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20th century



  • Since the Civil War, 30,000 African-American teachers had been trained and put to work in the South. The majority of blacks had become literate.


  • Booker T. Washington's autobiography Up from Slavery is published.

  • Benjamin Tillman, senator from South Carolina, comments on Theodore Roosevelt's dining with Booker T. Washington: "The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that nigger will necessitate our killing a thousand niggers in the South before they learn their place again."


  • September – W. E. B. Du Bois's article The Talented Tenth published.

  • W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal work The Souls of Black Folk is published.


  • May 15 – Sigma Pi Phi, the first African-American Greek-letter organization, is founded by African-American men as a professional organization, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • Orlando, Florida hires its first black postman.


  • July 11 – First meeting of the Niagara Movement, an interracial group to work for civil rights.


  • The Brownsville Affair, which eventually involves President Roosevelt.

  • December 4 – African-American men found Alpha Phi Alpha at Cornell University, the first intercollegiate fraternity for African-American men.


  • National Primitive Baptist Convention of the U.S.A. formed.


  • December 26 – Jack Johnson wins the World Heavyweight Title.

  • Alpha Kappa Alpha at Howard University; African-American college women found the first college sorority for African-American women.


  • February 12 – Planned first meeting of group which would become the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an interracial group devoted to civil rights. The meeting actually occurs on May 31, but February 12 is normally cited as the NAACP's founding date.

  • May 31 – The National Negro Committee meets and is formed; it will be the precursor to the NAACP.

  • August 14th A lynch mob moves through Springfield, Illinois burning the homes and businesses of black people and black sympathisers, killing many.


  • May 30 – The National Negro Committee chooses "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People" as its organization name.

  • September 29 – Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes formed; the next year it will merge with other groups to form the National Urban League.

  • The NAACP begins publishing The Crisis.


  • January 5 – Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity was founded at Indiana University.

  • November 17 – Omega Psi Phi fraternity was founded at Howard University.


  • The Moorish Science Temple of America, a religious organization, is founded by Noble Drew Ali (Timothy Drew).

  • January 13 – Delta Sigma Theta sorority was founded at Howard University

1914 January 9 – Phi Beta Sigma fraternity was founded at Howard University

  • Newly elected president Woodrow Wilson orders physical re-segregation of federal workplaces and employment after nearly 50 years of integrated facilities.


  • February 8 – The Birth of a Nation is released to film theaters. The NAACP protests in cities across the country, convincing some not to show the film.

  • June 21 – In Guinn v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court rules against grandfather clauses used to deny blacks the right to vote.

  • September 9 – Professor Carter G. Woodson founds the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in Chicago.

  • A schism from the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. forms the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.


  • January – Professor Carter Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History begins publishing the Journal of Negro History, the first academic journal devoted to the study of African-American history.

  • March 23 – Marcus Garvey arrives in the U.S. (see Garveyism).

  • Los Angeles hires the country's first black female police officer.

  • The Great Migration begins and lasts until 1940. Approximately one and a half million African Americans move from the Southern United States to the North and Midwest. More than five million migrate in the Second Great Migration from 1940 to 1970, which includes more destinations in California and the West.


  • May–June – East St. Louis Riot

  • August 23 – Houston Riot

  • In Buchanan v. Warley, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules that a ban on selling property in white-majority neighborhoods to black people and vice versa violates the 14th Amendment.


  • Viola Pettus, an African-American nurse in Marathon, Texas, wins attention for her courageous care of victims of the Spanish Influenza, including members of the Ku Klux Klan.

  • Mary Turner was a 33-year-old lynched in Lowndes County, Georgia who was Eight months pregnant. Turner and her child were murdered after she publicly denounced the extrajudicial killing of her husband by a mob. Her death is considered a stark example of racially motivated mob violence in the American south, and was referenced by the NAACP's anti-lynching campaign of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.


  • Summer – Red Summer of 1919 riots: Chicago, Washington, D.C.; Knoxville, Indianapolis, and elsewhere.

  • September 28 – Omaha Race Riot of 1919, Nebraska.

  • October 1–5 – Elaine Race Riot, Phillips County, Arkansas. Numerous blacks are convicted by an all-white jury or plead guilty. In Moore v. Dempsey (1923), the U.S. Supreme Court overturns six convictions for denial of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.


  • February 13 – Negro National League (1920–1931) established.

  • Fritz Pollard and Bobby Marshall are the first two African-American players in the National Football League (NFL). Pollard goes on to become the first African-American coach in the NFL.

  • January 16 – Zeta Phi Beta sorority founded at Howard University


  • May 23 – Shuffle Along is the first major African-American hit musical on Broadway.

  • May 31 – Tulsa Race Riot, Oklahoma

  • Bessie Coleman becomes the first African American to earn a pilot's license.


  • November 12 – Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, was founded at Butler University


  • Garrett A. Morgan invented and patented the first automatic three-position traffic light.

  • January 1–7 – Rosewood massacre: Six African Americans and two whites die in a week of violence when a white woman in Rosewood, Florida, claims she was beaten and raped by a black man.

  • February 19 – In Moore v. Dempsey, the U.S. Supreme Court holds that mob-dominated trials violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

  • Jean Toomer's novel Cane is published.


  • Knights of Columbus commissions and publishes The Gift of Black Folk: The Negroes in the Making of America by civil rights activist and NAACP cofounder W. E. B. Du Bois as part of the organization's Racial Contribution Series.

  • Spelman Seminary becomes Spelman College.



  • Spring – American Negro Labor Congress is founded.

  • August 8 – 35,000 Ku Klux Klan members march in Washington, D.C. (see List of protest marches on Washington, D.C.)

  • Countee Cullen publishes his first collection of poems in Color.

  • Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters is organized.

  • The Harlem Renaissance (also known as the New Negro Movement) is named after the anthology The New Negro, edited by Alain Locke .


  • The Harlem Globetrotters are founded.

  • Historian Carter G. Woodson proposes Negro History Week.

  • Corrigan v Buckley challenges deed restrictions preventing a white seller from selling to a black buyer. The U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Buckley, stating that the 14th Amendment does not apply because Washington, DC is a city and not a state, thereby rendering the Due Process Clause inapplicable. Also, that the Due Process Clause does not apply to private agreements.


