During the American Revolution of 1776–1783, enslaved African Americans in the South escaped to British lines as they were promised freedom to fight with the British; additionally, many free blacks in the North fight with the colonists for the rebellion, and the Vermont Republic (a sovereign nation at the time) becomes the first future state to abolish slavery. Following the Revolution, numerous slaveholders in the Upper Southfree their slaves.
The importation of slaves became a felony in 1808.
John Punch, a Black indentured servant, ran away with three white servants, James, Gregory, and Victor. After the four were captured, Punch was sentenced to serve Virginian planter Hugh Gwyn for life. This made John Punch the first legally documented slave in colonial Virginia.
John Casor, a Black man who claimed to have completed his term of indenture, became the first legally recognized slave-for-life in a civil case in colonial Virginia. The court ruled with his master who said he had an indefinite servitude for life.
The Colony of Virginia, using the principle of partus sequitur ventrem, proclaimed that children in the colony were born into their mother's social status; therefore children born to enslaved mothers were classified as slaves, regardless of their father's ethnicity or status. This was contrary to English common law for English subjects, which held that children took their father's social status.
The Virginia Slave Codes of 1705 define as slaves all those servants brought into the colony who were not Christian in their original countries, as well as Native American slaves sold by other Indians to colonists.
Thomas Paine publishes one of the earliest and most influential anti-slavery essays in the U.S., called "African Slavery in America."
1776–1783 American Revolution
Thousands of enslaved African Americans in the South escape to British lines, as they were promised freedom to fight with the British. In South Carolina, 25,000 enslaved African Americans, one-quarter of those held, escape to the British or otherwise leave their plantations. After the war, many African Americans are evacuated with the British for England; more than 3,000 Black Loyalists are transported with other Loyalists to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where they are granted land. Still others go to Jamaica and the West Indies. An estimated 8–10,000 were evacuated from the colonies in these years as free people, about 50 percent of those slaves who defected to the British and about 80 percent of those who survived.
Many Black Patriots in the North fight with the rebelling colonists during the Revolutionary War.
Pennsylvania becomes the first U.S. state to abolish slavery.
Capt. Paul Cuffe and six other African American residents of Massachusetts successfully petition the state legislature for the right to vote, claiming "no taxation without representation."
In challenges by Elizabeth Freeman and Quock Walker, two independent county courts in Massachusetts found slavery illegal under state constitution and declared each to be free persons.
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed that Massachusetts state constitution had abolished slavery. It ruled that "the granting of rights and privileges [was] wholly incompatible and repugnant to" slavery, in an appeal case arising from the escape of former slave Quock Walker. When the British left New York and Charleston in 1783, they took the last of 5,500 Loyalists to the Caribbean, who brought along with them some 15,000 slaves.
Following the Revolution, numerous slaveholders in the Upper Southfree their slaves; the percentage of free blacks rises from less than one to 10 percent. By 1810, 75 percent of all blacks in Delaware are free, and 7.2 percent of blacks in Virginia are free.
March 14 – Eli Whitney is granted a patent on the cotton gin. This enables the cultivation and processing of short-staple cotton to be profitable in the uplands and interior areas of the Deep South; as this cotton can be cultivated in a wide area, the change dramatically increases the need for enslaved labor and leads to the development of King Cotton as the chief commodity crop. To satisfy labor demand, there is a forced migration of one million slaves from the Upper South and coast to the area in the antebellum period, mostly by the domestic slave trade.
The Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground is established in Richmond, VA. With estimated interments of upwards of 22,000, it is likely the largest burial ground for Free People of Color and the enslaved in the United States.
The First African Baptist Church had its beginnings in 1817 when John Mason Peck and the former enslaved John Berry Meachum began holding church services for African Americans in St. Louis. Meachum founded the First African Baptist Church in 1827. It was the first African-American church west of the Mississippi River. Although there were ordinances preventing blacks from assembling, the congregation grew from 14 people at its founding to 220 people by 1829. Two hundred of the parishioners were slaves, who could only travel to the church and attend services with the permission of their owners.
