Debra Newman Ham
1492. Blacks are among the first explorers to the New World. Pedro Alonzo Niño, identified by some scholars as a black man, arrives with Christopher Columbus.
1501. The Spanish throne officially approves the use of African slaves in the New World.
1502. Portugal brings its first shipload of African slaves to the Western Hemisphere, selling them in what is now Latin America.
1513. Spain authorizes the use of African slaves in Cuba. Thirty black men accompany Balboa when he discovers the Pacific Ocean.
1526. The first group of Africans to set foot on what is now the United States is brought by a Spanish explorer to South Carolina to erect a settlement. The African captives soon flee to the interior, however, and settle with Native Americans.
1538. Estevanico, a black explorer, leads an expedition from Mexico into what is now Arizona and New Mexico.
1562. Britain enters the slave trade when John Hawkins sells a large cargo of African slaves to Spanish planters.
1600. Historical records indicate that by the year 1600 over 900,000 slaves have been brought to Latin America. In the next century, 2,750,000 are added to that total. Slave revolts in the sixteenth century are reported in Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Panama, Cuba, and Mexico.
1618. The Gambian government grants monopolies to a group of companies established for the purpose of slave trading.
1619, August. Twenty African indentured servants arrive in Jamestown, Virginia, aboard a Dutch vessel. Most indentured servants are released after serving one term, usually seven years in duration, and are allowed to own property and participate in political affairs. The arrival of these indentured servants is the precursor of active slave trade in the English colonies.
1624. The Dutch, who had entered the slave trade in 1621 with the formation of the Dutch West Indies Company, import Africans to serve on Hudson Valley farms.
1629. African slaves are imported into Connecticut. Five years later, the first African slaves in Maryland and Massachusetts arrive. New Amsterdam’s first African slaves come ashore in 1637.
1630. Massachusetts enacts a law protecting slaves from abusive owners.
1640. The increasing use of sugar as a cash crop leads to a rapid rise in the African slave population in the West Indies although growth in mainland English colonies remains slow. The African slave population in Barbados, for example, grows from a few hundred in 1640 to 6,000 in 1645. In contrast, there are 300 slaves in Virginia in 1649 and 2,000 by 1671.
1640. Punitive fugitive laws applying to both indentured servants and slaves are enacted in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Virginia. The Virginia law, passed in 1642, penalizes violators 20 pounds of tobacco for each night of refuge granted to a fugitive slave. Slaves are branded after a second escape attempt.
1641. Massachusetts becomes the first colony to legalize slavery, adding a modification that forbids capture by
“unjust violence.” This provision was subsequently adopted by all of the New England colonies.
1643. The groundwork is laid for eighteenth and nineteenth century fugitive slave laws in the United States when an intercolonial agreement of the New England Confederation declares that mere certification by a magistrate is sufficient evidence to convict a runaway slave.
1651. Anthony Johnson, a black man, imports five servants and qualifies to receive a 200-acre land grant along the Puwgoteague River in North Hampton, Virginia. Others soon join Johnson and attempt to launch an independent African community. At its height, the settlement has 12 African homesteads with sizable holdings.
1662. The Virginia colony passes a law providing that the slave or free status of children be determined by the lineage of the mother.
1663. Maryland settlers pass a law stipulating that all imported Africans are to be given the status of slaves. Free white women who marry black slaves are also considered slaves during the lives of their spouses; children of such unions are also to be classified as slaves. In 1681, a law is passed stipulating that children born from a union of a white servant woman and an African are free citizens.
1670. Voting rights are denied to recently freed slaves and indentured servants in Virginia. All non-Christians imported to the territory “by shipping” are to be slaves for life. Slaves who enter Virginia by land route, however, are to serve until the age of 30 if they are children and for 12 years if they are adults when their period of servitude commences.
1672. A Virginia law is enacted providing for a bounty on the heads of Maroons—black fugitives who form
communities in the mountains, swamps, and forests of Southern colonies. Many members of Maroon communities attack towns and plantations.
1685. The French code noir is enacted in the French West Indies. The code requires religious instruction for African slaves, permits intermarriage, outlaws working of slaves on Sundays and holidays, but forbids emancipation of mulatto children who have reached the age of 21 if their mothers are still enslaved. The code is largely ignored by the French settlers, however.
1688. Mennonites in Germantown, Pennsylvania, sign an anti-slavery resolution, the first formal protest against slavery in the Western Hemisphere. In 1696, Quakers importing slaves are threatened with expulsion from the society.
1700. The population of black slaves in the English colonies is estimated at 28,000. Approximately 23,000 of these slaves reside in the South.
1705. The Virginia assembly declares that “no Negro, mulatto, or Indian shall presume to take upon him, act in or exercise any office, ecclesiastic, civil or military.” African Americans are forbidden to serve as witnesses in court cases and are condemned to lifelong servitude, unless they have been either Christians in their native land or free men in a Christian country.
1711. The colonial legislature, after receiving intense pressure from the Mennonite and Quaker communities, outlaws slavery in the Pennsylvania colony but is overruled by the British Crown.
1712, April 6. The Maiden Lane slave revolt in New York City claims the lives of nine whites and results in the execution of 21 slaves. Six others commit suicide.
1723. The colony of Virginia enacts laws to limit the rights of freed African Americans. Free African Americans are denied the right to vote and forbidden to carry weapons of any sort.
1739. Three South Carolina slave revolts occur, resulting in the deaths of 51 whites and many more slaves. One of the insurrections results in the death of 30 whites.
1740. The South Carolina colony passes a slave code which forbids slaves from raising livestock, provides that any animals owned by slaves be forfeited, and imposes
severe penalties on slaves who make “false appeals” to the governor on the grounds that they have been placed in bondage illegally.
1744. The colony of Virginia amends its 1705 law declaring that African Americans cannot serve as witnesses in court cases; it decides, instead, to admit “any free Negro, mulatto, or Indian being a Christian,” as a witness in a criminal or civil suit involving another African American, mulatto, or Indian.
1746. Slave poet Lucy Terry writes Bars Fight, a commemorative poem recreating the Deerfield (Massachusetts) Massacre. Terry, generally considered the first African American poet in America, later tries unsuccessfully to convince the board of trustees at Williams College to admit her son to the school.
1747. The South Carolina assembly commends slaves for demonstrating “great faithfulness and courage in repelling attacks of His Majesty’s enemies.” It then makes provisions for the utilization of African American recruits in the event of danger or emergency.
1749. Prohibitions on the importation of African slaves are approved in a Georgia law, which also attempts to protect slaves from cruel treatment and from being hired out.
1750. The slave population in the English colonies reaches 236,400, with over 206,000 of the total living south of Pennsylvania. Slaves comprise about 20 percent of the population in the colonies.
1752. George Washington acquires his estate at Mount Vernon, Virginia. Prior to Washington’s arrival, there are 18 slaves at Mount Vernon. This number eventually swells to 200. Records indicate that while Washington was concerned for the physical welfare of slaves, he also utilized their services on many occasions and did not advocate their freedom from servitude.
1754. A Quaker, John Woolman, publishes Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes, an exhortation to fellow members of the Society of Friends to consider emancipating their slaves on grounds of morality. Three years later, some Quakers take legal action against members who ignore this plea.
1760. Jupiter Hammon, an African American poet, publishes Salvation By Christ With Penitential Cries.
1767. Phillis Wheatley, a 14-year-old slave, writes A Poem by Phillis, A Negro Girl, On the Death of Reverend Whitefield. It is printed in 1770 by the University of Cambridge in New England.
1769. In the Virginia House of Burgesses, Thomas Jefferson unsuccessfully presses for a bill to emancipate African slaves.
1770. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Led by Anthony Benezet, the Quakers open a school for African Americans.
1773. Savannah, Georgia. George Liele and Andrew Bryan organize the first Baptist Church for African Americans in the state.
1774. The Continental Congress demands elimination of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and economic embargoes on all countries participating in it. Rhode Island enacts a law prohibiting slavery. However, this law does not apply to slaves brought into Rhode Island before 1774.
1775. Bunker Hill, Massachusetts. Peter Salem, Salem Poor, and other African Americans fight heroically during the Battle of Bunker Hill.
1775. A German publisher prints Johann Friedrich Blumenbach’s article refuting the theory that blacks are racially inferior; it is the first such theory ever in print. In On the Natural Variety of Mankind, Blumenbach asserts that the skulls and brains of African Americans are the same as those of Europeans. Blumenbach’s paper serves as a counter to the views of French author Voltaire, Scottish philosopher David Hume, and Swedish botanist Carl von Linné (Carolus Linnaeus) that African Americans are akin to apes.
1775. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The first abolitionist society in the United States is organized.
1775. Lord Dunmore, British governor of Virginia, offers freedom to all male slaves who join the loyalist forces. General George Washington, originally opposed to the enlistment of African Americans, is alarmed by the response to the Dunmore proclamation and orders recruiting officers to accept free African Americans for service.
1776. Trenton, New Jersey. Two African Americans, Prince Whipple and Oliver Cromwell, cross the Delaware with George Washington en route to an attack on the British and their Hessian mercenaries in Trenton, New Jersey.
1776. Long Island, New York. French general Marquis de Lafayette praises African American soldiers for successfully assisting Washington’s retreat to Long Island. African Americans also help assist Washington’s retreat at Trenton and Princeton.
1777. Vermont becomes the first state to abolish slavery.
1778. An African American battalion consisting of 300 former slaves is formed. They are compensated on a par with their white comrades-in-arms and promised freedom after the war. The battalion kills 1,000 Hessians and takes part in a battle at Ponts Bridge in New York.
1779. New York. Alexander Hamilton endorses the plan of South Carolina’s Henry Laurens to use slaves as soldiers in the South. “I have not the least doubt that the Negroes will make very excellent soldiers,” says Hamilton, “. . . .for their natural faculties are as good as ours.” Hamilton reminds the Continental Congress that the British will make use of African Americans if the Americans do not. In Hamilton’s words: “The best way to counteract the temptations they will hold out, will be to offer them ourselves.”
1780. The Pennsylvania assembly enacts a law providing for the gradual emancipation of slaves.
1782. Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia exhibits a curious mixture of perception and naivete with regard to African Americans. On the one hand, Jefferson believes that “the whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions,” On the other hand, he invents the fantasy that African American “griefs are transient.”
1783. Slavery in the Commonwealth is abolished by the Massachusetts Supreme Court; African Americans in taxable categories are granted suffrage.
1783. At the end of the American Revolution, some 10,000 African Americans have served in the continental armies—5,000 as regular soldiers.
1787. New York City, New York. The African Free School is opened by the New York Manumission Society.
1787. Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance which forbids the extension of slavery into this area.
1787. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. African American preachers Richard Allen and Absalom Jones organize the Free African Society.
1787. The Constitution of the United States is adopted. In it, importation of slaves cannot be prohibited before 1808, and five slaves are considered the equivalent of three free men in congressional apportionment.
1790. According to the first census, there are 757,000 African Americans in the United States, comprising
19 percent of the total population. Nine percent of African Americans are free.
1790. Dominican Republic. African Americans comprise seven-eighths of the island’s 529,000 inhabitants. Less than 3 percent are free. Mulattoes in French Santo Domingo own 10 percent of the slaves and land.
1790. Chicago, Illinois. Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, the son of a French mariner and an African slave mother, establishes the first permanent settlement at what is to become the city of Chicago.
1791. Washington, DC. On the recommendation of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Banneker—astronomer, inventor, mathematician, and gazetteer—is appointed to serve as a member of the commission charged with laying out plans for the city of Washington.
1791. Toussaint L’Ouverture, a self-educated Haitian slave, leads an unsuccessful uprising.
1791. Twenty-three slaves are hanged and three white sympathizers deported, following suppression of a Louisiana slave revolt.
1791. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Congress excludes African Americans and Indians from serving in peacetime militias.
1793. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Congress passes the Fugitive Slave Act, which makes it a criminal offense to harbor a slave or prevent his or her arrest.
1793. The state of Virginia passes a law that forbids free African Americans from entering the state.
1794. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The First African Church of St. Thomas, the first African American Episcopal Congregation in the United States, is dedicated. This same year, Richard Allen organizes the Bethel Church, an African American Methodist Episcopal Church.
1795. Several slave uprisings are suppressed with some 50 African Americans killed and executed.
1796. Tennessee. Tennessee is admitted to the Union as a slave state. The state’s constitution, however, does not deny suffrage to free African Americans.
1797. North Carolina. Congress refuses to accept the first recorded anti-slavery petition seeking redress against a North Carolina law which requires that slaves, although freed by their Quaker masters, be returned to the state and to their former condition.
1798. Washington, DC. Secretary of the Navy Stoddert forbids the deployment of African American sailors on man-of-war ships, in violation of a nonracial enlistment policy which had been operative in the U.S. Navy for many years. Nevertheless, a few African Americans slip past the ban including William Brown, who serves as a “powder monkey” on the Constellation and George Diggs, quartermaster of the schooner Experiment.
1799. Mount Vernon, Virginia. George Washington dies. His last will and testament declares: “It is my will and desire that all the slaves which I hold in my right, shall receive their freedom.”
1800. Richmond, Virginia. Gabriel Prosser, a slave insurrectionist, plans to lead thousands of slaves in an attack on Richmond. The plan fails and Prosser and 15 of his followers are arrested, tried, and hanged.
1800. Washington, DC. By a vote of 85–1, Congress rejects a petition by free African Americans in Philadelphia to gradually end slavery in the United States.
1803. South Carolina. The state legislature, which had been trying to limit importation of slaves, reopens the slave trade with Latin America and the West Indies.
1804. New Jersey. New Jersey passes an emancipation law. All states north of the Mason-Dixon Line now have laws forbidding slavery or providing for its gradual elimination.
1804. Ohio. The legislature enacts the first of a group of laws restricting the rights and movements of African Americans. Other western states soon follow suit. Illinois, Indiana, and Oregon later have anti-immigration clauses in their state constitutions.
1807. New Jersey. The state alters its 1776 constitution by limiting the vote to free white males.
1808, January 1. Congress bars the importation of any new slaves into the territory of the United States (effective January 1, 1808). The law is widely ignored.
1808. The 1807 ban on the importation of slaves is scheduled to take effect. There are one million slaves in the country.
1810. Louisiana. Courts declare in Adelle v. Beauregard that an African American is free unless it is otherwise proven.
1811. Delaware. The state forbids the immigration of free African Americans and declares that any native-born free African American who has lived outside of Delaware for more than six months will be deemed a nonresident.
1811. Louisiana. U.S. troops suppress a slave uprising in two parishes (counties) of Louisiana, some 35 miles from New Orleans. The revolt is led by Charles Deslands. Some 100 slaves are killed or executed.
1811. Westport, Connecticut. Paul Cuffe, son of African American and Indian parents and later a wealthy shipbuilder, sails with a small group of African Americans to Sierra Leone to underscore his advocacy of an African American return to Africa.
1812. Louisiana. Louisiana is admitted to the Union as a slave state. State law enables freed men to serve in the state militia.
1815. Fort Blount, Florida. African Americans and Creek Indians capture Fort Blount from Seminoles and use it as a haven for escaped slaves and a base for attacks on slave owners. An American army detachment eventually recaptures the fort.
1816. Baltimore, Maryland. Bethel Charity School is founded by Daniel Coker, an African American.
1816. Louisiana. State laws are enacted which prohibit slaves from testifying against whites and free blacks, except in cases involving slave uprisings.
1816. New Orleans, Louisiana. James P. Beckwourth, an African American and one of the great explorers of the nineteenth century, signs on as a scout for General William Henry Ashley’s Rocky Mountain expedition.
1816. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The African Methodist Episcopal Church is organized.
1816. Virginia. A slave rebellion led by George Boxley, a white man, fails.
1816. Washington, DC. The American Colonization Society, which seeks to transport free African Americans to Africa, is organized. Protest meetings are subsequently held by many free African Americans in opposition to the society’s efforts.
1817. Mississippi. Mississippi enters the union as a slave state. New York passes a gradual slavery abolition act.
1818. Connecticut. African Americans are denied the right to vote in Connecticut.
1818. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Free African Americans form the Pennsylvania Augustine Society “for the education of people of colour.”
1819. Alabama. Alabama enters the Union as a slave state, although its constitution provides the legislature with the power to abolish slavery and compensate slave owners. Other measures include jury trials for slaves accused of crimes above petty larceny and penalties for malicious killing of slaves.
1820. Liberia. The Mayflower of Liberia sails for the West African nation of Sierra Leone with 86 African Americans aboard.
1820, March 3. The Missouri Compromise is enacted. It provides for Missouri’s entry into the Union as a slave state and Maine’s entry as a free state. There are thus 12 slave and 12 free states in the United States. All territory north of latitude 36°30’ is declared free; all territory south of that line is open to slavery.
1821. New York City, New York. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is founded with James Varick as its first bishop.
1821. New York. The state constitutional convention alters the voting requirements of 1777 by establishing higher property and longer residence requirements for African Americans.
1822. Charleston, South Carolina. The Denmark Vesey conspiracy, one of the most elaborate slave revolts on record, fails. Vesey, a sailor and carpenter, and 36 collaborators are hanged, an additional 130 blacks and four whites are arrested, and stricter controls are imposed on free African Americans and slaves. Following this insurrection, slave states adopt laws to further restrict the mobility of African Americans.
1822. Rhode Island. Free African Americans are denied the right to vote in Rhode Island.
1822. Liberia. Liberia is founded by African Americans with the aid of the American Colonization Society.
1823. Mississippi. A law is enacted in Mississippi which prohibits the teaching of reading and writing to African Americans and meetings of more than five slaves or free African Americans.
1824. As the United States moves toward universal male suffrage, more states in the North and West as well as the South move to deny the vote to African Americans. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan require African Americans to post bond in guarantee of good behavior.
1825. Maryland. Josiah Henson leads a group of slaves to freedom in Kentucky. Henson later crosses the border into Ontario and becomes leader of a community of former slaves.
1826. Virginia. Thomas Jefferson dies. His will stipulates that only five of his many slaves should be freed. The remainder are bequeathed to his heirs.
1827, March 16. New York City, New York. Freedom’s Journal, the first African American newspaper, begins publication.
1827, July 4. New York. Slavery is abolished in New York.
1828. Bennington, Vermont. William Lloyd Garrison, a journalist and reformer, writes his first anti-slavery article in the National Philanthropist.
1829. Boston, Massachusetts. David Walker, a free African American, publishes the anti-slavery pamphlet An Appeal to the Colored People of the World, which is distributed throughout the country and arouses a furor among slaveholders.
1829. Cincinnati, Ohio. After a riot in which whites attack black residents in Cincinnati and loot and burn their homes, 1,200 blacks flee to Canada.
1829. Philadelphia. The first National Negro Convention convenes.
1830. North Carolina. Slavemasters, in compliance with a state law, transfer control of more than 400 slaves to Quaker residents of North Carolina. The Quakers retain theoretical ownership, but allow slaves virtual freedom until they can afford to transport them to free states.
1830. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The first National Negro Convention meets on September 20 at Philadelphia’s Bethel Church. The four-day convention launches a church-affiliated program to improve the social status of African Americans.
1830. In an attempt to counter the increasing strength of the abolitionist movement, a number of states pass laws restricting the education, legal safeguards, and citizenship rights of slaves and free African Americans. Many states require the deportation of free African Americans; slave codes are enforced more strictly and the number of slave emancipations decline.
1830. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 3,777 African American heads of families own slaves, mostly in Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
1831, January 1. Boston, Massachusetts. The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper, is founded by William Lloyd Garrison.
1831. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The first Annual Convention of the People of Color meets at Wesleyan Church, where delegates from five states resolve to study African American conditions, explore settlement possibilities in Canada, and raise money for an industrial college
in New Haven. Delegates oppose the American Colonization Society and recommend annual meetings.
1831, August. Southampton County, Virginia. Nat Turner leads the biggest slave rebellion in history. Some 60 whites are killed and the entire South is thrown into panic. Turner is captured on October 30 and hanged in Jerusalem, Virginia, 12 days later.
1831. Virginia. Thomas Dew, a legislator, proudly refers to Virginia as a “Negro-raising state” for the nation. Between 1830 and 1860, Virginia exports some 300,000 slaves, and South Carolina exports 179,000. The price of slaves increases sharply due to expanding territory in which slaves are permitted and a booming economy in products harvested and processed by slave labor.
1832. Boston, Massachusetts. The New England AntiSlavery Society is established by 12 whites at the African Baptist Church on Boston’s Beacon Hill.
1833. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Black and white abolitionists organize the American Anti-Slavery Society.
1834. South Carolina. South Carolina enacts a law prohibiting the teaching of African American children, either free or slave.
1835. North Carolina. North Carolina, the last Southern state to deny suffrage to African Americans, repeals a voting rights provision of the state constitution. The state also makes it illegal for whites to teach free blacks.
1835. Washington, DC. President Andrew Jackson seeks to restrict the mailing of abolitionist literature to the South.
1836. Washington, DC. The U.S. House of Representatives adopts the “gag rule” which prevents congressional action on anti-slavery resolutions or legislation.
1837. Alton, Illinois. Elijah P. Lovejoy, an abolitionist, is murdered by a mob in Alton after refusing to stop publishing anti-slavery material.
1837. Boston, Massachusetts. A series of abolitionist works are published including Reverend Hosea Eaton’s A Treatise on the Intellectual Character and Political Condition of the Colored People of the United States.
1837. Canada. African Americans are given the right to vote in Canada.
1839. Montauk, New York. The slaveship Amistad is brought into Montauk by a group of Africans who have revolted against their captors. The young African leader, Joseph Cinque, and his followers are defended before the U.S. Supreme Court by former President John Quincy Adams and awarded their freedom.
1839. Warsaw, New York. The first anti-slavery political organization, the Liberty Party, is founded. African American abolitionists Samuel R. Ward and Henry Highland Garnet are among its leading supporters. The party urges boycotts of Southern crops and products.
1839. Washington, DC. The U.S. State Department rejects an African American’s application for a passport on the grounds that African Americans are not citizens.
1840. Massachusetts. Massachusetts repeals a law forbidding intermarriage between whites and blacks, mulattoes, or Indians.
1840. New York. These states institute a law advocating jury trials for fugitive slaves.
1841. Massachusetts. Frederick Douglass begins his career as a lecturer with the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.
1841. Throughout the country, increasingly restrictive segregation statutes are enacted. The New York state legislature grants school districts the right to segregate their educational facilities. South Carolina forbids white and black mill hands from looking out the same window. Whites and blacks in Atlanta are required to swear on different Bibles in court.
1841. Hampton, Virginia. Slaves aboard the vessel Creole revolt en route from Hampton, Virginia, to New Orleans. The slaves overpower the crew and sail the ship to the Bahamas, where they are granted asylum and freedom.
1842. Boston, Massachusetts. The capture of George Latimer, an escaped slave, precipitates the first of several famous fugitive slave cases straining North-South relations. Latimer is later purchased from his master by Boston abolitionists.
1842. Rhode Island. African Americans are granted the right to vote in Rhode Island.
1842. Washington, DC. In the case Prigg v. Pennsylvania, the U.S. Supreme Court finds a Pennsylvania anti-kidnapping law unconstitutional, claiming that the authority to regulate the recapture of fugitive slaves was an exclusive power of Congress. The case arises when Edward Prigg is convicted of kidnapping for his recapture of an escaped slave.
1843. Buffalo, New York. Henry Highland Garnet calls for a slave revolt and general strike while addressing the National Convention of Colored Men. Garnet, Samuel R. Ward, and Charles Ray participate in the Liberty Party convention, becoming the first African Americans to take part in a national political gathering.
1843. Massachusetts. The Massachusetts and Vermont state legislatures defy the Fugitive Slave Act and forbid state officials from imprisoning or assisting federal authorities in the recapture of escaped slaves.
1843. Washington, DC. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty, in which Britain and the United States agree to prevent slave ships from reaching the African coast in order to suppress the slave trade there, is approved. No agreement is reached, however, to restrict slave trade within the Western Hemisphere.
1845. Washington, DC. The U.S. Congress overturns the gag rule of 1836. Texas is admitted to the Union as a slave state.
1847. New York. The plan of abolitionist Gerritt Smith to parcel up thousands of acres of his land in New York fails to attract prospective African American farmers. Lack of capital among African Americans and the infertility of the land doom the project.
1847. Rochester, New York. Frederick Douglass publishes the first issue of his abolitionist newspaper The North Star.
1847. St. Louis, Missouri. Dred Scott files suit for his freedom in the Circuit Court of St. Louis.
1848. Buffalo, New York. The convention of the Free Soil Party is attended by a number of African American abolitionists.
1848. Virginia. Postmasters are forced to inform police of the arrival of pro-abolition literature and turn it over to authorities for burning.
1849. Maryland. Harriet Tubman, soon to be a conductor on the Underground Railroad, escapes from slavery. Tubman later returns to the South no less than 19 times to help transport more than 300 slaves to freedom. In the same year, the Maryland legislature enacts laws to override restrictions on the importation of slaves.
1849. Maryland. The Maryland Supreme Court establishes the “separate but equal” doctrine in response to a suit brought by Benjamin Roberts to have his daughter admitted to a white school.
1850. New York. Samuel R. Ward becomes president of the American League of Colored Laborers, a union of skilled African American workers who train African American craftsmen and encourage African American-owned business.
1850. Washington, DC. The Compromise of 1850, also known as Clay’s Compromise, is enacted, strengthening the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act. Federal officers are now offered a fee for the slaves they apprehend. California is admitted to the union as a free state.
1851. Virginia. New laws require freed slaves to leave Virginia within a year or be enslaved again.
1852. Akron, Ohio. Sojourner Truth addresses the National Women’s Suffrage Convention.
1853. London. William Wells Brown publishes Clotel, Or, The President’s Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States, the first published African American novel.
1853. Oxford, Pennsylvania. Lincoln University, the first African American college, is founded as Ashmum Institute.
1854. Boston, Massachusetts. Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave, is arrested and escorted through the streets of
Boston by U.S. troops prior to being returned to his master. His master refuses an offer of $1,200 from Boston abolitionists attempting to purchase his freedom.
1854. The New England Emigration Society is founded to help settle former slaves in Kansas.
1854. Under the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the territories of Kansas and Nebraska are admitted to the Union without slavery restrictions, in direct contradiction to the provisions of the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
1855. Maine and Massachusetts. The slavery issue is further polarized by enactment in these states of laws forbidding state officials from aiding the federal government in enforcement of the fugitive slave laws. The Massachusetts legislature abolishes school segregation and integration proceeds without incident.
1855. New York. The Liberty Party nominates Frederick Douglass for secretary of the U.S. State Department.
1856. Kansas. Pro-slavery forces sack the town of Lawrence, noted for its abolitionist, free-soil sentiment.
1857. Maine. Maine, in defiance of the fugitive slave laws, grants freedom and citizenship to people of African descent.
1857, March 6. Washington, DC. In the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 6–3 vote, opens federal territory to slavery, denies citizenship rights to African Americans, and decrees that slaves do not become free when taken into free territory. The Dred Scott decision is followed by a ruling that African Americans are not entitled to land grants.
1858. Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Southern Commercial Convention calls for reestablishment of the slave
trade, despite opposition from Tennessee and Florida delegations.
1859. Baltimore, Maryland. Businessmen attending a slaveholders convention complain that free African American laborers and entrepreneurs monopolize some service industries. However, a resolution to expel free African Americans from the state fails.
1859, October 16. Harpers Ferry, West Virgina. John Brown and his followers seize the U.S. Armory. Two African Americans are killed, two are captured, one escapes. Brown is captured and hanged at Charles Town, West Virginia.
1859. Washington, DC. In the case of Ableman v. Booth, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The case arises when Sherman Booth rescues a fugitive slave from a Wisconsin jail and is charged by federal marshals with violating federal law.
1860. As the Civil War approaches, the United States is sharply divided between pro- and anti-slavery forces. In Virginia, a law stipulates that free African Americans can be sold into slavery for committing imprisonable offenses. Maryland forbids emancipation of slaves. President James Buchanan advocates a constitutional amendment confirming the Fugitive Slave Acts. The Democratic party platform supports the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision. The Republican platform opposes the expansion of slavery into the western territories, and Abraham Lincoln, still a moderate on the subject of abolition, is elected president. On December 17, South Carolina secedes from the Union.
