Rights for Black Americans

By billiz
  • Three-Fifths Compromise

    During the Philedelphia Convention, the issue of representation for states resulted in a clash between states when slave states wanted to count their slaves in their total population. The Three-Fifths compromise stated that three-fifths of a state's slave population would be counted to determine representation in the House of Representatives.
  • American Colonization Society

    This was an organization, founded by Henry Clay, John Randollph, and Richard Bland Lee. Their aim was to fix the mistake of bringing Africans over to America in the first place by sending them back to the newly established colony which would become later on known as Liberia. They moved more than 13,000 African-Americans to Liberia.
  • The Liberator

    William Lloyd Garrison, a prominent abolitionist, founded the Liberator, and antislavery newspaper. It shockingly held demands for "immediate and complete emancipation of all slaves."
  • Nat Turner's Rebellion

    Nat Turner, a slave in Virginia, instigated a slave rebellion that resulted in the deaths of 55-65 whites. This fueled the fears of white southerners and only increased Black Codes and other restrictions.
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

    Considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the early abolitionist movement, this book was written by former slave Frederick Douglass. It describes the hardships and cruel realities of slavery, and it also fiercely argues for abolition.
  • Fugitive Slave Act

    Part of the terms of the Compromise of 1850, this act declared that all runaway slaves be brought back to their masters. Reprecussions were put in place for those who did not report finding fugitives, and rewards were given to the men who captured these runaways.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

    This anti-slavery novel was the second best-selling book of the century (right behind the Bible). This book humanized slaves and induced the reader to sympathize with them as they endured the cruelties of slavery.
  • Dred Scott

    This controversial Supreme Court decision addressed the problem of slavery in the territories. Dred Scott, a slave, was suing his owner for his freedom. He claimed that since his owner had taken him to stary in a free state and then a free territory, he was himself free. The court ruled that (1) slaves had no right to sue in federal court, (2) his time in a free state/territory did not make him free, and (3) that Congress protected property rights and slaves are property.
  • Emancipation Proclamation

    The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln that declared the freedom of 3.1 million slaves and technically freed 50,000 slaves immediately. Although it was a fine gesture, nearly one million slaves remained in chains and most "freed" slaves were not aware of their new status. It was difficult to enforce due to the fact that the Confederate states were out of the Union's control. Also, the Proclamation did not make the freedmen citizens.
  • Freedmen's Bureau

    Initiated by President Lincoln, the Freedmen's Bureau provided medical aid, emergency food, education, housing, and work oppurtunities to newly freed slaves in order to help them adjust to their new lives. The Freedmen's Bureau was in effect until 1871, when it was disbanded by President Grant. It was unable to reach its full potential due to weak administration and political corruption.
  • Civil War Ends

    Confederate General Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse. Slavery effectively ended in the Confederate states in the many months to folllow.
  • Thirteenth Amendment

    This amendment officially abolished slavery, except as punishment for a crime. This latter part was used by white Southerners to ensnare newly freed blacks with errnoeous charges in order to preserve their old hierarchy of master and slave.
  • Ku Klux Klan Formed

    During Southern Reconstruction, ex-Confederates from Pulaski, Tennessee banded together to form the infamous organization known as the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK used violence and terror to intimidate black leaders, Freedmen's Bureau workers, and freedmen in general. They also targeted different ethnic and religious groups including Catholics and Jews.
  • Black Codes

    In order to preserve the slavery-based culture of the Antebellum South, Black Codes were put into effect and enforced by state legislatures. They punished most crimes and unemployment of African Americans with forced labor to private landowners and communities. These laws limited the basic human rights and civil liberties of blacks.
  • Buffalo Soldiers

    The Tenth Calvalry Regiment, a Negro Calvalry, was formed and given the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" for their fierce fighting abilities. They fought during the Indian Wars, and continued to serve in the Spanish-American War.
  • Fourteenth Amendment

