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George Henry White Leaves Office

George Henry White (North Carolina Republican), the last black to serve in the House of Representatives in the 19th century, leaves office.


First Significant Black Protest of Twentieth Century

The Niagara Movement, led by W.E.B. DuBois and William M. Trotter, is the first significant black organized protest movement of the twentieth century in Buffalo, NY. It is an attempt by a small yet articulate group of radicals to challenge Booker T. Washington’s ideals of accommodation.


Biracial Activists Establish NAACP

A bi-racial group of activist establishes the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in NYC. The founders, Ida Wells-Barnett, W.E. B. Dubois, Henry Moscowitz, Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villard (a descendant of William Lloyd Garrison) and William English Walling, make a renewed call for the struggle for civil and political liberty. DuBois becomes editor of the organization’s publication, Crisis Magazine, which presents exposes on conditions and issues in the black community.


National Urban League Founded

Another bi-racial group of activist establishes the National Urban League to remediate the victimization and deplorable social and economic conditions faced by blacks.


Universal Negro Improvement Association Established

Marcus Garvey establishes the Universal Negro Improvement Association to help promote economic self-reliance among blacks, whose motto is ‘One God, One Aim, One Destiny’.


Birth of a Nation Sets Off Attacks on Black Community

The release of D.W. Griffith’s film, Birth of a Nation, which glorifies the Klan and demonizes blacks. The film also inflames race tensions and sets off white attacks on black communities in many areas throughout the United States.


Red Summer

The Red Summer. Twenty-six documented race riots occur, where black communities across the country are attacked. Hundreds of blacks are killed and even more are injured in these attacks.

Red Summer 1919


African Americans Shut Out of Jobs

A group of slaves at the Cassina Point Plantation of James Hopkinson in South Carolina.

As African Americans were shut out of jobs and opportunities during Jim Crow, and as more jobs became available in the north and Midwest, more than 2 million southern African Americans migrated after the First World War.


Oscar DePriest Begins Term

Oscar DePriest (Illinois Republican) begins term in House of Representatives. He is the last black to serve in the House until the election of William Dawson in 1943.


Thurgood Marshall Leads Defense Efforts

Thurgood Marshall heads the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) legal defense efforts and works tireless to end segregation.


Billie Holiday Sings Strange Fruit

Billie Holiday records “Strange Fruit,” a haunting song describing lynching. The song increases public recognition of lynching as racist terror.


President's Committee on Civil Rights

President Truman issues Executive Order 9808, establishing the President’s Committee on Civil Rights to propose measures to strengthen and protect the civil rights.

Truman Appoints Sadie Alexander to Committee

Truman appoints to the Committee leading black civil rights activist, Sadie Alexander, the first black women to earn a PhD and an early leader in the Philadelphia Urban League.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights

General Assembly of the United Nations adopts Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Brown vs Board of Education

Brown v. Board decision declares segregation in public schools illegal.

Military Desegregates

US military desegregate, by executive order.


Carolyn Bryan Donham Makes False Accusations

A white woman named Carolyn Bryant Donham accused 14-year-old lynching victim Emmett Till of making “verbal and physical advances”; but years later, she admitted she’d made the whole thing up.

Montgomery Bus Boycott Begins

The Montgomery Bus Boycott begins after Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on the bus. This boycott lasts 381 days and ends with the desegregation of the Montgomery, Alabama bus system on December 21, 1956. As a pastor of a Baptist church in Montgomery, Martin Luther King, Jr. leads this black bus boycott and becomes a national hero.


Southern Christian Leadership Conference Adopts Nonviolent Mass Action

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference establishes and adopts nonviolent mass action as its cornerstone strategy to gain civil rights and opportunities for blacks. Working initially in the South under the leadership of Martin Luther King, by the mid 1960’s King enlarges the organization’s focus to address racism in the North.


Letter from Birmingham Jail Inspires Civil Rights Movement

Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail inspires a growing national civil rights movement. In Birmingham, the goal is to end the system of segregation completely in every aspect of public life (stores, no separate bathrooms and drinking fountains, etc.) and in job discrimination.


White Man Bombs 16th Street Baptist Church

In Birmingham, a white man is seen placing a box containing a bomb under the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church, a black congregation. The explosion kills four black girls attending Sunday school. Twenty-three others people are also injured in the blast.

I Have a Dream Delivered on Washington Mall

Martin Luther King delivers his I Have a Dream Speech on the Washington Mall, which becomes an enduring symbol of King’s legacy and influence.

The Largest Cohort of African American Men Graduate Harvard

As Author Kent Garrett put it: “In the fall of 1959, Harvard recruited an unprecedented eighteen “Negro” boys as an early form of affirmative action. Four years later [in 1963] they would graduate as African Americans.”


Great Society Announced

President Johnson announces the “Great Society” with “abundance and liberty for all”, and declares a “War on Poverty.”

Civil Rights Act Authorized

Congress authorizes the Civil Rights Act, the most far-reaching legislation in U.S. history to ensure the right to vote, guarantee access to public accommodations, and the withdrawal of federal funds to any program administered in a discriminatory way.

Race Riots Leave Neighborhoods in Ruins

Beginning this year, growing frustrations in black communities over urban decay and lack of opportunities erupts into a wave of race riots through U.S. cities, leaving many black urban neighborhoods in ruins.

Civil Rights Act Signed into Law

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Bussing African American children to white schools in white neighborhoods was deemed constitutional.


Jim Crow Replaces Slavery

Slavery was gone but Jim Crow was alive.

Voting Rights Act Passed

Voting Rights Act is passed, authorizing direct federal intervention to enable blacks to vote.

Malcom X Assassinated

Malcolm X is assassinated in New York City.


Weaver Appointed

Robert C. Weaver is appointed Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He is the first black to hold a Cabinet position in U.S. history.

Brooke Serves in Senate

Edward Brooke (Massachusetts Republican) becomes the first black to serve in the Senate since Reconstruction.

Thurgood Marshall Appointed to Supreme Court

Thurgood Marshall becomes the first black appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Martin Luther King Assassinated

Martin Luther King is assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee.

1968 Civil Rights Act Authorized

Congress authorizes the 1968 Civil Rights Act, providing federal enforcement provisions for discrimination in housing.

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