1861. Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Confederate forces attack Fort Sumter, South Carolina, marking the beginning of Civil War. Jefferson Davis is elected president of the Confederate States of America and defends slavery as necessary to “self-preservation.” The Confederates conscript slaves for military support jobs. Some Confederate states use free African Americans in their armed forces.
1861. Washington, DC. The secretary of the U.S. Navy solicits enlistment of African Americans into the Union Army, but most African American offers to help militarily are rejected. Federal policy toward liberated slaves is erratic, depending mostly on the viewpoint of individual commanders. Lincoln moves warily, counter-manding General Freemont’s order that slaves of masters who fight against the Union are to be “declared free men.”
1862. New York. The National Freedmen’s Relief Association, one of many groups dedicated to assist slaves in making the transition to freedom, is formed. Groups in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Chicago are eventually consolidated as the American Freedmen’s Aid Commission.
1862. Washington, DC. The U.S. Congress authorizes the enlistment of African Americans for military service in the Union Army.
1862. Washington, DC. President Abraham Lincoln proposes a plan for the gradual, compensated emancipation of slaves. Included is a provision to subsidize emigration to Haiti or Liberia. Lincoln’s cautious policies are clarified in a letter to Horace Greeley in which he states his paramount objective as saving the Union “not either to save or destroy slavery.” However, Lincoln does sign bills abolishing slavery in the territories and freeing slaves of masters disloyal to the United States. Military commanders are forbidden from returning fugitive slaves to owners and, in September, Lincoln issues an ultimatum giving hostile areas until January 1 to cease fighting or lose their slaves.
1863. Cow Island, Haiti. Lincoln sends a ship to bring back 500 African American settlers after a colonization attempt in Haiti fails.
1863. New York. In anti-draft riots, 1200 people, mostly African Americans, are killed. The riot is spurred in part by the provision that exemption from military service can be bought for $300, a provision bitterly resented by poor white immigrants who vent their frustrations on blacks.
1863, January 1. Washington, DC. Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring freedom for all slaves in rebellious areas.
1864. Louisiana. The Louisiana legislature, elected under auspices of occupying Union forces, votes to abolish slavery. However, it denies suffrage to African Americans.
1864. Virginia. Fourteen African American soldiers are awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lincoln.
1865. Montgomery, Alabama. Jefferson Davis authorizes the enlistment of African Americans into the Confederate Army. However, Davis stipulates that the number of African American troops cannot exceed 25 percent of the able-bodied slave population.
1865. Appomattox, Virginia. The Confederacy surrenders. Of the 179,000 African Americans who served in the Union Army, 3,000 were killed in battle, 26,000 died from disease, and 14,700 deserted. African Americans represented nine to ten percent of the Union’s armed forces.
1865. Tennessee. The Ku Klux Klan is formed with the purpose of reasserting white supremacy in the South.
1865. All-white legislatures in many states enact black codes. These codes impose heavy penalties for “vagrancy,” “insulting gestures,” “curfew violations,” and “seditious speeches.” South Carolina requires African Americans entering the state to post a $1,000 bond in guarantee of good behavior and entitles employers to whip African American employees.
1865. Wisconsin. Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Minnesota deny suffrage to African Americans.
1865. Washington, DC. Abraham Lincoln is assassinated. The new president, Andrew Johnson, calls for ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, but opposes African American suffrage. The Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude in all of the United States, is ratified December 16, 1865.
1865, December 6. Washington, DC. Congress establishes the Freedmen’s Bureau and passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution which abolishes slavery.
1866. Memphis, Tennessee. In a race riot in Memphis, 48 blacks and 2 white sympathizers are killed. Also, 35 blacks are killed in a riot in New Orleans.
1866. Washington, DC. Congress passes civil rights legislation despite President Johnson’s veto. The act is
intended to nullify the black codes. In the District of Columbia, a referendum is held on African American suffrage. Over 6,500 vote against extension of the franchise to African Americans; only 35 favor it. The Fourteenth Amendment passes the House and Senate despite opposition from Johnson.
1867. Iowa. Iowa and the Dakota Territory grant suffrage to African Americans.
1868. Hampton, Virginia. Samuel Chapman Armstrong, a former Union officer, founds Hampton Institute.
1868. Nine states grant suffrage to African Americans, but two deny it. The Republican party platform omits demand for African American suffrage in Northern states.
1868. Many states are readmitted to the Union. The Alabama legislature votes to racially segregate all state schools.
1868. Louisiana. Oscar Dunn, a former slave and captain in the Union Army, is elected lieutenant governor of Louisiana.
1868. South Carolina. The South Carolina House is the first state legislature to have a majority of African Americans. Blacks outnumber whites 87 to 40 in the South Carolina legislature, but whites maintain a majority in the state Senate.
1868. Washington, DC. The Fourteenth Amendment is ratified, establishing the concept of “equal protection” for all citizens under the U.S. Constitution. President Johnson’s veto of the bill granting vote to African Americans in the District of Columbia is overridden by Congress.
1869. Washington, DC. The Colored National Labor Union is organized and advocates purchase and distribution of land.
1870. Washington, DC. Recruitment of African Americans for the U.S. Cavalry intensifies. By 1890, 14 African American cavalrymen had received Medals of Honor for bravery in campaigns in the West.
1870. Washington, DC. The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing all citizens the right to vote, is ratified.
1871. Washington, DC. Congress enacts the Ku Klux Klan Act to enforce the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.
1874. Washington, DC. Reverend Patrick F. Healy is named president of Georgetown, the oldest Catholic university in the United States.
1875. Kentucky. Oliver Lewis, an African American jockey, rides the horse Aristides to victory in the first Kentucky Derby.
1875. Washington, DC. Congress passes civil rights legislation prohibiting discrimination in such public accommodations as hotels, theaters, and amusement parks.
1876. Hamburg, South Carolina. Federal troops are sent by President Ulysses S. Grant to restore order after five African Americans are killed.
1876. Washington, DC. In United States v. Cruikshank, the Supreme Court declares that the Fourteenth Amendment provides African Americans with equal protection under the law but does not add anything “to the rights which one citizen has under the Constitution against another.” The Court rules that “the right of suffrage is not a necessary attribute of national citizenship.”
1878. Washington, DC. In the case Hall v. DeCuir, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that states cannot prohibit segregation on public transportation.
1878. Washington, DC. The U.S. attorney general reveals widespread intimidation of African Americans attempting to vote and stuffing of ballot boxes in several Southern states.
1879. Frustrated by poverty and discrimination, large numbers of African Americans start to emigrate north and west. A leader of the emigration movement is Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, a former slave who had earlier escaped to Canada and favors separate African American communities. Emigration is vigorously opposed by many whites, some of whom prevent ships from transporting blacks on the Mississippi River.
1879. Washington, DC. Upon hearing the case of Strauder v. West Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Fourteenth Amendment ensures blacks all rights that, under law, are enjoyed by whites. In a separate case, the Court rules that one of the purposes of both the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments is to raise the condition of blacks to one of perfect equality with whites.
1881. Tennessee passes a “Jim Crow” railroad law which sets a trend soon taken up by Florida (1887), Mississippi (1888), Texas (1889), Louisiana (1890), and a host of other Southern and border states.
1881. Tuskegee, Alabama. Booker T. Washington opens Tuskegee Institute with a $2,000 appropriation from the Alabama legislature.
1883. Washington, DC. Upon hearing a set of cases challenging the Civil Rights Act of 1875, the U.S. Supreme Court declares the act unconstitutional.
1884. New York. The first issue of the New York Age is published by T. Thomas Fortune.
1884. Washington, DC. Former Reconstruction Representative John Roy Lynch is elected temporary chairman of the Republican convention—the first African American to preside over a national political gathering.
1884. Memphis, Tennessee. Fiery journalist Ida Wells-Barnett is successful in her suit against the Chesapeake, Ohio, and Southwestern Railroad Company for racial segregation on a trip from Memphis to Woodstock. The Tennessee Supreme Court reverses the decision on April 5, 1887.
1888. Richmond, Virginia. Two African American banks are founded—the Savings Bank of the Grand Fountain United Order of True Reformers in Virginia and the Capital Savings Bank in Washington, DC.
1889. Washington, DC. Frederick Douglass is appointed U.S. Minister to Haiti.
1890. Mississippi. The Mississippi constitutional convention begins the systematic exclusion of African Americans from the political arena by adopting literacy and other complex “understanding” tests as prerequisites to voting. Seven other Southern states follow suit.
1890. Washington, DC. In the In re Green decision, the U.S. Supreme Court sanctions control of elections by state officials, thus weakening federal protection for Southern black voters. In the case Louisville, New Orleans and Texas Railway v. Mississippi, the Court permits states to segregate public transportation facilities.
1891. Chicago, Illinois. Daniel Hale Williams, physician and surgeon, founds Provident Hospital with the first training school for African American nurses in the United States.
1895. Atlanta, Georgia. Booker T. Washington delivers his famous “Atlanta Compromise” speech at the Cotton States International Exposition.
1896. Cambridge, Massachusetts. W. E. B. Du Bois publishes Suppression of the African Slave Trade, the first of some 20 annual sociological studies of African Americans in the United States.
1896. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision upholds the doctrine of “separate but equal,” paving the way for segregation of African Americans in all aspects of life.
1898. Louisiana. The addition of a “grandfather clause” to the state constitution enables poor whites to qualify for the franchise while curtailing black voter registration. In 1896, there were over 130,000 African American voters on the Louisiana rolls. Four years later, that number has been reduced to roughly 5,000.
1898. Santiago, Cuba. Four African American regiments in the U.S. Army compile an outstanding combat record in and around Santiago during the Spanish-American War. Five African Americans receive Medals of Honor. At the close of the war, over 100 African Americans are promoted to officer status.
1900. Boston, Massachusetts. Booker T. Washington organizes the National Negro Business League.
1900. London, England. W. E. B. Du Bois attends the conference of the African and New World Intellectuals, where he delivers an address incorporating his famous dictum: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” Du Bois also attends the first Pan-African Congress, an international body of concerned African nations protesting Western imperialism and promoting the concept of self-government among colonized peoples.
1902. Richmond, Virginia. Virginia joins other Southern states in adopting the “grandfather clause” as a means of denying African Americans access to the polls.
1903. Georgia. Whites attack blacks in riots, which are spurred by charges that blacks have murdered whites.
1903. Washington, DC. Upon hearing the case Giles v. Harris, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that it cannot remedy discrimination in voter registration.
1904. Atlanta, Georgia. Financier Andrew Carnegie brings together a group of prominent African American leaders, including Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois, who discuss “the interests of the Negro race.” The personal and ideological differences between Washington and Du Bois are evident at the meeting, though there is agreement that the group should press for “absolute civil, political, and public equality.” The group shows little fire in advancing familiar proposals for African American self-help.
1905. Fort Erie, New York. Twenty-nine militant African American intellectuals from 14 states organize the Niagara Movement, a forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
1906. Atlanta, Georgia. An extended riot, in which respected African American citizens are killed, brings the city to a standstill for several days. After the riot, interracial groups are formed which attempt to improve conditions for African Americans. Despite the efforts of these groups, many African Americans decide to leave Georgia.
1906. Brownsville, Texas. Several African American soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division are involved in a riot with Brownsville police and merchants. Following the incident, President Theodore Roosevelt dishonorably discharges three companies of African American troops. These dishonorable discharges are finally reversed by the U.S. Army in 1972. The lone survivor from these companies is awarded $25,000 by the U.S. Army in 1973.
1907. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the right of railroads to segregate passengers traveling between states, even when this runs counter to the laws of states in which the train is traveling.
1908. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case Berea College v. Kentucky, upholds a state statute requiring segregation in private institutions.
1909. New York City, New York. The NAACP is founded in New York. The signers of the original charter of incorporation include Jane Addams, John Dewey, W. E. B. Du Bois, William Dean Howells, and Lincoln Steffens. Ida Wells-Barnett is placed on the executive committee.
1910. On separate lecture tours of Great Britain, W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington paint contrasting pictures of the African American condition in the United States. Washington tells the British that blacks are making progress; Du Bois underscores injustices and accuses Washington of acquiescing to powerful white interests.
1910. New York City, New York. The first edition of Crisis magazine, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois, is published. Only 1,000 copies are in print, but before the end of the decade circulation of the magazine increases one hundred-fold.
1910. New York City, New York. The National Urban League is founded. The new organization stresses employment and industrial opportunities for African Americans. Eugene Kinckle Jones serves as the first executive secretary.
1911. Jamaica. Marcus Garvey forms the Universal Negro Improvement Association.
1913. Washington, DC. President Woodrow Wilson refuses to appoint a National Race Commission to study the social and economic status of African Americans.
1915. Spurred by boll weevil devastation of cotton crops, the great migration of African Americans to the North begins. Carter G. Woodson establishes the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.
1915. New York City, New York. The NAACP establishes the Spingarn Medal to recognize annually “the highest achievement of an American Negro.”
1915. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court in Guinn v. United States declares the Oklahoma “grandfather clause” unconstitutional.
1917. East St. Louis, Illinois. A riot erupts after African Americans are hired at a local factory. Forty African Americans are killed.
1917, July 28. New York City, New York. Over 10,000 African Americans parade down Fifth Avenue in New York, New York, to protest lynchings and the East St. Louis riot. Marchers in the Silent Protest Parade include W. E. B. Du Bois and James Weldon Johnson. Women and children protesters dress in white and men wear black arm bands.
1917. The United States enters World War I. Joel Spin-garn presses the War Department to establish an officer training camp for African Americans. Spingarn’s proposal alienates many of his NAACP colleagues who feel that such a camp would only perpetuate segregation and validate theories of African American inferiority. Others concede that the move is prudent, since it is the only way for African American officers to be trained. The NAACP ultimately approves of separate training camps. In October, over 600 African Americans are commissioned officers, and 700,000 African Americans register for the draft.
1917. Washington, DC. In the case of Buchanan v. Warley, the U.S. Supreme Court declares that a Louisville “block” segregation ordinance is unconstitutional.
1918. France. Two African American infantry battalions are awarded the Croix de Guerre and two African American officers win the French Legion of Honor. African Americans are in the forefront of fighting from 1917 until the defeat of Germany in 1918.
1919. Membership in the NAACP approaches 100,000 despite attempts in some areas to make it illegal.
1919. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court rules in the case Strauder v. West Virginia that African Americans should be admitted to juries.
1920. New York City, New York. James Weldon Johnson becomes the first African American secretary of the NAACP and campaigns for the withdrawal of U.S. troops occupying Haiti.
1921. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Twenty-one blacks and ten whites are killed in a riot.
1922. Washington, DC. Republicans in the Senate vote to abandon the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, which imposed severe penalties and fines on “any state or municipal officer convicted of negligence in affording protection to individuals in custody who are attacked by a mob bent on lynching, torture, or physical intimidation.” The bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives, had also provided for compensation to the families of victims.
1923. New York City, New York. Marcus Garvey is sentenced to a five-year term for mail fraud.
1924. Washington, DC. Congress passes the Immigration Act which excludes people of African descent from entering the country.
1924. Washington, DC. New York Representative Emanuel Cellar introduces legislation to provide for the formation of a blue-ribbon panel to study racial issues. The idea is met with disdain from the African American press, particularly the Chicago Defender, which editorializes: “We have been commissioned to death. . . . We have too many studies and reports already.” The Defender asserts that African Americans need only to look after their own interests through the creation of a strong party vehicle and potent political leadership in the halls of Congress.
1925. A. Philip Randolph founds the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
1926. New York City, New York. Controversy rages among the African American intelligentsia after publication of Nigger Heaven by white writer Carl van Vechten.
The book glamorizes the free-wheeling style of Harlem life amid the general contention that African Americans are less ashamed of sex and more morally honest than whites. W. E. B. Du Bois finds the assumptions deplorable; James Weldon Johnson, on the other hand, believes the book is neither scandalous nor insulting.
1926. New York City, New York. Langston Hughes, writing in The Nation magazine, urges black artists to write from their experience and to stop imitating white writers.
1926. Washington, DC. Negro History Week is introduced by Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.
1926. Washington, DC. President Coolidge tells Congress that the country must provide “for the amelioration of race prejudice and the extension to all of the elements of equal opportunity and equal protection under the laws, which are guaranteed by the Constitution.” Twenty-three African Americans are reported lynched during 1926.
1927. Atlanta, Georgia. Marcus Garvey is released from prison and deported to the British West Indies.
1927. Chicago, Illinois. The National Urban League organizes a boycott of stores that do not hire African Americans. In 1929, boycotts are started in several other Midwest cities.
1927. Washington, DC. In the case of Nixon v. Herndon, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a Texas law which bars African Americans from voting in party primaries. Texas goes on to enact a law allowing local committees to determine voter qualifications.
1928. Illinois. Oscar DePriest, a Republican, is elected as the first African American Representative from a Northern state.
1930. Detroit, Michigan. W. D. Fard founds the Temple of Islam, later to become the Nation of Islam.
1930. Washington, DC. A NAACP campaign helps prevent confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee John H. Parker, a one-time, self-admitted opponent of the franchise for African Americans. The NAACP also helps unseat three of the senators who voted for him in later congressional elections.
1931. Alabama. The first trial of the Scottsboro Boys results in a battle between the NAACP and the International Labor Defense, a Communist-controlled group, for the right to represent the young defendants who are charged with rape. The case, which becomes a worldwide cause celebre and important propaganda weapon for Communists, drags on for 20 years despite the recanting of a charge by one of the two plaintiffs and medical testimony that rape was not committed.
1932. Washington, DC. Following the Supreme Court’s 1927 ruling in Nixon v. Herndon the state of Texas passes a statute authorizing the state Democratic party to set up its own rules regarding primary elections. As a result, the state of Texas adopts a resolution that denies African Americans the right to vote in Democratic Party primaries. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling in rules that such legislation violates provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.
1934. Washington, DC. A bill that prohibits lynching fails, as President Roosevelt refuses to support it.
1935. St. Louis, Missouri. The NAACP bitterly criticizes President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his failure to present or support civil rights legislation.
1935. Washington, DC. In the case of Grovey v. Townsend, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds a Texas law that prevents African Americans from voting in the Texas Democratic primary. The decision is a setback to the NAACP, which has waged several effective legal battles to equalize the ballot potential of the African American voter.
1936. Washington, DC. In the case of Gibbs v. Montgomery County, the U.S. Supreme Court requires Maryland University to admit an African American student, Donald Murray, to its graduate law school.
1937. NewYorkCity,NewYork. Richard Wright becomes editor of Challenge, changes the title to New Challenge, and urges African Americans to write with greater “social realism.”
1937. Pennsylvania. A new Pennsylvania state law denies many state services to unions discriminating against African Americans.
1937. Spain. Between 60 to 80 of the 3,200 Americans who fight for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War are African American. Oliver Law, an African American from Chicago, commands the Lincoln Battalion.
1938. New York City, New York. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and other black leaders convince white merchants in Harlem to hire blacks and to promise equal promotion opportunities.
1938. Pennsylvania. Crystal Bird Fauset of Philadelphia, the first African American woman state legislator, is elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
1939. Miami, Florida. Intimidation and cross-burning by the Ku Klux Klan in the black ghetto of Miami fail to discourage over 1,000 of the city’s registered African American voters from appearing at the polls. The Klan parades with effigies of African Americans who will allegedly be slain for daring to vote.
1939. New York City, New York. Jane Bolin is appointed Judge of the Court of Domestic Relations in New York, New York, by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, becoming the first African American woman judge in the United States.
1940. New York. In a mass meeting, West Indians oppose the transfer of West Indian islands to the United States.
1940. Eighty thousand African Americans vote in eight Southern states. Five percent of voting-age African Americans are registered.
1940. The 1940 census places life expectancy for blacks at 51 years, compared with 62 years for whites. Nearly one-fourth of blacks live in the North and West.
1940. Virginia. The Virginia legislature chooses “Carry Me Back to Ole Virginia,” written by African American composer James A. Bland, as the official state song.
1940. Washington, DC. Benjamin O. Davis Sr. is appointed as the first African American general in the history of the U.S. armed forces. Responding to NAACP pressure, President Franklin Roosevelt announces that African American strength in the armed forces will be proportionate to African American population totals. Several branches of the military service and several occupational specialties are to be opened to African Americans. However, Roosevelt rules out troop integration because it will be “destructive to morale and detrimental to . . . preparation for national defense.” At the start of Selective Service, less than 5,000 of 230,000 men in the U.S. Army are African American and there are only two African American combat officers. Approximately 888,000 African American men and 4,000 African American women are to serve in the armed forces during World War II. African Americans are mostly confined to service units.
1940. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that black teachers cannot be denied wage parity with white teachers.
1941. Washington, DC. Charles R. Drew, an African American physician, sets up the first blood bank.
1941. Washington, DC. Robert Weaver is appointed director of the government office charged with integrating African Americans into the national defense program.
1941. Washington, DC. The threat by African Americans to stage a massive protest march on the nation’s capital results in the issuance of Executive Order No. 8802, prohibiting discrimination in the defense establishment.
1941. Washington, DC. In the case of Mitchell v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that separate facilities in railroad travel must be substantially equal. The case is brought before the Supreme Court by African American congressman Arthur Mitchell.
1942. Chicago, Illinois. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a civil rights group dedicated to a direct-action, nonviolent program, is founded. In 1943, CORE stages its first “sit-in” in a Chicago restaurant.
1942. Washington, DC. The Justice Department threatens to file suit against a number of African American newspapers which it believes are guilty of sedition because of their strong criticism of the government’s racial policies in the armed services. The NAACP steps in to suggest guidelines which will satisfy the Justice Department.
1944. The United Negro Fund is founded.
1944. The NAACP secures the release of servicemen detained for protesting discrimination in the armed forces.
1944. The European Theater of War. The African American 99th Pursuit Squadron flies its 500th mission in the Mediterranean Theater. Another African American unit, the 92nd Division, enters combat in Italy. On June 6,500 African Americans land on Omaha Beach as part of the D-Day invasion of northern France. Among them is the 761st Tank Battalion which spends 183 days in action and is cited for conspicuous courage. Also cited in January of 1945 is the 969th Field Artillery Battalion for their support in the defense of Bastogne.
1944. The restriction of African American seamen to shore duty ends, as is the exclusion of African Americans from the coast guard and marine corps. The War Department officially ends segregation in all army posts, but the order is widely ignored.
1944. Washington, DC. In the case of Smith v. Allwright, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that “white primaries” violate the provisions of the Fifteenth Amendment.
1945. Italy. African American troops are at the forefront of victorious assaults in Germany and northern Italy. The use of African American troops in World War II, however, is more limited than in World War I or the Spanish-American War. Despite efforts by some enlightened naval officers, over 90 percent of African Americans in the U.S. Navy are still messmen when the war ends.
1945. New York. The first state Fair Employment Practices Commission is established in New York as a result of the Ives-Quinn Bill.
1945. Washington, DC. Congress denies funds to the federal Fair Employment Practices Commission, which
was established during the war to enforce fair employment policies.
1946. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia that segregation on interstate buses is unconstitutional.
1947. Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American to play major league baseball, breaking the national pastime’s color barrier.
1947. Atlanta, Georgia. The Southern Regional Council releases figures that demonstrate that only 12 percent of the African Americans in the Deep South (nearly 600,000) meet voting qualifications. In the states of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, the figure is approximately 3 percent. In Tennessee, more than 25 percent of adult African Americans meet the state voting requirements.
1947. CORE’s first “freedom ride” travels through Southern states to press for the integration of transportation facilities.
1947. Tuskegee, Alabama. Statistics indicate that 3,426 African Americans have been lynched in the United States in the period 1882–1947. Of these, 1,217 were lynched in the decade 1890–1900. From 1947 to 1962, 12 African Americans were lynched.
1947. Washington, DC. The Truman Committee on Civil Rights formally condemns racial injustice in America in the widely-quoted report To Secure These Rights.
1948. California. The California Supreme Court declares the state statute banning racial intermarriage unconstitutional.
1948. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court in Shelley v. Kraemer rules that federal and state courts may not enforce restrictive covenants. However, the Court does not declare such covenants illegal. In a separate case, Sipuel v. University of Oklahoma, the Court holds that states are required to provide blacks with the same educational opportunities as whites. President Truman issues Executive Order No. 9981 directing “equality of treatment and opportunity” in the armed forces and creates the Fair Practices Board of the Civil Service Commission to deal with complaints of discrimination in government employment.
1949. Connecticut. Connecticut becomes the first state in the Union to extend the jurisdiction of the Civil Rights Commission into the domain of public housing.
1949. Washington, DC. Representative William L. Dawson becomes the first African American to head a Congressional committee when he is named chairman of the House Committee on Government Operations.
1950. Oslo, Norway. Ralph Bunche wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
1950. The 1950 census places the net ten-year African American emigration from the South at 1.6 million.
1950. Washington, DC. Several U.S. Supreme Court decisions open university facilities to African Americans. In the case of Henderson v. United States, the Court rules that segregated tables on dining cars violate the provisions of the Interstate Commerce Act. A special committee reports to President Harry S. Truman that African American servicemen are still barred from many military specialties and training programs, but that the armed forces has largely been desegregated.
1952. In a series of legal maneuvers, the NAACP and other African American groups succeed in desegregating a number of colleges and high schools in Southern and border areas. In addition, public housing projects are opened to African Americans in some Northern and Midwestern cities and desegregation is achieved in several businesses and unions. A public swimming pool is integrated in Kansas City, a golf course in Louisville, and Ford’s Theater in Baltimore.
1952. Tuskegee, Alabama. A Tuskegee report indicates that, for the first time in its 71 years of tabulation, no lynchings have occurred in the United States.
1953. Washington, DC. District of Columbia Commissioners order the abolition of segregation in several district agencies. The fire department is among those which escape the mandate. The Defense Department orders an end to segregation in schools on military bases and in veterans hospitals.
1953. New York City, New York. Hulan Jack is sworn in as borough president of Manhattan.
1953. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court asks to re-hear five school segregation cases first argued in 1942. Sensing a major opportunity, the NAACP puts 100 lawyers, scholars, and researchers to work in preparation. The NAACP also files a complaint with the Interstate Commerce Commission to execute earlier Supreme Court desegregation orders in transportation facilities.
1954, March 4. Washington, DC. President Dwight D. Eisenhower appoints an African American, J. Ernest Wilkins, as undersecretary of labor.
1954, May 17. Washington, DC. By a unanimous vote, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas declares that “separate but equal” educational facilities are “inherently unequal” and that segregation is therefore unconstitutional. The decision overturns the “separate but equal” doctrine that has legalized segregation since 1896. In the case of Hawkins v. Board of Control, the Court rules that the University of Florida must admit African Americans regardless of any “public mischief” it might cause.
1954, September. In the autumn following the Brown decision, 150 formerly segregated school districts in eight states and the District of Columbia integrate. However, a number of groups opposing integration emerge in the South. Most prominent among these are white citizens councils that soon claim 80,000 members and propose constitutional amendments reinstating segregation.
1954, October 1. Baltimore, Maryland. White parents and students protest the admission of black students to Baltimore’s Southern High School. Anti-desegregation demonstrations are also staged in nearby Washington, DC.
1954, October 1. Florida. State Attorney General Richard Ervin files a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court warning that violent resistance would result from any effort to force desegregation in Florida schools.
1954, October 30. Washington, DC. The Department of Defense reports the end of “all-Negro” units in the U.S. Army. However, some bases still refuse to integrate. The Veteran’s Administration announces their hospitals have been desegregated, but the Department of Health, Education and Welfare declares it will continue to give funds to segregated hospitals.
1954, November 13. Boca Raton, Florida. Governors attending the Southern Governors Conference pledge to uphold state control over schools and warn that forced school desegregation will create unrest which they claim does not currently exist in their states.
1955, May 31. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court orders school boards to draw up desegregation procedures. The Court asserts that school authorities have the responsibility of assessing and solving desegregation problems and must do so “with all deliberate speed.” The decision reenforces the Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Reactions to this ruling in the South are mixed. Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas desegregate their school systems with minimal disruption. Georgia’s Board of Education adopts a resolution revoking the license of any teacher who teaches integrated classes. Mississippi repeals its compulsory school attendance law and establishes a branch of government for the sole purpose of maintaining segregation. White citizens councils in Mississippi initiate economic pressures against blacks who try to register to vote, while more extreme groups resort to direct terror.