    One of the Reconstruction Amendments, this amendment clearly defined the requirements of citizenship. It stated that anyone born or naturalized in the United States -- including slaves born here -- was a citizen. This amendment overruled the infamous Dred Scott Supreme Court case that had held blacks could not be United States citizens.
  • Knights of Labor

    Originally led by Uriah Stephens, but was later led by the well-known Terrence Powderly. The KOL was known as the most inclusive labor union of its time, welcoming not only blacks but women as well.
  • Fifteenth Amendment

    Another of the Reconstruction Amendments, this amendment officially gave blacks the right to vote. It prohibited denial of voting rights to citizens based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." It did not, however, grant suffrage to women.
  • Hiram Revels

    Hiram Revels, being one of the very first African Americans to hold office, became a symbol of the slow advancement of African Americans in American society. Also during Reconstruction, sixteen blacks served in Congress and about 600 served in state legislatures.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1875

    This act outlawed racial discrimination on juries, in public places like hotels, theaters, railroads, streetcars, and more. Unfortunately, the Superme Court swiftly killed its effectiveness.
  • Jim Crow Laws

  • Compromise of 1877

    Also known as the "Corrupt Bargain," this compromise entailed that the Republicans would remove all federal troops from formerly Confederate states and pass legislation helpful to the South. In return, the Democrats promised to accept Haye's presidency and respect blacks' rights. Unfortunately, that never happened.
  • Black Exodus of 1879

    In order to escape the persecution and racism of the KKK, Jim Crow Laws, and the White League, a mass movement of blacks to the West, especially Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado, took place. Blacks bought more than 20,000 acres of land in Kansas alone.
  • Ragtime

    Established in the 1880s by black musicians, Ragtime became very popular amongst the working class. From African sacred and secular roots, it became a national sensation in the 1890s. Although also popular in some white culture as well, there was still bias and prejudice against African Americas as primitive, sensual, and deserving to be segregated and descriminated against.
  • Vaudeville Blackface Shows

    Blackface shows became popular entertainment for working class whites. With demeaning, nasty caricatures of blacks, prejudice and descrimination were enforced. While it was fun and entertaining for the working whites, it did change much thought about blacks for the worse.
  • Monrovia (Liberia) Established

    The American Colonization Society, origianally organized in 1816, established Monrovia, later known as Liberia, as a new country. Freed African Americans would sent here for years to come.
  • National Colored Farmers' Alliance

    This organization was formed in Arkansas for the same reasons of the white National Farmers' Alliance. Due to rising prices of parming and decreasing profit, farming was becoming too hard. The Southern Farmers' Alliance did not allow blacks to join though, so they formed their own.
  • Black Disfranchisement

    Mississippi amendsits state constitution in ways that effectively excluded a majority of black voters, prompting other southern states to do the same. To get around the Fifteenth Amendment, ploys such as the Grandfather Clause, literacy tests, and poll taxes were enforced.
  • Second Exodus (1890 - 1910)_

    Devastating floods and the introduction of the cotton boll weevil from Mexico, combined with the intense racism and segregatory laws in the South, prompted many black tenant farmers to move to cities (mostly still in the South, but many in the North as well). By 1910 over 20% of the black population lived in cities.
  • Plessy vs. Ferguson

    This landmark Supreme Court Case upheld the constitutionality of state laws enforcing segregation in private businesses. Their justification for such a ruling was based on the "separate but equak" doctrine. Homer Plessy, who was one eight black, boarded a whites-only train car, and he was arrested for refusing to relocate to the blacks-only car.
  • Spanish American War

    Several thousand black troops fought in Cuba, and although they were subject to the same (and often worse) hardships as their white counterparts, they were forced to remain segregated on transport ships. Despite all this, black troops played an important role in major battles such as the taking of San Juan Hill.
  • Lynching

