Important dates in African American History

By mewbs7
  • Period: Feb 15, 1492 to

    Important dates in African Americna History

  • First African Born

    William Tucker, the son of indentured servants living in Jamestown, is the first recorded black birth in America.
  • First Cencus with Africans

    A census of Virginia counts 11 black men among a population of 1,227.
  • First African in General Assembly

    Mathias De Sousa, a free black man, is elected to the Maryland General Assembly. He had come to the colony as an indentured servant.
  • Lucas Santomee granted a tract by dutch

    Lucas Santomee, a black physician and one of the major landowners in what is to become New York, is granted a tract by the Dutch that stretched from modern-day Greenwich Village to Brooklyn.
  • 60% in virginia

    About 60 percent of all African Americans in the colonies (16,390) live in Virginia.
  • Standards for slave owning

    Though other colonies had passed laws regulating the behavior of slaves, South Carolina passes a slave code that becomes the standard for slave-owning states. It proscribes escalating punishments for rebellious acts including death for escaping, authorizes whites to punish any slave found violating the law, and prohibits slaves from growing their own crops, working for money or learning to read and write.
  • Law agents savage punishment

    In an early precursor to lynchings, Maryland passes a law that mandates savage punishment for slaves accused of violent crimes: decapitation, hanging, or having a body's remains publicly displayed after being drawn and quartered.
  • First african born to free parents

    Benjamin Banneker is born to free parents on Nov. 9 in Ellicott Mills, Md.
  • First poem published

    A poem by Jupiter Hammon, a slave on Long Island, is the first ever published by a black person born in America. His first poem has a Christian theme; a later poem exhorts slaves in New York to serve their masters faithfully.
  • Slave escapes and killed

    Crispus Attucks, a slave who had escaped to Boston, is killed during the Boston Massacre. He is considered to be the first casualty of the American Revolution.
  • Africans in the Army and Navy

    Five thousand black men serve in the Army and Navy during the American Revolution. But 20,000 fight for the British, who promise freedom to any slave who joined them. At the end of the war, 12,000 African Americans leave with the British. While some are freed in Europe and Africa, thousands more are sold back into slavery in the West Indies.
  • Black population breaks a million.

    The black population reaches 1 million. Two-thirds of which are in Maryland and Virginia.
  • Slave Trader Captured

    A slave trader hunting for victims in Philadelphia attempts to kidnap the Rev. Richard Allen. The slave trader is jailed for perjury. He insists that Allen is an escaped slave.
  • First Official Census

    The first official United States census counts 697,624 slaves and 59,557 free blacks. More than half of all slaves live in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia.
  • Cotton Gin

    Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin, revitalizing agriculture in the South and creating an even greater need for slaves to harvest the cotton.
  • First Arrican Methodist church/ King of Englan's Soldiers

    Allen founds the African Methodist Episcopal Church.Also this year, a group of runaway slaves who fought for the British and called themselves the "King of England's soldiers" terrorize Savannah to try to foment a slave rebellion.
  • Gabriel Prosser

    Inspired by a slave revolt in Haiti that overthrows the government, Virginia slave Gabriel Prosser leads 1,100 set to lay siege to Richmond. Prosser is betrayed before the attack. He and his family are hung with 10 other conspirators.
  • Blacks have to register to prove freedom

    Ohio enacts the first Black Laws, requiring free blacks to register with the state and preventing them from testifying against whites or gaining employment without proof of their freedom. Kentucky and Virginia slave owners had lobbied for the law because Ohio had been a popular destination for escaped slaves.
  • Free blacks expelled

    Virginia passes a law to expel all free blacks. Despite this, the population of free blacks grows to 36,000 in 1820, second to Maryland's 39,700.
  • Internation Boxing

    D.C. native Tom Molineaux, a former slave who moved to London after he bought his freedom through boxing matches, challenges the British heavyweight boxing champion to a match in what is considered to be the first international title bout. Though Molineaux knocks out champion Tom Cribb before 10,000 spectators, the fight is allowed to continue and Cribb beats Molineaux in the 43rd round.
  • 9,000 slaves revolt

    Denmark Vesey, an abolition activist and former slave who had acquired wealth as a property owner in South Carolina, designs the largest slave revolt to date. He raises money and secures weapons for an uprising of 9,000 black people around Charleston, intending to strike when many plantations would be idle during the summer. The plan was exposed by a house slave before Vesey could strike and he and 35 co-conspirators are executed. South Carolina imposes even more laws restricting the activities
  • FIrst College graduates

    Alexander Lucius Twilight is the first black person to graduate from college, earning an associate's degree from Middlebury College in Vermont. The next year, two more men graduate with bachelor's degrees from Amherst College in Massachusetts and Bowdoin College in Maine.
  • Deadliest Revotl Ever