1955, July 14. Richmond, Virginia. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that segregation on city buses is illegal. The court claims that the same principle which outlawed segregation in public schools should be applied.
1955, August 31. Greenwood, Mississippi. Two white men are arrested in Greenwood on charges of kidnapping, beating, and shooting 15-year-old Emmett Till. Till, who allegedly whistled at and insulted a white woman, was found dead in the Tallahatchie River. Jurors acquit the defendants on grounds that the body could not be positively identified.
1955, November 25. Washington, DC. In accordance with U.S. Supreme Court edicts, the Interstate Commerce Commission outlaws segregated buses and waiting rooms for interstate passengers. However, many communities ignore the order.
1955, December 1. Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa Parks takes a seat in the front of a city bus, refuses to surrender it to a white man, and is arrested. Four days later, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. urges the city’s African American community to boycott the buses. This marks the beginning of the Montgomery bus boycott, which leads to the desegregation of Montgomery’s city bus system the following year.
1956. Washington, DC. In the case of Flemming v. South Carolina Electric, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a state statute requiring segregation on public transportation.
1956, February 3. Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Autherine Lucy is admitted to the University of Alabama by court order, but riots ensue and she is expelled on a technicality.
1956, March 11. Washington, DC. Southern members of the Senate, led by Harry Byrd of Virginia, launch a fight against school integration. Byrd obtains the signatures of 100 congressmen on a “Southern Manifesto”, attacking the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.
1956, July 13. Washington, DC. Southern members of the House of Representatives unite in opposition to an Eisenhower administration-sponsored civil rights bill. The bill would provide for the investigation of civil rights complaints and permit action by the U.S. attorney general in federal courts.
1956, September. By September of 1956, approximately 800 school districts containing 320,000 African American children are desegregated in compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision. However, nearly 2.5 million African American children remain in segregated schools and there are still no desegregated districts in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
1956, November 13. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the segregation of city buses is unconstitutional.
1957, February 14. New Orleans, Louisiana. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is formed by Martin Luther King Jr. and others to coordinate the activities of nonviolent groups devoted to integration and citizenship for African Americans.
1957, February 26. Little Rock, Arkansas. Governor Orval Faubus signs four segregation bills enabling parents to refuse to send their children to desegregated schools, authorizing the use of school district funds to pay legal expenses incurred in integration suits, creating a committee to make anti-integration studies, and requiring organizations such as the NAACP to publish membership rosters.
1957, April 9. Madison, Wisconsin. The state Supreme Court rules that African Americans can be refused membership in trade unions, since such organizations are voluntary associations.
1957, September 4. Little Rock, Arkansas. Nine black students are turned away from Central High School by a white mob and the Arkansas National Guard when they arrive for classes. The National Guard, which was called to Little Rock by Governor Orval Faubus, is forced by court order to withdraw on September 20. As mobs of angry whites assemble outside of the school and the threat of mob violence escalates, President Dwight Eisenhower issues a proclamation on September 23 ordering an end to any obstruction to court-ordered integration. On September 24, the president issues Executive Order No. 10730 authorizing the use of federal troops to assist in the integration of Central High School.
1957, September 9. Washington, DC. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a civil rights bill. The bill provides for the creation of a commission on civil rights to investigate allegations of civil rights and voting rights violations.
1958, February 19. New Orleans, Louisiana. The U.S. Court of Appeals rules that segregation on buses and streetcars in New Orleans is illegal. The Louisiana state assembly later passes a bill which stipulates that the first person seated in a bus’s double seat can decide whether a rider of a different race may sit in the adjoining seat. The bill is vetoed by Governor Earl Long because it would require a white rider to request permission to sit next to a black rider.
1958, April 14. Jackson, Mississippi. Governor J. P. Coleman asserts that African Americans in Mississippi are not ready to vote and vetoes a bill which would have given control of voter registration to a court-appointed registrar.
1958, July 16. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Governor Earl Long signs a bill requiring that blood plasma be labeled according to the race of donor.
1960, February 1. Greensboro, North Carolina. Four African American students refuse to leave a segregated lunch counter, marking the beginning of “sit-in” protests throughout the South.
1960, April. Atlanta, Georgia. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is formed to organize student protest activities. Church “kneel-ins” and beach “wade-ins” soon join lunch counter and bus station “sitins” as effective means of protesting segregation.
1960, April 24. Biloxi, Mississippi. Rioting erupts when a group of African Americans attempt to swim at the city’s 26-mile whites-only beach. A curfew is ordered by the mayor and riot police patrol the city. On April 27, the state legislature passes a law authorizing prison terms for anyone convicted of inciting a riot.
1960, May 6. Washington, DC. President Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1960. This act authorizes judges to appoint referees who can help African Americans register to vote in federal elections. The act also prohibits intimidation of African American voters through bombing and mob violence.
1960, July 31. New York City, New York. Black Muslim leader, Elijah Muhammad, calls for the creation of a black state either in America or in Africa.
1960, August. As of August 1, “sit-ins” have led to the successful desegregation of lunch counters in 15 American cities.
1960, September 8. New York City, New York. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, in an address at the National Urban League Conference, declares that the “sit-ins” are “an inspiration to the nation.”
1960, October 3. The SCLC organizes voter “stand-ins” in several American cities to protest against the remaining barriers to African American voter registration.
1960, November 10. New Orleans, Louisiana. The city approves a plan to admit black students to an all-white school. Meeting in a special session, the state legislature
votes to take control of the city’s school system and to have the schools closed on the day the African American students are scheduled to arrive. On November 14, U.S. marshals escort four black students to the selected schools. On November 15, 11 whites are arrested in disturbances; on November 17 the city experiences severe rioting.
1960, November 14. Washington, DC. In the case of Gomillion v. Lightfoot, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a law designed to redraw the city boundaries of Tuskegee, Alabama, is unconstitutional. The case was brought before the Court after the city of Tuskegee redrew its borders, which excluded all but four or five of the city’s 400 African American residents. The Court asserted that such legislation was in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment.
1960, November 23. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. At its annual convention, the Louisiana Teachers Association vows to resist all attempts to integrate the state’s public schools.
1961, May 4. Washington, DC. Several busloads of “freedom riders,” organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), embark on a journey through the South to test the compliance of bus stations with the Interstate Commerce Commission’s desegregation order. Many of the “freedom riders” are arrested or encounter angry mobs as they travel throughout the South.
1961, May 20. Montgomery, Alabama. A bus carrying “freedom riders” is attacked by a mob and set on fire. U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy orders federal marshals into Montgomery to maintain order. On May 21, a mob forms outside of the First Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy, pastor of the church, are conducting a meeting. The situation in Montgomery becomes so volatile that Governor John Patterson is forced to deploy the Alabama National Guard and declares martial law in the city.
1961, May 22. Washington, DC. Upon hearing the case Louisiana ex rel. Gremillion v. NAACP, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules that two Louisiana laws designed to harass the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are unconstitutional. The laws required that organizations disclose members’ names and attest that its officers are not affiliated with subversive activities.
1961, June 2. Montgomery, Alabama. Federal Judge Frank Johnson Jr. issues a restraining order to prevent “freedom riders” from traveling through the state.
1961, September 29. Atlanta, Georgia. The Southern Regional Council reports that business establishments in more than 100 cities have been desegregated as a result of “sit-ins.”
1961, December 11. Washington, DC. Ruling on its first cases pertaining to student “sit-ins”, the U.S. Supreme Court decides unanimously to reverse the conviction of 16 African American students. The cases Briscoe v. Louisiana, Garner v. Louisiana, and Hoston v. Louisiana result from a Baton Rouge lunch counter “sit-in” staged in March of 1960. The students, who had not been asked to leave by the proprietor, had refused a police order to leave and were charged with “disturbing the peace.”
1962, February 26. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court rules on a suit challenging Mississippi laws that require segregation in intrastate transportation. The case Bailey v. Patterson is remanded to district court since, as the Court contends, the issue is no longer litigable; no state may require racial segregation in either inter- or intrastate transportation.
1962, March 24. Columbia, South Carolina. The NAACP files suit in district court to prohibit the Orangeburg Regional Hospital from operating segregated facilities.
1962, May 2. Biloxi, Mississippi. A U.S. district court finds nine Mississippi laws requiring segregated travel accommodations unconstitutional.
1962, September 30. Jackson, Mississippi. Riots erupt on the campus of the University of Mississippi when James Meredith, a 29-year-old African American veteran, is admitted to the university by court order. Federal troops are sent to restore order.
1962, November 20. Washington, DC. The Kennedy administration issues orders banning segregation in federally-financed housing.
1963, April 3. Birmingham, Alabama. Martin Luther King Jr. targets Birmingham for a drive against discrimination. The protesters are driven back by police armed with water hoses and attack dogs. The confrontation, which has been captured on film, awakens public opinion across the country.
1963, June 12. Jackson, Mississippi. Civil rights leader Medgar Evers is assassinated in the doorway of his home. Thousands attend a march mourning the death of Evers on June 15.
1963, August 28. Washington, DC. Some 250,000 people gather at the Lincoln Memorial to demonstrate on behalf of the civil rights bill pending in Congress. The march has been organized by several civil rights organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, SCLC, CORE, the Urban League, and the Negro American Labor Council. Martin Luther King Jr., one of many scheduled speakers, gives what will become his most famous speech “I Have a Dream.”
1963, September. The South. Less than ten percent of African American public school students attend integrated classes in the fall term. Governor George Wallace of Alabama declares: “I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say, ’Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever’.”
1963, September 15. Birmingham, Alabama. Four African American children are killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.
1963, November 22. Dallas, Texas. President John F. Kennedy, a major advocate of civil rights, is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy’s successor, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, promises to continue support for civil rights legislation.
1964, January 23. The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, prohibiting the use of poll taxes in federal elections.
1964, March 8. New York City, New York. Malcolm X leaves the Black Muslim organization, Nation of Islam, to form the Organization for Afro-American Unity—an organization emphasizing black nationalism and social action.
1964, June 2. Washington, DC. A major civil rights bill, forbidding discrimination in public accommodations and employment, is signed into law by President Johnson.
1964, June 25. St. Augustine, Florida. A mob attacks marchers protesting the city’s pro-segregation policies. State police watch as some 50 African Americans are prevented from using the city beach.
1964, July–August. New York and New Jersey. On July 18 riots erupt in the Harlem section of New York City. One person is killed, 140 injured, and 500 arrested. This is the first of many large riots to strike urban African American neighborhoods during the 1960s. Shortly after the Harlem disturbances, riots erupt in Brooklyn, New York; Rochester, New York; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Paterson, New Jersey.
1964, August 4. Philadelphia, Mississippi. Three young civil rights volunteers—James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman—are murdered. A number of arrests on federal charges less severe than murder follow. Among the 19 suspects are the sheriff and a deputy sheriff of Neshoba County. No convictions are obtained and charges are dismissed in December.
1964, December 10. Oslo, Norway. Martin Luther King Jr. is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
1965, January 2. Selma, Alabama. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. announces his intention to call for demonstrations if African Americans in Alabama are not permitted to register to vote in appropriate numbers. Twelve African Americans, including King himself, book rooms on January 18 at Selma’s Hotel Albert, becoming the first blacks accepted at this formerly all-white hotel. While signing the guest register, King is accosted by a
white segregationist who is later fined $100 and given a 60-day jail sentence. On January 19, Sheriff James G. Clark arrests 62 African Americans in Selma after they refuse to enter the Dallas County courthouse through an alley door. Clark and his deputies arrest 150 other African American voter registration applicants the next day. A federal district court order issued on January 23 bars law enforcement officials from interfering with voter registration and warns that violence against African American voters will not be tolerated.
1965, January 15. Philadelphia, Mississippi. A federal grand jury hands down indictments for the June 1964
slaying of three civil rights workers—James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner—in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The following day 18 men, including two law enforcement officers, are arrested. On February 25, U.S. District Court Judge W. Harold Cox dismisses a federal indictment against 17 of the accused.
1965, January 18. Washington, DC. Ruling on the case Cox v. Louisiana, the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the conviction of protesters charged with disturbing the peace.
1965, February 1. Selma, Alabama. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and some 770 African Americans are arrested during protest demonstrations. King remains in jail for four days before posting bond. During this time, more than 3,000 persons are arrested. On February 4, a federal district court bars the county board of registrars from administering a literacy test to voter applicants or from rejecting their application on petty technicalities.
1965, February 21. New York City, New York. Malcolm X, a 39-year-old black nationalist leader and former member of the Black Muslim sect, is shot to death in the Audubon Ballroom as he is about to deliver an address before a rally of several hundred followers. Following the murder, Black Muslim headquarters in New York and San Francisco are burned, and most Muslim leaders are placed under heavy police guard. Three African Americans—Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler, and Thomas 15X Johnson—are later taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder. The trio is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on March 10, 1966.
1965, March 26. Washington, DC. President Lyndon B. Johnson announces the arrest of four Ku Klux Klan members in connection with the murder of Viola Gregg Liuzzo. Liuzzo, a 39-year-old white civil rights worker from Detroit, was slain on a Lowndes County highway during the Selma-to-Montgomery Freedom March. The president declares war on the Klan, calling it a “hooded society of bigots.” Robert M. Shelton Jr., Imperial Wizard of the United Klans of America, Inc., answers the president’s charges by branding him “a damn liar.” On
March 30, the House Un-American Activities Committee votes to open a full investigation of the activities of the Klan. The committee chairman, a Louisiana Democrat, asserts that the Klan is committing “shocking crimes.”
1965, July 13. Washington, DC. Thurgood Marshall is nominated as Solicitor General of the United States, the first African American person to hold this office.
1965, August 6. Washington, DC. President Johnson signs the 1965 Voting Rights Act, providing for the registration by federal examiners of those black voters turned away by state officials.
1965, August 11. Los Angeles, California. The arrest and alleged mistreatment of a black youth by white policemen sparks an orgy of looting, burning, and rioting in the predominantly African American section of Watts. Thousands of National Guardsmen and state police rush to quell the violence. The rioting which lasts six days claims the lives of 35 people and causes nearly 46 million dollars in property damage. On August 20, President Johnson denounces the Los Angeles rioters, comparing them to Ku Klux Klan extremists. He declares that the existence of legitimate grievances in Watts is no justification for lawlessness. “We cannot . . . in one breath demand laws to protect the rights of all our citizens, and then turn our back . . . and . . . allow laws to be broken that protect the safety of our citizens.”
1966. Oakland, California. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale found the Black Panther party.
1966, January 13. Washington, DC. President Lyndon B. Johnson names Robert Weaver as head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Weaver is the first African American appointed to serve in a presidential cabinet in U.S. history. Lisle Carter, also African American, is named as an assistant secretary in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Constance Baker Motley, former NAACP lawyer and borough president of Manhattan, becomes the first African American woman to be named to a federal judgeship.
1966, February 7. Lowndes County, Alabama. A federal court finds Lowndes County, Alabama, guilty of “gross, systematic exclusion of members of the African American race from jury duty.” County officials are ordered to prepare a new jury list. Lowndes County is also ordered to desegregate its school system within two years, to close 24 “blacks only” schools, and to introduce remedial programs designed to close the educational gap between white and black students.
1966, February 23. Washington, DC. In the case of Brown v. Louisiana, the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the convictions of five blacks charged with disturbing the peace when they refused to leave a whites-only reading room in a public library.
1966, March 25. Washington, DC. In the case of Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections, the U.S. Supreme Court outlaws the use of poll taxes in state elections. The ruling upholds the Twenty-Fourth Amendment which bars the use of such taxes in federal elections.
1966, June 6. Tennessee. James Meredith is shot shortly after beginning a 220-mile voting rights pilgrimage from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. Aubrey James Norvell, 40, is arrested at the scene and taken to jail where, according to authorities, he admits to the shooting. Meredith suffers multiple injuries, but recovers.
1966, June 26. Jackson, Mississippi. The march begun by James Meredith ends with a rally in front of the state capitol in Jackson. Addresses are delivered by Meredith, Martin Luther King Jr., and Stokely Carmichael, who urges the 15,000 African Americans in attendance to “build a power base . . . so strong that we will bring them [whites] to their knees every time they mess with us.” The march results in the registration of about 4,000 African American voters.
1966, July 10. Chicago, Illinois. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a predominantly African American crowd of 30,000 to 45,000 at Soldier Field and launches a drive to make Chicago an “open city.” The rally is sponsored by the Coordinating Council of Committee Organizations, a coalition consisting of some 45 local civil rights groups. From July 12 to 15, violence erupts on Chicago’s west side in protest of a decision by Chicago police to shut off a fire hydrant which had been opened illegally to give African American children relief from the stifling
heat. Two African Americans are killed, scores of police and civilians wounded, and 372 persons are arrested.
1966, July 18. Cleveland, Ohio. Shootings, fire-bombings, and looting spread throughout Cleveland’s east side. Four people are killed and 50 are injured. Most of the 164 persons arrested are charged with looting. The riot results in widespread property damage.
1967, January. Washington, DC. Representative Adam Clayton Powell Jr. of New York is stripped of his chair-manship of the House Committee on Education and Labor and barred from assuming his seat in the Ninetieth Congress. A congressional committee investigating the case later proposes public censure, loss of seniority, and a $40,000 fine. Powell and his lawyers indicate their intention to challenge the constitutionality of this decision in federal court.
1967, February 15. Washington, DC. President Lyndon B. Johnson asks Congress to pass new civil rights legislation pertaining to the sale and rental of housing. In a special address to Congress, Johnson outlines the scope of the proposed bill. The bill, Johnson states, is designed to end discrimination in jury selection, permit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to issue cease-and-desist orders, extend the life of the Commission on Civil Rights, and authorize $2.7 dollars in appropriations for the Community Relations Service. The bill would enable individuals to file damage suits in housing discrimination cases. Violators of the bill would be subject to court orders and fines issued by the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
1967, March 1. Washington, DC. By a vote of 307–116, the U.S. House of Representatives bars Adam Clayton Powell Jr. from the Ninetieth Congress. Powell immediately files suit in U.S. district court to combat his ouster, asserting that he has met all citizenship, age, and residency requirements for House membership. The congressman also charges that his constituency is left without representation and, therefore, vulnerable to discrimination.
1967, March 29. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the legality of revised federal school desegregation guidelines. The court, in an 8—4 ruling, calls for the desegregation of all students, teachers, school transportation facilities, and school-related activities in six Southern states. The guidelines establish rough percentage goals to be used in determining compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
1967, May 3. Montgomery, Alabama. A federal district court overturns an Alabama statute designed to prevent
school desegregation. The court rules that no state may nullify the action of “a federal department or agency without initiating Court action” which only the U.S. Supreme Court can review.
1967, May 10. Jackson, Mississippi. An African American delivery man, Benjamin Brown, is shot and killed during riots on the campus of Jackson State College. Within full view of police, Brown is left at the scene unattended until he is taken to the University Hospital by African American bystanders. The police, unable to contain the demonstrators, are reinforced by more than 1,000 National Guardsmen.
1967, June 2. Boston, Massachusetts. Rioting erupts in Boston’s predominantly African American section of Roxbury. The disturbance occurs in the wake of an attempt by welfare mothers to barricade themselves inside a building as a protest against police brutality. The rioting results in the arrest of nearly 100 people, while scores of others are severely injured.
1967, June 12. Newark, New Jersey. The “long hot summer” begins in earnest in Newark, New Jersey, scene of the most devastating riot to sweep an urban center since the 1965 Watts uprising.
1967, June 13. Washington, DC. Thurgood Marshall is appointed an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the first African American so designated.
1967, June 19. Washington, DC. U.S. District Court Judge J. Skelly Wright rules that de facto segregation of African Americans in the District of Columbia is unconstitutional and orders the complete desegregation of the district’s schools by the fall.
1967, June 27. Buffalo, New York. Three days of rioting result in more than 85 injuries, 205 arrests, and property damage estimated at $100,000.
1967, July 19. Washington, DC. The U.S. House of Representatives passes legislation which states that it is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities for the purpose of inciting a riot. The bill is aimed at alleged professional agitators who travel from city to city to inflame the people. New York’s Emanuel Celler finds the bill “neither preventive nor curative” and fears it will only arouse African American hostility even further.
1967, July 20. Newark, New Jersey. Despite objections by New Jersey Governor Hughes, a four-day conclave of African American leaders, many of them Black Power advocates, convenes in Newark. Militancy and a call for separate nationhood dominate the meeting. One participant at the conference, Alfred Black of the Newark Human Relations Commission, states that “the black today is either a radical or an Uncle Tom. There is no middle ground.”
1967, July 22. Detroit, Michigan. Rioting erupts in the morning hours of July 22. By July 29, over 7,000 persons are arrested and 43 persons killed.
1967, July 27. Washington, DC. President Lyndon B. Johnson appoints a blue-ribbon panel to “investigate the origins of the recent disorders in our cities.” The president instructs the commission to set aside political considerations and concern itself solely with the health and safety of American society and its citizens. On August 10, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders urges President Johnson to increase the number of African Americans in the army and air national guard. The panel also recommends increased riot-control training for the guard, as well as a review of promotion procedures. The recommendations, delivered in a letter to President Johnson, are forwarded to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.
1967, August 14. Dorchester County, Maryland. H. Rap Brown is indicted in absentia by a grand jury on charges of inciting to riot, arson, and other related actions which threaten the public peace. Brown is arrested in New York on August 19 and charged with carrying a gun across state lines while under indictment. After strenuous objections are voiced by his white lawyer, William Kunstler, Brown’s bail is reduced to $15,000. On August 22, he is released from jail in time to address a crowd of 100 blacks on the steps of the Foley Square courthouse. Pointing to whites nearby, Brown says: “That’s your enemy out there. And you better not forget, because I ain’t going to.”
1967, August 19. New Haven, Connecticut. Nearly 450 persons are arrested during five days of looting, arson, and vandalism. No serious injuries are reported, and no shots are fired by police despite frequent curfew violations.
1967, October 20. Philadelphia, Mississippi. An all-white federal jury of five men and seven women returns a guilty verdict in a retrial for the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Seven men are convicted of conspiracy. However, eight defendants are acquitted, and three are declared victims of a mistrial. Among the guilty are Chief Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price and Sam Bowers, Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
1968, February 5. Orangeburg, South Carolina. Three African American youths are shot to death and more than 30 people are wounded in a racial outburst involving police and students at South Carolina State College. The violence is the culmination of student protests against the segregation of a local bowling alley. On February 7, the campus is sealed off and classes are suspended in the wake of rock and bottle-throwing incidents. On February 8, three students are fired on by police who mistakenly believe one of their troopers has been shot. In reality, the trooper was knocked down by a piece of lumber thrown by a demonstrator. On February 9, Governor McNair orders a curfew and attributes the violence to “Black Power” advocates. On February 11, local blacks call for the removal of the National Guard and announce plans for a boycott of white businesses. The city leaders counter by establishing a Human Relations Commission which resolves to prevent further outbreaks of violence. On February 24, the Southern Regional Council issues a report analyzing the Orange-burg upheaval. The report blames the outbreak of violence on the emotional appeal of black power to young blacks, overreaction by white citizens and police, feelings of hopelessness among blacks, and the expectations by whites that police power and military force must be utilized to cope with all forms of public demonstrations.
1968, February 29. Washington, DC. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders issues an exhaustive report on the causes of the civil disorders that disrupted the nation in 1967. The commission identifies the major cause of the rioting as the existence of two separate bodies in America—“one black, one white, separate and unequal.” It charges that white racism, more than anything else, was the chief catalyst in the already explosive mixture of discrimination, poverty, and frustration that ignited so many urban ghettos in the tragic summer of 1967. It reminds white America how deeply it is implicated in the existence of the ghetto. “White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” To overcome this terrible and crushing legacy, the commission implores the nation to initiate a massive and sustained commitment to action and reform, and it appeals for unprecedented levels of “funding and performance” in housing, education, employment, welfare, law enforcement, and the mass media.
1968, March 11. Washington, DC. The U.S. Senate passes the Civil Rights Bill of 1968. Among its major provisions are sweeping housing and anti-riot measures which go far beyond the federal protection offered to civil rights workers in the 1967 House version of the bill.
1968, March 29. Memphis, Tennessee. A teenage African American youth is slain after a protest march led by Martin Luther King Jr. deteriorates into violence and looting. The march marks the culmination of six weeks of labor strike activity involving the sanitation workers of the city—90 percent of whom are African American. Civil rights leaders and African American ministers call for a boycott of downtown businesses and urge massive civil disobedience to express support for the strikers. Such action broadens the focus of the strike and transforms it into a general civil rights action. On the day of the march, disturbances begin almost immediately. Some African American students who have been refused the right to leave school and participate in the march begin pelting police with bricks; others smash department store windows along Beale Street. Most of the 6,000 to 20,000 marchers demonstrate peacefully. City and county police join the National Guard in quelling the disturbances. After King is spirited away to safety at the nearby Lorraine Motel, tear gas is fired at the crowds. More than 150 people are arrested, 40 of them on looting charges.
1968, April 4. Memphis, Tennessee. The world is shocked by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Felled by a single bullet, King is pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 P.M. CST, barely one hour after the shooting. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, on hand to conduct the preliminary investigation in person, declares that the early evidence points to the crime as being the work of a single assassin. Witnesses report seeing a white man running from the doorway of a rooming house at 420 South Main Street minutes after the shooting. The killing triggers a wave of violence in over 100 cities including such urban centers as Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Missouri, and Washington, DC. Some 70,000 federal troops and National Guardsmen are dispatched to restore order. Official figures report 46 dead: 41 blacks, five whites. Thousands are injured and arrested. On April 5, Reverend Ralph Abernathy is named to succeed King and discloses that SCLC’s first public gesture will be to lead the march King himself was planning. Three days later, Coretta Scott King takes her place in the front ranks of the marchers, locking arms with two of the 42,000 people on hand for the demonstration. King’s body is put on public view at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 6. He is buried at South View Cemetery on April 9 after funeral services are held at the church and a general memorial service is conducted at Morehouse College, his alma mater.
1968, April 10. Washington, DC. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. moves the U.S. House of Representatives to submit to President Johnson a Senate-passed civil rights bill prohibiting racial discrimination in the sale or rental of 80 percent of the nation’s housing. Johnson signs the measure on April 11 and counsels the nation to stay on the road to progress by recognizing “the process of law.”
1968, May 11. Washington, DC. Caravans of people representing the Poor People’s Campaign begin arriving in Washington, DC. The Defense Department alerts “selected troop units” to help District of Columbia police in the event of violence. On Mother’s Day, May 12, Coretta Scott King leads a march of welfare mothers from 20 cities and declares at a subsequent rally that she will try to enlist the support of all the nation’s women “in a campaign of conscience.” The next day Ralph Abernathy, clad in blue denims and using carpenter’s tools, presides at the christening of Resurrection City, the plywood shanty town erected within walking distance of the White House and the Capitol. Abernathy is able to report, as the campaign draws to a close, that certain gains have been recorded. The Department of Agriculture, for instance, agrees to “provide food to the neediest counties in this country.” The U.S. Senate approves a bill to increase low-income housing construction and the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) allocates $25 million for expanded programs including one encouraging participation from poor people.
1968, June 5. Los Angeles, California. Senator Robert Kennedy, a champion of civil rights, is shot and killed moments after leaving a rally celebrating his victory over Eugene McCarthy in the California Democratic primary.
1968, June 8. London. James Earl Ray, alleged assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. is arrested.
1968, July 23. Cleveland, Ohio. Racial violence erupts in Cleveland’s Glenville district, resulting in the deaths of eleven persons, eight of them black, and three white policemen. Mayor Carl Stokes helps to restore order after a night of burning and looting which results in over $1 million worth of property damage. Over 3,000 National Guardsmen are on the scene, but they are not widely utilized. Ahmed (Fred) Evans, a 37-year-old anti-poverty worker and head of the Black Nationalists of New Libya, is blamed for starting the disturbances. On June 26, Ahmed Evans is arraigned on three charges of first-degree murder.
1968, July 27. Washington, DC. The Kerner Commission releases preliminary findings that indicate a sharp rise in the number of African Americans who accept urban riots as a justifiable or inevitable response to conditions prevailing in the nation’s ghettos.