    This form of justice and punishment eliminated the court and took law into the hands of anyone. Many blacks and few whites were accused and lynched without trial, sometimes for crimes that didn’t actually take place. Lynching increased, with an average of about 75 lynchings a year from 1900 to 1920.
  • The Souls of Black Folk

    Written by W.E.B. Du Bois, this work told contains much of Du Bois’s own experiences as an African American to push for rights and equality. Each chapter was written beginning with a spiritual, helping the suffering African Americans to relate to slave experiences and their current, oppressed position of the time.
  • Niagara Movement

    Led by W. E. B. Du Bois and William Munroe Trotter, this was a black civil rights organization that called for immediate equality between race, not the appeasement of whites. The name "Niagara" was used because of where the first meeting took place and symbolized the rapid change they wanted.
  • John Hope

    He was black professor who became president of Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1906. Morehouse College was an all-black and acadmecially rigorous college, unlike Booker T. Washington's plan of agrucultural and vocational education.
  • Brownsville Incident

    As a result of extreme racial tension between the black soldiers and white residents of Brownsville, a fight broke out. Later, a couple of white people were shot, and the black soldiers were blamed even though their white commander swore they had never left the barracks.
  • Following the Color Line

    Ray Stannard Baker, a muckraker, became the first prominent American journalist to examine the racial divide.
  • NAACP

    Founded by many from a group of activists, much of the existing Niagara Movement, including Mary White Ovington, a settlement house worker, WEB Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Garrison Villard, and others. Based on many of the same ideas of the Niagara Movement and had diverse support from many whites.
  • The Birth of a Nation

    A controversial silent film (1915), that glorified the KKK and disparaged blacks. It was eventually used by the KKK to recruit as well, though banned in many cities throughout the country.
  • The Birth of a Nation

    In this hit movie, D.W. Griffeth glorified the Ku Klux Klan and inspired many to join and revive the klan. Throughout the 1920s, however, the klan spread throughout the nation, outside the south.
  • East St. Louis Race Riot

    Whites attacked blacks after two white policemen were killed, resulting in forty-eight killed, hundreds injured, and thousands of blacks fleeing the city when their homes were burned. The policie and militia did little to nothing to help the blacks.
  • The Silent Protest

    The NAACP protested the lack of police action to protect blacks during the recent race riot by organizing silent march of 10,000 people down Fifth Avenue.
  • Houston Riot

    After two Houston police officers assaulted a black woman, some angry black soldiers from the 24th Infantry organized a march, which was met by a white mob. The aftermath found 20 people dead and several injured. 13 black soldiers were hung, and 41 were imprisoned for life -- after a swift trial with no appeal process.
  • Chicago Race Riot

    A young black man was drowned after being pelted with rocks while swimming. This instigated a thirteen day long attack by both whites and blacks, with a result of 15 whites and 23 blacks dead, as well as over 500 injured and thousands of blacks homeless.
  • Harlem Renaissance

    Throughout the 1920s and 30s, African American culture flourished, and African Americans embraced their heritage rather than trying to assimilate. Writers, artists and intellectuals gave African Americans a new identity.
  • Anti-Lynching Campaign

    Often with the help of the Republican party, the NAACP pursued anti-lynching legislation, which would outlaw the practice of lynching throughout the country. This was important, as lynching became a very racist tactic of denying constitutional rights to fair trial by jury and brought unjust killings unto many, often innocent, blacks.
  • NAACP Anti-Lynching Campaign

    Often with the help of the Republican party, the NAACP pursued anti-lynching legislation throughout the 1920s. This was important, as lynching had been a prominent issue, a tactic of denying constitutional rights to fair trial by jury and brought unjust killings unto many, often innocent, blacks.
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    Harlem Renaissance

    Throughout the 1920s and 30s, African American culture flourished, and African Americans embraced their heritage rather than trying to assimilate. Writers, artists and intellectuals gave African Americans a new identity.
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    KKK Membership Increases