February – The first Institute of Higher Education for African Americans is founded. Founded as the African Institute in February 1837 and renamed the Institute of Coloured Youth (ICY) in April 1837 and now known as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.
August 22 - The last known slave ship to arrive to the U.S., the Clotilde, docks in secrecy at Mobile, Alabama.
April 12 – The American Civil War begins (secessions began in December 1860), and lasts until April 9, 1865. Tens of thousands of enslaved African Americans of all ages escaped to Union lines for freedom. Contraband camps were set up in some areas, where blacks started learning to read and write. Others traveled with the Union Army. By the end of the war, more than 180,000 African Americans, mostly from the South, fought with the Union Army and Navy as members of the US Colored Troops and sailors.
1863 Medical examination photo of Gordon showing his scourged back, widely distributed by Abolitionists to expose the brutality of slavery.
January 1 – The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect, changing the legal status, as recognized by the United States federal government, of 3 million slaves in the designated areas of the South from "slave" to "free."
July 18 – The Second Battle of Fort Wagner begins when the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an African-American military unit, led by white Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, attacked a Confederate fort at Morris Island, South Carolina. The attack on Fort Wagner by the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry failed to take the fort and Gould was killed in the battle. However, the fort was abandoned by the Confederates on September 7, 1863, after many could not stand the constant weeks of bombardment and the smell of dead Union black soldiers sickening them.
April 12 – The Battle of Fort Pillow, which results in controversy about whether a massacre of surrendered African-American troops was conducted or condoned.
Easter – The Colfax Massacre; more than 100 blacks in the Red River area of Louisiana are killed when attacked by white militia after defending Republicans in local office – continuing controversy from gubernatorial election.
The Coushatta Massacre transpires. Republican officeholders are run out of town and murdered by white militia before leaving the state – four of six were relatives of a Louisiana state senator, a northerner who had settled in the South, married into a local family and established a plantation. Five to twenty black witnesses are also killed.
Founding of paramilitary groups that act as the "military arm of the Democratic Party": the White League in Louisiana and the Red Shirts in Mississippi, and North and South Carolina. They terrorize blacks and Republicans, turning them out of office, killing some, disrupting rallies, and suppressing voting.
September – In New Orleans, continuing political violence erupts related to the still-contested gubernatorial election of 1872. Thousands of the White League armed militia march into New Orleans, then the seat of government, where they outnumber the integrated city police and black state militia forces. They defeat Republican forces and demand that Gov. Kellogg leave office. The Democratic candidate McEnery is installed and White Leaguers occupy the capitol, state house and arsenal. This was called the "Battle of Liberty Place". The White League and McEnery withdraw after three days in advance of federal troops arriving to reinforce the Republican state government.
varied – White Democrats regain power in many southern state legislatures and pass the first Jim Crow laws.
With the Compromise of 1877, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes withdraws federal troops from the South in exchange for being elected President of the United States, causing the collapse of the last three remaining Republican state governments. The compromise formally ends the Reconstruction Era.
Spring – Thousands of African Americans refuse to live under segregation in the South and migrate to Kansas. They become known as Exodusters.
During the 1880s, African Americans in the South reach a peak of numbers in being elected and holding local offices, even while white Democrats are working to assert control at state level.
Lewis Latimer invented the first long-lasting filament for light bulbs and installed his lighting system in New York City, Philadelphia, and Canada. Later, he became one of the 28 members of Thomas Edison's Pioneers.
A biracial populist coalition achieves power in Virginia (briefly). The legislature founds the first public college for African Americans, Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute, as well as the first mental hospital for African Americans, both near Petersburg, Virginia. The hospital was established in December 1869, at Howard's Grove Hospital, a former Confederate unit, but is moved to a new campus in 1882.