1968, August 7. Miami, Florida. Two days of looting, fire bombing, and shooting in the black section of Miami culminate in Florida Governor Claude Kirk’s decision to summon the National Guard to quell the disorders. Despite Ralph Abernathy’s plea for an end to the violence, crowds of African Americans battle police over an eight-block area. On August 8, three African Americans are killed in gun battles with law enforcement officials. Although Dade County Mayor Chuck Hall accuses outsiders of instigating the trouble, the ten percent unemployment rate among African Americans in the 16–22 age bracket is cited as a major factor contributing to the violence.
1968, September 8. California. Black Panther Huey P. Newton is tried and convicted of manslaughter in the October 28, 1967, shooting death of a white policeman. Nearly three weeks later, Newton is sentenced to 2–15 years imprisonment. The trial and the conviction introduce the nation at large to a new and formidable Black Panther Party.
1968, October 8. Washington, DC. Some 250 African Americans protest the fatal shooting of an African American pedestrian by a policeman. Demonstrators set fires and block traffic until police reinforcements disperse them with tear gas. The policeman is eventually exonerated of all charges by a federal grand jury.
1968, December 1. New Jersey. Three members of the Black Panthers are arrested on charges of carrying out a machine gun attack on a Jersey City police station on November 29. A Black Panther spokesman claims that a December 1 bombing of party headquarters in Newark is in response to the Jersey City attack. A police sergeant cites the arrest of seven Newark Panthers on November 28 as the cause of the precinct attack.
1969, January 3. Washington, DC. After a long and bitter debate concerning his qualifications and conduct, the House of Representatives votes to seat Adam Clayton Powell Jr. The House, however, fines him $25,000 for alleged misuse of payroll funds and travel allowances and demotes him to freshman status by stripping him of his seniority rank.
1969, February 6. Washington, DC. President Nixon appoints James Farmer as an assistant secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare; Arthur Fletcher as an assistant secretary of the Department of Labor; and William Brown III, as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
1969, June 6. Houston, Texas. Testimony released in a federal court indicates that the telephones of Martin Luther King Jr. and Elijah Muhammad were tapped by the FBI, despite the fact that President Lyndon B. Johnson had ordered a halt to all wiretaps in 1965.
1969, June 16. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the suspension of Representative Adam Clayton Powell Jr. by the House of Representatives is unconstitutional.
1969, July 6. New York City, New York. James Forman of the National Black Economic Development Conference receives a check for $15,000 from the Washington Square United Methodist Church. The church is the first predominantly white organization to support Forman’s demand that American churches pay $500 million in reparations for helping to perpetuate slavery.
1969, August 1. Washington, DC. The U.S. Justice Department files suit against the state of Georgia to end segregation in its schools. Governor Lester G. Maddox condemns the action as criminal and declares the state will “win the war against these tyrants.”
1969, August 19. California. Black Panther leader Bobby Seale is arrested for the May 19 murder of alleged Panther informer Alex Rackley in New Haven, Connecticut. Bobby Seale’s defense attorney accuses the Justice Department of initiating a national campaign to intimidate and harass the Black Panther Party. Seale is later extradited to Connecticut.
1969, August 25. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Five construction sites are closed by several hundred black construction workers and members of the Black Construction Coalition to protest “discriminatory hiring practices.” Four hundred angry white workers stage counter demonstrations on August 28 and 29 to protest the work stoppage.
1969, September 2. Hartford, Connecticut. After a relatively quiet summer, the nation is stunned when Hartford becomes the scene of widespread civil disorders including fire bombings and sniping. Scores of people are placed under arrest, and a dusk-to-dawn curfew is imposed.
1969, September 23. Washington, DC. Secretary of Labor George P. Schultz orders federally-assisted construction projects in Philadelphia to follow the guidelines for minority hiring suggested in the so-called “Philadelphia Plan.”
1969, October 29. Washington, DC. Ruling in the case of Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court orders an end to all school segregation. The decision replaces the Warren Court’s doctrine of “all deliberate speed,” and is regarded as a setback for the Nixon administration.
1970, January 2. Washington, DC. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover claims that, in 1969, there were over 100 attacks on police by “hate-type” African American groups such as Black Panthers.
1970, January 3. Mississippi. Governor John Bell Williams announces his intention to submit to the state legislature a proposal to authorize income tax credits of up to $500 a year for contributors to “private” educational institutions. The plan is designed to create a “workable alternative” to school desegregation. That same day, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare reports that a comprehensive survey indicates that 61 percent of the nation’s black students and 65.6 percent of its white students attended segregated schools in 1968. On January 5, black children are enrolled in three formerly all-white Mississippi districts under the watchful eyes of federal marshals and Justice Department officials. Scores of white parents picket the schools, while others keep their children home or send them to private schools.
1970, January 10. Georgia. Four Southern governors, Maddox of Georgia, Brewer of Alabama, McKeithen of Louisiana, and Kirk of Florida, promise to reject all busing plans designed for their states by the federal government or the courts. Maddox asks the state legislature to abolish compulsory attendance; McKeithen reveals no plan, but describes himself as “drawing the line in the dust;” Brewer denies that the courts have the constitutional authority to order busing as a device to achieve racial balance and promises to use his full executive powers to prevent it; Kirk vows to issue an executive order to block further desegregation of Florida schools.
1970, January 12. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to review the ruling of an Ohio state court which upholds an equal employment plan comparable to the Nixon administration’s “Philadelphia Plan.” The plan requires state contractors to give assurances that they will employ a specified number of African American workers in projects constructed with federal funds or sponsored completely by the federal government. The Ohio contractor who brought suit in the case had refused to provide such assurances.
1970, January 15. Though it is not yet a national holiday, the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated with impressive ceremonies, eulogies, and church services in many parts of the country. Public schools are closed in many cities; in others, they are kept open for formal study of King’s life and work. In Atlanta, Coretta Scott King dedicates the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center, which includes his home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the crypt housing his remains.
1970, January 19. Washington, DC. G. Harrold Cars-well’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court draws the immediate fire of civil rights advocates. On January 21, the NAACP condemns Carswell’s “pro-segregation record.” Two days later, the SCLC’s Ralph Abernathy sends a telegram to Senate leaders pleading for “reassurance to the black community that there is . . . understanding and support . . . for our needs.” AFL-CIO President George Meany calls the appointment “a slap in the face to the nation’s black citizens.” Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 27, Carswell states: “I am not a racist. I have no notions, secretive or otherwise, of racial superiority.” This statement contrasts sharply with a 1948 remark that Carswell would yield to no man “in the firm, vigorous belief in the principles of white supremacy.”
1970, February 6. Denver, Colorado. Approximately one-third of Denver school buses are destroyed by bombs in an attempt by segregationists to disrupt the city’s school integration plans.
1970, February 16. Washington, DC. President Richard M. Nixon establishes a Cabinet-level task force to assist and counsel local school districts which have been ordered to desegregate their school immediately. The objective is to spare the public school system undue disruption while, at the same time, insuring compliance with the law. On February 18 the Senate passes, by a 56–36 vote, an amendment to deny federal funds to school districts whose racial imbalance is the result of residential segregation. On February 19, Southerners in the House and Senate incorporate riders into two appropriation bills designed to restore “freedom-of-choice” school plans and to prevent the federal government from resorting to busing as a vehicle to promote racial balance.
1970, February 21. Texas. Texas Governor Preston Smith recommends a statewide referendum to give voters the opportunity to approve or reject integrated public school busing. Governors Maddox of Georgia and McKeithen of Louisiana sign bills prohibiting busing and student/teacher transfers to achieve racial balance. Governor Brewer calls a special session of the legislature to sponsor a similar bill for Alabama.
1970, February 28. Washington, DC. A memo written by Daniel Patrick Moynihan to President Richard M. Nixon is revealed. In the memo, Moynihan, domestic advisor to the president, counseled him that “the time may have come when the issue of race could benefit from a period of benign neglect.” Moynihan later claims that the memo was intended to suggest ways that the “extraordinary black progress” in the last decade could be “consolidated.” However, African American leaders, including Bayard Rustin and Representative John Conyers, charge that the memo is “symptomatic of a calculated, aggressive, systematic effort of the Nixon administration to wipe out civil rights progress of the past twenty years.”
1970, March 6. Mississippi. The state Senate approves a tax relief bill designed to grant financial support to white parents who intend to enroll their children in private academies.
1970, March 9. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court orders the Memphis school system to end racial segregation and remands the case to a lower court where it issues instructions to develop an effective desegregation plan.
1970, April 7. Detroit, Michigan. The school board approves a busing plan for some 3,000 high school students and announces the initiation of a decentralization plan aimed at dispersing white students among the city’s secondary schools. In Detroit, 63 percent of the system’s 294,000 students are non-white, as are 42 percent of the teachers.
1970, May 12. Augusta, Georgia. Six African Americans are shot and twenty other people are wounded during a night of violence punctuated by looting, burning, and sniper activity. The immediate cause of the violence is said to be the killing of an African American youth in a county jail a few days earlier. Autopsies of African Americans slain during the protests indicate that they were shot in the back. The New York Times later reports that at least three of the dead were unarmed bystanders.
1970, May 14. Jackson, Mississippi. Two African American students are shot and killed after a night of violence outside a women’s dormitory at Jackson State College. Witnesses charge that police simply moved in and indiscriminately blasted the residence hall with shotguns. President Richard M. Nixon dispatches Justice Department officials to search out the facts, but contradictory explanations make it impossible to assemble a wholly-coherent story. On May 17, the Mississippi United Front vows to provide students and other groups with independent protection.
1970, May 23. Atlanta, Georgia. A five-day, 100-mile march against repression ends in downtown Atlanta with a rally by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the NAACP. Speakers at the rally include Ralph Abernathy, Coretta Scott King, and Senator George McGovern. The speakers condemn racism, the Vietnam War, student killings at Kent State and Jackson State, and alleged police brutality in Augusta.
1970, July 10. Washington, DC. The Internal Revenue Service announces its intention to tax private academies practicing racial discrimination in their admissions policies. The greatest impact of the policy is expected to be felt in the South. The new policy promises these schools sufficient flexibility to avoid immediate revocation of their tax-exempt status.
1970, August 7. San Rafael, California. A dramatic shootout results in the death of Superior Court Judge Harold Haley and three African Americans on trial. Later investigation traces the sale of the weapons used in the shootout to Angela Davis, controversial UCLA professor and self-admitted Communist. Davis flees the state following the trial and is placed on the FBI’s ten most wanted list.
1970, September. Some 300,000 African American children are integrated in over 200 Southern school districts. However, parental boycotts and delaying tactics by states and cities slow the pace of desegregation. Whites who are opposed to desegregation are encouraged by the Nixon administration’s “Southern policy,” which has delayed enforcement of integration orders. Nevertheless, the Internal Revenue Service continues to revoke the tax-exempt status of all-white private academies that refuse to admit black students.
1970, October 13. New York City, New York. Angela Davis is arrested and arraigned in federal court on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution for her alleged role in the August 7 killing of Superior Court Judge Harold Haley.
1970, November 5. Henderson, North Carolina. Violence erupts when African Americans protest the reopening of a segregated school. The National Guard is called out to restore order and over 100 arrests are made.
1970, December 30. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rules that the Department of Housing and Urban Development must promote fair housing when it considers applications for mortgage insurance and rent supplements.
1971, February 4. Washington, DC. Eight African American federal employees file suit in federal court claiming that the Federal Service Entrance Examination, the principal test for qualifying college graduates for civil service posts is “culturally and racially discriminatory.”
1971, March 8. Media, Pennsylvania. Files are stolen from a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office and released to the press reveal that in November of 1970, J. Edgar Hoover ordered an investigation of all groups “organized to project the demands of black [college] students, because they posed a threat to the nation’s stability and security.”
1971, March 29. Washington, DC. President Richard M. Nixon meets with the Congressional Black Caucus, which had been trying to schedule a meeting with him for several months. The African American members of Congress request increased attention to welfare services, desegregation, housing, and social justice programs. President Nixon reportedly promises stronger enforcement of civil rights laws.
1971, May 5. Brooklyn, New York. A riot erupts in the Brooklyn’s Brownsville section after thousands of residents take to the streets to protest cuts in state welfare, Medicaid, food stamps, and educational programs. One policeman is shot, 12 are injured.
1971, May 17. Washington, DC. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota urges the government to divert $31 billion of current federal spending in an effort to end racial discrimination by the end of the century. Milton Eisenhower, former chairman of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Commission on Causes and Preventions of Violence, warns that the United States faces a racial war if it does not remedy the social injustice, inequitable law enforcement, and the availability of firearms in American society.
1971, June 1. Washington, DC. By a vote of 5–4, the U.S. Supreme Court declares unconstitutional a Cincinnati city ordinance making it unlawful for small groups of people to loiter in an annoying manner in public places. Many African Americans claimed that such ordinances had been used by police to harass them.
1971, June 4. Washington, DC. The Department of Labor announces that it is removing support from the voluntary “Chicago Plan,” which was to hire 4,000 African Americans and Spanish-speaking Americans for construction jobs on federal projects. After 18 months, less than 900 African Americans had been accepted in training programs and only a few had been admitted to Chicago construction unions.
1971, June 28. Washington, DC. By an 8–0 vote, with Justice Thurgood Marshall abstaining, the U.S. Supreme Court overturns draft evasion charges against Muhammad Ali. In its decision, the Court agreed that Ali, a Muslim, was objecting to military service on religious grounds, rather than on a political basis, as the Department of Justice had charged.
1971, July 24. Columbus, Georgia. Fifteen African Americans are arrested and several hospitalized during racial disturbances following the dismissal of eight African American policemen. Fire bombings and sniping are reported. State troopers are summoned to maintain order.
1971, August 7. Georgia. State Representative Julian Bond tours the state to spark the political interests of African Americans who remain unregistered six years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Bond notes that due to a blend of apathy and activism, many African Americans do not perceive the ballot as an effective political weapon that can be used to bring change in their lives. Bond cites as an example the failure of African Americans in 1970 to elect African American officials in a district where they represented a majority of the registered voters. Nevertheless, leaders of the SCLC announce that their goal of electing a Southern black to Congress is feasible in view of the redistricting in a number of Southern states.
1971, August 18. Jackson, Mississippi. Eleven members of the Republic of New Africa, a black separatist organization, are charged with murder and assault of federal officers after the death of Lieutenant I. Skinner, a Mississippi policeman. Skinner was shot when police and FBI agents raided the organization’s headquarters in order to serve fugitive warrants on three members. The county district attorney requests that a special grand jury charge the separatists with treason and that the Justice Department allow these charges to take precedence over any federal prosecution.
1971, August 21. San Quentin, California. George Jackson, author of Soledad Brothers and a folk hero to many black and white radicals, is killed during a prison break. Some supporters of Jackson claim he was “set-up” for assassination, while others feel the official version of Jackson’s death is essentially correct.
1971, October. Chicago, Illinois. “Black Expo,” a four-day cultural and business exposition, attracts some 800,000 people. The exposition is conducted by Jesse Jackson and a number of African American businessmen.
1972, January 10. Richmond, Virginia. A federal judge orders the consolidation of Richmond’s predominantly black school system with two all-white suburban systems. Judge Robert Mehirge bases his decision on the failure of state officials to take positive action to reverse de facto segregation.
1972, January 10. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Two Black Muslims and two white police officers are killed in a shootout. Disturbances following the shootings injure 31 people and the National Guard is called in to restore order.
1972, March. Gary, Indiana. Some 8,000 African Americans representing a wide spectrum of political views attend the first National Black Political Convention. The convention is chaired by Imamu Amiri Baraka with Mayor Richard Hatcher of Gary, Indiana, as the keynote speaker. The group approves a political platform, the “Black Agenda” that demands reparations, proportional congressional representation for African Americans, an increase in federal spending to combat crime and drug trafficking, reduction of the military budget, and a guaranteed annual income of $6,500 for a family of four.
1972, March 16. Washington, DC. President Nixon proposes a moratorium on all court-ordered busing until July of 1973. African American members of Congress charge that the president is suggesting a return to “separate but equal” schools.
1972, June 4. San Jose, California. After 13 hours of deliberation, a jury of eleven whites and one Mexican-American acquits Angela Davis of murder and other charges in connection with a 1970 courthouse shootout in San Rafael, California.
1972, June 6. Richmond, Virginia. A U.S. Appeals Court, by a 5–1 vote, overturns a plan which would have required the busing of school children between Richmond and two nearly all-white suburbs.
1972, July 12. Miami Beach, Florida. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota wins the presidential nomination at the Democratic party’s national convention. African American delegates make up approximately 15 percent of the total delegates in attendance. New York Representative Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman to seek a presidential nomination, receives 151 votes.
1972, August. Washington, DC. Attorney General Richard Kleindienst files suit against the cities of Los Angeles, California, and Montgomery, Alabama, for discrimination in hiring for public service jobs.
1972, November. Cincinnati, Ohio. The Association for the Study of Black Life History, meeting for its 57th annual convention, changes its name to the Association for the Study of African American History. The change is based on a mail ballot of the Association’s membership, some two-thirds of whom opt to substitute “African-American” for “black” in the title. Prominent speakers at the convention include: Andrew F. Brimmer, a governor of the Federal Reserve Board; Representative Louis Stokes of Cleveland; John Hope Franklin, professor of history at Duke University; and Rayford W. Logan, professor of history at Howard University.
1972, November. Richard M. Nixon is reelected president in a landslide victory over Senator George McGovern, despite the fact that some 86 percent of the African American vote went to McGovern. However, African Americans achieve a number of electoral successes as the number of African Americans in Congress increases from 12 to 15; Barbara Jordan of Houston, Texas, and Andrew Young of Atlanta become the first Southern African Americans elected to Congress since Reconstruction. Senator Edward Brooke, an African American Republican from Massachusetts, wins reelection and African American representation in state legislatures increases dramatically.
1972, November 16. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Two young African American men, Denver A. Smith and Leonard Douglas Brown, are killed on the campus of Southern University during a confrontation between students and police. The students had been pressing for the resignation of the university’s president G. Leon Netterville, whom they charged with arbitrarily dismissing teachers he regarded as militant and for being unreceptive to student demands for better living and academic facilities. Following the shootings, Louisiana Governor Edwin W. Edwards closes the school and sends the National Guard to the Baton Rouge campus.
1972, December 14. Washington, DC. In the case of Banks v. Perks, the U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously that residents of racially-segregated housing projects can sue to have them integrated. In its opinion, the Court states that white residents living in segregated housing projects suffer the same social and economic injuries as those denied access to these facilities.
1973, April 28. Washington, DC. A government panel releases its final report determining whether the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the Public Health Service, was justified. The study involved observing the effects of untreated syphilis on 430 African American men living in rural Macon County, Alabama. The panel found no evidence that participants in the study had been given any type of informed consent. The panel concluded that the study was unjustified on both scientific and humanitarian grounds and that all policies regarding research on humans be reformed.
1973, May 29. Los Angeles, California. Thomas Bradley is elected mayor of Los Angeles after defeating the incumbent Sam Yorty by 100,000 votes. Yorty had defeated Bradley in the 1969 mayoral election.
1973, June. Washington, DC. The Joint Center for Political Studies reports that as of April of 1973, 2,621 African Americans held elective offices in the United States at every level from school boards to the Congress. When the first list was compiled, in 1969, the total was only 1,185.
1974, March. Washington, DC. The Department of Justice releases memos revealing that in the 1960s and early 1970s, the FBI had waged a campaign designed to disrupt, discredit, and neutralize black nationalist groups including the Black Panther party. A major objective of the effort, according to the memo, was to prevent the emergence of an African American leader capable of uniting disparate factions and inspiring violence. Jesse Jackson remarks that the documents implicate the FBI in the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Fred Hampton.
1974, March 15. Little Rock, Arkansas. The second Black National Political Convention is held. Mayor Richard B. Hatcher of Gary, Indiana, and Imamu Amiri Baraka are among the speakers. Delegates to the convention approve several resolutions including the establishment of a fund to provide money for civil rights causes and a resolution voicing support for African liberation movements.
1974, April 8. Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s longstanding record and hits his 715th home run.
1974, June. Washington, DC. A draft report from the Senate committee investigating the “Watergate” scandal indicates that the Nixon administration tried to gain the support or neutrality of prominent African Americans during the 1972 presidential campaign by withholding federal funds for government programs. Among those contacted by the Nixon administration were Jesse Jackson, head of Operation PUSH, and James Farmer, an administration official during Nixon’s first term.
1974, July 25. Washington, DC. In the case of Milliken v. Bradley, the U.S. Supreme Court nullifies an attempt to implement the “metropolitan integration” of predominantly African American schools in Detroit with those of nearby white suburbs. Chief Justice Warren Burger, writing for the majority, declares that segregation in a city’s schools does not justify its combination with schools in its suburbs. Justice Thurgood Marshall calls the Court’s decision “an emasculation of the constitutional guarantee of equal opportunity.”
1974, November. The number of African American elected officials increases at the federal, state, and local levels. African American members of Congress are reelected and one new member, Harold Ford of Memphis, Tennessee, is added. African Americans are also elected to the post of lieutenant governor in California and Colorado.
1974, December 11. Boston, Massachusetts. Violence erupts between supporters and opponents of public school integration.
1975, January 16. Washington, DC. William T. Coleman is named secretary of transportation by President Ford, becoming the second African American in the nation’s history to hold a Cabinet post.
1975, January 25. The New York Times reports that the FBI had wiretapped conversations of civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr.
1975, May 3. Department of Labor figures report the national unemployment rate at nine percent, the African American rate at 15 percent. Vernon L. Jordan Jr. of the National Urban League reports that the African American rate is actually 26 percent.
1975, August 18. Washington, DC. District of Columbia Appellate Court Judge Julia Cooper is confirmed by the Senate, becoming the highest-ranking African American woman in the federal courts.
1975, August 20. Washington, DC. Senator Edward Brooke calls for a $10 billion federal employment program to end the economic “depression” in black America by creating one million public service jobs.
1975, August 29. Washington, DC. General Daniel James Jr. becomes commander-in-chief of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). On the same day, he is promoted and becomes the first African American four-star general in U.S. history.
1975, September 27. Washington, DC. The Congressional Black Caucus holds its fifth annual dinner. The major theme of the affair is “From Changing Structures to Using Structure—1879–1976.” Panelists recommend the federal takeover of the welfare system and poverty assistance, that the states assume more fiscal responsibility for education, and that Caucus-directed programs develop a national African American position on matters of policy.
1975, December. Washington, DC. U.S. Attorney General Edward Levy opens an official review of the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination. Although James Earl Ray was convicted of the crime, many facts point to a conspiracy and suggest that those really responsible for the murder are still at large.
1976, April 26. New York City, New York. The Metropolitan Applied Research Center, a major African American research organization founded to serve as an advocate for the urban poor, announces that it must close due to declining funds.
1976, August 31. Mississippi. A chancellery court orders the NAACP to pay the sum of $1,250,058 to 12 white Port Gibson merchants. The money is compensation for the financial hardships inflicted on the merchants due to the NAACP’s successful boycott of white businesses in 1966.
1976, November 2. African American voters play a vital role in Jimmy Carter’s victory over President Gerald Ford in the presidential election. Carter received about 94 percent of some 6.6 million African American votes.
1976, November 14. Plains, Georgia. The congregation of President-elect Jimmy Carter’s Baptist church votes to drop its 11-year ban on attendance by African Americans.
1976, December 16. Washington, DC. President-elect Jimmy Carter appoints Andrew Young as chief delegate to the United Nations and Patricia Roberts Harris as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
1977, January 20. Washington, DC. Clifford Alexander Jr. is sworn in as the first African American secretary of the U.S. Army. President Carter appoints 19 African Americans to his Cabinet, while 37 other African Americans obtain executive positions within the Carter administration.
1977, April 19. New York City, New York. Author Alex Haley receives a Pulitzer Prize for his book Roots.
1977, July 29. St. Louis, Missouri. Roy Wilkins, a 42-year veteran of the NAACP, announces his retirement during the organization’s 68th annual convention.
1977, September 4. New York City, New York. At a meeting of the National Urban League, 15 African American members agree to form a loose coalition to combat perceived anti-African American sentiment within the nation and seek greater job opportunities for African Americans.
1978, May 29. Washington, DC. Files made public by the FBI reveal that an unidentified African American leader worked with the agency during the 1960s in an effort to remove Martin Luther King Jr. from national prominence in the Civil Rights movement. The information released is from the files of the late J. Edgar Hoover.
1978, June 28. Washington, DC. Hearing the case University of California v. Bakke, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision, orders that white student Allan P. Bakke be admitted to the medical school at the University of California, Davis. The Court rules that the refusal to admit Bakke is tantamount to reverse discrimination and that the use of racial or ethnic quotas is an improper means of achieving racial balance. The Court also holds that the college’s affirmative action program is invalid since it had the effect of discriminating against qualified white applicants, although the court perceived the goal of attaining a diverse student body as constitutional and permissible.
1978, December 3. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that from 1960 to 1977, the number of African Americans living in suburban areas increased from 2.4 million to 4.6 million, and that 55 percent of the 24.5 million African Americans in the United States live in central cities, indicating a decline from the 1970 figure of 59 percent.
1979, February 27. Washington, DC. The Department of Housing and Urban Development announces that it will foreclose on the financially-troubled Soul City, a new town in rural North Carolina that was to have been controlled by African Americans but open to members of all races. Since 1969, when Floyd B. McKissick announced the idea for the city, $27 million had been spent by federal, state, and local sources. McKissick vows to continue efforts to keep the project alive.
1979, May 2. Washington, DC. The Congressional Black Caucus and delegates from 11 Southern states set up an “action alert communications network.” This network is designed to exert pressure on at least 100 white congressional representatives from predominantly black districts to vote with the caucus on important issues.
1979, June 19. The U.S. Census Bureau announces a study indicating that although blacks have made enormous advances in employment, income, health, housing, political power, and other measures of social well-being, they remain far behind white Americans.
1979, June 25. Washington, DC. Amalya L. Kearse becomes the first woman to receive an appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
1979, June 29. Washington, DC. In the case of United States Steel v. Brian Weber, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that private employers can legally give special preference to black workers to eliminate “manifest racial imbalance” in traditionally white jobs.
1979, August 1. Washington, DC. The U.S. House of Representatives votes 408–1 to place a bust of the late Martin Luther King Jr. in the Capitol. The bust is the first work of art in the Capitol honoring an African American.
1979, August 16. New York City, New York. Andrew Young resigns as the chief U.S. delegate to the United Nations after being publicly criticized for conducting unauthorized talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization in New York. The resignation sets off a storm of controversy and animosity between segments of the Jewish and African American communities.
1979, December 22. Washington, DC. The Joint Center for Political Studies reveals that between 1978 and 1979, the number of African Americans elected to public office increased by 104. This two percent increase is considered meager, especially because such officials were elected in states with substantial African American populations.
1980, February 6. Washington, DC. The Congressional Black Caucus criticizes President Carter’s fiscal 1981 budget proposals because they increase the amount of military spending while reducing the funding for social programs. Caucus members promise to initiate legislation to reduce military spending increases and pronounce the budget “an unmitigated disaster for the poor, the unemployed and minorities.”
1980, April 22. Washington, DC. Hearing the case City of Mobile, Alabama v. Wiley L. Bolden, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6–3 decision, overturns a lower court ruling that an at-large city electoral system is unconstitutional because it dilutes the voting strength of African Americans.
1980, May 11. Washington, DC. Early primary results reveal that the African American community is supporting President Carter’s second-term bid despite criticism of his record by national African American leaders, according to reports. The “resounding” victories won by Carter in the Southern primaries are interpreted as African Americans lacking faith in their ability to enact a “Great Society-style social renewal” agenda as proposed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
1980, May 14. Birmingham, Alabama. J. B. Stoner, a white supremacist, is convicted for the 1958 bombing of an African American church in Birmingham, Alabama.
1980, May 18. Miami, Florida. The African American Liberty City area and predominantly African American Coconut Grove section of Miami erupt into riotous violence, ending with nine dead and 163 injured, following the acquittal of four white Dade County police officers in the beating death of a black man. In the night-long unrest, stores are looted, property burned, and whites fatally beaten. During the violence, African Americans are heard screaming the name “McDuffie” (Arthur), the African American insurance executive beaten to death following a high-speed chase with Dade County police officers for a traffic violation. Dade County officials impose an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew; 350 National Guard troops set up headquarters in an armory with 450 more enroute from Orlando.