    Throughout the 1920s, after World War I, the KKK began to reappear even more, this time with broader membership, against anyone not a WASP.
  • Dyer Anti-Lynching bill

    Pushed by the NAACP, Dyer reintroduced an anti-lynching bill that would punish lynch mobs, with a fine of up to $5000 and/or up to five years in prison. The county would also have to pay a $10,000 fine as well to the victim’s family, parents, or US government. The bill was ultimately defeated about a year later and the Republican party lost much black support with it.
  • Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill

    Originally prposed in 1918, this bill reappeared and would punish lynch mobs, with a fine of up to $5000 and/or up to five years in prison. The county would also have to pay a $10,000 fine as well to the victim’s family, parents, or US government. The bill was defeated again though, and the GOP lost much black support with it.
  • Lynching

    Economic frustration was expressed through increased racial violence, with twenty-four recorded black lynchins in 1933 alone.
  • National Recovery Administration

    Nicknamed "Negroes Ruined Again," this agency contained racially discriminatory clauses that increased the already difficult life of job-seeking blacks.
  • Anti-Lynching Bill

    An antilynching bill managed to pass the House of Representatives in 1935. However, it was killed with a filibuster by southern Deomcratic senators.
  • Scottsboro Boys

    After a 1931 court case in which eight black youths were given the death penalty for a highly suspect charge of rape, the Supreme Court ordered a new trial because the defendents had been denied due process.
  • Harlem Race Riot

    Over $200 million in damage and three black deaths were the result of a riot in Harlem. This riot had multiple possible causes: mainly hostility towards white-owned businesses and anger over racist job-hiring pracitices.
  • Roosevelt Supreme Court

    Issued antidiscrimination rulings in cases involving housing, voting rights, wage inequity, and jury selection.
  • National Youth Administration

    FDR names Mary McLeod Bethune (a black woman) as the director of minority affairs in the National Youth Administration.
  • Olympics is Berlin

    African-American track star Jesse Owens destroys the Nazi's claim of racial superiority by winning four gold medals and breaking or tying three world records.
  • World Heavy Weight Championship

    Black American Joe Louis knocks out German fighter Max Schmeling in the first round of their world heavy-weight championship.
  • Southern Conference for Human Welfare

    At this conference in Birmingham, Alabama, black delegates and white delegates were segregated in compliance with local statutes. Mrs. Roosevelt pointedly placed her chair in the middle of the two sides.
  • Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert

    Benny Goodman's band, comprised of both black and white musicians, play at Carnegie Hall. This helped to legitimize Jazz music and black musicians with white culture.
  • Marian Anderson

    The Daughters of the American Revolution barred singer Marian Anderson from singing in Washington's Constitution Hall, so Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the organization. Harold Ickes organized an Easter Sunday concert for Anderson at the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Black Migration Continues

    Although the migration of rural blacks to the city is gradually slowing, by this time over 23 % of the nation's 12 million blacks live in the urban North.
  • Randolph's Warning

    The president of Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, A. Philip Randolph, called for a "thundering march" of thouands of black on Washington to shock white America into desegregating the armed services and defense industry. FDR decided to compromise.
  • Executive Order 8802

    This prohibited discriminatory employment practices by federal agencies and all unions and companies engaged in war-related work, and established the Fair Employment Practices Commission to enforce this policy.
  • Double V Campaign

    Black leaders saw World War II as an opportunity to achieve equal rights -- the government would want a united nation. Double V: victory in war and victory over racial discrimination.
  • Congress of Racial Equality

    A new civil rights group, CORE, used the same non-violent tactics as Gandhi. They wanted to desegregate public facilities in cities.
  • Year of Race Riots

    As blacks protested discrimination, racial tensions rose. Race riots occured in Harlem, Mobile, and Beaumont. In Detroit, more than 700 were injured and over 30 people died.
  • Smith v. Allwright

    Supreme Court rules the Texas all-white primary unconstitutional, eliminating a bar that had existed in eight other southern states.
  • Increased Black Involvement