    Nat Turner leads one of the deadliest slave revolts in history, orchestrating the killing of his master and 60 other white people between Aug. 21 and 23 in Southampton, Va. Though dozens of other slaves are lynched or executed after the rampage, Turner remains at large until Oct. 30. He is hanged 12 days after his capture. The following year, many slave states prohibit slaves from preaching (as Turner did before his revolt) and expand crimes for which slaves can be executed. Virginia banned free
  • First Colored College

    Two years after its founding as the first co-educational college in the country, Oberlin College becomes the first in the nation to admit students regardless of race.
  • First Black Doctor

    The first medical degree awarded to an African American goes to James McCune Smith, who graduated from the University of Glasgow in Scotland and later returns to his native New York City to practice medicine.
  • Frederick Douglass

    Frederick Douglass, 20, escapes from slavery in Baltimore and settles in New Bedford, Mass. In 1841 he is recruited as an abolitionist speaker for the Massachusetts chapter of the Anti-Slavery Society and often collaborates with the chapter's white founder, William Lloyd Garrison.
  • Slave Ship Pirated

    Joseph Cinque and 52 other slaves bound for Cuba mutiny aboard the slave ship Amistad, killing most of the whites on board and forcing the two surviving crew members to take them back to Sierra Leone. The crew instead sails to New York where the slaves are arrested. Former President John Quincy Adams defends them before the Supreme Court in 1841. The court rules they are free men who had been seized illegally, and eventually the 35 slaves who survived the voyage and their years in the United Sta
  • Fredrick Douglass's Narrative

    Frederick Douglass publishes his memoir, "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass," for which he risks arrest by revealing that he is an escaped slave and naming his former owner. He seeks refuge in England while supporters raise money to purchase his freedom.
  • Uncle Tom's Babin

    Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes "Uncle Tom's Cabin," a novel about the horrors of slavery. It sold 300,000 copies in its first year, and ignited northern support of abolition.
  • Emancipation Proclamation

    Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared slaves in Confederate states free. Runaway slaves flowed north in se arch of freedom, and Union forces began recruiting them to fight against the South. More than 186,000 answer the call, including the soldiers of the historic, all-black 54th Regiment, commanded by Robert Gould Shaw.
  • 13th Amendment

    The 13th Amendment abolishing slavery is ratified, and Congress establishes the Freedmen's Bureau to help former slaves make the transition to freedom. President Andrew Johnson overrode congressional plans to break up plantations and give every man 40 acres and supplies to farm with, prompting black leaders to famously demand the "40 acres and a mule" they were promised. Former Confederate soldiers in Tennessee organized the Ku Klux Klan in response to northern interference in the South after th
  • Seats Refused

    Reconstruction era reforms produce the South's first elected black men: South Carolina Secretary of State Francis L. Cardozo; Louisiana Lt. Gov. Oscar J. Dunn; and Rep. John W. Menard of Louisiana. Although Congress refuses to recognize Menard, he becomes the first African American to speak on the House floor when he defended his right to be admitted. The Georgia Legislature refused to seat Henry Turner and 26 other newly elected African Americans.
  • First Law Degree

    The first law degree awarded to an African American is granted by Harvard University to George L. Ruffin.
  • First Politics

    Hiram Revels is elected the first black senator from Mississippi. Jasper J. Wright is elected to Supreme Court of South Carolina. Wyatt Outlaw, a black political appointee in North Carolina, is lynched by the White Brotherhood, a racist group.
  • Booker T. Washington

    Booker T. Washington becomes the first president of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Ala. Though considered to be the next great social activist after Frederick Douglass, Washington differs from Douglass's vision of equality and encouraged post-slavery blacks to focus on increasing their wealth and education now rather than wait for the nation's social climate to improve. Within 20 years, Du Bois would emerge as a radical advocating for the equality and social change tha
  • Atlanta Compromise/ Douglass Death

    Booker T. Washington delivers his "Atlanta Compromise" speech, calling on black people to focus on hard work and education, instead of immediate equality and integration. Of whites, he calls for tolerance. His speech establishes him as the most influential black leader of his time. He is hailed as a successor to Frederick Douglass, who died this year.
  • Plessy V Ferguson

    The Supreme Court rules in Plessy vs. Ferguson that states can segregate public facilities by race, as long as the accommodations are "equal." Homer Plessy had brought the case against Louisiana for refusing to seat him in a whites-only train car.
  • Medal Of Honor

    Sgt. William H. Carney of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment is the first black man to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. He is cited for bravery during the assault on Fort Wagner, S.C., during the Civil War.
  • African News Paper