1980, May 29. Fort Wayne, Indiana. Vernon E. Jordan Jr., president of the National Urban League, is shot and seriously wounded by an unknown assailant. Stating that the shooting evidenced “an element of premeditation,” director of the FBI William H. Webster says, “the shooting was not accidental, and was in furtherance of an apparent conspiracy to deprive Vernon Jordan of his civil rights.” The shooting occurred just outside Jordan’s motel room.
1980, July 3. Washington, DC. A ruling authorizing Congress to impose racial quotas to remedy past discrimination against minority contractors in federal jobs programs is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 6–3 vote. It validates the ten percent minority set-aside of federal public works contracts, challenged by white contractors in Fullilove v. Klutznick.
1980, July 3. Cincinnati, Ohio. In a consent decree with the Justice Department, the city of Cincinnati agrees to hire and promote more African Americans and women within the police department. The decree permanently enjoins the city from engaging in any employment discrimination. Over a five-year period, 34 percent of new police officer vacancies will be filled by African Americans and 23 percent by women. The fire department of the city of Chicago, in a similar action (April 2, 1980), was permanently prohibited from discrimination against any candidate for promotion on the basis of race or national origin. The settlement of this discrimination action was filed in federal district court and resulted from a suit charging violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Federal Sharing Act of 1972. In New York City, the U.S. Court of Appeals (August 1, 1980) overturned a lower court ruling that 50 percent of all new police officer hires be African American or Hispanic. The appeals court, however, ruled that the written test used for hiring had “significant disparate racial impact” in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It concluded that until a new test was implemented, one-third of all newly hired police must be African American or Hispanic.
1980, September 3. St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis schools are desegregated peacefully after eight years of struggle. Over 16,000 students are bused on the first day of classes under court orders. No violence is reported.
1980, September 26. Detroit, Michigan. Federal district judge Horace W. Gilmore invalidates the 1980 census on the grounds that it undercounts African Americans and Hispanics, thus violating the one-person, one-vote principle. The action was precipitated by a suit initiated by the city of Detroit with support from dozens of other cities. The census was later upheld in higher courts.
1980, September 26. Washington, DC. The Congressional Black Caucus marks its tenth anniversary with its annual legislative weekend. The group of bipartisan representatives cite as their major achievements the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Bill and the ten percent “minority-set-aside” law established to ensure minority firms a nearly representative share of federal contracts. The caucus identifies its current concern as the potential reapportionment of congressional districts affected by the outcome of the 1980 census.
1980, September 29. New York City, New York. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture opens a new $3.8 million building in Harlem.
1980, September 30. Washington, DC. The first annual Black College Day is attended by 18,000 African American students. Speeches on the preservation of African American colleges and universities are given by African American officials and student leaders. The march is organized by African American journalist Tony Brown in an effort to draw public attention to the impact of integration and merging of African American private and public colleges and universities. Brown contends seven out of ten blacks attending predominantly white colleges do not graduate.
1980, November 23. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. About 1,000 people from 25 states attend a convention and form the National Black Independent Party. The idea grows out of a National Black Political Assembly in Gary, Indiana, in 1972.
1980, December 12. Washington, DC. African American leaders of the nation’s major civil rights organizations meet with President-elect Ronald Reagan who says he will defend the civil rights of minorities. The leaders urge him to appoint an African American to a Cabinet position in his administration. Present at the meeting are Vernon E. Jordan Jr., president of the National Urban League; Benjamin Hooks, executive director, NAACP; and Dorothy I. Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women.
1980, December 18. San Antonio, Texas. A federal grand jury acquits Charles Veverka of four counts of violating the civil rights of Arthur McDuffie, an African American who was beaten to death while in police custody. The jury deliberates for 16 hours, finally breaking an 11–1 deadlock that threatened a mistrial. Veverka was indicted following violent riots in Miami resulting from the acquittal of four white police officers accused of executing the fatal beating.
1980, December 23. Washington, DC. Samuel R. Pierce Jr. is named by President-elect Ronald Reagan to the Cabinet post of secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As such, Pierce is the highest-ranking African American appointee of the new administration. According to reports, Pierce is a life-long Republican, widely respected in legal, financial, and civil rights circles.
1981, February 7. Miami, Florida. Three Miami youths are convicted of murder in connection with the beating deaths of three whites during the Liberty City riots in May of 1980. A fourth youth who was tried with the others is acquitted. Attorneys for the defendants announce plans to appeal the verdicts.
1981, May 7. Washington, DC. Representative Robert S. Walker, a Republican from Pennsylvania, introduces a bill which prohibits the use of numerical quotas devised to increase the hiring or school enrollment of minorities and women. Entitled the “Equal Employment Opportunity Act,” it seeks to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and prevents the federal government from imposing rules on employers or schools to hire workers or to admit students on the basis of race, sex, or national origin. In effect, the proposal no longer requires companies and educational institutions to make up for past discrimination by taking on a set number of minorities and women within a specified time frame.
1981, May 13. Washington, DC. The Labor Department proposes revisions of Executive Order No. 11246 (prohibiting employment discrimination by federal contractors based on race, sex, color, national origin, or religion) in its continuing effort to ease job-discrimination rules for federal contractors. The contents of an internal memorandum reveal the effort seems targeted toward reducing the record-keeping and affirmative action requirements for small contractors and eliminating “unnecessary confrontations” with all contractors. Timothy Ryan, Labor Department solicitor, says that the revisions make the program more manageable and cut the number of companies covered by two-thirds for certain requirements. Secretary Raymond Donovan maintains that a final decision on revisions within the Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs has not been made. Administration officials plan to alter the proposal before its effective date of June 29.
1981, May 23. Washington, DC. Calling them “ineffective” and unfair remedies to discrimination, Attorney General William French Smith announces that the Justice Department will no longer continue its vigorous pursuit of mandatory busing and the use of racial quotas in employment-discrimination cases. It also considers amendments which would make “reverse discrimination” illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
1981, June 10. Washington, DC. The House once again approves an anti-busing provision by a vote of 265 to 122, forbidding the Justice Department from taking any direct or indirect action to require the busing of students to schools other than those closest to where they live with the exception of cases involving special education needs. The provision is known as an “anti-busing rider” because of its attachment to the department’s $2.3 billion authorized bill.
1981, June 16. Washington, DC. The Reagan administration, in a letter to Attorney General William French Smith, requires the Justice Department to determine whether the political rights of minority Americans are best served by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Stating that the act marks the nation’s commitment to full equality for all Americans, the administration says that what must be answered is whether the act continues to be the most appropriate means of guaranteeing their rights. The completed report is due October 1.
1981, September 9. New York City, New York. Roy Wilkins, former head of the NAACP and one of the key players in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, dies at New York University Medical Center at the age of 80.
1981, September 10. New York City, New York. Vernon Jordan announces his plans to resign as executive director of the National Urban League to join the Dallas-based law firm of Akin, Grump, Hauer, and Field. Jordan’s office will be in Washington, DC.
1981, October 7. Washington, DC. A House vote, 389– 24, in favor of extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965, seems to ensure the likelihood of an equally strong measure in the Senate, according to Capitol Hill analysts. The House version makes the pre-clearance provisions of the act permanent (requiring six Southern states and Alaska to submit proposed changes in election laws to the Justice Department before implementation), but also features the so-called bailout provision that exempts jurisdictions from the requirement if they can prove a clean ten-year voting rights record and efforts to encourage minority voting.
1981, November 28. Washington, DC. The nomination of Clarence M. Pendleton, president of the Urban League of San Diego, to head the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights results in divided opinion over his suitability for the post. Pendleton’s selection is controversial because of his promotion of private industry as a cure-all for African American economic problems and because of his opposition to other positions taken traditionally by the Civil Rights movement on issues such as busing and affirmative action.
1981, December 8. Washington, DC. William Bradford Reynolds, assistant attorney general of the Justice Depart-ment’s civil rights division, announces plans to seek a ruling by the Supreme Court which would find it unconstitutional to give minorities and women preference in hiring and promotion. Reynolds wants a reversal of the High Court’s decision in Weber v. Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp., which upheld the legality of affirmative action hiring and promotion practices negotiated by the company and the United Steel Workers of America. Reynolds contends the Weber decision was “wrongly decided” and that different sets of rules for the public sector and the private sector should not exist. Under his direction, the Justice Department has ceased such hiring preferences; the action sought by Reynolds would prohibit individuals, the Labor Department, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from seeking such preferences.
1982, January 2. Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley opens his campaign to become the first African American governor of California. The 64-year-old former policeman has been elected as the city’s mayor three times.
1982, January 20. Alabama. Two African American civil rights workers, Julia Wilder and Maggie Bozeman, are charged with vote fraud.
1982, February 1. New York City, New York. Representative Shirley Chisholm, a Democrat from New York and the first African American woman to win a seat in Congress, announces that she will not seek another term. She has served the Brooklyn communities of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick since 1968.
1982, February 1. Washington, DC. The Justice Department proposes that the city of Chicago be allowed to try to desegregate its schools following a plan that would rely mainly on voluntary student transfers rather than mandatory busing.
1982, February 6. Alabama. A small band of Southern civil rights workers, followed by 300 sympathizers, start a 140-mile march in support of the Federal Voting Rights Act and in protest against the vote fraud conviction of two African American political activists. The marchers travel from Carrollton, Alabama, through Selma to the state capitol, Montgomery, a route made famous in early civil rights marches.
1982, February 14. Alabama. Hundreds of voting rights marchers going from Carrollton to Montgomery march peacefully across the Edmund Pettis Bridge.
1982, April 4. Washington, DC. The Bureau of Census reports that the 1980 census missed counting 1.3 million African Americans and that the undercount represented 4.8 percent of the nation’s 28 million African Americans. The bureau says that in 1970 the census missed 1.9 million out of 24.4 million African Americans.
1983. Washington, DC. A test case of the Justice Department to eliminate court-ordered busing to desegregate public schools is rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the contention of the Justice Department that a desegregation plan in Nashville, Tennessee, was contributing to “white flight” from the city.
1983. Louisiana. Louisiana repeals the United States’ last racial classification law.
1983, January 12. Washington, DC. A majority of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission charges that the Reagan administration’s Justice Department has been moving in the direction of getting judicial approval to end affirmative action. The two-and-a-half-page text issued by the majority asserts that cases in several cities, given the current position of the Justice Department, could result in continued discrimination. The committee’s assertion is opposed by the chairman of the committee, Clarence Pendleton, an African American Reagan appointee.
1983, April 13. Chicago, Illinois. Harold Washington becomes the first African American mayor of Chicago. Washington received 656,727 votes (51 percent), while his opponent, Bernard Epton, received 617,159 votes (48 percent). The voting followed racial lines with 90 percent of the votes in black areas going to Washington, as well as some 44 percent of the vote in the city’s white liberal areas.
1983, April 22. Greensboro, North Carolina. After 29 months of investigation, a federal grand jury indicts six Ku Klux Klansmen and three members of the American Nazi Party in the deaths of five members of the Communist Workers Party who participated in a “Death-to-the-Klan” rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1979.
1983, May 18. New York City, New York. Benjamin L. Hooks, executive director of the NAACP, is suspended indefinitely by the association’s chairman, Margaret Bush Wilson. The controversy was said to have begun with Wilson’s criticism of some internal aspects as to how well the organization was doing.
1983, May 25. Washington, DC. In an 8–1 decision the Supreme Court rules that private schools which discriminate on the basis of race are not eligible for tax exemptions. The ruling in Bob Jones University v. IRS rejects the Reagan administration’s contention that because there is nothing in the Internal Revenue Service code banning such exemptions, they are permissible. The opinion, rendered by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, stated that racial discrimination in education violates widely accepted views of elementary justice and “that to grant tax exempt status to racially discriminatory educational entities would be incompatible with the concepts of tax exemption.”
1983, May 26. Washington, DC. President Ronald Reagan presents three nominees to replace three current members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. If confirmed, the administration would have a majority of its appointees on the six-member commission. A storm of protest and controversy arises from civil rights groups and members of Congress accusing the president of efforts to pack the commission. The three nominees are John H. Bunzel, Morris B. Abram, and Robert A. Destro. The commissioners to be replaced are Mary Frances Berry, Rabbi Murray Saltzman, and Blandina Cardenas Ramirez. However, lawyers from various private and governmental agencies indicated that the president probably does not have the legal authority to dismiss personnel who in effect are members of an independent bipartisan deliberative body with no powers. Jack Greenberg of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund stated that it was illegal for the president to do what he proposes and that the Fund would represent the commissioners if they decided to mount a challenge.
1983, May 28. New York City, New York. The NAACP’s executive director Benjamin L. Hooks is reinstated to his post after an eight-day suspension by board chairman Margaret Bush Wilson. Wilson states that the objective of the action has been achieved and its continuance no longer serves a useful purpose.
1983, August. Washington, DC. Surveys in the state of Mississippi indicate a probability that enforcement of the Voting Rights Act will be extremely difficult in many counties. As a result, Assistant Attorney General William Bradford Reynolds announces that he will send 300 federal observers into the state to see that the act is enforced. Many civil rights leaders believe the response to be totally inadequate and Jesse Jackson believes that the planned observers are untrained and will be unable to see or understand many violations.
1983, October 20. Washington, DC. By a vote of 78–22, action is completed in the Senate and the president signs into law a bill making the third Monday of each January a day honoring the memory of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Initially opposed by President Ronald Reagan, many prominent Republican senators urged and got the president’s support of the bill, thus insuring passage in the Senate. The bill had previously passed in the house by a margin of 338–90. Senator Jesse Helms (Republican, North Carolina) leads an effort to defeat the bill. Helms accuses King of “Marxist” ways. Helms also attempts to have controversial FBI tapes on King opened and made public in the hope that such disclosure would create public scandal. Senator Edward Kennedy (Democrat, Massachusetts) is outraged by Helms and asks for a renunciation of the senator in the nation and in his home state.
1983, October 25. Washington, DC. In a surprise move President Ronald Reagan fires three members from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights because their views are critical of many aspects of the administration’s policies in this area. Those fired were Mary Frances Berry, a professor of history and law at Howard University; Blandina Cardenas Ramirez of San Antonio; and Rabbi Murray Saltzman of Baltimore—all highly regarded as effective spokespersons for minorities.
1983, November 10. In general elections throughout the nation, African Americans make some significant gains. Wilson Goode is elected mayor of Philadelphia, becoming that city’s first African American to serve in such capacity and making his city the fourth of the nation’s six largest cities to have an African American as chief executive. Other African American winners are Democrat Harvey Gantt who becomes the first African American elected mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina; James A. Sharp Jr., the first elected African American mayor of Flint, Michigan; Thirman Milner who wins a second term in Hartford, Connecticut; and Richard Hatcher who wins a fifth term in Gary, Indiana.
1983, December 1. Washington, DC. In a supposed compromise bill President Ronald Reagan signs into law a newly reorganized U.S. Commission on Civil Rights comprised of four presidential and four congressional appointees. As the first of his appointments, Reagan reappoints Clarence M. Pendleton Jr. as chairman of the new commission.
1984. The Centers for Disease Control releases figures on the homicide rate for young African American males. Between 1984 and 1988, the homicide rate among African American males ages 15 to 24 had risen 68 percent.
1984, June 6. Washington, DC. Margaret Bush Wilson, former chairperson of the NAACP, loses the battle to get herself reinstated as a member of the association’s governing board. Wilson was the first African American woman chairperson of the NAACP and had been a member of the national board of directors since 1963.
1984, June 13. Washington, DC. In a 6–3 decision the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a U.S. district court decision that allowed the layoff of three white firefighters who had seniority over three black firefighters. The Supreme Court decided that affirmative action employment gains are not preferential when jobs must be decreased and that “legitimate” seniority systems are protected from court intervention. However, a dissenting opinion by Justices Blackmun, Brennan, and Marshall argued that under Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, race-related preferential practice was an acceptable application. As a result of the Court’s decision, the Justice Department announces that it will reexamine all federal anti-discrimination settlements and will advise government agencies to not continue the practice of using racial employment quotas when negotiating affirmative action plans.
1984, July 6. Washington, DC. Secret tapes of President John F. Kennedy are made public and demonstrate a sincere effort by Kennedy to get mayors, governors, and congressmen to accept integration and support his civil rights programs. The recordings made during the Kennedy presidency also reveal a dramatic conversation with Martin Luther King Jr. in which King, after a bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four children at an African American church, calls upon the president to send federal troops into the city to protect the African American community and to prevent riots. In a conversation with mayor Allen Thompson of Jackson, Mississippi, the president urges him to hire African American police officers. After the mayor assures the president that he will hire African Americans, he said to Kennedy “don’t get your feelings hurt” about public statements he may have to make about the president, to which Kennedy replies “well, listen I give you full permission to denounce me in public as long as you don’t do it in private.”
1984, November 14. Washington, DC. The Supreme Court rules that redistricting plans and election laws that have discriminatory results are affirmed to be illegal under a provision of the 1982 Voting Rights Act. The ruling came as a result of a Mississippi redistricting plan.
1984, November 12. Atlanta, Georgia. The Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. dies of a heart ailment at the age of 82. For 44 years he had been pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church and was one of the South’s most influential African American clergymen.
1985, January 5. South Africa. Senator Edward Kennedy visits South Africa at the invitation of Noble Peace Prize-recipient Bishop Desmond Tutu. Kennedy also visits Winnie Mandela, the wife of jailed black nationalist Nelson Mandela, but his request to meet with the imprisoned leader is refused by the government.
1985, February 21. New York City, New York. As a cost-savings measure the NAACP will move from its headquarters in New York City to Baltimore, Maryland, by 1986. The association is negotiating the purchase of a suitable building for $2 million in Baltimore after being unable to find a suitable and economically-sound location in New York City.
1985, February 26. Washington, DC. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights gives enthusiastic support to a Supreme Court decision giving existing seniority systems preference over affirmative action programs even though the African Americans were hired to remedy previously contended discriminatory hiring practices. U.S. Civil Rights Commissioners Mary Frances Berry and Blandina Cardenas Ramirez, in heated disagreement with the Supreme Court and the Civil Rights Commission’s report, state that civil rights laws are designed to protect blacks, minorities, and women, not white men. The statement creates new controversy as to the meaning of the existence of the Civil Rights Commission.
1985, March 7. Washington, DC. Charging that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights had already decided to oppose such measures as timetables and quotas, national civil rights groups boycott hearings on the use of such goals to achieve racial balance or to remedy discriminatory hiring practices.
1985, March 13. Washington, DC. Clarence Pendleton, chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, estimates that after the issue of preferential treatment is settled, the Civil Rights Commission should be abolished. Responsibility for civil rights, says Pendelton, should be in the hands of the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
1985, May 1. Washington, DC. A statue of Martin Luther King Jr. is dedicated at the Washington Cathedral as a memorial to his comprehensive contributions and celebrated leadership in the struggle for civil rights.
1985, May 6. Washington, DC. The federal government and the state of Maryland reach tentative agreement on a plan to desegregate the state’s public colleges and universities. White enrollment at traditionally black colleges will be increased to 19 percent and black enrollment at predominantly white schools will reach 15 percent from 11 percent. The implementation of this plan is to take five years.
1985, August 2. Washington, DC. Because of the policy of apartheid in South Africa, the U.S. House of Representatives gives final approval to a bill imposing economic sanctions against the South African government by a vote of 380–48. The Reagan administration remains opposed to the legislation.
1985, December 6. Yonkers, New York. Stating that “discriminatory housing practices” on the part of Yonkers, New York, were responsible for the segregation of blacks from whites in the city’s schools, U.S. District Court Judge Leonard B. Sand indicated for the first time in school desegregation cases that a city’s housing policies are inextricably linked to school segregation. Judge Sand held that since 1949 Yonkers public housing had been deliberately built in low-income neighborhoods which had the effect of confining students to “inferior and racially unmixed schools.” The Justice Department in 1980 charged the city of Yonkers with bias in housing and schools and received from the city a tentative plan in 1984 to build public housing in predominantly white East Yonkers. The case could have landmark implications since busing had been the primary means for cities to comply with desegregation rulings.
1985, December 23. Birmingham, Alabama. Federal District Judge Sam Pointer Jr. dismisses a reverse discrimination suit instituted on behalf of 14 white fire-fighters in Birmingham, Alabama. It was claimed that the 14 whites were denied advancement because of a city hiring and promotion plan favoring less-qualified blacks. Judge Pointer ruled that the city accepted the consent decree along with the Justice Department in 1981, and therefore the decree is valid; he also ruled that the fire-fighters failed to prove that the plan violated that agreement.
1986, January 11. Richmond, Virginia. L. Douglas Wilder becomes the first African American lieutenant governor of the state of Virginia. Wilder, the grandson of a slave, was a Bronze Star recipient in the Korean War and a former member of the state senate.
1986, January 20. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is observed for the first time as a federal holiday.
1986, March 19. Washington, DC. The Supreme Court in Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education, the first of three major affirmative action decisions, rules 5–4 that broad affirmative action plans including hiring goals are permissible if they are carefully tailored to remedy past discrimination. In a ruling involving teachers laid off in Jackson, Michigan, the Court sends a mixed signal by deciding that public employers cannot give affirmative action plans as a substitute for seniority when reducing their work forces.
1986, June 16. Norfolk, Virginia. The U.S. Supreme Court denies an injunction sought by African American parents that would prevent the Norfolk, Virginia, school board from ending school busing to stem “white flight” from the city’s public schools. According to the petition, the change would result in “a general resegregation of the public schools of the South.”
1986, July 2. Cleveland, Ohio. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on an action regarding Cleveland printers and New York sheet metal workers upholds the use of affirmative action plans designed to remedy past discrimination. The decision in Sheet Metal Workers International v. EEOC rejects the Reagan administration’s argument that only specific victims of discrimination are entitled to such relief.
1986, August 5. Washington, DC. African American leaders representing major African American organizations meet to urge the passage of legislation that would impose more stringent economic sanctions on South Africa.
1986, September 11. South Africa. Coretta Scott King visits South Africa, meets with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, cancels a meeting with the prime minister, and later visits Winnie Mandela, wife of the imprisoned South African anti-apartheid leader.
1986, October 3. Washington, DC. In an effort to win Senate support for his veto of a sanctions bill against South Africa for their apartheid policies, Ronald Reagan
appoints an African American career diplomat, Edward J. Perkins, to be the new American ambassador to that country. The bill had been overridden by a wide majority (313–83) in the House. The Senate, despite the appointment, votes with the House by a vote of 78–21 to override the veto.
1986, October 7. Washington, DC. The 32-year-old case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas is reopened by the original plaintiff and others who maintain that the school district has failed to integrate fully its schools or to eradicate the remaining elements that permitted racial separation in the past. Richard Jones, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, says he will show that the school board approved boundaries that perpetuate racially-separate schools and allowed white parents to avoid compliance with desegregation efforts by offering school attendance alternatives.
1986, October 20. Baltimore, Maryland. Four days of dedication ceremonies commence as the NAACP opens its new headquarters. The NAACP was founded in New York in 1909 and maintained its headquarters there until this move. There is official indication that the organization will begin new and diverse programs including business development, in addition to its more fundamental activities such as voter registration and protest demonstrations in its general goal of social and economic justice.
1986, November 4. Norfolk, Virginia. The Supreme Court declines to review two school desegregation cases, one which allows the city of Norfolk to end its busing plan, and another that attempts to sanction the authority of the Oklahoma City School Board to end busing for students in grades one through four. It is speculated that some high court justices want to leave the lower courts with the means of interpreting law on a local and regional basis. In the Norfolk case, African American parents had claimed that the lower court ruling ending busing would have the effect of reinstating school segregation.
1986, December 21. Queens, New York. Michael Griffith, a 23-year-old black male, is struck by a car and killed while seeking safety from a white mob beating him with bats and fists. The incident occurred in the white community of Howard Beach, Queens. The whites were reported shouting, “Niggers, you don’t belong here!” Griffith and two companions were in the neighborhood looking for a tow for their disabled car.
1987, January 7. Washington, DC. New regulations are issued to strengthen the federal government’s authority to reject changes in local election laws that have a discriminatory result. No longer does the legal process have to prove that the intent of the local law was to discriminate, it need only demonstrate that it could have a discriminatory result.
1987, February 11. Queens, New York. In Howard Beach, three white teenagers who participated in a racial attack against three black youths are charged with murder as a result of the death of one of the black youths who was killed by a car along an adjacent parkway as he attempted to escape from his white attackers.
1987, April 5. Washington, DC. Representative Charles Rangel (Democrat, New York) introduces two measures in Congress to have the late revolutionary civil rights leader Marcus Garvey exonerated of mail fraud charges of which he was convicted in 1924. The move by Rangel came after Robert Hill, editor of the Marcus Garvey papers project at the University of California at Los Angeles, discovered new evidence which could indicate that Garvey’s conviction may have been politically-motivated. In 1927 Garvey’s sentence was commuted by President Calvin Coolidge after which he was deported to Jamaica, his place of birth.
1987, April 7. Chicago, Illinois. Mayor Harold Washington wins reelection to a second four-year term and his supporters win control of the city council for the first time. Voting was along strong racial lines with Washington receiving 97 percent of the black vote cast, and his white opponent Edward R. Vrdolyak receiving 74 percent of the white vote. Hispanics cast 57 percent of their vote for Washington.
1987, April 18. Los Angeles, California. Al Campanis, vice president of personnel for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is pressured to resign from his job after stating that African Americans might not be qualified to be managers or hold executive positions in baseball. The remarks were made by Campanis on the ABC News program “Nightline.”
1987, April 25. Fort Smith, Arkansas. A federal grand jury indicts ten white supremacists on charges of conspiring to assassinate federal officials, including a judge, and to kill members of ethnic groups through bombings. Richard Girnt Butler, the leader of the Aryan Nations Church, was named in the indictment, along with nine others affiliated with the church and other white supremacist groups such as the Order and the Ku Klux Klan.
1987, May 3. Washington, DC. Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone meets with the Congressional Black Caucus and other African American leaders after being accused of making racial slurs in a speech angering African Americans and other ethnic groups. Following the meeting Nakasone agreed to pursue Japanese investments in minority-owned American banks, to set up exchange programs between Japanese colleges and African American colleges, and to locate Japanese companies in predominantly African American areas.
1987, July 1. Phoenix, Arizona. As a result of his decision to rescind state observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Governor Evan Mecham (Republican) faces a citizens’ effort to recall him as the governor of the state. The plan has strong state support from both parties and many Republicans wear “Recall Mecham” buttons.
1987, July 28. Montgomery, Alabama. After 15 years a tentative settlement is reached between the Alabama State Police Department and the Justice Department. Accordingly there will be an increase in the number of African Americans at various ranks on the force to as high as 25 percent over a three-year period. The department will promote 15 African Americans to the rank of corporal in a month and will eventually have African Americans comprise 20 percent of its sergeants, 15 percent of its lieutenants, and 10 percent of its captains. Federal District Judge Myron Thompson, who originally ordered the police department to hire one black officer for every white officer hired, has to approve the suggested settlement.
1988. Jesse Jackson receives 1,218 delegate votes at the Democratic National Convention.
1988, August 15. Dallas, Texas. The predominantly African American Bishop College, at one time the largest African American college in the West, closes its doors, unable to pay creditors $20 million. Founded in 1881 in Marshall, Texas, Bishop moved to Dallas in 1961. In 1967, Bishop had an enrollment of 1,500; in 1987 its enrollment had dwindled to 300.
1988, August 26. Boston, Massachusetts. In an effort to prevent a housing settlement between the city of Boston and the U.S. Department of Housing from being implemented, the NAACP files suit to have the agreement blocked, stating that a housing settlement, among other things, should include monetary compensation for people previously denied public housing because of their race and therefore forced to pay higher rent. The Housing Authority of the city of Boston was the largest housing authority in the country to enter into a fair housing voluntary compliance agreement with the federal government.
1988, October 4. Washington, DC. The General Accounting Office of the federal government makes public a report charging that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission failed to properly investigate as many as 82 percent of the claims made regarding job discrimination filed with the commission during a three-month period.