  • 1928

  • Claude McKay's Home to Harlem wins the Harmon Gold Award for Literature.

  • 1929

  • The League of United Latin American Citizens, the first organization to fight for the civil rights of Latino Americans, is founded in Corpus Christi, Texas.

  • John Hope becomes president of Atlanta University. Graduate classes are offered in the liberal arts, and Atlanta University becomes the first predominantly black university to offer graduate education.

  • Unknown – Hallelujah! is released, one of the first films to star an all-black cast.

  • 1930

  • August 7 – Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith were African-American men lynched in Marion, Indiana, after being taken from jail and beaten by a mob. They had been arrested that night as suspects in a robbery, murder and rape case. A third African-American suspect, 16-year-old James Cameron, had also been arrested and narrowly escaped being killed by the mob. He later became a civil rights activist.

  • The League of Struggle for Negro Rights is founded in New York City.

  • Jessie Daniel Ames forms the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching. She gets 40,000 white women to sign a pledge against lynching and for change in the South.

  • 1931

  • March 25 – Scottsboro Boys arrested in what would become a nationally controversial case.

  • Walter Francis White becomes the executive secretary of the NAACP.

  • 1932

  • The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male begins at Tuskegee University.

  • 1933

  • Hocutt v. Wilson unsuccessfully challenged segregation in higher education in the United States.

  • 1934

  • Wallace D. Fard, leader of the Nation of Islam, mysteriously disappears. He is succeeded by Elijah Muhammad.

  • 1935

  • June 18 – In Murray v. Pearson, Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston of the NAACP successfully argue the landmark case in Maryland to open admissions to the segregated University of Maryland School of Law on the basis of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

  • 1936

  • August – American sprinter Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

  • 1937

  • Zora Neale Hurston writes the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God

  • Southern Negro Youth Congress founded.

  • 1938

  • October – Negro National Congress meets at the Metropolitan Opera House in Philadelphia, Pa.

  • Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada

  • 1939

  • Easter Sunday – Marian Anderson performs on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. at the instigation of Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes after the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall and the federally controlled District of Columbia Board of Education declined a request to use the auditorium of a white public high school.

  • Billie Holiday first performs "Strange Fruit" in New York City. The song, a protest against lynching written by Abel Meeropol under the pen name Lewis Allan, became a signature song for Holiday.

  • The Little League is formed, becoming the nation's first non-segregated youth sport.

  • August 21 – Five African-American men recruited and trained by African-American attorney Samuel Wilbert Tucker conduct a sit-in at the then-segregated Alexandria, Virginia, library and are arrested after being refused library cards.

  • September 21 – Followers of Father Divine and the International Peace Mission Movement join with workers to protest racially unfair hiring practices by conducting "a kind of customers' nickel sit down strike" in a restaurant.

  • 1940s to 1970

  • Second Great Migration – In multiple acts of resistance and in response to factory labor shortages in World War II, more than 5 million African Americans leave the violence and segregation of the South for jobs, education, and the chance to vote in northern, midwestern, and western cities (mainly to the West Coast).

  • 1940

  • February 12 – In Chambers v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court frees three black men who were coerced into confessing to a murder.

  • February 29 – Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African-American to win an Academy Award. She wins Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.

  • October 25 – Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. is promoted to be the first African-American general in the U.S. Army.

  • Richard Wright authors Native Son

  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is formed.

  • 1941

  • January 25 – A. Philip Randolph proposes a March on Washington, effectively beginning the March on Washington Movement.

  • early 1941 – U.S. Army forms African-American air combat units, the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were involved in 15,000 combat sorties, winning 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 744 Air Medals, 8 Purple Hearts, and 14 Bronze Stars.

  • June 25 – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issues Executive Order 8802, the "Fair Employment Act", to require equal treatment and training of all employees by defense contractors.

  • Mitchell v US – the Interstate Commerce Clause is used to successfully desegregate seating on trains.

  • 1942

  • Six non-violence activists in the Fellowship of Reconciliation (Bernice Fisher, James Russell Robinson, George Houser, James Farmer, Jr., Joe Guinn and Homer Jack) found the Committee on Racial Equality, which becomes the Congress of Racial Equality.

  • 1943

  • Doctor Charles R. Drew developed techniques for separating and storing blood. He was the head of an American Red Cross effort to collect blood for American armed forces. He was the chief surgeon of Howard University's medical school and professor of surgery. His achievements were recognized when he became the first African-American surgeon to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery.

  • The 1943 Detroit race riot erupts in Detroit, Michigan.

  • Lena Horne stars in the all African-American film Stormy Weather.

  • 1944

  • April 3 – In Smith v. Allwright, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the whites-only Democratic Party primary in Texas was unconstitutional.

  • April 25 – The United Negro College Fund is incorporated.

  • July 17 – Port Chicago disaster, which led to the Port Chicago mutiny.

  • August 1–7 – The Philadelphia transit strike of 1944, a strike by white transit workers protesting against job advancement by black workers, is broken by the U.S. military under the provisions of the Smith-Connally Act

  • September 3 – Recy Taylor kidnapped and gang-raped in Abbeville by six white men, who later confessed to the crimes but were never charged. The case was investigated by Rosa Parks and provided an early organizational spark for the Montgomery bus boycott.[39]

  • November 7 – Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Harlem, New York.

  • Miami hires its first black police officers.

  • 1945–1975 The Civil Rights Movement.

  • 1945

  • April 5–6 – Freeman Field Mutiny, in which black officers of the U.S. Army Air Corps attempt to desegregate an all-white officers' club in Indiana.

  • August – The first issue of Ebony.

  • 1946

  • June 3 – In Morgan v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidates provisions of the Virginia Code which require the separation of white and colored passengers where applied to interstate bus transport. The state law is unconstitutional insofar as it is burdening interstate commerce – an area of federal jurisdiction.

  • In Florida, Daytona Beach, DeLand, Sanford, Fort Myers, Tampa, and Gainesville all have black police officers. So does Little Rock, Arkansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio in Texas; Richmond, Virginia; Chattanooga and Knoxville in Tennessee

  • Renowned actor/singer Paul Robeson founds the American Crusade Against Lynching.

  • 1947

  • April 9 – The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sends 16 men on the Journey of Reconciliation.