    FDR's order resulted in the employment of over 2 million blacks in industry and 2 hundred thousand in the federal civil service. Thepercentage of black workers in unions and war-production work increased and even tripled. The average wage increased, and the number of black officers went from 5 to 7,000 from 1940-1945.
  • NAACP

    By 1945, NAACP membership reached over 500,000. They called for legislation outlawing the poll tax and lynching, condemned discrimination in defense industries and the armed services, and strove to end black disenfranchisement.
  • Jackie Robinson, first African American in MLB

    The first African American to play in major league baseball, Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and became a hero and icon to many. He was constantly given threats or racial slurs, although he proved black advancement into white society.
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    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Rev. King became a major civil rights leader in the 1950s and 1960s, best known for his peaceful, nonagressive style of protesting. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, and founded the SCLC. With speeches, such as the "I Have a Dream Speech," King captured the consciences and sympathies of many whites, helping to eventually bring desegregation to society. He was shot in 1968.
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    Malcolm X

    Malcolm Little was another significant civil rights leader throught the 1950s and 60s. Initially, after a rough upbringing without parents and normal racial struggles of the time and joining the NAtion of Islam under Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm took a very agressive and anti-white perspective. When forced out of the Nation of Islam, he dropped his views of Black Supremacy and worked with other famous civil rights leaders. He was assassinated 1965.
  • The Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

    Ellison's novel won the National Book Award in 1953 and was his only one published during his lifetime. It described many social and intellectual struggles facing African Americans in the early 1900s from the perspective of an unnamed black narrator.
  • Brown v. Board of Education

    The Supreme court ruled in this case that "seperate but equal" schools for whites and blacks were unconstitutional. All public schools were to be desegregated, although this would be difficult to enforce over the next ten years. This helped to start integration of blacks into common society as normals, and was a landmark in the civil rights movement.
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott

    Starting from the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusal to give up her seat for a white man, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. lead the black community in Montgomery, Alabama through this boycott. The effort was made to end discreimintatory seating/ hiring policies for the bus company. It disproved any myths about clacks aprooving segregation or only outside influence fighting, as well as proved the strength of the african american community.
  • SCLC

    Southern Christian Leadership Conference - Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other black ministers at the time formed this organization to nonviolently protest segregation and unfair treatment of blacks.
  • Central High School enrollment of black students

    Originally an all-white school in Little Rock, Arkansas, CHS turned away black students attempting to enroll after Brown v. Doard of Ed. ruled against school segregation. Eisenhower, who origianlly didn't support the Brown ruling much, saw it as a challenge to federal and executive power and sent federal troops to serve as an armed guard as the black students attended CHS.
  • Sit-In

    Four students in Greensboro, North Carloina, sat down at a whites-only lunch counter and refused to leave. This was one of the first in the wave of sit-in protests which helped desegregate dozens of establishments.
  • Freedom Rides

    Freedom rides, organized by CORE, were intended to illustrate the violation of the Supreme Court's decision outlawing segregation in interstate transportation. Riders were often attacked by angry whites.
  • University of Mississippi

    A federal court ordered the University of Mississippi to enroll James Meredith, a black air force veteran. Protestors rioted and attacked federal marshalls, leaving two dead and hundreds injured.
  • Birmingham Campaign

    Marting Luther King and his associates chose Birmingham as the setting for their next civil rights movement because of its extremem segregation and mililtantly racist Police Commissioner "Bull" Connor. Peacefully protesting blacks clashed with violent whites in iconic images shown across the nation, and the result was more white support and awareness.
  • University of Alabama

    Segregationist Governor George Wallace refused to allow two black student to enter the University of Alabama, so JFK forced him to comply with a court order of desegregation.
  • JFK

    JFK went on television to support civil rights and to say that "race has no place in American life or law." Later, he proposed a civil rights measure to outlaw segregation in ublic facilities and authorize the federal government to withhold funds from segregationist programs.
  • March on Washington

