Introduction - Important Events in Black HistoryThere have been many important events in black history. Events like the 1865 passing of the thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution outlawing slavery are to be celebrated. Events like the 1896 Supreme Court decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson case damaged the fight against racial segregation and discrimination. Below you will find a timeline listing some of these events in African-American history with a few facts about each. There will be links to detail pages with more interesting information about many of these events. Hopefully this information will be helpful to kids writing Black History Month reports and for adults interested in facts about black history. There have been many important events in black history the below list includes many of them but certainly not all.
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Timeline of Important Events in Black History
- 1619 - The first slaves from Africa are brought to North America. These first black people from Africa may have been indentured servants and not really slaves; however what is certain is that by the mid-1600s there were slaves in North America.
- 1773 - Phillis Wheatley becomes the first published African-American poet, her poem was titled "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral". Many people praised her writing including George Washington.
- 1793 - White inventor Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin, a machine which quickly separates cotton fibers from their seeds. This invention makes growing cotton extremely profitable. Unfortunately this invention increased the demand for slaves tremendously as more and more cotton is grown in the southern American states.
- 1831 - On August 21st slave Nat Turner leads the biggest slave rebellion in American history in Southampton County, Virginia. Sixty white people are killed but scores of black people are killed including Nat Turner who is captured and hung.
- 1852 - Uncle Tom's Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, is published awaking many white people to the horrors of slavery.
- 1863 - Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation which frees approximately 200,000 slaves living within the Confederate states.
- 1865 - On December 6th the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified abolishing slavery in the United States.
- 1896 - The Supreme Court rules in the Plessy vs Ferguson case. The decision of the court supports the concept that racial segregation is constitutional. This leads to discriminatory laws, referred to as Jim Crow laws, passed in many southern states.
- 1954 - On May 17th the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Brown vs Board of Education case that segregation is unconstitutional.
- 1955 - On December 1st Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white passenger. Her bravery sparks the Montgomery Bus Boycott leading to the desegregation of Montgomery buses in 1956.
- 1957 - The Civil Rights Act of 1957 is passed by the United States Congress on August 29th. The goal of this act was to ensure African-Americans could exercise their right to vote.
- 1960 - On February 1st the Greensboro sit-ins began at the Woolworth store in Greensboro North Carolina. Four African-Americans sat at the white only lunch counter and refused to leave. The movement spread to involve thousands of black non-violent protesters throughout southern cities.
- 1963 - Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28th during the March on Washington which was the largest civil rights demonstration in history.
- 1964 - On January 23rd the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. This law eliminated many of the barriers established preventing black Americans from voting.
- 1964 - The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is enacted on July 2nd. The Act has sweeping civil rights legislation.
- 1965 - On February 21st Malcolm X, one of the most influential African Americans in history, is assassinated in New York City.
- 1968 - On April 4th Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. The Civil Rights Movement lost its most important leader.
- 2008 - Barack Obama is elected as the first African-American President of the United States of America.