 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 8,000Crime and PunishmentUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001992On September 12, Dr. Mae Carol Jemison becomes the first African American woman in space when she travels on board the space shuttle Endeavor.Exploration and DiscoveryUnited StatesFlorida
1901-20001992On November 3, Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois becomes the first African American woman elected to the United States Senate.Black PoliticsUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001992William "Bill" Pinkney becomes the first African American and only the fourth American to singlehandedly navigate a sailboat around the world.African American AthletesUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001993In April Freeman Robertson Bosley Jr. becomes the first African American mayor of St. Louis, Missouri.Black PoliticsUnited StatesMissouri
1901-20001993Joycelyn M. Elders becomes the first African American and the first woman to be named United States Surgeon General on September 7.Presidential AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001993On October 7, Toni Morrison becomes the first black American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The work honored is her novel, Beloved.Art and LiteratureUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001994On 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 hiCrime and PunishmentUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001994Corey D. Flourney is elected president of the 400,000 member Future Farmers of America convention in Kansas City, Missouri.Agricultural DevelopmentUnited StatesMissouri
1901-20001995On May 6, Ron Kirk won the mayoral race in Dallas, becoming the first African American mayor of the city.Black PoliticsUnited StatesTexas
1901-20001995On 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.Crime and PunishmentUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001995The Million Man March organized by Minister Louis Farrakhan and other political activists is held in Washington, D.C. on October 17.Black MenUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001995Dr. 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.Health and MedicineUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001995Lonnie Bristow is the first African American president of the American Medical Association.Health and MedicineUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001996Commerce Secretary Ron Brown is killed in a plane crash near Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 3.Black PoliticsUnited Statesn. a.
1901-20001996On 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.20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001996In 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 tThe Black FamilyUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001996On November 5, California voters pass Proposition 209 which outlaws affirmative action throughout the state.Affirmative ActionUnited StatesCalifornia
1901-20001996Margaret Dixon is the first African American elected president of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).Health and MedicineUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001997On 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.African American AthletesUnited StatesGeorgia
1901-20001997In June, Harvey Johnson, Jr. was sworn in as the first black mayor of Jackson, Mississippi.Black PoliticsUnited StatesMississippi
1901-20001997On October 25 African American women participate in the Million Woman March in Philadelphia, focusing on health care, education, and self-help.Black WomenUnited StatesPennsylvania
1901-20001997In December, Lee Patrick Brown becomes Houston's first African American mayor.Black PoliticsUnited StatesTexas
1901-20001997Wynton Marsalis's "Blood on the Fields" becomes the first jazz composition to win a Pulitzer Prize in Music.20th Century Black MusicUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001997President Bill Clinton makes a formal apology to black men exploited in the U.S. Public Health Service Tuskegee Syphilis Study.Health and MedicineUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001997Lois Jean White is the first African American to be elected president of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA).Black EducationUnited StatesVirginia
1901-20001998On 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.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesTexas
1901-20001998President 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.Presidential AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001998Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins becomes the first African American president of the National League of Women Voters.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20001999On January 13, after thirteen seasons and six NBA championships, professional basketball star Michael Jordan retires from the game as a player.African American AthletesUnited StatesIllinois
1901-20001999On 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.African American AthletesUnited StatesNew York
1901-20001999Maurice Ashley becomes the world's first black chess grandmasters, the game's highest rank.African American AthletesUnited StatesNew York
1901-20002000Census of 2000, U.S. population: 281,421,906, Black population: 34,658,190 (12.3 percent)Black PopulationUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
1901-20002000Rev. Vashti M. McKenzie becomes the first woman bishop of the African Methodist Zion Church.20th Century Black ReligionUnited StatesMaryland
1901-20002000Lillian Elaine Fishbourne is the first black woman admiral in the U.S. Navy.African Americans in the MilitaryUnited StatesVirginia
2001-2001In January President-elect George W. Bush nominates Colin Powell to be Secretary of State.  Condoleezza Rice is also appointed to the positon of National Security Advisor for the Bush Administration.  This is the first time either post has been held by AfPresidential AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2001In November Shirley Clarke Franklin becomes the first African American woman to head the government of a major Southern city whe she is elected mayor of Atlanta.Black PoliticsUnited StatesGeorgia
2001-2002In March, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington win Oscars for best actress and best actor for their portrayals in Monster’s Ball and Training Day respectively.Black HollywoodUnited StatesCalifornia