1988, November 26. Chicago, Illinois. As tensions increase between Jews and African Americans, the Reverend Jesse Jackson meets with Jewish leaders in an effort to reduce the anger and heal the wounds. The Congregation Hakafa turns out to overflow capacity to hear Reverend Jackson deliver the evening sermon and say, “The sons and daughters of the Holocaust, and the sons and daughters of slavery, must find common ground again.” The tension between Jews and African Americans reached a zenith in May when Mayor Sawyer of Chicago was severely criticized for taking a week to condemn the anti-Semitic remarks made by Steve Cokley, an aide to the mayor. Underlying the problem is the political struggle for power in Chicago. In 1983, Jews gave Harold Washington almost 50 percent of their votes and helped give Chicago its first African American mayor; in that race Washington defeated the white Republican candidate, Bernard Epton, who was Jewish.
1988, December 1. Washington, DC. Lieutenant General Colin Powell, President Reagan’s national security advisor and the top African American official in the administration, is nominated to become one of ten four-star generals in the U.S. Army. Along with the rank goes the assignment to command all U.S. troops in the continental borders of the country and to be responsible for mainland defense. The new rank also puts General Powell in a strong position to become chief of staff as early as 1991 when the post becomes vacant with the retirement of General Carl E. Vuono. General Powell is credited with helping President Reagan’s summit meetings in Moscow and Washington, DC, to become diplomatic successes.
1989, January 16. Miami, Florida. Rioting erupts on the evening of January 16 in the predominantly African American neighborhood of Overtown, following the killing of Anthony Lloyd, a 23-year-old African American, by an Hispanic police officer. On January 18, Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez announces that an independent panel would be appointed to investigate the killing.
1989, January 23. Decatur, Alabama. Six members of the Ku Klux Klan receive jail sentences and fines for their part in harassing African Americans in a civil rights march conducted ten years earlier in Decatur, Alabama. The May 1979 march had been to protest the jailing of Tommy Lee Hines, a retarded black man convicted of raping three white women. Hines’s 30-year jail sentence was overturned in 1980, and he was committed to a Montgomery mental hospital.
1989, January 23. Washington, DC. Hearing the case City of Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co., the Supreme Court strikes down a law in Richmond, Virginia, which required 30 percent of public works funds to be channeled to minority-owned construction companies. The landmark decision was decried by minority leaders, hailed by anti-quota officials, and predicted to have national impact on affirmative action and set-aside programs. The “Richmond decision,” which was written by Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and carried by a 6–3 majority, said set-aside programs were only justified if they redressed “identified discrimination.” O’Connor specifically suggested that “rigid numerical quotas” be avoided, in order to avoid racially-motivated hirings of any kind. The ruling only pertains to the disposition of federal, state, and local government contracts and does not affect affirmative action programs in private industry.
1989, January 26. Richmond, Virginia. Lieutenant Governor L. Douglas Wilder announces his candidacy for governor of Virginia. If successful, he would become the nation’s first African American elected to a governorship.
1989, February 7. The American Council on Education reports that the number of African American men attending college is declining. In 1976, 470,000 African American males were enrolled in college. Ten years later, that number dropped to 436,000. Meanwhile the number of African American female students grew during the same period, from 563,000 in 1976 to 645,000 in 1986. Reasons for the decline of African American male collegians were military enrollment, prohibitive college costs, “school phobia,” and the seduction of crime or drugs.
1989, February 10. Washington, DC. Washington lawyer Ronald H. Brown, who held high-level positions in the presidential campaigns of Senator Ted Kennedy and Reverend Jesse Jackson, is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The election of Brown marks the first time an African American has been chosen to lead a major American political party.
1989, February 10. Washington, DC. FBI Director William Sessions orders sweeping changes in the bureau’s affirmative action program after finding that the bureau had discriminated against minority employees. African American and Hispanic agents were immediately placed on lists for promotions. Sessions then ordered that FBI employees receive training in racial sensitivity and that the equal employment office budget be increased. Ironically, the FBI is the agency charged with enforcing the nation’s civil rights laws.
1989, February 10. Washington, DC. Louis W. Sullivan, on sabbatical leave as president of Morehouse School of Medicine in Georgia, becomes secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. He is the only African American selected in the first round of Cabinet posts in the Bush administration.
1989, March. Washington, DC. Statistics show that the nation’s capital has already taken the lead for having the highest homicide rate in the country. Local police figures show the homicide rate as 55.1 percent higher than the same time in 1988. Figures from the District of Columbia Office of Criminal Justice said 80 percent of the time, the motive for the murders was related to drug activity.
1989, April. Los Angeles, California. Mayor Tom Bradley wins reelection to a fifth term by a total of 157,000 votes.
1989, April 21. New Orleans, Louisiana. The nation’s first nonpartisan African American summit convenes April 21–23. Its purpose is to discuss “an African American agenda for the next four years and onto the year 2000,” said general chairman and Democratic party leader Richard Hatcher. More than 4,000 delegates from the United States, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands were invited.
1989, March 6. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court declares a second affirmative action plan unconstitutional in the case Milliken v. Michigan Road Builders Association. The Michigan law required that seven percent of state contracts be awarded to minority-owned businesses.
1989, March 7. Washington, DC. A student “sit-in” at Howard University results in the resignation of Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater from the university’s board of trustees four days following his appointment. The students claim that Atwater’s stand on civil rights is the cause for the protest.
1989, June 5. Washington, DC. In Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, the U.S. Supreme Court toughens the requirements for proof of discriminatory impact in job discrimination suits. The Court also declares in such cases that an employer might justify policies which have a discriminatory impact by providing a reasonable business explanation.
1989, June 12. Washington, DC. In Martin v. Wilks, the Supreme Court rules by a 5–4 majority that white workers claiming unfair treatment due to affirmative action settlements can seek compensation under civil rights legislation. The case involved white fire fighters in Birmingham, Alabama, who claimed that affirmative action had deprived them of promotions. Civil rights leaders call the decisions a civil rights setback.
1989, July 2. Washington, DC. The Reverend George A. Stallings Jr. conducts the first Mass of the Imani Temple African American Catholic Congregation.
1989, August 6. Washington, DC. The National Urban League holds its annual conference. Addressing the conference, President George H. W. Bush remarks that he will not strive for stronger affirmative action legislation. He claims that the 1990s will see a surplus of available jobs and a shrinking worker pool.
1989, August 23. Brooklyn, New York. Yusuf K. Hawkins, black youth, is fatally shot by five white youths in Brooklyn’s predominantly white Bensonhurst section igniting racial tension throughout the New York City area. The attack is regarded as the most serious racial incident in the city since 1986. On August 31, marches are held protesting the killing. On September 2, blacks protesting in Bensonhurst are confronted by white residents. Of the five youths charged with the killing of Hawkins, only one is convicted.
1989, October 12. The publication of Ralph Abernathy’s book And the Walls Came Tumbling Down is greeted with outrage. The book claims that Martin Luther King Jr. spent the night before his murder with two women. Twenty-seven African American leaders issue a statement denouncing Abernathy’s book.
1989, November 5. Montgomery, Alabama. The first memorial dedicated to the Civil Rights movement is unveiled. The memorial is commissioned by the Southern Poverty Law Center and designed by Maya Lin, who also created the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC.
1989, November 7. New York City, New York. African American candidates do well in elections. In Virginia, L. Douglas Wilder becomes the first elected African American governor in U.S. history. In New York City, David N. Dinkins is elected the city’s first African American mayor. In Detroit, Coleman A. Young is reelected to a fifth consecutive term as mayor. Michael R. White is elected as mayor of Cleveland. African American mayors are also elected in Seattle, Washington; New Haven, Connecticut; and Durham, North Carolina, for the first time in history.
1990, January 9. The United States. The Quality Education for Minorities Project releases its report and recommendations aimed at making schools more responsive to the needs of minority students. The project concludes that minority students are taught in “separate and decidedly unequal” schools resulting in a “gap between minority and non-minority educational achievements.”
1990, January 18. Washington, DC. Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr. is arrested after being videotaped purchasing and smoking crack cocaine. Following a split verdict, Barry is sentenced to six months in prison. The arrest generates speculation that Jesse Jackson will enter the 1990 Washington, DC, mayoral race.
1990, February 8. Selma, Alabama. African American students stage a “sit-in” following the firing of the city’s first African American school superintendent, Norward Roussell, on February 5. The firing is viewed as a battle to control the city’s school board—white school board members outnumber black members six to five, while 70 percent of Selma’s student population is African American. The conflict ends after six days of protest. The board amends its position to permit Roussell to stay on as superintendent until the end of his contract.
1990, February 23. Dallas, Texas. Bishop College, founded in 1881 by a group of freed slaves and once the largest African American college in the western United States, is sold at a bankruptcy auction.
1990, March 6. Washington, DC. Clarence Thomas, chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is appointed judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
1990, April 18. Washington, DC. By a 5–4 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the authority of federal judges to order local governments to increase taxes to finance school desegregation in the case Missouri v. Jenkins. The case arose when U.S. District Court Judge Russell G. Clark adopted a desegregation plan which would create magnet schools to lure whites back into the inner city. To support this plan, Clark ordered that 75 percent of the costs be paid by the state and 25 percent by the district.
1990, June 27. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5–4 majority, upholds federal affirmative action policies created to increase the number of broadcast licenses held by minorities and women in the case Metro Broadcasting v. FCC.
1990, August 9. Georgia. The state’s runoff primary system is challenged by the Justice Department. The Justice Department claims that the system is biased against black candidates who often win a plurality of the vote in multi-candidate primaries, but lose when matched with a single white candidate in a runoff election. While seven Southern states have similar primary systems, Georgia is targeted in the lawsuit because, statistically, African Americans make up 26 percent of the population but hold only 10 percent of all elected positions.
1990, August 11. Chicago, Illinois. Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) calls for a boycott of Nike products. The organization reveals that African American consumers purchase approximately 30 percent of all Nike products, but are not represented on Nike’s board of directors or in upper management. Nike is one of the country’s largest manufacturers of athletic gear.
1990, August 21. Washington, DC. Paul R. Philip, the FBI’s highest-ranking African American agent, is chosen to investigate racial discrimination within the bureau. The investigation centers around charges made by a black agent against several white agents in the Chicago and Omaha offices.
1990, September 26. The U.S. Census Bureau releases its annual report on household income. The bureau reports that the average household income of blacks is $18,083; Hispanics, $21,921; whites, $30,406; and Asians, $36,102. Ten percent of whites live in poverty, while 26.2 percent of Hispanics and 30.7 percent of blacks live in poverty. Fifty percent of African American children below age six are classified as poor.
1990, September 27. Washington, DC. At its annual conference, members of the Congressional Black Caucus charge law enforcement officials with targeting African American politicians for harassment and investigation. The prosecution of Washington, DC, mayor Marion Berry is cited as an example.
1990, October 12. Cook County, Illinois. The Illinois Supreme Court validates a lower court decision to bar the Harold Washington Party from the ballot. The court cited an inadequate number of nominating signatures as the reason for its decision. The party, a mostly African American third party slate of candidates, is named for the late mayor of Chicago. Cook County Democrats had expressed concern that the Harold Washington party would take votes from their candidates and guarantee the election of Republicans.
1990, October 22. Washington, DC. President George H. W. Bush vetoes the Civil Rights Act of 1990. On October 16, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 62–34; the House of Representatives passed the bill on October 17. The legislation was designed to reverse the Court’s 1989 decision in the case Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, which made it more difficult for minorities and women to prove job discrimination. Bush cites his fear of the introduction of quotas in the workplace as his reason for rejecting the act. On October 24, an attempt to override the veto in the Senate falls one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed.
1990, November 6. Arizona. Voters in Arizona defeat two initiatives to reestablish a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The holiday had been a source of conflict since the Democratic governor, Bruce Babbitt, marked the day in 1986 by an executive order only to see it rescinded in 1987 by his successor, Republican Evan Mecham.
1990, December 12. The Department of Education announces that it will bar colleges and universities that receive federal funds from awarding minority scholarships. The department claims that race-specific scholarships are discriminatory and violate federal civil rights laws. On December 18, the department revises the policy, allowing schools that receive federal funds to award minority scholarships if the money comes from private sources or federal programs designed to aid minority students. On March 20, 1991, the policy is reversed completely.
1990, December 18. Mississippi. Byron de la Beckwith is charged for the third time with the 1963 murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Beckwith was tried twice in 1964 with both trials ending in a deadlock.
1991, January 8. Results from a nationwide survey sponsored by the National Science Foundation reveals that white Americans continue to hold negative stereotypes of blacks and Hispanics. Three-quarters of the whites surveyed felt that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to prefer welfare to work. A Census Bureau report shows the household worth of whites with families to average eight times that of Hispanic households and ten times that of black households.
1991, January 15. Washington, DC. In a 5–3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court puts an end to court-ordered busing in the Oklahoma City school district. Ruling in the case Oklahoma City Board of Education v. Dowell, the Court declares that the reemergence of single-race schools, resulting from shifting housing patterns, does justify continued court-ordered busing. The decision overturns an appeals court ruling refusing to turn the once-segregated school district over to local control.
1991, January 20. A New York Times/CBS poll of public support for military action in the Persian Gulf reveals that only 47 percent of blacks polled compared to 80 percent of whites favored intervention. One theory on the difference in support points to the disproportionate number of blacks to whites serving in the armed forces. While accounting for only 12 percent of the total U.S. population, African Americans represent 24.6 percent of the U.S. troops in the Gulf. Many African Americans point to the problems of drugs and crime as good places to direct government resources.
1991, February 26. Detroit, Michigan. By a 9–1 majority, the Detroit Board of Education approves the creation of an all-male school for kindergarten through grade eight. The school’s goal would be to provide African American male students with an improved learning environment by focusing on the unique problems facing the African American male. Critics of the school label the program discriminatory. The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women Legal
Defense Fund both file suit in federal district court. On August 15, the court rules that such a school must also be open to girls.
1991, March 3. Los Angeles, California. Black motorist Rodney King is severely beaten by several white police officers after being stopped for a speeding violation. The incident is videotaped by a witness watching from his apartment balcony.
1991, May 6. Washington, DC. The creation of a National African American Museum within the Smithsonian Institution is approved by the institution’s board of regents. The museum will include print and broadcast images of African Americans, along with African American art and artifacts.
1991, May 12. Hampton, Virginia. Students at Hampton University hold a silent protest while President George H. W. Bush gives the commencement address. The students point to the administration’s policies regarding civil rights as a reason for the demonstration.
1991, May 14. The Washington-based Urban Institute releases its study on job discrimination. The study, conducted in Washington, DC, and Chicago, Illinois, reveals that whites seeking entry-level positions were three times more likely to receive favorable treatment than equally qualified blacks.
1991, June 3. Washington, DC. In the case of Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co., the U.S. Supreme Court rules that potential jurors cannot be excluded from civil cases on the basis of race. The Court had, in two earlier cases, ruled that jurors could not be excluded because of race in criminal cases.
1991, June 4. Washington, DC. After defeating two other civil rights bills, the U.S. House of Representatives passes a civil rights bill designed to reverse the Supreme Court’s 1989 ruling in Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio and make it easier for victims of job discrimination to sue for damages. President George H. W. Bush opposes such legislation, claiming that it will force employers to set quotas for hiring minorities in order to protect themselves from possible discrimination suits.
1991, June 20. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court, hearing in two separate cases Chison v. Roemer and Houston Lawyers v. Texas, rules that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is applicable to judicial elections. The cases arose from lower court rulings in Louisiana and Texas which claimed that judges were not representatives and, therefore, the election of such was not covered by the act.
1991, June 27. Washington, DC. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, citing his poor health and advancing age, announces his plans to retire from the bench. Marshall, appointed to the Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, was the first African American to serve on the nation’s highest court.
1991, July. Washington, DC. President George H. W. Bush nominates African American Court of Appeals Judge Clarence Thomas to replace the retiring Justice Thurgood Marshall. Thomas, a conservative and former chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was appointed by Bush in 1990 to the federal appeals court. Stating that while chairman of the EEOC, Thomas failed to display sensitivity regarding affirmative action, major national organizations including the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and the Congressional Black Caucus voice opposition to the Thomas nomination.
1991, July 4. Memphis, Tennessee. The National Civil Rights Museum, housed in the former Lorraine Motel, is dedicated. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot at the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968.
1991, August 19. Brooklyn, New York. Tensions between African Americans and Jews in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights section increase, when seven-year-old Gavin Cato is struck and killed by a car driven by a Jewish driver. Rioting erupts, and a Jewish rabbinical student is stabbed to death.
1991, September 13. Richmond, Virginia. Governor L. Douglas Wilder announces his plans to run for the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination. However, by January of 1992, Wilder withdraws from the race. In 1989, Wilder became the first African American elected governor in U.S. history.
1991, September 29. The Department of Justice releases its report on death row inmates. The report reveals that 40 percent of the inmates awaiting execution in the United States are African American, whereas African Americans constitute only 12.1 percent of the general population.
1991, October 11. Los Angeles, California. Korean grocer Soon Ja Du is convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the death of Latasha Harlins. The shooting exacerbates racial tension between African Americans and Koreans.
1991, October 30. Washington, DC. The U.S. Senate approves a new civil rights bill.
1991, November 1. Washington, DC. In a public ceremony, Judge Clarence Thomas is formally seated as the 106th associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
1991, November 2. Washington, DC. Jesse L. Jackson announces he will not seek the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination.
1991, November 5. Washington, DC. In the case Hafer v. Melo, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a unanimous vote that state officials can be sued as individuals acting in an official status and be held personally liable in civil rights suits.
1991, November 7. Washington, DC. The House of Representatives passes Senate Bill 1745, which was passed by the Senate on October 30. President George H. W. Bush signs the bill into law on November 21. However, the signing ceremony for the long-anticipated law is dominated by controversy over a proposed presidential directive that tried to impose a conservative interpretation on the new legislation. Immediately after circulation of the draft, civil rights leaders, senators, and Cabinet members condemn it as an attack on all civil rights progress.
1991, December 30. Alabama. U.S. District Court Judge Harold L. Murphy orders the Alabama state university system to rectify racial discrimination in its hiring, admissions, and financing practices. It is ruled that Alabama’s higher education system, divided into predominantly white and predominantly black schools, fosters inferior funding for the predominantly African American universities. Judge Murphy states he will retain jurisdiction over the case for ten years to ensure his orders are carried out.
1992, January 2. Washington, DC. A lawsuit filed by the National Treasury Employees Union challenges the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s policy which states that the 1991 Civil Rights Act does not apply to job discrimination lawsuits filed prior to the law’s enactment in November of 1991.
1992, January 17. Atlanta, Georgia. President George H. W. Bush visits the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change to sign a proclamation officially declaring Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday.
1992, January 19. The American Council on Education releases their tenth annual report confirming the number of minority students attending college increased during the 1980s. The report shows 33 percent of black, 29 percent of Hispanic, and 39.4 percent of white high school graduates were attending college in 1990, up respectively from 21.6 percent, 26.1 percent and 34.4 percent in 1985.
1992, January 20. Denver, Colorado. The seventh commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday triggers violence in Denver between civil rights supporters and members of the Ku Klux Klan following a Klan rally. Civil rights supporters throw bricks and bottles at a bus carrying Klan members away from the rally.
1992, February 10. Seattle, Washington. Alex Haley, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Roots and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, dies of heart failure.
1992, February 15. Baltimore, Maryland. The NAACP’s Benjamin L. Hooks announces his plans to resign from his position as the organization’s director. The announcement is made after Hazel Dukes, the national president, and several other prominent board members are denied reelection.
1992, March 31. Washington, DC. In the case of Freeman v. Pitts, the U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously that school districts operating under court-supervised desegregation orders can slowly be released from court supervision to local control as they achieve racial equality. Reaction to the ruling by educators and civil rights experts is mixed, with general uncertainty as to how the decision will be applied by district courts reviewing individual desegregation orders.
1992, April 29. Los Angeles, California. Riots erupt in Los Angeles following the acquittal of four white police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King. The suburban Simi Valley jury that acquitted the police officers had no African American members. The videotaped beating was broadcast around the world and provoked outrage condemning police brutality. With the announcement of the verdict, looting and violence break out across the South Central section of Los Angeles. By the end of the first day, 12 people are dead and more than 100 arson fires engulf the area. Mayor Tom Bradley declares a local state of emergency and Governor Pete Wilson orders the National Guard to assist local police in controlling the increasing violence. President George H. W. Bush orders the deployment of 1,500 Marines and 3,000 U.S. Army troops to Los Angeles. Many of the shops targeted for looting are those owned by Korean immigrants. Tension between Los Angeles African Americans and Koreans had been rising since the 1991 fatal shooting of a young African American girl, Latasha Harlins, by a Korean grocer. The Bush administration blames the riots on urban decay, crime, and welfare dependency that it claims grew out of the social welfare programs passed by Congress in the 1960s and 1970s.
1992, June 13. Washington, DC. Governor Bill Clinton speaks at the Rainbow Coalition convention and criticizes questionable statements made by rap singer Sister Souljah (Lisa Williamson) in reference to the Los Angeles riots. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow Coalition, says he thinks Clinton’s comments were intended to embarrass and provoke him.
1992, June 26. Washington, DC. In the case of United States v. Fordice, the U.S. Supreme Court rules 8–1 that the state of Mississippi has not sufficiently desegregated its public universities. Despite “race-neutral” admissions standards, certain policies are targeted as causing informal segregation. Examples include wording of mission statements and higher admissions standards at the predominantly white colleges.
1992, July 23. Washington, DC. The 1990 U.S. Census shows black median household incomes at $19,758 compared to $31,435 for whites and $30,056 for the national median average. The statistics show that blacks earn 63 percent of the median white income, only slightly better than the 62 percent earned by blacks ten years prior.
1992, August 29. Washington, DC. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports gives the rate of violent offenses by juveniles (ages 10 to 17) as 430 out of 100,000 in 1990. Black arrests are 1,429 out of 100,000, five times the amount of whites arrested.
1992, September 3. Washington, DC. A 1991 U.S. Census Bureau report finds that the number of Americans below the poverty level is the highest number since 1964. In 1991, 14.2 percent of Americans were in poverty compared to 13.5 percent in 1990. In 1991, 32.7 percent of African Americans were in poverty compared to 31.9 percent in 1990.
1992, September 16. Washington, DC. The U.S. Department of Education’s report on high school dropout rates shows a 13.6 percent dropout of black students (ages 16 to 24) in 1991 compared to 21.3 percent in 1972. The
dropout rate of Hispanics rose from 34.3 percent to 35.3 percent, whereas the rate for whites dropped from 12.3 percent to 8.9 percent.
1992, September 28. Berkeley, California. The University of California at Berkeley Law School is found in violation of federal civil rights laws by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. It is discovered that minority applicants to the school receive preferential treatment over other candidates. As a result of this ruling, the school’s admission policies are revised.
1992, October 8. Boston, Massachusetts. A study conducted by the Federal Reserve’s regional bank shows evidence of bank discrimination against minorities applying for mortgages. The study measures black, Hispanic, and white rejection rates when all applicants had similar application criteria. The findings show 17 percent rejection of minorities compared to 11 percent rejection of whites. This study is the first to investigate loan application criteria.
1992, November 3. The presidential election brings 16 new African American members to Congress for a total of 38. Senator Earl F. Hilliard is the first African American Alabaman elected to Congress. The District of Columbia’s Marion Barry wins a seat on Washington’s city council. Florida’s first three African American representatives—Corrine Brown, Carrie Meek, and Alcee Hastings—benefit from court-ordered redistricting. In Georgia, three African Americans join Congress: Senator Nathan Deal, Representative Jackie Barrett, and Representative Cynthia McKinney. McKinney is the first African American woman voted into the Georgia House of Representatives.
1992, November. Detroit, Michigan. Two Detroit policemen are charged with murder and two policemen are charged with lesser criminal charges in the beating death of black motorist Malice Green. Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn, two white police officers, pulled Green out of his car and beat him on the head with metal flashlights. Sergeant Freddie Douglas, a black policeman, is charged with failing to stop the beating. White policeman Robert Lessnau is charged with participating in the beating and aggravated assault. Innocent pleas are entered for all four officers.
1992, November 6. Washington, DC. U.S. Labor Department figures show a decrease in unemployment rates from 7.5 percent in September to 7.4 percent in October. In September, jobless rates drop from 6.7 percent to 6.5 percent for whites, from 11.9 percent to 11.8 percent for Hispanics, and rose to 13.9 percent from 13.7 percent for blacks.
1992, November 7. An outline for one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches is purchased at an auction for $35,000 by New Jersey Group, Kaller and Associates. The King estate filed a lawsuit requesting the return of the document plus $5 million in punitive damages from the dealer, Superior Galleries. King rarely made outlines or notes for his speeches, which explains the inflated worth.
1992, November 18. Malcolm X, Spike Lee’s motion picture based on Alex Haley’s biography of the slain civil rights leader, opens in theaters nationwide.
1992, December 12. Washington, DC. President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet and White House appointments include five African American men and one African American woman. They are Clifton R. Wharton Jr. as deputy secretary of the Department of State; Hazel R. O’Leary as secretary of the Department of Energy; Mike Espy as head of the Agriculture Department; Ron Brown, the former Democratic National Committee Chairman, as secretary of the Department of Commerce; Jesse Brown as Veterans Affairs secretary; and Joycelyn Elders, as surgeon general.
1993, January 5. Washington, DC. The House of Representatives passes by 22 votes a rules change that will allow an increase in voting rights to delegates from Washington, DC, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (The District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have large black populations.) In the past, the delegates took part in committee actions and votes, but not votes on the House floor, which were restricted to representatives from “the states” because the Constitution stipulated that only “the states” should have legislative authority. Delegates may now participate in all but the final votes affecting legislation.
1993, January 7. Washington, DC. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun is one of two women elected to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Moseley-Braun claimed she was inspired to run partly as a result of angry feelings over the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991. The all-male Judiciary Committee had been admonished by the public for its role in the handling of the hearings.
1993, January 8. Washington, DC. The unemployment rate for December of 1992 reaches 7.3 percent, according to U.S. Labor Department figures.
1993, January 24. Bethesda, Maryland. Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court justice and lifelong supporter of civil rights, dies of heart failure.
1993, January 18. New Hampshire renames its January holiday from Civil Rights Day to King Day. This is the first time all 50 states have a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.
1993, March 2. Washington, DC. In the case of Voinovich v. Quilter, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the authority to create voting districts dominated by ethnic minorities is held by individual states. The issue was brought before the Court because of concern over the reorganization practices of Ohio’s state legislative voting districts in 1990.
1993, April 9. Baltimore, Maryland. Civil rights champion Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is elected as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
1993, April 17. Los Angeles, California. In a civil suit, two of the four Los Angeles police officers charged in the beating of African American motorist Rodney King are convicted, while the other two are acquitted. Officer Lawrence M. Powell is convicted of violating King’s rights to an arrest without “unreasonable force.” Powell delivered the majority of hits to King with his baton. Sgt. Stacey C. Koon is convicted of allowing the violation by Powell to occur. Officers Theodore J. Briseno and Timothy E. Wind are found not guilty on all charges. As a result of the riots in 1991, the people of Los Angeles were on edge awaiting the new verdict. Riot training for 7,000 Los Angeles police officers and advance notice of the verdict to the police prepared them for the possibility of further rioting.
1993, May 17. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court sends the case of American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People back to the lower courts. Until decisions by the lower courts, the federal Fair Housing Act may be interpreted to extend coverage toward homeowner’s insurance. The NAACP charged that the insurance company refused to sell to African Americans or charged them exorbitant fees. The practice is also known as “redlining.”
1993, May 23. Washington, DC. The Washington Post begins publishing portions of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s papers. Immediately following Marshall’s death, his papers are made available for use by “researchers or scholars engaged in serious research.” These conditions were requested by Marshall when he turned his papers over to the Library of Congress after his retirement. Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote Librarian of Congress James H. Billington a letter admonishing him for lack of judgment in releasing the papers so soon. Marshall’s friends, family, and colleagues displayed similar feelings of anger at the papers’ speedy release.
1993, June 3. Washington, DC. President Bill Clinton retracts his nomination of Lani Guinier for the position of head of the civil rights division in the Justice Department. Guinier, an African American law professor, had expressed some controversial ideas relating to race and voting rights in some previous professional writings. Clinton justifies his decision by explaining that the views expressed in the writings clashed with his own opinions on the same topics.
1993, June 7. Pop star Prince changes his name to a symbol that combines the signs for male and female.