    Robert Abbott launches the Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper that he uses to encourage African Americans to move north.
  • Blacks Move North

    America's entry into World War I generates huge demand in the north for factory labor. Pushed out of the South by racism, violence and brutal farming conditions, African Americans begin the Great Migration to northern cities. They find unskilled jobs in foundries and meatpacking plants or work as railroad porters or janitors.
  • Booker Dies at 59

    Booker T. Washington dies in Tuskegee, Ala., at the age of 59.
  • WWI

    America joins World War I. More than 370,000 African Americans enlist. Half are sent to combat in France.
  • Blacks on Brodway

    "Shuffle Along," a variety show featuring black writers and an all-black cast, opens on Broadway and launches the careers of many black performers, including Paul Robeson.
  • Harlem Renissance

    The Harlem Renaissance is in full swing: Duke Ellington debuts at the Cotton Club; Paul Robeson stars in "Show Boat" on Broadway; poet Langston Hughes publishes "The Weary Blues" and poet Countee Cullen publishes "Copper Sun."
  • Judge Lynch

    Black historian Walter White publishes "Rope and Faggot: A Biography of Judge Lynch." Countee Cullen, Claude McKay and Wallace Thurman also publish.
  • Jesse Owens

    Sprinter Jesse Owens sets three Olympic records and takes home four gold medals at the Olympics in Nazi-controlled Berlin. Jackie Robinsons Brother took home silver
  • Combat Pilots

    The Tuskegee Institute and the United States Tuskegee Army Air Field begin training black men to serve as combat pilots. By the end of the World War II, 992 men complete training and 450 are sent into combat. Ship's Cook, 3rd Class Doris "Dorie" Miller is awarded the Navy Cross for heroism aboard the USS West Virginia during the attack on Pearl Harbor. After his battleship is struck by the Japanese, Miller carries his fellow sailors to safety and then fires on the attacking planes with an anti-a
  • WWII

    The United States enters World War II. Three million African American men register with the Selective Service. About 800,000 African Americans enlist in the Armed Forces.
  • Dark Destroyer

    Jackie Robinson becomes the first black player in Major League Baseball when he signs with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He is voted Rookie of the Year.
  • Korean War

    The United States enters the Korean War. The military abandons racial quotas and segregation, gradually phasing black personnel into previously all-white units, though many remain segregated during the conflict. By the end of the war, 3,075 African Americans die and another 7,000 are wounded in combat. Among the men who distinguish themselves are the nation's first black naval aviator Jesse L. Brown, who died during a combat flight, and Pfc. William Thompson, the first African American to receiv
  • Brown V Board of Education

    The Supreme Court rules in Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney Thurgood Marshall argues the case and 31 others that challenge racist state policies.
  • Bus Boycott

    The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy coordinate the Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama. The next year, in the face of bombings targeting King and Abernathy, they establish the Southern Christian Leadership Council to coordinate religious opposition to segregation.
  • I Have a Dream

    Martin Luther King leads 100,000 in the March on Washington and delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Nobel Peace Prize

    Martin Luther King Jr., receives the Nobel Peace Prize. Between 1882 and this year, the Tuskegee Institute records 4,742 lynchings. Sidney Poitier becomes the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor for his starring role in Lilies of the Field.
  • Marches

    Malcolm X is assassinated in New York City. King marches from Selma to Montgomery to expose Gov. George Wallace's brutal suppression of civil rights workers. In Los Angeles, thousands riot in Watts.
  • Black Panthers

    Huey Newton and Bobby Seale established the Black Panther Party, and Stokley Carmichael, who coined the term "black power," takes over the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
  • Supreme Court Justice

    Thurgood Marshall is appointed the first black Supreme Court justice by President Lyndon Johnson. Marshall serves on the court for 24 years. Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is stripped of his title for refusing to serve in Vietnam after he was drafted. His conviction and five-year prison sentence for violating the draft is eventually overturned.
  • Supreme Court

    Thurgood Marshall is appointed the first black Supreme Court justice by President Lyndon Johnson. Marshall serves on the court for 24 years.
  • Black Power

    Huey Newton and Bobby Seale established the Black Panther Party, and Stokley Carmichael, who coined the term "black power," takes over the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
  • MLK Murdered

    Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis. Riots erupt in more than 125 cities. Ralph Abernathy becomes the new head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and continues King's campaign against poverty with a poor people's march in Washington, D.C. Congress repeals a provision in the Social Security Act that limits welfare to homes where a parent is absent or disabled. Many believed the provision contributed to the declining marriage rates among low-income Afr
  • MLK Murder

    Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis. Riots erupt in more than 125 cities.