2001-2002Dennis Archer, former Mayor of Detroit, becomes the first African American to be elected President of the American Bar Association.The Legal SystemUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2003Significant population shifts and reduced resistance to residential integration result in more African Americans living in the suburbs of Los Angeles and Seattle than in their city limits.Black PopulationUnited StatesCalifornia
2001-2003On June 23 the U.S. Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger upholds the University of Michigan Law School's admission policy which supports affirmative action. In the simultaneously heard Gratz v. Bollinger case, the Supreme Court requires the University ofAffirmative ActionUnited StatesDistict of Columbia
2001-2004On November 2, State Senator Barack Obama is elected to the U.S. Senate from Illinois.  He becomes the second African American elected to the Senate from that state and only the fifth black senator in U.S. history.Black PoliticsUnited StatesIllinois
2001-2005In January Condoleezza Rice becomes Secretary of State.  She is the second woman and the first African American woman to hold the post.Presidential AppointmentsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2005On August 30, Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf Coast, taking an estimated 1,700 lives.  The vast majority of the deaths are in Louisiana including heavily African American New Orleans.The EnvironmentUnited StatesLouisiana
2001-2006With the Democratic takeover of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in the November mid-term elections, for the first time in U.S. history four African American members of Congress chair full committees in the House: Rep. John Conyers(Mi.),Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2006On November 7 Deval Patrick is elected Governor of Massachusetts.  He becomes the second African American in the nation, after L. Douglas Wilder in Virginia in 1989, to be popularly elected to this position.Black PoliticsUnited StatesMassachusetts
2001-2007The U.S. Supreme Court in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, and Meredith v. Jefferson County (Kentucky) Board of Education, rules that race cannot be a factor in the determination of school assignments.Affirmative ActionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2008On March 17, David A. Paterson, is sworn in as Governor of New York upon the resignation of the prior governor, Elliott Spitzer.  Paterson is the first legally blind American Governor, the first black Governor of New York State, and only the fourth blackBlack PoliticsUnited StatesNew York
2001-2008On November 4, Barack Obama of Illinois, the only sitting African American U.S. Senator, is elected President of the United States. Obama wins the election decisively and becomes the first African American elected to this office. Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2009Former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael S. Steele becomes Chairman of National Republican Committee and thus effectively heads the Republican Party.Post-1970 PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2010Obamacare passed by Congress and signed into law by President ObamaBlack PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2012President Barack Obama is re-elected President of the United States.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2012George Zimmerman fatally shoots Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman was later acquitted of all charges in 2013.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesFlorida
2001-2013Black Lives Matter hashtag founded by activists Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi following the non-guilty verdict in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.Black PoliticsUnited StatesCalifornia, Arizona
2001-2013Gymnast Simone Biles becomes first African American world all-around champion.African American AthletesItaly
2001-2014Tim Scott serves as the first elected senator from South Carolina since ReconstructionBlack PoliticsUnited StatesSouth Carolina
2001-2015Loretta Lynch sworn in as first African American woman Attorney General.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2015A mass shooter takes the lives of nine African American people at a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. This would become known as the Charleston Church Shooting. Dylann Roof would be convicted of 33 counts of hate crime and murder charges and sentenced to death.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesSouth Carolina
2001-2015Misty Copeland becomes the first African American woman principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre.Black WomenUnited StatesNew York
2001-2016Smithsonian National African American History Museum opens.Black OrganizationsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2016NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneels for the national anthem drawing nationwide attention to police violence and influencing other players throughout the sports world.African American AthletesUnited StatesCalifornia
2001-2016Carla Hayden serves as the first African American librarian of Congress.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2017Amanda Gorman is named the youngest National Youth Poet Laureate.Art and LiteratureUnited StatesCalifornia
2001-2018Ilhan Omar becomes the first Somali-American elected to CongressBlack PoliticsUnited StatesMinnesota
2001-2020Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant die in helicopter crash in Calabasas, CaliforniaAfrican American AthletesUnited StatesCalifornia
2001-2020Breonna Taylor gunned down in her own home by police officers.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesKentucky
2001-2020Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesGeorgia
2001-2020George Floyd dies at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin sparking international protests. Chauvin was later found guilty and sentenced to 22.5 years in 2021.Racial ViolenceUnited StatesMinnesota
2001-2020Wilton Gregory becomes first African American Catholic cardinal.Black ReligionUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2021Raphael Warnock wins Georgia Special Election and becomes first African American senator from Georgia.Black PoliticsUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia
2001-2021Kamala Harris sworn in as first African American and woman vice-presidentBlack WomenUnited StatesDistrict of Columbia