  • April 15 – Jackie Robinson plays his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black baseball player in professional baseball in 60 years.

  • John Hope Franklin authors the non-fiction book From Slavery to Freedom

  • 1948

  • United Nations, Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights bans slavery globally.

  • January 12 – In Sipuel v. Board of Regents of Univ. of Okla., the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the State of Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma Law School could not deny admission based on race ("color").

  • May 3 – In Shelley v. Kraemer and companion case Hurd v. Hodge, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the government cannot enforce racially restrictive covenants and asserts that they are in conflict with the nation's public policy.

  • July 12 – Hubert Humphrey makes a controversial speech in favor of American civil rights at the Democratic National Convention.

  • July 26 – President Harry S. Truman issues Executive Order 9981 ordering the end of racial discrimination in the Armed Forces. Desegregation comes after 1950.

  • Atlanta hires its first black police officers.

  • 1949

  • January 20 – Civil Rights Congress protests the second inauguration of Harry S. Truman.

  • 1950–1959

  • For more detail during this period, see Freedom Riders website chronology

  • 1950

  • June 5 – In McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a public institution of higher learning could not provide different treatment to a student solely because of his race.

  • June 5 – In Sweatt v. Painter the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a separate-but-equal Texas law school was actually unequal, partly in that it deprived black students from the collegiality of future white lawyers.

  • June 5 – In Henderson v. United States the U.S. Supreme Court abolishes segregation in railroad dining cars.

  • September 15 – University of Virginia, under a federal court order, admits a black student to its law school.

  • The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is created in Washington, DC to promote the enactment and enforcement of effective civil rights legislation and policy.

  • Orlando, Florida, hires its first black police officers.

  • Dr. Ralph Bunche wins the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Chuck Cooper, Nathaniel Clifton and Earl Lloyd break the barriers into the NBA.

  • 1951

  • February 2 and 5 – Execution of the Martinsville Seven.

  • February 15 – Maryland legislature ends segregation on trains and boats; meanwhile Georgia legislature votes to deny funds to schools that integrate.

  • April 23 – High school students in Farmville, Virginia, go on strike: the case Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 as part of Brown v. Board of Education.

  • June 23 – A Federal Court ruling upholds segregation in SC public schools.

  • July 11 – White residents riot in Cicero, Illinois when a black family tries to move into an apartment in the all-white suburb of Chicago; National Guard disperses them July 1.

  • July 26 – The United States Army high command announces it will desegregate the Army.

  • December 17 – "We Charge Genocide" petition presented to United Nations by the Civil Rights Congress accuses United States of violating the Genocide Convention

  • December 24 – The home of NAACP activists Harry and Harriette Moore in Mims, Florida, is bombed by KKK group; both die of injuries.

  • December 28 – The Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) is founded in Cleveland, Mississippi by T. R. M. Howard, Amzie Moore, Aaron Henry, and other civil rights activists. Assisted by member Medgar Evers, the RCNL distributed more than 50,000 bumper stickers bearing the slogan, "Don't Buy Gas Where you Can't Use the Restroom." This campaign successfully pressured many Mississippi service stations to provide restrooms for blacks.

  • 1952

  • January 5 – Governor of Georgia Herman Talmadge criticizes television shows for depicting blacks and whites as equal.

  • January 28 – Briggs v. Elliott: after a District Court had ordered separate but equal school facilities in South Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear the case as part of Brown v. Board of Education.

  • March 7 – Another federal court upholds segregated education laws in Virginia.

  • April 1 – Chancellor Collins J. Seitz finds for the black plaintiffs (Gebhart v. Belton, Gebhart v. Bulah) and orders the integration of Hockessin elementary and Claymont High School in Delaware based on assessment of "separate but equal" public school facilities required by the Delaware constitution.

  • September 4 – Eleven black students attend the first day of school at Claymont High School, Delaware, becoming the first black students in the 17 segregated states to integrate a white public school. The day occurs without incident or notice by the community.

  • September 5 – The Delaware State Attorney General informs Claymont Superintendent Stahl that the black students will have to go home because the case is being appealed. Stahl, the School Board and the faculty refuse and the students remain. The two Delaware cases are argued before the Warren U.S. Supreme Court by Redding, Greenberg and Marshall and are used as an example of how integration can be achieved peacefully. It was a primary influence in the Brown v. Board case. The students become active in sports, music and theater. The first two black students graduated in June 1954 just one month after the Brown v. Board case.

  • Ralph Ellison authors the novel Invisible Man which wins the National Book Award.

  • 1953

  • June 8 – The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down segregation in Washington, DC restaurants.

  • August 13 – Executive Order 10479 signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower establishes the anti-discrimination Committee on Government Contracts.

  • September 1 – In the landmark case Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company, WAC Sarah Keys, represented by civil rights lawyer Dovey Roundtree, becomes the first black to challenge "separate but equal" in bus segregation before the Interstate Commerce Commission.

  • James Baldwin's semi-autobiographical novel Go Tell It on the Mountain is published.

  • 1954

  • May 3 – In Hernandez v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Mexican Americans and all other racial groups in the United States are entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

  • May 17 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules against the "separate but equal" doctrine in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans. and in Bolling v. Sharpe, thus overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.

  • July 11 – The first White Citizens' Council meeting takes place, in Mississippi.

  • July 30 – At a special meeting in Jackson, Mississippi called by Governor Hugh White, T.R.M. Howard of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, along with nearly one hundred other black leaders, publicly refuse to support a segregationist plan to maintain "separate but equal" in exchange for a crash program to increase spending on black schools.

  • September 2 – In Montgomery, Alabama, 23 black children are prevented from attending all-white elementary schools, defying the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

  • September 7 – District of Columbia ends segregated education; Baltimore, Maryland follows suit on September 8

  • September 15 – Protests by white parents in White Sulphur Springs, WV force schools to postpone desegregation another year.

  • September 16 – Mississippi responds by abolishing all public schools with an amendment to its State Constitution.

  • September 30 – Integration of a high school in Milford, Delaware collapses when white students boycott classes.

  • October 4 – Student demonstrations take place against integration of Washington, DC public schools.

  • October 19 – Federal judge upholds an Oklahoma law requiring African-American candidates to be identified on voting ballots as "negro".