1993, July 23. Fayetteville, North Carolina. James Jordan, father of Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan, is shot and killed during a robbery attempt.
1993, July 27. Waltham, Massachusetts. Boston Celtics guard Reggie Lewis collapses and dies at Brandeis University during a practice.
1993, August 4. Los Angeles, California. A federal judge sentences Sergeant Stacy Koon and Officer Lawrence Powell to two and a half years in prison for violating the civil rights of motorist Rodney King during a 1991 beating.
1993, August 4. New York City, New York. Leonard Jeffries Jr. is reinstated as chairman of City College’s black studies department. A judge rules that the decision by college administrators to remove Jeffries following a controversial 1991 speech violated his constitutional right to free speech.
1993, August 23. Detroit, Michigan. Two white officers, Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn, are convicted of second-degree murder in the beating death of motorist Malice Green.
1993, September 7. West Palm Beach, Florida. Two white men are convicted of kidnapping and setting afire a black tourist on January 1, 1993. The men are also convicted of attempted murder and armed robbery. They are sentenced to life imprisonment on October 22.
1993, September 8. Washington, DC. Joycelyn Elders is sworn in as U.S. surgeon general.
1993, September 14. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The University of Pennsylvania decides not to suspend a group of African American students who seized 14,000 copies of the student newspaper Daily Pennsylvanian. The students took the newspapers to protest what they viewed as the Daily Pennsylvanian’s conservative and racially-biased views.
1993, September 30. Fort Myer, Virginia. Colin L. Powell retires as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
1993, October 6. Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan announces his retirement from the NBA.
1993, October 8. New York City, New York. Actor Ted Danson is chastised for appearing onstage in blackface and telling several racist and sexist jokes during a Friars Club roast for actress Whoopi Goldberg.
1993, October 18. Los Angeles, California. Two African American men are acquitted of attempted murder in the beating of truck driver Reginald Denny during the 1992 riot.
1993, October 20. Don Cornelius steps down as host of the syndicated television dance show “Soul Train” after 22 years.
1993, November 2. New York City, New York. Mayor David Dinkins is defeated in a mayoral election by former U.S. attorney Rudolph Giuliani.
1994, February 5. Jackson, Mississippi. Byron de la Beckwith, a white supremacist, is convicted of the 1963 murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Beckwith is sentenced to life in prison.
1994, March 1. Berkeley, California. Former Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver is hospitalized after suffering a brain hemorrhage.
1994, March 23. Los Angeles, California. Earvin “Magic” Johnson is named coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
1994, April 12. Washington, DC. Randall Robinson, executive director of TransAfrica, a lobbying group for African and Caribbean issues, begins a liquid fast to protest the U.S. government’s “discriminatory policy” on Haiti.
1994, May 24. Santa Ana, California. Denny’s Restaurants agree to pay $54 million to settle lawsuits by African Americans who claim they were discriminated against by the restaurant chain.
1994, June 20. Los Angeles, California. Ex-football star O.J. Simpson is arrested and charged with the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.
1994, August 20. Chicago, Illinois. Benjamin F. Chavis is ousted as executive director of the NAACP by the civil rights organization’s board of directors. Earl T. Shinhoster is named interim director.
1994, August 30. Detroit, Michigan. Civil rights activist Rosa Parks is beaten and robbed in her home.
1994, October 3. Washington, DC. Mike Espy, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, resigns following a federal ethics investigation in which Espy is accused of receiving gifts from businesses regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
1994, October 21. Atlanta, Georgia. Dexter Scott King, the youngest son of the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. is named chief executive and chairman of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
1994, December 9. Washington, DC. Joycelyn Elders resigns as U.S. surgeon general after making controversial statements regarding drug use and sex education.
1994, December 10. New York City, New York. University of Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam wins the Heisman Trophy.
1994, December 14. Washington, DC. Representative Donald M. Payne, a Democrat from New Jersey, is elected to a two-year term as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
1995, January 12. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Qubilah Bahiyah Shabazz, daughter of the late black nationalist leader Malcolm X, is arrested and charged with plotting to kill Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
1995, March 18. Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan announces his return to the NBA after retiring in 1993.
1995, March 25. Plainfield, Indiana. Boxer Mike Tyson is released from prison after serving three years for a 1992 rape conviction.
1995, April 21. Washington, DC. H. Patrick Swygert is named president of Howard University, replacing Frank-lyn G. Jenifer who resigned on April 22, 1994.
1995, June 21. Washington, DC. The Senate rejects Dr. Henry Foster Jr.’s bid to become U.S. surgeon general. Foster, a gynecologist and obstetrician, is rejected due to pressure from anti-abortion groups and Senate Republicans.
1995, June 29. Washington, DC. The Supreme Court, by a 5–4 vote, rules that electoral districts drawn to ensure fair political representation of African Americans
and other minorities are unconstitutional if race is used as the predominant factor in drawing district boundaries.
1995, July 20. Davis, California. The University of California votes to eliminate affirmative action policies in the admission of students.
1995, October 3. Los Angeles, California. O. J. Simpson is acquitted of the murder of his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. The O.J. Simpson trial was televised daily throughout the United States and fueled extensive debate regarding race relations in America.
1995, October 3. Creve Coeur, Missouri. Eddie Robinson of Grambling State University, Grambling, Louisiana, has 400 wins in 53 seasons to become college football’s winningest coach.
1995, October 16. Washington, DC. The Million Man March, organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, draws African American men to the nation’s capital. The purpose of the march is to offer African American men an opportunity to meet for a day of atonement and to pledge their commitment to themselves, their families, and their communities.
1995, November 8. Alexandria, Virginia. Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin L. Powell, ends months of speculation by announcing that he will not run for the U.S. presidency in 1996.
1995, December 9. Chicago, Illinois. Kweisi Mfume is unanimously elected as president and chief executive officer of the NAACP.
1995, December 12. Washington, DC. Jesse Jackson Jr., son of civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, is elected as the representative of Illinois’s Second Congressional District. He replaced Representative Mel Reynolds who resigned
from Congress after being sentenced to five years in prison for sexual misconduct.
1996, January 15. Five of the largest African American congregations in the United States announce the formulation of Revelation Corporation of America, a for-profit company designed to improve the buying power of African American consumers.
1996, January 17. Austin, Texas. Barbara Charline Jordan, scholar, educator, and politician, dies in a hospital of pneumonia and complications from leukemia. She had suffered from multiple sclerosis for several years. In 1966, Jordan became the first African American elected state senator in Texas. In 1972, she was elected to the U.S. Congress, becoming the state’s first African American and first woman elected to the position. An excellent orator, Jordan gained national attention in 1974 when she called for the impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Two years later, she became the first African American woman to give a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.
1996, January 18. Los Angeles, California. Lisa Marie Presley files for divorce from her husband, pop singer Michael Jackson.
1996, January 30. Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles Lakers star Earvin (Magic) announces his return to the NBA after retiring in 1991. He played in 32 of their 40 games remaining. Later that year he was named among the 50 Greatest NBA Players of all time. He retired again and purchased a minority share in the Lakers.
1996, February 20. Washington, DC. Kweisi Mfume is sworn in as the top executive of the NAACP.
1996, March 11. Baltimore, Maryland. Political activist C. DeLores Tucker urges churches to boycott stores that sell “gangsta rap” on the grounds that it glorifies the use of violence and drugs and degrades women.
1996, April 3. Dubrovnik, Croatia. Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown and distinguished American business leaders are killed in a plane crash.
1996, April 8. Cleveland, Ohio. After 17 years of busing, a federal judge lifts a school desegregation order which district officials claim will save $10 million.
1996, May 19. Jackson, Mississippi. James Meredith, who integrated the University of Mississippi in 1962, is shot at by whites who yell insults from a passing truck.
1996, May 28. Pensacola, Florida. Donnie Cochran, who in 1994 became the first African American commander of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration team, resigns. He cites his own shortcomings in flying that could threaten the safety of his pilots and spectators.
1996, June 13. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court declares unconstitutional two congressional districts in North Carolina and three in Texas because the districts—majority African American and majority Hispanic—were illegally drawn.
1996, June 22. Washington, DC. The Senate approves Vice Admiral J. Paul Reason to become the U.S. Navy’s first African American four-star admiral. President Bill Clinton nominated Reason for the promotion on May 13. Reason later assumes command of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia.
1996, June 27. Washington, DC. President Bill Clinton signs the Church Arson Bill affecting racially-motivated burnings. The bill authorizes $10 million to be used to help build churches that are underinsured and increases the sentence for such crimes.
1996, July 1. Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court confirms the ruling that race cannot be a factor in admitting students to the University of Texas Law School. Previously, separate and lower standards were used to admit African Americans and Hispanics.
1996, August 30. Tripoli, Libya. Louis Farrakhan receives the Gadhafi International Human Rights Award for organizing the Million Man March. However, U.S. law bars him from accepting gifts from terrorists.
1996, September 13. Las Vegas, Nevada. Rap artist Tupac Shakur, a victim of a drive-by shooting, dies. His career had been marked by violence and run-ins with law enforcement agents. Shakur was named after an Incan chief and raised by his mother, Afeni Shakur, a Black Panther Party member who was imprisoned while pregnant with her son. Tupac Shakur sold millions of records of “gangsta”-style rap music. In some of his works, he taunted the police and glorified violence and misogyny. He became a target for groups that aimed to clean up rap lyrics.
1996, September 23. Chicago, Illinois. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is the highest-paid entertainer, earning $212 million, according to Forbes magazine.
1996, October 4. Washington, DC. Congress passes a bill authorizing the creation of 500,000 black Revolutionary War Patriots commemorative coins. They are to depict the 275th anniversary of the birth of Revolutionary War hero Crispus Attucks.
1996, October 25. Tulsa, Oklahoma. J. B. Stradford, who died 60 years earlier, is cleared of charges that he was one of dozens of African Americans accused of inciting the Tulsa riot of May 31, 1921, that ruined 35 city blocks and killed 36 or more people.
1996, November 5. Atlanta, Georgia. Cynthia McKinney, a Democrat from Georgia, is reelected to the U.S. House of Representatives after district lines are redrawn, making her district predominantly white.
1996, November 15. White Plains, New York. Texaco Inc., a major oil company headquartered in White Plains, agrees to a $176.1 million settlement of a federal discrimination lawsuit filed in 1994 by African American Texaco employees—the largest race discrimination lawsuit ever filed. The company also agrees to help create an outside task force to oversee a Texaco diversity program. On November 4, the New York Times made public the existence of an audiotape containing Texaco executives’ disparaging racial remarks including their reference to African American workers as “black jelly beans.” The company has 27,000 employees, more than 1,400 of whom are African American.
1996, November 12. Washington, DC. President Bill Clinton signs legislation creating the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, marking the route of the civil rights march that Martin Luther King Jr. led in 1965.
1996, December 18. Oakland, California. The school board recognizes black English, or Ebonics, as a separate language rather than slang or dialect. The board subsequently rescinded its decision to make Ebonics a second language.
1997, January 3. New York City, New York. “Today” show anchor, Bryant Gumbel, the longest-serving host in the show’s history, resigns after 15 years.
1997, January 13. Washington, DC. President Bill Clinton awards seven African American soldiers Medals of Honor. Joseph Vernon Baker, 77, the only living recipient in the group, attended the awards ceremony. Baker was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s 92nd Infantry Division. None of the 433 Medals of Honor awarded to servicemen for acts of gallantry in World War II had been given to African Americans. African American veterans, however, petitioned the Department of the Army to honor African American servicemen as well.
1997, February 13. Washington, DC. David Satcher is sworn in as U.S. surgeon general and assistant secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. A physician, educator, and former medical school president, he leaves the position he had held since 1993 as head of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. He was the first African American to head the center. President Bill Clinton nominated Satcher for the surgeon general’s post on September 12, 1996.
1997, February 17. Richmond, Virginia. The Virginia House of Delegates retires the state song “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” by unanimous vote. African American composer James A. Bland wrote the song in 1875; it was adopted by the state in 1940.
1997, February 26. Major League Baseball dedicates the season to Jackie Robinson who on April 15, 1947—50 years ago—broke the league’s color barrier.
1997, April 2. Nashville, Tennessee. Tennessee ratifies the Fifteenth Amendment 127 years after its ratification by Congress. The amendment guarantees the right to vote regardless of “race, color or previous condition of servitude.”
1997, April 13. Augusta, Georgia. Eldrick “Tiger” Woods finishes with the lowest score in tournament history and wins the 61st Masters. He is the first African American and the youngest person to win the Masters.
1997, April 28. Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Writer Ann Petry, best known for her 1946 novel The Street, dies.
1997, May 1. Washington, DC. The U.S. Senate confirms Alexis M. Herman, assistant to President Bill Clinton, as U.S. secretary of labor.
1997, May 15. Washington, DC. President Bill Clinton issues an apology to the few remaining survivors and relatives of the African American men who were involved in the federal government’s “Tuskegee Experiment” nearly a quarter of a century earlier.
1997, May 28. Chicago, Illinois. Eighty-four-year-old John H. Stengstacke, owner and editor of the Chicago Defender, dies. He founded the Negro Newspaper Publishers Association.
1997, June 13. Baltimore, Maryland. After conducting a survey of the hotel industry as a part of its Economic Reciprocity Campaign, the NAACP gives failing grades to three major hotel chains for their hiring and promotion practices of African Americans and relations with African American businesses. Receiving the grades were Holiday Inn, Westin, and Best Western.
1997, June 14. Washington, DC. President Bill Clinton names seven people to the White House Initiative on Race and Reconciliation and appoints historian John Hope Franklin chair. The panel’s charge is to lead a year-long national dialogue about race.
1997, June 14. San Diego, California. President Bill Clinton delivers a speech on race in the United States at the commencement exercises at the University of California, San Diego. He said, “Now we know what we will look like. But what will we be like? Can we be one America, respecting, even celebrating our differences, but embracing even more what we have in common?”
1997, June 23. New York City, New York. Betty Shabazz, college educator and administrator and widow of slain black nationalist Malcolm X, dies after suffering from extensive burns on June 1. The fires causing her death were apparently set by her grandson, Malcolm Shabazz, a troubled 12-year-old, in her Yonkers, New York, apartment. Betty Shabazz held numerous speaking engagements, often addressing such issues as health and education for disadvantaged youth and black self-determination.
1997, June 28. Las Vegas, Nevada. In a heavyweight boxing rematch with Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson is disqualified after three rounds and thrown out for biting Holyfield twice on his ears. Later the Nevada Commission fined Tyson $3 million and revoked his boxing license.
1997, July 10. Birmingham, Alabama. The FBI reopens investigation into bombings of the 16th Street Baptist Church where four young African American girls were killed on September 15, 1963, while attending Sunday school.
1997, July 24. Washington, DC. The Army Corps of Engineers agrees to settle a race discrimination suit filed by African American deck-hands on the dredge Hurley based in Memphis, Tennessee. The Defense Department found that black workers aboard the ship routinely endured racial epithets and jokes from whites and were denied promotions because they were black. The 16 deck-hands each received $62,500 and were given the opportunity to move from part- time to full-time employment.
1997, August 4. Washington, DC. Robert G. Stanton is sworn into office and becomes the first African American director of the Interior Department’s National Park Service. He had worked with the park service from 1962 to January of 1967, then retired from the agency’s national capital region.
1997, October. Oakland, California. The Black Panther Legacy Tour begins under the leadership of David Hill-iard, former chief of staff for the Panthers. The bus tour winds through the Oakland neighborhood where the Panthers were founded in 1966 and other sites of significance to the history of the group.
1997, October 25. Philadelphia, Pennsyslvania. Over 300,000 African American women arrive for the first Million Woman March. Among the speakers are Maxine Waters, Winnie Mandela, and rapper Sister Souljah.
1997, December 6. Houston, Texas. Lee P. Brown, Democrat, veteran law enforcement officer, and former “drug czar,” is elected mayor, the first African American to hold the post. The city’s population of 1.8 million reports a racial mix of one-third white, one-third black, and one-third Hispanic.
1998, January 15. Atlanta, Georgia. Martin Luther King III succeeds Joseph E. Lowery as head of the SCLC. Lowery held the post for 20 years.
1998, January 23. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard University announces the appointment of Lani Guinier as a full tenured professor in the Harvard Law School. She is the first African American woman to receive tenure at the law school and is known for her outspoken stance on issues such as voting rights and affirmative action.
1998, February 2. Washington, DC. Jane E. Smith becomes president of the National Council of Negro Women, succeeding Dorothy I. Height who held the post for 40 years.
1998, February 5. Washington, DC. Documents from Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company relating to marketing strategies aimed at teenagers and minorities are released during a House judiciary hearing. The documents date back to 1972 and had been used in state lawsuits against the tobacco industry. The Brown & Williamson papers document strategies to attract African Americans, suggesting that a Kool-brand basketball “could become an interesting symbol within the inner city.”
1998, February 9. Baltimore, Maryland. Myrlie Evers-Williams announces that she will not seek a fourth term as chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s board of directors. She leaves the organization that she has headed since 1995 with what she calls a surplus of over $2 million and with restored credibility and financial integrity.
1998, February 21. Baltimore, Maryland. Civil rights activist and educator Julian Bond is elected chair of the NAACP’s board of directors, succeeding Myrlie Evers-Williams. He announced his aim to continue the organ-ization’s progress “on our way to financial health and integrity.”
1998, March 21. Jackson, Mississippi. The state of Mississippi releases documents relating to the now-defunct Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission that used spy tactics and intimidation to preserve racial segregation in the state during the civil rights era. Created in 1956, the commission promoted racial segregation in Mississippi and throughout the country. In 1989, U.S. District Judge William H. Barber ordered the files open. The documents show that previously secret files included information on individual civil rights workers, their religious beliefs, sexual behavior, and other details. License plate numbers were recorded outside civil rights meeting places. Many African American informers were used as spies. Some of the documents discuss the use of violence against the civil rights workers.
1998, March 22. Africa. President Bill Clinton begins an historic 12-day tour of sub-Saharan Africa in the accompaniment of such notable African Americans as Jesse Jackson Sr., Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Camille Cosby.
1998, April 14. Washington, DC. Franklin D. Raines is named chief executive of the nation’s largest mortgage financing company, Fannie Mae.
1998, April 23. Nashville, Tennessee. James Earl Ray, convicted killer of Martin Luther King Jr. dies of liver disease.
1998, May 1. In response to written objections concerning “the N word,” Merriam-Webster Dictionary officials announce a plan to revise over 200 words regarded as offensive.
1998, May 2. Pomona, California. Eldridge Cleaver, writer, minister, and former leader of the Black Panther party, dies of undisclosed causes.
1998, June 19. Boston, Massachusetts. Columnist Patricia Smith, on staff since 1990, resigns from the Boston Globe after admitting that she fabricated sections of her columns.
1998, July. Atlanta, Georgia. Myrlie Evers, who resigned as board chair of the NAACP, is named chairman emeritus at the organization’s annual meeting.
1998, July 22. Atlanta, Georgia. A federal judge rules that CBS News is not guilty of copyright infringement for airing film coverage of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech of 1963, and that the deceased leader’s speech is in public domain. CBS used the footage in “The 20th Century with Mike Wallace,” shown in 1994. The King family sued CBS for its use of the film.
1998, July 24. Manning, South Carolina. In the largest award given to the victims of a hate crime, a jury orders the Ku Klux Klan and its grand dragon to pay $37.8 million for the 1995 burning of the Macedonia Baptist Church in Bloomville.
1998, September 7. Atlanta, Georgia. Hundreds of young people attend the Million Youth March supported by such organizations as the NAACP, the Student Christian Leadership Conference, and Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity). A similar march was held earlier in New York City, but without the organizations’ support.
1998, September 18. Washington, DC. The White House Initiative on Race and Reconciliation, after 15 months of examination, releases its report and confirms that racism is still a critical problem in the United States.
1998, September 26. Langston, Oklahoma. Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical University in Texas ends its 80-game losing streak in football by beating Langston University. This is the longest losing streak in National Collegiate Athletic Association history.
1998, September 21. Mission Viejo, California. Olympic star Florence Griffith Joyner, the first woman to win four Olympic medals, dies of an epileptic seizure while sleeping.
1998, November 1. Oxford, England. Genetic evidence, based on blood samples from living descendants of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, prove it is likely that Jefferson had fathered a son by Hemings. The DNA was analyzed by an Oxford University research team in England and the results published in the November 5 issue of Nature.
1998, November 9. Chicago, Illinois. U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun loses her bid for reelection to Republican Peter Fitzgerald.
1998, December 2. Washington, DC. Mike Espy, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is acquitted of charges involving gifts received from businesses regulated by the department.
1999, January 13. Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan retires from the NBA a second time. He had led the Bulls to their third straight NBA title and their sixth in eight years.
1999, February 2. Berkeley, California. Five civil rights advocacy groups file suit against the University of California at Berkeley, charging that the school discriminates against minorities in its admissions policies. The groups argue that the elimination of race-based admissions places too much importance on grade point averages (GPA), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, and advanced placement (AP) courses, which they already regard as inherently biased and discriminatory against minorities. The suit follows recent abolition of race-based admissions policies in California’s state universities.
1999, February 4. Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African American immigrant from New Guinea, is mistakenly shot and killed by four white policemen in New York City, raising a national outcry. Diallo was hit by 19 shots in a volley of gunfire. Police said they thought the suspect was reaching for a gun when in fact he was attempting to pull out his wallet.
1999, February 19. Washington, DC. Fifty-nine years after his death, President Bill Clinton pardons Henry O. Flipper, the first African American graduate of West Point who was court-martialed in 1881 and dishonorably discharged in 1882. Clinton notes that “This good man now has completely recovered his good name.” Flipper was ostracized by his white classmates. Although acquitted of apparently trumped-up charges of embezzling commissary funds, he was found guilty of “conduct unbecoming an officer” for lying to investigators. In 1976, the army formally exonerated Clipper, changed his discharge to honorable, and reburied him with full honors in his hometown, Thomasville, Georgia. An annual award is now given in his name to an outstanding West Point cadet.
1999, February 25. Jasper, Texas. White supremacist John William King is sentenced to die for his involvement in the murder of James Byrd Jr. on June 7, 1998. Byrd was tied to the rear of a truck and dragged to his death. Trials for two other men accused in the murder, Lawrence Russell Brewer and Shawn Allen Berry, are pending.
1999, March 16. Miami, Florida. Henry Lyons, convicted earlier this month of racketeering and grand theft, resigns as president of the National Baptist Convention USA—a position he had held since 1994. He had survived earlier attempts of his church denomination to oust him from the convention’s presidency and retained the support of his parishioners at Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church—the church he pastored in St. Petersburg, Florida. Lyons was convicted of pocketing $240,000 in donations earmarked to African American churches burned by arson and for swindling over $4 million from corporations seeking business transactions with the convention.
1999, April. The Trenton (NC) Town Council unanimously selects its first black and first woman mayor. Sylvia Willis succeeded white mayor Joffree Legett who resigned under pressure after denouncing blacks as unfit to govern and claiming that blacks would rather be led by whites. Earlier, the town of about 200 residents—50 of them African American—refused to annex three African American neighborhoods with about 100 residents. Intervention by the NAACP and an African American boycott of Trenton’s white-owned businesses persuaded the town to annex the neighborhoods.
1999, April 12. Legendary band leader and composer Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899–1974) is awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize on the centennial of his birth. The special music citation was given “in recognition of his musical genius, which evoked aesthetically the principles of democracy through the medium of jazz and thus made an indelible contribution to art and culture.”
1999, April 14. Washington, DC. Federal District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman approves a settlement that could provide $2 billion for thousands of African American farmers who sued two years ago because their access to government loans and subsidies had been denied. Over 18,000 farmers have signed up for the settlement. Farmers with less documented evidence of discrimination in loan approvals may take a $50,000 settlement, $12,500 for taxes, and have their federal debts forgiven. Those with more evidence may appear before an independent arbitrator to petition for larger amounts in damages.
1999, April 20. San Francisco, California. U.S. District Judge William Orrick orders an end to 16 years of race-based enrollment in the public schools of San Francisco and approves a lawsuit by Chinese Americans denied admission to preferred campuses in the city. Although African Americans and Hispanics protest his decision, Orrick rules that racial admissions violate Chinese Americans’ constitutional rights to equal treatment in a school of their choice. The agreement repeals a limit of 45 percent of racial or ethnic enrollment in a single school and 40 percent in magnet schools.
1999, May 1. Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Jesse Jackson wins the release of the three U.S. soldiers—staff sergeants Andrew Ramirez and Christopher Stone and specialist Steven Gonzales—who Yugoslav authorities had held as prisoners of war since their capture on March 31 near the Yugoslavia-Macedonia border.
1999, June 15. Under legislation approved by the U.S. Congress on May 3, Rosa Parks receives the Congressional Gold Medal. Congressman John Lewis said that “one, simple, defining act” by Parks, who in 1955 stood up “for what is right and just,” stoked the Civil Rights movement nationwide and led to the end of legalized segregation.
1999, June 15. Hattiesburg, Mississippi. A mistrial is declared in the reopened case against Mississippi businessman Charles Noble for the 1966 slaying of NAACP member Vernon Dahmer.
1999, June 23. Springfield, Massachusetts. Former Georgetown University coach John Thompson is elected to the NBA Hall of Fame, along with former basketball player and general manager Wayne Embry.
1999, July 10. Baltimore, Maryland. The U.S. Coast Guard posthumously honors Alex Haley, Pulitzer Prizewinning author of Roots, by commissioning a cutter in his name. Haley spent 20 years in the Coast Guard, rising from ship’s steward to become the first head of the Guard’s public affairs office.
1999, August 4. Former Detroit Pistons basketball player and NBC-TV basketball analyst, Isiah Thomas announces that he has purchased majority ownership of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA). Thomas acquires the nine-team league for approximately $10 million. Organized as an association with approximately 40 owners, Thomas says he plans to reorganize the CBA into a single entity league.
1999, September 10. Judges in Charlotte, North Carolina, put an end to school busing, ruling that forced integration is no longer necessary. The program was originally put into place 30 years ago.
1999, September 11. Seventeen-year-old Serena Williams beats Martina Hingis of Switzerland 6–3, 7–6, to win the U.S. Open championship in tennis. She becomes only the second African American woman to take the title, after Althea Gibson in 1957 and 1958.
1999, September 20. Lawrence Brewer is found guilty of the June 7, 1998, murder of James Byrd Jr. Byrd died after being dragged by a chain behind a truck. Brewer is sentenced to death on September 23. A second man accused in the case, John King, was sentenced earlier in the year.
2000, January 14. Christopher Paul Curtis wins the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author award for his book, Bud, Not Buddy. Curtis is the first author to win both awards for one book. The awards are announced annually by the American Library Association (ALA): the Newbery is given for “distinguished contribution to American literature for children”; the Coretta Scott King award honors African American authors and illustrators.
2000, January 19. Michael Jordan becomes a partial owner of the Washington Wizards. He will also serve as the new president of basketball operations for the team. Jordan’s total stake is approximately 10 percent, which is valued between $20 million and $30 million. He joins the ranks of only five other African Americans who own portions of NBA teams. Former All-Star Earvin “Magic” Johnson has a small stake in the Los Angeles Lakers; Edward and Bettiann Gardner are part owners of Jordan’s former team, the Chicago Bulls; and actor Bill Cosby owns a minority percentage of the New Jersey Nets.
2000, January 23. Denzel Washington wins a Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic Motion Picture for his role in The Hurricane. Halle Berry wins a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Television Movie for her work in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.
2000, February 25. The four white plainclothes policeman charged in the February 1999 shooting of African American immigrant Amadou Diallo, are acquitted on all charges. The defense for the officers asked that the trial take place in Albany, New York, instead of New York City to guarantee a fair hearing. The jury was composed of eight whites and four blacks.
2000, April 18. Gustavas A. McLeod is the first man to pilot an open-cockpit plane to the North Pole. His 35,000-mile journey began in Maryland and was made in a former crop duster. There have been numerous flights to the North Pole since the first plane reached the area in 1937, but no one had successfully made the trip in an open cockpit because of the extreme temperatures.
2000, May 2. South Carolina governor Jim Hodges signs a bill to officially make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a holiday for state workers. South Carolina is the last state to finally recognize the date as a state holiday.
