American’s have recognized black history annually since 1926, first as
“Negro History Week “ and later as Black History Month. Dr. Carter
G. Woodson brought on the celebration of black history. Born to parents who
were former slaves, he spent his childhood working in the Kentucky coal mines
and enrolled in high school at age twenty. He graduated within two years and
later went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. In 1915 he founded the Association
for the Study of Negro Life and History, now known as the Association for the
Study of Afro-American Life and History. Woodson chose February to honor black
history because Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is in February as well as Frederick
Douglass’. Other reasons for making black history month in February are
because the NAACP was established in that month; the 15th amendment was passed
giving African Americans the right to vote, and Malcolm X was killed on February
1619: The first African Amercian slaves arrive in Virginia.
1787: Slavery is made illegal in the Northwest Territory
1793: Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin, increasing the need for slave labor.
1808: Congress bans the importation of slaves from Africa.
1820: The Missouri Compromise bans slavery north of the southern boundary of Missouri.
1822: Denmark Vesey, an enslaved African-American carpenter who has purchased his freedom, plans a slave revolt to lay siege on Charleston, South Carolina. The plot is discovered and Vesey and 34 co-conspirators are hanged.
1831: Nat Turner, an enslaved African-American preacher leads the most significant slave in American History. Turner is hanged.
1846: Frederick Douglass launches his abolitionist newspaper.
1849: Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery and becomes one of the most effective and celebrated leaders of the Underground Railroad.
1852: Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, is published. It becomes one of the most influential works to stir anti-slavery sentiments.
1854: Congress passes the Kansas-Nebraska Act, establishing the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The legislation repeals the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and renews tensions between anti and pro-slavery factions.
1857: The Dred Scott case holds that Congress does not have the right to ban slavery in states and, furthermore, that slaves are not citizens.
1861: The Confederacy is founded when the South secedes: the Civil War begins.
1863: President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring "…that all persons held as slaves," within the Confederate states, "are, and henceforward shall be free."
1865: Congress establishes the Freedman's Bureau to protect the rights of newly emancipated blacks (March).
The Civil War ends (April 9).
Lincoln is assassinated (April 14).
The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Tennessee by ex-Confederates (May).
Slavery in the United States is effectively ended when 250,000 slaves in Texas finally receive the news that the Civil War ended two months earlier (June 19).
Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, prohibiting slavery (Dec. 6).
1868: Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, defining citizenship. Individuals born or naturalized in the United States are American citizens, including those born as slaves. This nullifies the Dred Scott Case (1857), which ruled that blacks were not citizens.
1870: Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, giving blacks the right to vote.
1881: Spelman College, the first college for black women in the U.S., is founded by Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles.
1896: Plessy vs. Ferguson: Landmark Supreme Court decision held that racial segregation was constitutional, paving the way for repressive Jim Crow laws in the South.
1905: W.E.B. DuBois founds the Niagara movement, a forerunner to the NAACP.
1909: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is founded in New York
1920: The Harlem Renaissance flourishes in the 1920's and 1930's. This literary, artistic, and intellectual movement fosters a new black cultural identity.
1947: Jackie Robinson breaks Major League Baseball's color barrier when he is signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers by Branch Rickey.
1948: President Harry S. Truman issues an executive order integrating the U.S. armed forces.
1952: Malcolm X becomes a minister of the Nation of Islam.
1954: Brown vs. Board of Education declares that racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional.
1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the "colored section" of a bus to a white passenger
1957: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a civil rights group, is established by Martin Luther King, Charles K. Steele, and Fred L. Shuttlesworth.
1960: Four black students in Greensboro, North Carolina, begin a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter.
1962: James Meredith becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi.
1963: Martin Luther King is arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Ala.
1964: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. It prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin
1965: Malcolm X, Black Nationalist and founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, is assassinated.
1967: Stokely Carmichael, a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), coins the phrase "black power" in a speech in Seattle.
1968: Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.
1992: The first race riots in decades erupt in south-central Los Angeles after a jury acquits four white police officers for the videotaped beating of African-American, Rodney King.
2003: In Grutter vs. Bollinger the Supreme Court upholds the University of Michigan Law School's policy, ruling that race can be one of many factors considered by colleges when selecting their students because it furthers, "…a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body."