  • October 30 – Desegregation of U.S. Armed Forces said to be complete.

  • November – Charles Diggs, Jr., of Detroit is elected to Congress, the first African American elected from Michigan.

  • Frankie Muse Freeman is the lead attorney for the landmark NAACP case Davis et al. v. the St. Louis Housing Authority, which ended legal racial discrimination in public housing with the city. Constance Baker Motley was also an attorney for NAACP: it was a rarity to have two women attorneys leading such a high-profile case.

  • 1955

  • January 7 – Marian Anderson (of 1939 fame) becomes the first African American to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera.

  • January 15 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10590, establishing the President's Committee on Government Policy to enforce a nondiscrimination policy in Federal employment.

  • January 20 – Demonstrators from CORE and Morgan State University stage a successful sit-in to desegregate Read's Drug Store in Baltimore, Maryland

  • April 5 – Mississippi passes a law penalizing white students who attend school with blacks with jail and fines.

  • May 7 – NAACP and Regional Council of Negro Leadership activist Reverend George W. Lee is killed in Belzoni, Mississippi.

  • May 31 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in "Brown II" that desegregation must occur with "all deliberate speed".

  • June 8 – University of Oklahoma decides to allow black students.

  • June 23 – Virginia governor and Board of Education decide to continue segregated schools into 1956.

  • June 29 – The NAACP wins a U.S. Supreme Court suit which orders the University of Alabama to admit Autherine Lucy.

  • July 11 – Georgia Board of Education orders that any teacher supporting integration be fired.

  • July 14 – A Federal Appeals Court overturns segregation on Columbia, SC buses.

  • August 1 – Georgia Board of Education fires all black teachers who are members of the NAACP.

  • August 13 – Regional Council of Negro Leadership registration activist Lamar Smith is murdered in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

  • August 28 – Teenager Emmett Till is killed for whistling at a white woman in Money, Mississippi.

  • November 7 – The Interstate Commerce Commission bans bus segregation in interstate travel in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company, extending the logic of Brown v. Board to the area of bus travel across state lines. On the same day, the U.S. Supreme Court bans segregation on public parks and playgrounds. The governor of Georgia responds that his state would "get out of the park business" rather than allow playgrounds to be desegregated.

  • December 1 – Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus, starting the Montgomery bus boycott. This occurs nine months after 15-year-old high school student Claudette Colvin became the first to refuse to give up her seat. Colvin's was the legal case which eventually ended the practice in Montgomery.

  • Roy Wilkins becomes the NAACP executive secretary.

  • 1956

  • January 2 – Georgia Tech president Blake R Van Leer stands up to Governor Marvin Griffin threats to bar Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh player Bobby Grier over segregation.

  • January 9 – Virginia voters and representatives decide to fund private schools with state money to maintain segregation.

  • January 16 – FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover writes a rare open letter of complaint directed to civil rights leader Dr. T. R. M. Howard after Howard charged in a speech that the "FBI can pick up pieces of a fallen airplane on the slopes of a Colorado mountain and find the man who caused the crash, but they can't find a white man when he kills a Negro in the South."

  • January 24 – Governors of Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia agree to block integration of schools.

  • February 1 – Virginia legislature passes a resolution that the U.S. Supreme Court integration decision was an "illegal encroachment".

  • February 3 – Autherine Lucy is admitted to the University of Alabama. Whites riot for days, and she is suspended. Later, she is expelled for her part in further legal action against the university.

  • February 24 – The policy of Massive Resistance is declared by U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr.

  • February/March – The Southern Manifesto, opposing integration of schools, is created and signed by members of the Congressional delegations of Southern states, including 19 senators and 81 members of the House of Representatives, notably the entire delegations of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia. On March 12, it is released to the press.

  • February 13 – Wilmington, Delaware school board decides to end segregation.

  • February 22 – Ninety black leaders in Montgomery, Alabama are arrested for leading a bus boycott.

  • February 29 – Mississippi legislature declares U.S. Supreme Court integration decision "invalid" in that state.

  • March 1 – Alabama legislature votes to ask for federal funds to deport blacks to northern states.

  • March 12 – U.S. Supreme Court orders the University of Florida to admit a black law school applicant "without delay".

  • March 22 – Martin Luther King Jr. sentenced to fine or jail for instigating Montgomery bus boycott, suspended pending appeal.

  • April 11 – Singer Nat King Cole is assaulted during a segregated performance at Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • April 23 – U.S. Supreme Court strikes down segregation on buses nationwide.

  • May 26 – Circuit Judge Walter B. Jones issues an injunction prohibiting the NAACP from operating in Alabama.

  • May 28 – The Tallahassee, Florida bus boycott begins.

  • June 5 – The Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) is founded at a mass meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • September 2–11 – Teargas and National Guard used to quell segregationists rioting in Clinton, TN; 12 black students enter high school under Guard protection. Smaller disturbances occur in Mansfield, TX and Sturgis, KY.

  • September 10 – Two black students are prevented by a mob from entering a junior college in Texarkana, Texas. Schools in Louisville, KY are successfully desegregated.

  • September 12 – Four black children enter an elementary school in Clay, KY under National Guard protection; white students boycott. The school board bars the 4 again on September 17.

  • October 15 – Integrated athletic or social events are banned in Louisiana.

  • November 5 – Nat King Cole hosts the first show of The Nat King Cole Show. The show went off the air after only 13 months because no national sponsor could be found.

  • November 13 – In Browder v. Gayle, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Alabama laws requiring segregation of buses. This ruling, together with the ICC's 1955 ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach banning "Jim Crow laws" in bus travel among the states, is a landmark in outlawing "Jim Crow" in bus travel.

  • December 20 – Federal marshals enforce the ruling to desegregate bus systems in Montgomery.

  • December 24 – Blacks in Tallahassee, Florida begin defying segregation on city buses.

  • December 25 – The parsonage in Birmingham, Alabama occupied by Fred Shuttlesworth, movement leader, is bombed. Shuttlesworth receives only minor scrapes.

  • December 26 – The ACMHR tests the Browder v. Gayle ruling by riding in the white sections of Birmingham city buses. 22 demonstrators are arrested.

  • Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission formed.