October 16 – In Civil Rights Cases, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Civil Rights Act of 1875 as unconstitutional.
Judy W. Reed, of Washington, D.C., and Sarah E. Goode, of Chicago, are the first African-American women inventors to receive patents. Signed with an "X", Reed's patent no. 305,474, granted September 23, 1884, is for a dough kneader and roller. Goode's patent for a cabinet bed, patent no. 322,177, is issued on July 14, 1885. Goode, the owner of a Chicago furniture store, invented a folding bed that could be formed into a desk when not in use.
October 3 – The State Normal School for Colored Students, which would become Florida A&M University, is founded.
Mississippi, with a white Democrat-dominated legislature, passes a new constitution that effectively disfranchises most blacks through voter registration and electoral requirements, e.g., poll taxes, residency tests and literacy tests. This shuts them out of the political process, including service on juries and in local offices.
By 1900 two-thirds of the farmers in the bottomlands of the Mississippi Delta are African Americans who cleared and bought land after the Civil War.
Ida B. Wells publishes her pamphlet Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.
Louisiana enacts the first statewide grandfather clause that provides exemption for illiterate whites to voter registration literacy test requirements.
In Williams v. Mississippi the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the voter registration and election provisions of Mississippi's constitution because they applied to all citizens. Effectively, however, they disenfranchise blacks and poor whites. The result is that other southern states copy these provisions in their new constitutions and amendments through 1908, disfranchising most African Americans and tens of thousands of poor whites until the 1960s.
November 10 – Coup d'état begins in Wilmington, North Carolina, resulting in considerable loss of life and property in the African-American community and the installation of a white supremacist Democratic Party regime.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
February 12 – In Chambers v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court frees three black men who were coerced into confessing to a murder.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 17 – SNCC workers help encourage and coordinate black activism in Albany, Georgia, culminating in the founding of the Albany Movement as a formal coalition.
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.
November 22 – Albany State College students Bertha Gober and Blanton Hall arrested after entering the white waiting room of the Albany Trailways station.
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.
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.
December 16 – Dr. King is arrested at an Albany, Georgia demonstration. He is charged with obstructing the sidewalk and parading without a permit.
December 18 – Albany truce, including a 60-day postponement of King's trial; King leaves town.
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.
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.
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 Guihard and Oxford resident Ray Gunter are killed.
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".
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.
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."
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.
Summer – Mississippi Freedom Summer – voter registration in the state. Create the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to elect an alternative slate of delegates for the national convention, as blacks are still officially disfranchised.
July 2 – Civil Rights Act of 1964 signed, banning discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex or national origin" in employment practices and public accommodations.
August – Congress passes the Economic Opportunity Act which, among other things, provides federal funds for legal representation of Native Americans in both civil and criminal suits. This allows the ACLU and the American Bar Association to represent Native Americans in cases that later win them additional civil rights.
August 6 – Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed by President Johnson. It eliminated literacy tests, poll tax, and other subjective voter tests that were widely responsible for the disfranchisement of African Americans in the Southern States and provided Federal oversight of voter registration in states and individual voting districts where such discriminatory tests were used.
September – Nichelle Nichols is cast as a female black officer on television's Star Trek. She briefly considers leaving the role, but is encouraged by Dr. King to continue as an example for their community.
June 13 – Thurgood Marshall is the first African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
July 23–27 – The Detroit riot erupts in Detroit, Michigan, for five days following a raid by the Detroit Police Department on an unlicensed club which celebrated the returning Vietnam Veteran hosted by mostly African Americans. More than 43 (33 were black and ten white) were killed, 467 injured, 7,231 arrested, and 2,509 stores looted or burned during the riot. It was one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in United States history, lasting five days and surpassing the violence and property destruction of Detroit's 1943 race riot.
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.
April 3 – King returns to Memphis; delivers "Mountaintop" speech.
April 4–8 and one in 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.
January 8–18 – Student protesters at Brandeis University take 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
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.