    About a quarter of a million people marched on Washington to protest discrimination against blacks, speed the progress of the civil rights bill through Congress, and unite the civil rights movement. It was this march where King gave his famous "dream" speech
  • The Civil Rights Act

    This act banned racial discrimination and segregation in public accomodations, outlawed bias in federally funded programs,, granted the federal government new powers to fight school segregation, and forbade discrimination in employment. This act created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce the ban on job discrimination.
  • Mississippi Freedom Summer Project

    Only 5% of blacks in Mississippi were registered voters, so around a thousand white students volunteered to help register and educate blacks. The civil rights workers registered only 1,200 blacks to vote, and they endured violence and hatred.
  • Selma

    SCLC and other activists attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery, and they were clubbed and tear-gassed, provoking national outrage. This helped pressure Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act.
  • Watts Race Riot

    In Los Angeles, young blacks and white police had a confrontation, starting a six-day race riot, killing 34 people, injuring 900, and resulting in 4,000 arrests.
  • Voting Rights Ac

    This act invalidated the use of any test or device to deny the vote and authorized federal examiners to register voters in states that had disenfranchised blacks.
  • Black Panther Party

    Founded in Oakland, California, by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, this organization encouraged "black power." Although it funded school food programs and community activism, they were more known for their violent confrontations with police.
  • Stokely Carmichael

    Rising to head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Carmichael was known for his more radical and seperatist views. He ejected all white members from SNCC and preached Black Power. He believed that African Americans should assert their racial pride and fight for their liberation using whatever necessary.
  • Loving v. Virginia

    In this supreme court case, the court ruled that laws prohibiting interacial marriage were unconstitutional, forcing 16 states still with those marriage laws to revise.
  • Newark Race Riots of '67

    Due to poverty, unemployment, low quality housing, inequal political representation and police brutality, many African Americans at this time felt weak and powerless. When John Weerd Smith was taken into police custody, many were set off and riots began to ensue in Newark, lasting six days. Bridges were closed, 26 died, hundreds were injured, and 1500 were arrested.
  • Detroit Race Riots of '67

    In response to a police raid of an unliscensed bar on 12th St, a five day riot, one of the most deadly in US history, took place. 43 died, 467 were injured and over 7,200 arrests were made. Governor George Romney sent in the Guard, and President Johnson sent in the army.
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    Court Ordered Busing

    In an attempt to desegregate public school, court ordered busing was put into action to bus kids from different areas for more racially integrated schools. This was widely criticized against, and although Nixon personally disagreed with it, he supported the court ordered system and implemented it.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Shot

    Convict James Earl Ray shoots Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, who dies at age 39. This was a huge wake up to the entire nation and really began to slow down and stop the civil rights movement.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1968

    President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, outlawing discrimination in sale, rental, and financing of housing. This was another significant win via law for the civil rights movement.
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    Affirmative Action

    In order to compensate for unfair treatment of African Americans and minorities in the US, many, including President Nixon, supported this tactic. Affirmative Action was the consideration of demographic background into employment, admission, etc. (theoretically minorites would have a better chance of getting a job if they had equal qualifications to another applicant). This was also disagreed with by many, including Reagan and the conservative backlash.
  • Philadelphia Plan

    Nixon implemented one of the first affirmative action programs, requiring federal contractors to hire minority workers. Affirmative action became one of Nixon's main tactics for dealing with civil rights.
  • Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

    In this case, the Supreme Court upheld court-ordered busing as a legitimate tactic to better-integrate public schools and society. However, these busings were often criticized and opposed.
  • Regents of the University of California v. Bakke

    This case overturned the use of Affirmative Action in a California medical school, signifying a cange, a backlash to Affirmative Action. Many even saw Affirmative Action itself racism, taking into account race and sex into applictation when it should be ignored outright. The Bakke Case was very controversial and protested even.