  • Director J. Edgar Hoover orders the FBI to begin the COINTELPRO program to investigate and disrupt "dissident" groups within the United States.

  • 1957

  • February 8 – Georgia Senate votes to declare the 14th and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution null and void in that state.

  • February 14 – Southern Christian Leadership Conference is formed; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is named its chairman.

  • April 18 – Florida Senate votes to consider U.S. Supreme Court's desegregation decisions "null and void".

  • May 17 – The Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, DC is at the time the largest nonviolent demonstration for civil rights, and features Dr. King's "Give Us The Ballot" speech.

  • September 2 – Orval Faubus, governor of Arkansas, calls out the National Guard to block integration of Little Rock Central High School.

  • September 6 – Federal judge orders Nashville public schools to integrate immediately.

  • September 15 – New York Times reports that in three years since the decision, there has been minimal progress toward integration in four southern states, and no progress at all in seven.

  • September 24 – President Dwight Eisenhower federalizes the National Guard and also orders US Army troops to ensure Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas is integrated. Federal and National Guard troops escort the Little Rock Nine.

  • September 27 – Civil Rights Act of 1957 signed by President Eisenhower.

  • October 7 – The finance minister of Ghana is refused service at a Dover, Delaware restaurant. President Eisenhower hosts him at the White House to apologize October 10.

  • October 9 – Florida legislature votes to close any school if federal troops are sent to enforce integration.

  • October 31 – Officers of NAACP arrested in Little Rock for failing to comply with a new financial disclosure ordinance.

  • November 26 – Texas legislature votes to close any school where federal troops might be sent.

  • 1958

  • January 18 – Willie O'Ree breaks the color barrier in the National Hockey League, in his first game playing for the Boston Bruins.

  • June 29 – Bethel Baptist Church (Birmingham, Alabama) is bombed by Ku Klux Klan members, killing four girls.

  • June 30 – In NAACP v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the NAACP was not required to release membership lists to continue operating in the state.

  • July – NAACP Youth Council sponsored sit-ins at the lunch counter of a Dockum Drug Store in downtown Wichita, Kansas. After three weeks, the movement successfully got the store to change its policy of segregated seating, and soon afterward all Dockum stores in Kansas were desegregated.

  • August 19 – Clara Luper and the NAACP Youth Council conduct the largest successful sit-in to date, on drug store lunch-counters in Oklahoma City. This starts a successful six-year campaign by Luper and the Council to desegregate businesses and related institutions in Oklahoma City.

  • August – Jimmy Wilson sentenced to death in Alabama for stealing $1.95; Secretary of State John Foster Dulles asks Governor Jim Folsom to commute his sentence because of international criticism.

  • September 2 – Governor J. Lindsay Almond of Virginia threatens to shut down any school if it is forced to integrate.

  • September 4 – Justice Department sues under Civil Rights Act to force Terrell County, Georgia to register blacks to vote.

  • September 8 – A Federal judge orders Louisiana State University to desegregate; 69 African Americans enroll successfully on September 12.

  • September 12 – In Cooper v. Aaron the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the states were bound by the Court's decisions. Governor Faubus responds by shutting down all four high schools in Little Rock, and Governor Almond shuts one in Front Royal, Virginia.

  • September 18 – Governor Lindsay closes two more schools in Charlottesville, Virginia, and six in Norfolk on September 27.

  • September 29 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that states may not use evasive measures to avoid desegregation.

  • October 8 – A Federal judge in Harrisonburg, VA rules that public money may not be used for segregated private schools.

  • October 20 – Thirteen blacks arrested for sitting in front of bus in Birmingham.

  • November 28 – Federal court throws out Louisiana law against integrated athletic events.

  • December 8 – Voter registration officials in Montgomery refuse to cooperate with US Civil Rights Commission investigation.

  • Publication of Here I Stand, Paul Robeson's manifesto-autobiography.

  • 1959

  • January 9 – One Federal judge throws out segregation on Atlanta, GA buses, while another orders Montgomery registrars to comply with the Civil Rights Commission.

  • January 12 – Motown Records is founded by Berry Gordy.

  • January 19 – Federal Appeals court overturns Virginia's closure of the schools in Norfolk; they reopen January 28 with 17 black students.

  • February 2 – A high school in Arlington, VA desegregates, allowing four black students.

  • April 10 – Three schools in Alexandria, Virginia desegregate with a total of nine black students.

  • April 18 – King speaks for the integration of schools at a rally of 26,000 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

  • April 24 – Mack Charles Parker is lynched three days before his trial.

  • November 20 – Alabama passes laws to limit black voter registration.

  • A Raisin in the Sun, a play by Lorraine Hansberry, debuts on Broadway. The 1961 film version will star Sidney Poitier.

  • 1960–1969

  • 1960

  • February 1 – Four black students sit at the Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, sparking six months of the Greensboro sit-ins.

  • February 13 – The Nashville sit-ins begin, although the Nashville students, trained by activist and nonviolent teacher James Lawson, had been doing preliminary groundwork towards the action for two months. The sit-in ends successfully in May.

  • February 17 – Alabama grand jury indicts Dr. King for tax evasion.

  • February 19 – Virginia Union University students, called the Richmond 34 stage sit-in at Woolworth's lunch counter in Richmond, Virginia.

  • February 22 – The Richmond 34 stage a sit in the Richmond Room at Thalhimer's department store.

  • March 3 – Vanderbilt University expels James Lawson for sit-in participation.

  • March 4, 1960 – Houston's first sit-in, led by Texas Southern University students, was held at the Weingarten's lunch counter, located at 4110 Almeda in Houston, Texas. 

  • March 7 – Felton Turner of Houston is beaten and hanged upside-down in a tree, initials KKK carved on his chest.

  • March 19 – San Antonio becomes first city to integrate lunch counters.

  • March 20 – Florida Governor LeRoy Collins calls lunch counter segregation "unfair and morally wrong".

  • April 8 – Weak civil rights bill survives Senate filibuster.

  • April 15–17 – The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is formed in Raleigh, North Carolina.

  • April 19 – Z. Alexander Looby's home is bombed, with no injuries. Looby, a Nashville civil rights lawyer, was active in the cities ongoing sit-in movement.

  • May – Nashville sit-ins end successfully.