September 1–2 – Race rioting in Hartford, CT and Camden, NJ.
November 16 – In Baton Rouge, two Southern University students 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 experiment ends. 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."
May 8 – Nelson Rockefeller signs the Rockefeller Drug Laws for New York state with draconian indeterminate sentences for drug possession, as well as sale.
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 Hutch, Richard Ward plays an African-American supervisor of white American employees for the first time on TV.
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.
Franklin Raines becomes the first black CEO of a fortune 500 company.
July 30 – United States Congress apologizes for slavery and "Jim Crow".
August 28 – At the 2008 Democratic National Convention, in a stadium filled with supporters, Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
November 4 – Barack Obama elected 44th President of the United States of America, opening his victory speech with, "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."
July 19 – Shirley Sherrod first is pressured to resign from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and immediately thereafter receives its apology after she is inaccurately accused of being racist towards white Americans.
August 3 – Fair Sentencing Act reducing sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine to an 18:1 ratio.
January 14 – Michael Steele, the first African-American Chairman of the RNC lost his bid for re-election.
July 13 – George Zimmerman acquitted, provoking nationwide protests. The Black Lives Matter movement is created by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, in response to the ongoing racial profiling of and police brutality against young black men.
A 2022 Buffalo shooting occurs killing 10, with the shooter live streaming the attack on Twitch . The majority of victims are African American, with the shooter driving over 200km to reach the supermarket in which it occurred in.
^Slavery in Colonial Georgia. Original entry by Betty Wood, Girton College, Cambridge, England, 09/19/2002. Last edited by NGE Staff on 09/29/2020. www.google.com/amp/s/m.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/slavery-colonial-georgia%3famp. Retrieved March. 15, 2021.
^Ferenc M. Szasz, "The New York Slave Revolt of 1741: A Re-Examination," New York History (1967): 215–230. in JSTOR
^John K. Thornton, "African dimensions of the Stono rebellion," American Historical Review (1991): 1101–1113. in JSTOR
^Potter, Joan (2002). African American Firsts. Kensington. p. 288.
^Berry, Faith (2001). From Bondage to Liberation. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. p. 50. ISBN0-8264-1370-6.
^Rollins, Charlemae (1965). Famous American Negro Poets. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. pp. 15–16. ISBN0396051294.
^Kachun, Mitch (Summer 2009). "From Forgotten Founder to Indispensable Icon: Crispus Attucks, Black Citizenship, and Collective Memory". Journal of the Early Republic. 29 (2): 249–86. doi:10.1353/jer.0.0072. S2CID144216986.
^Kachun, Mitch (2017). First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN9780199910861.
^Phillis Wheatley: America's second Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers by Henry Louis Gates, Basic Civitas Books, 2003, p. 5.
^The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself: Electronic Edition.
^Wormley, G. Smith."Prudence Crandall", The Journal of Negro History Vol. 8, No. 1 January 1923.
^"Connecticut's "Black Law" (1833)". Citizens All (project). Yale University. Archived from the original on 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2012-03-19. Lacking no legal means to prevent Prudence Crandall from opening her school, Andrew Judson, a local politician, pushed legislation through the Connecticut Assembly outlawing the establishment of schools 'for the instruction of colored persons belonging to other states and countries.'
^Wolgemuth, Kathleen L. (April 1959). "Woodrow Wilson and Federal Segregation". The Journal of Negro History. Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, Inc. 44 (2): 158–173. doi:10.2307/2716036. JSTOR2716036. S2CID150080604.
^Blumenthal, Henry (January 1963). "Woodrow Wilson and the Race Question". The Journal of Negro History. Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, Inc. 48 (1): 1–21. doi:10.2307/2716642. JSTOR2716642. S2CID149874271.
^Potter, Joan (2002). African American Firsts. Kensington. p. 300.
^McGuire, Danielle L. (2010). At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance- A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power. Random House. pp. xv–xvii. ISBN978-0-307-26906-5.