  • May 6 – Civil Rights Act of 1960 signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

  • May 28 – William Robert Ming and Hubert Delaney obtain an acquittal of Dr. King from an all-white jury in Alabama.

  • June 24 – King meets Senator John F. Kennedy (JFK).

  • June 28 – Bayard Rustin resigns from SCLC after condemnation by Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

  • July 11 – To Kill a Mockingbird published.

  • July 31 – Elijah Muhammad calls for an all-black state. Membership in the Nation of Islam estimated at 100,000.

  • August – Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker replaces Ella Baker as SCLC's Executive Director.

  • October 19 – Dr. King and fifty others arrested at sit-in at Atlanta's Rich's Department Store.

  • October 26 – Dr. King's earlier probation revoked; he is transferred to Reidsville State Prison.

  • October 28 – After intervention from Robert F. Kennedy (RFK), King is free on bond.

  • November 8 – John F. Kennedy defeats Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election.

  • November 14 – Ruby Bridges becomes the first African-American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South (William Frantz Elementary School) following court-ordered integration in New Orleans, Louisiana. This event was portrayed by Norman Rockwell in his 1964 painting The Problem We All Live With.

  • December 5 – In Boynton v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court holds that racial segregation in bus terminals is illegal because such segregation violates the Interstate Commerce Act. This ruling, in combination with the ICC's 1955 decision in Keys v. Carolina Coach, effectively outlaws segregation on interstate buses and at the terminals servicing such buses.

  • 1961

  • January 11 – Rioting over court-ordered admission of first two African Americans (Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter-Gault) at the University of Georgia leads to their suspension, but they are ordered reinstated.

  • January 31 – Member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and nine students were arrested in Rock Hill, South Carolina for a sit-in at a McCrory's lunch counter.

  • March 6 – JFK issues Executive Order 10925, which establishes a Presidential committee that later becomes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

  • May 4 – The first group of Freedom Riders, with the intent of integrating interstate buses, leaves Washington, D.C. by Greyhound bus. The group, organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), leaves shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court has outlawed segregation in interstate transportation terminals.

  • May 14 – The Freedom Riders' bus is attacked and burned outside of Anniston, Alabama. A mob beats the Freedom Riders upon their arrival in Birmingham. The Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, and spend forty to sixty days in Parchman Penitentiary.

  • May 17 – Nashville students, coordinated by Diane Nash and James Bevel, take up the Freedom Ride, signaling the increased involvement of SNCC.

  • May 20 – Freedom Riders are assaulted in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Greyhound Bus Station.

  • May 21 – Dr. King, the Freedom Riders, and congregation of 1,500 at Reverend Ralph Abernathy's First Baptist Church in Montgomery are besieged by mob of segregationists; Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sends federal marshals to protect them.

  • May 29 – Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, citing the 1955 landmark ICC ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company and the U.S. Supreme Court's 1960 decision in Boynton v. Virginia, petitions the ICC to enforce desegregation in interstate travel.

  • June–August – U.S. Department of Justice initiates talks with civil rights groups and foundations on beginning Voter Education Project.

  • July – SCLC begins citizenship classes; Andrew J. Young hired to direct the program. Bob Moses begins voter registration in McComb, Mississippi.

  • September – James Forman becomes SNCC's Executive Secretary.

  • September 23 – The Interstate Commerce Commission, at RFK's insistence, issues new rules ending discrimination in interstate travel, effective November 1, 1961, six years after the ICC's own ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company.

  • September 25 – Voter registration activist Herbert Lee killed in McComb, Mississippi.

  • November 1 – All interstate buses required to display a certificate that reads: "Seating aboard this vehicle is without regard to race, color, creed, or national origin, by order of the Interstate Commerce Commission."

  • November 1 – SNCC workers Charles Sherrod and Cordell Reagon and nine Chatmon Youth Council members test new ICC rules at 

  • at Trailways bus station in Albany, Georgia.[47]

  • November 17 – SNCC workers help encourage and coordinate black activism in Albany, Georgia, culminating in the founding of the Albany Movement as a formal coalition.[47]

  • November 22 – Three high school students from Chatmon's Youth Council arrested after using "positive actions" by walking into white sections of the Albany bus station.[47]

  • November 22 – Albany State College students Bertha Gober and Blanton Hall arrested after entering the white waiting room of the Albany Trailways station.[47]

  • December 10 – Freedom Riders from Atlanta, SNCC leader Charles Jones, and Albany State student Bertha Gober are arrested at Albany Union Railway Terminal, sparking mass demonstrations, with hundreds of protesters arrested over the next five days.[48]

  • December 11–15 – Five hundred protesters arrested in Albany, Georgia.

  • December 15 – King arrives in Albany, Georgia in response to a call from Dr. W. G. Anderson, the leader of the Albany Movement to desegregate public facilities.[45]

  • December 16 – Dr. King is arrested at an Albany, Georgia demonstration. He is charged with obstructing the sidewalk and parading without a permit.[45]

  • December 18 – Albany truce, including a 60-day postponement of King's trial; King leaves town.[49]

  • Whitney Young is appointed executive director of the National Urban League and begins expanding its size and mission.

  • Black Like Me written by John Howard Griffin, a white southerner who deliberately tanned and dyed his skin to allow him to directly experience the life of the Negro in the Deep South, is published, displaying the brutality of "Jim Crow" segregation to a national audience.

  • 1962

  • January 18–20 – Student protests over sit-in leaders' expulsions at Baton Rouge's Southern University, the nation's largest black school, close it down.

  • February – Representatives of SNCC, CORE, and the NAACPform the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). A grant request to fund COFO voter registration activities is submitted to the Voter Education Project (VEP).

  • February 26 – Segregated transportation facilities, both interstate and intrastate, ruled unconstitutional by U.S. Supreme Court.

  • March – SNCC workers sit-in at U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy's office to protest jailings in Baton Rouge.

  • March 20 – FBI installs wiretaps on NAACP activist Stanley Levison's office.

  • April 3 – Defense Department orders full racial integration of military reserve units, except the National Guard.

  • April 9 – Corporal Roman Duckworth shot by a police officer in Taylorsville, Mississippi.

  • June – Leroy Willis becomes first black graduate of the University of Virginia College of Arts and Sciences.

  • June – SNCC workers establish voter registration projects in rural southwest Georgia.

  • July 10 – August 28 SCLC renews protests in Albany; King in jail July 10–12 and July 27 – August 10.

  • August 31 – Fannie Lou Hamer attempts to register to vote in Indianola, Mississippi.

  • September 9 – Two black churches used by SNCC for voter registration meetings are burned in Sasser, Georgia.

  • September 20 – James Meredith is barred from becoming the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi.

  • September 30-October 1 – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black orders James Meredith admitted to Ole Miss.; he enrolls and a riot ensues. French photographer Paul Guihardand Oxford resident Ray Gunter are killed.

  • October – Leflore County, Mississippi, supervisors cut off surplus food distribution in retaliation against voter drive.

  • October 23 – FBI begins Communist Infiltration (COMINFIL) investigation of SCLC.

  • November 7–8 – Edward Brooke selected MassachusettsAttorney General, Leroy Johnson elected Georgia State Senator, Augustus F. Hawkins elected first black from California in Congress.

  • November 20 – Attorney General Kennedy authorizes FBI wiretap on Stanley Levison's home telephone.

  • November 20 – President Kennedy upholds 1960 presidential campaign promise to eliminate housing segregation by signing Executive Order 11063 banning segregation in Federally funded housing


  • January 18 – Incoming Alabama governor George Wallace calls for "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" in his inaugural address.

  • April 3–May 10 – The Birmingham campaign, organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights challenges city leaders and business owners in Birmingham, Alabama, with daily mass demonstrations.

  • April – Mary Lucille Hamilton, Field Secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality, refuses to answer a judge in Gadsden, Alabama, until she is addressed by the honorific "Miss". It was the custom of the time to address white people by honorifics and people of color by their first names. Hamilton is jailed for contempt of court and refuses to pay bail. The case Hamilton v. Alabama is filed by the NAACP. It was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1964 that courts must address persons of color with the same courtesy extended to whites.

  • April 7 – Ministers John Thomas Porter, Nelson H. Smith and A. D. King lead a group of 2,000 marchers to protest the jailing of movement leaders in Birmingham.

  • April 12 – Dr. King is arrested in Birmingham for "parading without a permit".

  • April 16 – Dr. King's Letter from Birmingham Jail is completed.

  • April 23 – CORE activist William L. Moore is murdered in Gadsden, Alabama.

  • May 2–4 – Birmingham's juvenile court is inundated with African-American children and teenagers arrested after James Bevel launches his "D-Day" youth march. The actions spans three days to become the Birmingham Children's Crusade.

  • May 9–10 – After images of fire hoses and police dogs turned on protesters are televised, the Children's Crusade lays the groundwork for the terms of a negotiated truce on Thursday, May 9 puts an end to mass demonstrations in return for rolling back oppressive segregation laws and practices. Dr. King and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth announce the settlement terms on Friday, May 10, only after King holds out to orchestrate the release of thousands of jailed demonstrators with bail money from Harry Belafonte and Robert Kennedy.

  • May 11–12 – Double bombing in Birmingham, probably conducted by the KKK in cooperation with local police, precipitates rioting, police retaliation, intervention of state troopers, and finally mobilization of federal troops.

  • May 13 – In United States of America and Interstate Commerce Commission v. the City of Jackson, Mississippi et al., the United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit rules the city's attempt to circumvent laws desegregating interstate transportation facilities by posting sidewalk signs outside GreyhoundTrailways and Illinois Central terminals reading "Waiting Room for White Only — By Order Police Department" and "Waiting Room for Colored Only – By Order Police Department" to be unlawful.

  • May 24 – A group of Black leaders (assembled by James Baldwinmeets with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to discuss race relations.

  • May 29 – Violence escalates at NAACP picket of Philadelphia construction site.

  • May 30 – Police attack Florida A&M anti-segregation demonstrators with tear gas; arrest 257.

  • June 9 – Fannie Lou Hamer is among several SNCC workers badly beaten by police in the Winona, Mississippi, jail after their bus stops there.

  • June 11 – "The Stand in the Schoolhouse Door": Alabama Governor George Wallace stands in front of a schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama in an attempt to stop desegregation by the enrollment of two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. Wallace only stands aside after being confronted by federal marshals, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, and the Alabama National Guard. Later in life he apologizes for his opposition to racial integration then.

  • June 11 – President Kennedy makes his historic civil rights address, promising a bill to Congress the next week. About civil rights for "Negroes", in his speech he asks for "the kind of equality of treatment which we would want for ourselves."

  • June 12 – NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers is assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi. (His murderer is convicted in 1994.)

  • Summer – 80,000 blacks quickly register to vote in Mississippi by a test project to show their desire to participate.

  • June 19 – President Kennedy sends Congress (H. Doc. 124, 88th Cong., 1st session) his proposed Civil Rights Act. White leaders in business and philanthropy gather at the Carlyle Hotel to raise initial funds for the Council on United Civil Rights Leadership

  • August 28 – Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Northwest Baltimore, County, Maryland is desegregated.

  • August 28 – March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is held. King gives his I Have a Dream speech.

  • September 10 – Birmingham, Alabama City Schools are integrated by National Guardsmen under orders from President Kennedy.

  • September 15 – 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham kills four young girls. That same day, in response to the killings, James Bevel and Diane Nash begin the Alabama Project, which will later grow into the Selma Voting Rights Movement.

  • September 19 - Iota Phi Theta fraternity was founded at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University)

  • November 10 – Malcolm X delivers "Message to the Grass Roots" speech, calling for unity against the white power structure and criticizing the March on Washington.

  • November 22 – President Kennedy is assassinated. The new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, decides that accomplishing Kennedy's legislative agenda is his best strategy, which he pursues.






  • February 1 – Two Memphis sanitation workers are killed in the line of duty, exacerbating labor tensions.

  • February 8 – The Orangeburg Massacre occurs during university protest in South Carolina.

  • February 12 – First day of the (wildcatMemphis Sanitation Strike

  • March – While filming a prime time television special, Petula Clark touches Harry Belafonte's arm during a duet. Chrysler Corporation, the show's sponsor, insists the moment be deleted, but Clark stands firm, destroys all other takes of the song, and delivers the completed program to NBC with the touch intact. The show is broadcast on April 8, 1968.[64]

  • April 3 – King returns to Memphis; delivers "Mountaintop" speech.

  • April 4 – Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee.

  • April 4–8 and one on May 1968 – In response to the killing of Dr. King, over 150 cities experience rioting.

  • April 11 – Civil Rights Act of 1968 is signed. The Fair Housing Act is Title VIII of this Civil Rights Act – it bans discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing. The law is passed following a series of contentious open housing campaigns throughout the urban North. The most significant of these campaigns were the Chicago Open Housing Movement of 1966 and organized events in Milwaukee during 1967–68. In both cities, angry white mobs attacked nonviolent protesters.[65][66]

  • May 12 – Poor People's Campaign marches on Washington, DC.

  • June 6 – Senator Robert F. Kennedy, a Civil Rights advocate, is assassinated after winning the California presidential primary. His appeal to minorities helped him secure the victory.

  • September 17 – Diahann Carroll stars in the title role in Julia, as the first African-American actress to star in her own television series where she did not play a domestic worker.

  • October 3 – The play The Great White Hope opens; it runs for 546 performances and later becomes a film.

  • October – Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists to symbolize black power and unity after winning the gold and bronze medals, respectively, at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games.

  • November 22 – First interracial kiss on American television, between Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner on Star Trek.

  • In Powe v. Miles, a federal court holds that the portions of private colleges that are funded by public money are subject to the Civil Rights Act.

  • Shirley Chisholm becomes the first African-American woman elected to Congress.


  • January 8–18 – Student protesters at Brandeis Universitytake over Ford and Sydeman Halls, demanding creation of an Afro-American Department. This is approved by the University on April 24.

  • February 13 – National Guard with teargas and riot sticks crush a pro-black student demonstration at University of Wisconsin.

  • February 16 – After 3 days of clashes between police and Duke University students, the school agrees to establish a Black Studies program.

  • February 23 – UNC Food Worker Strike begins when workers abandon their positions in Lenoir Hall protesting racial injustice

  • March 20--The extraordinary Tommie J. Moore was born.

  • April 3–4 – National Guard called into Chicago, and Memphis placed on curfew on anniversary of MLK's assassination.

  • April 19 – Armed African-American students protesting discrimination take over Willard Straight Hall, the student union building at Cornell University. They end the seizure the following day after the University accedes to their demands, including an Afro-American studies program.

  • April 25–28 – Activist students takeover Merrill House at Colgate University demanding Afro-American studies programs.

  • May 8 – City College of New York closed following a two-week-long campus takeover demanding Afro-American and Puerto-Rican studies; riots among students break out when the school tries to reopen.

  • June – The second of two US federal appeals court decisions confirms members of the public hold legal standing to participate in broadcast station license hearings, and under the Fairness Doctrine finds the record of segregationist TV station WLBT beyond repair. The FCC is ordered to open proceedings for a new licensee.[67]

  • September 1–2 – Race rioting in Hartford, CT and Camden, NJ.

  • October 29 – The U.S. Supreme Court in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education orders immediate desegregation of public schools, signaling the end of the "all deliberate speed" doctrine established in Brown II.

  • December – Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, is shot and killed while asleep in bed during a police raid on his home.

  • United Citizens Party is formed in South Carolina when Democratic Party refuses to nominate African-American candidates.

  • W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research founded at Harvard University.

  • The Revised Philadelphia Plan is instituted by the Department of Labor.

  • The Congressional Black Caucus is formed.





  • January 25 – Shirley Chisholm becomes the first major-party African-American candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

  • November 16 – In Baton Rouge, two Southern Universitystudents are killed by white sheriff deputies during a school protest over lack of funding from the state. The university's Smith-Brown Memorial Union is named as a memorial to them.

  • November 16 – The infamous Tuskegee syphilis experimentends. Begun in 1932, the U.S. Public Health Service's 40-year experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis has been described as an experiment that "used human beings as laboratory animals in a long and inefficient study of how long it takes syphilis to kill someone."



  • July 25 – In Milliken v. Bradley, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5–4 decision holds that outlying districts could only be forced into a desegregation busing plan if there was a pattern of violation on their part. This decision reinforces the trend of white flight.

  • Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc Collective, the first "out" organization for lesbians, womanists and women of color formed in New York City.


  • April 30 – In the pilot episode of Starsky and HutchRichard Ward plays an African-American supervisor of white American employees for the first time on TV.










  • May 13 – Bombing of MOVE house in Philadelphia.







  • March 3 – Four white police officers are videotaped beating African-American Rodney King in Los Angeles.

  • October 15 – Senate confirms the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • November 21 – Civil Rights Act of 1991 enacted.

  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr. becomes Harvard University's Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.

  • 1992

  • April 29 – The 1992 Los Angeles riots erupt after the officers accused of beating Rodney King are acquitted.

  • September 12 – Mae Carol Jemison becomes the first African-American woman to travel in space when she goes into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

  • November 3 – Carol Moseley Braun becomes the first African-American woman to be elected to the United States Senate.

  • November 18 – Director Spike Lee's film Malcolm X is released. 

  • 1994

  • March 29 – Cornel West's text Race Matters is published.

  • 1995

  • June 30 – In Miller v. Johnson the U.S. Supreme Court rules that gerrymandering based on race is unconstitutional.

  • October 16 – Million Man March in Washington, D.C., co-initiated by Louis Farrakhan and James Bevel.

  • 1997

  • 16 May – President Bill Clinton apologizes to victims of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment

  • July 9 – Director Spike Lee releases his documentary 4 Little Girls, about the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

  • October 25 – Million Woman March in Philadelphia.

  • 1998

  • June 7 – James Byrd, Jr. is brutally murdered by white supremacists in Jasper, Texas. The scene is reminiscent of earlier lynchings. In response, Byrd's family create the James Byrd Foundation for Racial Healing.

  • October 23 – The film American History X is released, powerfully highlighting the problems of urban racism.

  • 1999

  • Franklin Raines becomes the first black CEO of a fortune 500 company.

  • February 4 – Amadou Diallo shooting by New York Police (precursor to Daniels, et al. v. the City of New York)

  • 2000

  • May 3 – Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist South Carolina private institution, ends its ban on interracial dating

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