2000, June 9. The U.S. Justice Department reports that after extensive investigation it has found no evidence that a conspiracy led to the 1968 assassination of activist Martin Luther King Jr. Some members of the King family called for the special investigation after a Memphis civil court concluded in 1999 that a federal conspiracy led to the shooting. In addition, James Earl Ray, the man convicted of the crime in 1969, claimed he did not work alone.
2000, July 1. Songwriter and producer Antonio “L.A.” Reid takes over as president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Arista Records from founder Clive Davis, who has headed the company since its inception 25 years earlier.
2000, July 1. After major protest rallies and an NAACP boycott of tourism, the governor of South Carolina removes the Confederate flag from the top of the state capitol dome in Columbia. The flag is considered by many to be a symbol of slavery.
2000, July 8. Twenty-year-old Venus Williams wins the singles title at Wimbledon, becoming the first African American woman to do so since Althea Gibson in 1957. She defeated defending champion Lindsay Davenport, 6–3, 7–6.
2000, July 10. George W. Bush, Republican nominee for president, addresses the national convention of the NAACP in Baltimore, Maryland, and promises party support to African Americans. Republican presidential candidates from the two previous elections, Bob Dole in 1996 and George H. W. Bush in 1992, had both declined invitations from the group.
2000, July 11. Reverend Vashti Murphy McKenzie becomes the first woman bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
2000, July 23. Tiger Woods, age 24, wins the British Open golf tournament in St. Andrews, Scotland. By taking the contest, he becomes the youngest golfer in history to have won all four Grand Slam events: the British Open, the U.S. Open, the Masters, and the PGA Championship. Only four golfers had previously earned this honor: Gene Sarazan, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus. Some call it the “Tiger Slam” because the young golfer did not take all four trophies in a single calendar year.
2000, July 25. Joetta Clark-Diggs, her sister Hazel Clark, and sister-in-law Jearl Miles-Clark make history when all three win spots on the same U.S. Olympic team. It is also the first time that three members of the same family will compete in the same event. Hazel Clark won the top spot on the women’s 800-meter track team, followed by Miles-Clark in second and Clark-Diggs in third.
2000, August 15. Stephanie Ready becomes the first woman to coach a men’s professional basketball team when she is named assistant coach of the National Basketball Developmental League’s Greenville (South Carolina) Groove.
2000, September 12. James Perkins Jr., a former computer consultant, becomes the first African American mayor of Selma, Alabama. He ousts Joseph T. Smitherman with 57 percent of the vote. Smitherman, age 70, was running for his tenth consecutive term. He was mayor of Selma during the famous 1965 civil rights march.
2000, September 23. The First Annual African American Women’s Health Conference is held in Los Angeles, California. The focus of the event is to address the impact of breast cancer on the African American community. Workshops and speeches will focus on education, risk assessment, early education, and alternative medical treatments. According to national statistics, breast cancer is the number one cause of death among African American women, and African American women who develop breast cancer are twice as likely to die than their white counterparts.
2000, September 23. In the 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney, Australia, Marion Jones takes the 100-meter dash in 10.75 seconds, making her the fastest woman in the world. By the end of the games, Jones has won three gold and two bronze medals, the most medals won by a woman during a single Olympics.
2000, November 9. When she takes the helm of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, Ruth Simmons becomes the first African American president of an Ivy League college. She is also Brown’s first woman president. Prior to being appointed, Simmons was on the faculty of Princeton University, where she served as vice provost in the early 1990s. Since 1995, she was president of Smith College.
2000, December 16. General Colin L. Powell is appointed Secretary of State by President George W. Bush. He is the first African American to hold the position.
2000, December 17. President George W. Bush announces the appointment of Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser. Rice, a Stanford University professor, becomes the first African American and the first woman to hold the post.
2001, January 30. The state of Georgia redesigns its state flag by replacing the large Confederate battle cross with the state seal. Although many Southerners see the Confederate flag as a symbol of southern pride, others view it as a reminder of slavery and segregation.
2001, February 2–4. The National Reparations Convention takes place in Chicago. Among those in attendance are Representative Bobby Rush of Illinois and Representative John Conyers of Michigan. The genesis of the convention can be traced back to April 26, 2000, when the issue of slavery reparations was raised at a joint hearing of the Chicago City Council Finance and Human Relations committees. According to Rush, who spoke at the meeting, “The future of race relations will be determined by reparations for slavery.”
2001, April 12. The mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, declares a state of emergency after four days of racial rioting. The riots broke out after a white police officer fatally shot Timothy Thomas, an unarmed African American teenager. City officers have long been accused of racial profiling and using excessive force.
2001, April 17. In a controversial vote, Mississippi residents decide to retain the design of their state flag, which bears the Confederate battle cross. The state of Georgia redesigned its flag earlier in the year, which means that Mississippi is the only state that still prominently displays the “Southern Cross.” Other states, including Arkansas and Alabama, incorporate only portions of it in their state flags.
2001, May 1. Thomas E. Blanton Jr., one of four former Ku Klux Klan members charged with the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four African American girls, is convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
2001, May 25. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rules that author Alice Randall has every right to publish her book The Wind Done Gone. The book, which is a parody of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, has been surrounded by controversy. Representatives of Mitchell’s estate tried to stop it from being released, claiming Randall borrowed her plot and characters from Mitchell’s 1939 novel, and thus was in violation of copyright. According to the court, an attempt to stop Randall from publishing her book would be “a violation of the First Amendment.” Randall’s book was published by Houghton Mifflin in June. Approximately one year later, the two sides reached a confidential settlement under which Randall’s novel must be subtitled “An Unauthorized Parody.”
2001, May 29. In the largest settlement ever in a U.S. racial discrimination suit, the Coca-Cola Company agrees to pay out $192 million to approximately 2,000 African American employees. The suit was brought against the company by employees who worked for Coca-Cola between April 22, 1995, and June 14, 2000, and claimed that the company discriminated against African Americans in hiring and promoting.
2001, June 12–13. Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records, holds the first two-day Hip-Hop Summit in New York City. The goal of the summit is to bring together a cross-section of America, including recording artists and label executives, in an effort to discuss issues that face rap music. Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan gives the keynote speech.
2001, July 30. Harvard-educated Pamela Thomas-Graham is named president and chief executive officer (CEO) of CNBC. This makes her the most powerful African American in the cable news industry.
2001, September 15. Representative Barbara Lee of California makes the news when she casts the lone dissenting vote allowing President George W. Bush “to use all necessary and appropriate force” against anyone associated with the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The resolution passes unanimously in the Senate (98–0); the tally in the House is 420–1.
2001, September 24. At the Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia, Michael Johnson announces his retirement. Considered to be one of the greatest track-and-field athletes in history, Johnson has won five Olympic gold medals and nine World Championship gold medals during his career.
2001, September 25. NBA star Michael Jordan comes out of retirement, and signs a two-year contract to play basketball for the Washington Wizards. In 2000, Jordan had purchased a portion of the team. According to NBA rules, he is forced to sell his shares and step down as owner because current players cannot also own teams.
2001, September 26. Cincinnati police officer Steven Roach is found not guilty for the murder of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed 19-year-old African American who was shot to death in April 2001. Thomas’s death touched off four days of rioting in the city. Following the verdict, there are some isolated incidents of violence, causing Cincinnati mayor Charlie Luken to impose a curfew.
2001, September 27. Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), makes it on Forbes magazine’s annual list of the top 400 richest people in America. He is number 172. Johnson earns the title of “billionaire” after selling his 63 percent of BET stock, worth $1.3 billion, to Viacom, Inc. He is the first African American billionaire in the United States.
2001, October 5. Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants hits 73 home runs to beat Mark McGwire’s record for most homers in a single season.
2001, October 26. Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, purchases the bus on which Rosa Parks made her famous “stand” in 1955. The bus had been lost for years, but finally came up on the auction block, along with certificates that document the bus’s identification number and guarantee its authenticity. The bus is purchased for $492,000, and will be carefully restored by the museum for public viewing.
2001, November 13. Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, Illinois, is elected the first African American president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. As president, Gregory will serve as the public voice of Catholic bishops in the United States.
2001, November 19. Thirty-seven-year-old Barry Bonds is named the National League’s Most Valuable Player. He becomes the first baseball player to win the honor four times. Bonds won the award in 1990 and 1992 while playing for Pittsburgh. He was playing for the San Francisco Giants when he was honored in 1993.
2002, February 25. Actor and comedian Bill Cosby announces that he will cancel a March 15 performance in Cincinnati, Ohio, to support a boycott of the city by African American groups. Groups such as the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati are targeting the city for its poor response to riots that broke out as a result of the April 2001 shooting of African American teenager Timothy Thomas by a white police officer.
2002, March 25. Halle Berry becomes the first African American woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress, for her performance in Monster’s Ball. Denzel Washington wins the Best Actor statue for his role in Training Day. He is only the second African American actor, following Sidney Poitier in 1963, to win the award.
2002, March 26. Law student Deadria Farmer-Paellmann files a federal lawsuit against FleetBoston Financial, the railroad firm CSX, and the Aetna insurance company. She files the suit on behalf of 35 million African Americans who are descendants of slaves, and who seek reparations for former injustices. According to the charges, all of the named defendants profited from the slave trade at some point in history. Claimants are asking for billions of dollars in compensation. Lawyers representing Farmer-Paellmann promise to bring charges against other corporations and institutions at a later date.
2002, May 22. Former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry is convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 1963 church bombing that killed four African American girls in Birmingham, Alabama. He is the last living member to face charges. Robert Chambliss was convicted in 1977, Thomas Blanton was convicted in 2001, and Frank Cash died in 1994 without being charged.
2002, June 16. Tiger Woods wins the 102nd U.S. Open. He becomes the first player since Jack Nicklaus, in 1972, to win the first two majors of the year. Woods won the U.S. Masters on April 14. He does not win the British Open, however, squelching his quest for a true Grand Slam season.
2002, June 17. The Los Angeles Lakers beat the New Jersey Nets 113–107 to take the NBA championship. This is the third year in a row that the team finishes the season in the top spot. At age 23, Laker Kobe Bryant becomes the youngest player to win three NBA championships.
2002, June 19. The Juneteenth freedom march and rally takes place in Washington, D.C. It begins at the historic home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and ends on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. The goal of the gathering is to urge President George W. Bush to establish Juneteenth as a national holiday. An official holiday in seven states, June 19 marks the date when word was officially brought to Texas by General Gordon Grander that the Civil War was over and slaves in the South were free. The year was 1865, and because of poor communication methods, slavery was still enforced in Texas at the time.
2003, January. Republican Michael Steel becomes Mary-land’s first African American lieutenant governor.
2003, January. Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) becomes the eighteenth head of the Congressional Black Caucus.
2003, January. Jennette Bradley, lieutenant governor of Ohio, becomes the first African American woman to hold a statewide number two position
2003, January. The Montgomery bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in 1955 was restored and put on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
2003, January 10. Black Entertainment Television founder billionaire Robert Johnson became the first black majority owner of a major professional sports team with the Charlotte Bobcats. Johnson also immediately assumed ownership of the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting. In 2000, Johnson sold BET to Viacom, Inc for about $3 billion. After the sale of BET, Johnson formed the RLJ Companies through which he owns or holds interest in companies operating in the hospitality, real estate, fast food, gaming and media industries.
2003, January 14. The Cincinnati Bengals hire defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis as the football team’s new head coach. Lewis along with Tony Dungy and Herman Edwards are the only African-American coaches in the NFL.
2003, February. Carol Mosely Braun (D-Ill), the nation’s first African-American woman senator, announces her candidacy for United States President. She drops out of the race in January 2004.
2003, February 1. The space shuttle Columbia disinte-grated as it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere after a sixteen-day space mission. All seven members of the crew were lost. The crew included six Americans and one Israeli. Three were veteran astronauts, four were on their first space flight. The group included an African-American and the first Indian-American astronaut. The African American was Lt. Colonel, U.S. Air Force Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander.
2003, February 5. Secretary of State Colin Powell argues for War in Iraq. He told the Security Council that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to world security, has continuously deceived UN weapons inspectors, had links to al-Qaeda, and possessed mobile biological weapons factories.
2003, February 13. 1st Lt. Vernice Armour became the first black female combat pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps
2003, February 23. Dr. Maya Angelou won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for A Song Flung Up to Heaven.
2003, March. Forbes magazine lists Oprah Winfrey as the first African American female billionaire. She is the only black women in film and television to own her own production company, Harpo Production, Harpo Studios, Harpo Films, Harpo Print and Harpo Video.
2003, March 19. U.S. launches Operation Iraqi Freedom. Called a “decapitation attack,” the predawn air strike targets Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders in Baghdad. Ground troops enter the country, crossing into southern Iraq from Kuwait. Coalition troops encounter fierce resistance. Over twenty-five percent of the troops serving in Iraq are African American.
2003, April 7. Colbert I. King, a Washington Post Columnist, wins a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary
2003, May. Ann Fudge, former president of Kraft Foods, becomes chair and CEO of Young & Rubicam, a marketing and advertising firm.
2003, May 15. Marc Morial, former New Orleans mayor, is appointed to head the National Urban League.
2003, June 17. New regulation prohibits federal agents from using race or ethnicity in typical investigations, but does allow agents to consider the characteristics when information they receive about suspects includes race or ethnicity.
2003, June 23. The Supreme Court issues decisions in two cases, Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, which challenged the use of race in admissions policy at the University of Michigan’s Law School and the undergraduate College of Literature, Science and the Arts. The court upholds the concept of race as one of many factors in university admission, but rejects approaches that fail to examine each student’s record on an individual basis.
2003, July 7. Navy Read Admiral Barry Black is the first African American chaplain of the U. S. Senate.
2003, July 17. The NAACP Board of Directors Chairman Julian Bond named Constance Baker Motley, Senior U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, the 88th Spingarn Award honoree. Judge Motley received the award during the 94th NAACP National Convention in Miami, Florida. on July 17, 2003.
2003, September 22. Ericka Dunlap of Florida becomes the seventh African American crowned Miss America.
2003, October 3. The remains of more than 400 enslaved people arrived in New York and were taken in a procession up Broadway to their final resting place, the African Burial Ground, from which they had been removed 12 years ago.
2004, January. Billionare Oprah Winfrey celebrated her fiftieth birthday. Her annual salary was $210 million. Twenty-three million viewers a week in the U. S. and many more in over one hundred other countries watched her daily television show. It is the highest rated television talk show in television history.
2004, January. Heather McTeer Hudson is the first African American mayor of Greenville, MI.
2004, February. Michael L. Lomax, former President of Dillard University become head of the United Negro College Fund.
2004, February 10. Willie Adams Jr., is elected the first black mayor of Albany, GA.
2004, March 9. John Muhammad sentenced to death for his role in the 2002 sniper shootings that terrorized the Washington, DC, area. On March 10 his accomplice nineteen-year-old Lee Malvo sentenced to life without parole. The two were believed to be involved in 16 murders and 7 attempted murders in several states.
2004, April 5. Novelist Edward P. Jones wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and journalist Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald wins the award for commentary.
2004, April 5. Phylicia Rashad is the Tony Award winner for best leading actress on Broadway in a play by August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean; Audra McDonald wins for best performance by a featured actress in a play; Anika Noni Rose wins for best performance by a featured actress in a musical.
2004, April 8. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice tells the Congressional 9/11 Commission that President Bush was warned of suspicious activity by terrorists in the U.S. before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
2004, April 29. Memorial to 16 million Americans who served in the war opens in Washington, DC. Of that number 1,2 million were African Americans.
2004, May 3. Nine candidates discuss war in Iraq, tax cuts, health insurance, and other issues in often contentious meeting in South Carolina. Two African American candidates were Senator Carol Moseley Braun and Rev. Al Sharpton.
2004, May 31. Alphonso Jackson is confirmed as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
2004, June. Heather McTeer Hudson is the first African American mayor of Greenville, MS.
2004, June. Michael L. Lomax, former President of Dillard University become head of the United Negro College Fund.
2004, June. Willie Adams Jr. is elected the first black mayor of Albany, GA.
2004, June. Novelist Edward P. Jones wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and journalist Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald wins the award for commentary.
2004, June 6. Phylicia Rashad is the Tony Award winner for best leading actress on Broadway in a play by Lorraine Hansberry and Audra McDonald wins for best performance by a featured actress both for the play, A Raisin in the Sun; Anika Noni Rose wins for best performance by a featured actress in a musical, Caroline, or Change.
2004, June 14. Simmie Knox is the first African American artist to paint official White House portraits of a former president and first lady, Bill and Hilary Clinton
2004, June 23. President George W. Bush awards former U.S. Senator Edward William Brooke, III, (R-MA) the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s top civilian honor.
2004, July 13. Hazel O’Leary, former U.S. Secretary of Energy, becomes president of Fisk University.
2004, November. Jesse Jackson promised mass non-violent protest, while the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) says it will file lawsuits over alleged irregularities in the voting in Florida.
2004, November. Charles Steele Jr, becomes president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
2004, November 2. U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) regained her seat in Congress.
2004, November 2. Barack Obama (D-IL) is the third African American elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction and the second from Illinois. He becames the fifth black U.S. Senator in history. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), former mayor of Kansas City, is elected to the U.S. Congress. Gwen Moore (D) is the first African American elected to the U. S. Congress from Wisconsin. 2004—On November 2, Barack Obama is elected to the U.S. Senate from Illinois.
2004, November 2. Al Green (D-TX) is the first African American elected to the U. S, Congress. There were forty-three African Americans representatives in the 109th Congress.
2004, November 2. Former Virginia Governor I. Douglas Wilder becomes the first black mayor of Richmond, VA.
2005. Melvin Watts (D-NC) heads the Congressional Black Caucus, with forty-three members, all Democrats.
2005. Edgar Ray Killen is convicted of killing James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in Philadelphia, MS, in 1964.
2005. Muhammad Ali (boxer) Presidential Medal of Freedom winner.
2005, January. Melvin Watts (D-NC) officially became head the Congressional black Caucus.
2005, January. Condoleeza Rice is appointed by President George W. Bush, as the U.S. Secretary of State, the first African American woman to hold that position.
2005, January 19. John Harold Johnson celebrated his eighty-seventh birthday. He was the founder of the Johnson Publishing Company, an international media and cosmetics empire headquartered in Chicago, Illinois that includes Ebony, and Jet magazines, Fashion Fair Cosmetics and EBONY Fashion Fair. Johnson was the first black person to appear on the Forbes 400 Rich List, and had a fortune estimated at close to $500 million. He died August 8.
2005, April 27. August Wilson celebrated his fiftieth birthday. A Pulitzer Prize–winning American playwright, he was celebrated for his major literary legacy. a cycle of ten plays, each set in a different decade, depicting the comedy and tragedy of the African American experience in the 20th century. He died October 2.
2005, June. Bruce Gordon is the fifteenth president of the NAACP.
2005, June 13. Senate apologizes for failure to enact antilynching law: Issues a formal apology for decades-long failure to pass law making lynching illegal. From 1882 to 1968, 4,742 people, 3,446 of them black, were killed by lynch mobs.
2005, June 21. Edgar Ray Killen is convicted of killing James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in Philadelphia, MS, in 1964.
2005, August 29. Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in the nation’s history, devastates New Orleans with its 68 percent black population and other areas along the Gulf of Mexico. On August 30, Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf Coast, taking an estimated 1,700 lives. The vast majority of the deaths are in Louisiana, including the heavily African American city of New Orleans.
2005, October 24. Rosa Parks dies.
2005, November 9. President George W. Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to baseball legend Frank Robinson.
2006, January. Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice attended the inauguration of the President-elect of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleif, the first woman to be elected President on the continent of Africa.
2006, January 30. Coretta Scott King “the First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement.” died. The Congression Black Caucus members called Mrs. King a symbol of strength and resolve during the life of Dr. Martin King and after his death, an inspiration to millions of people around the world who sought justice and equality. She outlived Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King by almost 38 years.
2006, May 16. Congressional Black Caucus members demonstrated in front of the Sudanese Embassy to dramatize the urgency of the crisis in Darfur. The protest resulted in the arrest of seven members of the CBC for disorderly conduct for obstructing the entrance to the Sudanese Embassy. Chairman Watts was joined by U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Al Green (D-TX) and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in calling for an end to the continuing genocide.
2006, July. President Bush signs 25-year extension of Voting Rights Act.
2006, October 23. Barack Obama’s picture appears on the cover of Time magazine with the caption, “Why Barack Obama could be the next President.”
2006, November. Deval Patrick, elected Governor of Massachusetts.
2006, November 9. Journalist Edward Rudolph Bradley Jr., best known for his award-winning work on the long-running CBS News television magazine 60 Minutes died at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan of complications from chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
2006, December 15. President George W. Bush awarded B.B. King the Presidential Medal of Freedom. B.B. King has sold more than 40 million records. He won 14 Grammys. He has a place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
2007, January 22. Two African NFL coaches met at the Super Bowl at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts and Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears met for Super Bowl LXI, their teams playing during pouring rain. The Colts emerged as victors. This was the first time that any African American head coaches had ever participated in the Super Bowl.
2007, March 9. Howard University one of the foremost historically black colleges in the nation, celebrated its 140th anniversary. Almost all of the historically black colleges and universities were established in the five years following the Civil War.
2007, April 4. Radio personality Don Imus made racist, sexiest, insensitive, and grossly inappropriate remarks about the African American women of the Rutgers basketball team. His remarks ignited national outrage and Imus was fired. A brief national discussion about racial and sexual language in U.S. popular culture ensued.
2007, April 5. The New York Times reported that in the first three months of the year Barack Obama had raised $25 million for his 2008 Presidential campaign, making him a frontrunner in the race along with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
2007, May. U.S. Education Secretary Margret Spellings reported that the dropout rate for African students is about fifty percent. Spellings called some schools “dropout factories” because of the terrible conditions students face in the classroom.
CHRONOLOGY . The tendency to describe time in human terms inevitably leaves its mark on the various systems used for signifying time in all its widely varying forms and dimensions: from the identification of the period of light and the period of darkness within a day, to the artificial groupings of several days (seven-day week, ten-day week), the month (lunar or solar), the seasons, the year, cycles of many years, and the era. This tendency is found within the most diverse cultures and in everyday life as well as in the world of mythical traditions.
Scholars have long been gathering and analyzing a superabundant documentation relating to the concrete systems (mathematico-astronomical, economic, sacral) that in specific historical situations have been used to signify time. Unfortunately, scholars have not always asked themselves why such an activity should have been necessary. Rather than continuing to collect data of a phenomenological kind on the various methods of describing time, it seems more important to examine closely the ideology underlying them. Very useful for this purpose are historico-religious studies of the calendar, which have now made clear the decisions made in every type of culture to distinguish, within the otherwise vague, indistinct, and insubstantial temporal dimension of reality, that which is elevated to the rank of sacred from that which is deliberately left as profane.
Sacred time is saved from the anonymity of assimilation either to the perpetual self-renewal of nature or to the motionless stability of the mythical world, and is thereby rendered eternal in its periodic ritual scansions. Unlike profane time, sacred time tends to abstract not only from nature's inexorable rhythms (which it seeks in some way to control) but also from the rarefied and static character of the period of origins (which has now been left behind) and from the atmosphere of the festival (which, being out of the ordinary, is not congenial to it). As a result, sacred time always shows a face that is entirely its own, though in forms that vary according to the cultural environment and the historical situation. The phenomenology of sacred time ranges from the relatively simple impositions of taboos at specified times (which are thereby automatically removed from the everyday), to the prudent development of festive parentheses (inserted into profane existence as a means of linking this to the period of origins), and on to the infinitely more complex restructurings of calendrical rhythms. (The motives behind these rhythms—astronomical, economic, political, and/or social—are redeemed at the religious level, while the beginning and end of these rhythms are linked in the celebration of the New Year.)
History, for its part, presents us with well-defined instances of sacral descriptions of the temporal dimension. These include the dedication, in the true and strict sense, of limited periods of time to supreme beings (the "days of the gods" in ancient Egypt and the "week" of the bolon ti ku or "lords of the underworld" among the Maya); the indication of such days and months by name (as in the Zoroastrian religion and in the Roman, in which January was named after the god Janus, and March after the god Mars); and finally, the constant tendency to identify the beginning of linear time (time that is supremely profane by reason of the uniqueness of each instant) with events of exceptional religious importance. Such events included, for the Hebrews, creation and, for a more restricted period of time, the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple; for the Romans, the inauguration of the sanctuary of the supreme god, Jupiter Optimus Maximus; for the Western world, the birth of Christ; for Buddhist India and Indochina, the death of the Buddha and his attainment of nirvāṇa; and for the Islamic faithful, the emigration of Muḥammad from Mecca to Medina.
On the other hand, the consecration, and therefore surrender, of a period of time (which is thus removed from the crises of everyday life) brings the redemption, for man and for his existential needs and cultural requirements, of the remaining part of the temporal dimension, which is usually the larger part and which he seems anxious to regain possession of as soon as possible. In this context we may think of the care with which, by means of suitable indications on their epigraphical calendars, the Romans set apart the days that were fasti (i. e., on which it was permitted to administer justice), to the point of distinguishing within the twenty-four-hour period the time during which such activity was licit between the two phases of sacrifice. The Japanese set apart the kannazuki ("months without gods"), during which they, convinced that during these periods the Shintō kami neglect their faithful, consider it a duty not to waste time in cultic practices. Similarly, the civil authorities of various countries have brought mounting pressure to bear on the religious authorities to reduce the number of feast days and thus increase the number of workdays. The time that human beings reserve to themselves can—and by reason of existential difficulties must—be henceforth structured in a well-defined functional relation to productive activity.
It seems almost superfluous in our day to call attention to the important influence of various economic motivations on the progressive establishment and stratification of calendrical systems in the most diverse civilizations. Certain widespread phenomena in this area are obvious: the coincidence of the beginning and end of the year with the period when consumer goods are most available; the strategic location of festive periods in relation to essential work periods; and the close relation established between annual and seasonal rhythms and the needs created by human fatigue. I shall therefore only remind the reader of three considerations. First, the specific character of a calendrical structure is often determined by an agrarian economy (e.g., in ancient Egypt, where the New Year coincided with the flooding of the Nile, which was essential to the grain cycle and with which the three seasons of inundation, emersion, and repair of the irrigation system were likewise closely connected). Second, within one and the same civilization there are often several calendrical systems, each of which, with its different set of characteristics, looks to a different economic component of the society in question (e.g., at Rome, where the spelt harvest became fully available only in February, thus determining an agrarian-type New Year in March, whereas April 21 signaled the beginning of the work year for those engaged in pastoral activities). Finally, the names of the months often echo particular rural occupations (e.g., "The Garlic Harvest" in the Iran of the Achaemenids; "The Heaping of the Harvest" in pre-Columbian Peru; "The Sowing of the Rice" in China).
Our consciousness of the influence exercised by the economic factor on the cultural description of time is, moreover, such that we can see it already reflected in the sacral traditions of primitive cultures. In these cultures, myths abound showing that primitive man's anxiety focused not so much on the need of having time as on a concern that the time available be suited ("long enough" or "with daylight enough") for hunting (the Paiute of Nevada; the Caddo of eastern Texas) or for salmon-fishing (the Tlingit of the Northwest Coast).
But whether sacred or profane, time is essentially a reality that is conceived, planned, and activated in service of human beings and therefore must be adapted to their needs. Humans view as habitual and secure the limits represented by the day (among some peoples, only the period of daylight), the month (in some cultures, only the period of the waxing moon), the year (in some societies, only the seasons, which are defined in economic terms), and, sometimes, the century. Beyond these limits, human beings seem to feel displaced, lost, threatened, and crushed by the unnaturally vast dimensions that time appears to take on whenever it is geared no longer to them but to suprahuman beings who live in a "different" time or, more precisely, are thought of as "outside of time." Thus human beings can make nothing of a "day of Brahma," which in Hinduism is equivalent to an incommensurable kalpa, just as they cannot render useful to themselves, except in an ultimately apotropaic way, the vast eras in which, according to certain higher civilizations (Vedic India, the classical world, pre-Columbian America), phases of dissolution usually, and in significant ways, preclude a renewal of cosmic reality or even a termination of human reality. In the final analysis, human beings would even have a struggle appreciating properly the decidedly more restrained yet barely sufficient three millennia that, according to the Zoroastrian religion, the creator Ahura Mazdā needs in order to establish and then annihilate creation, after having imprisoned and destroyed evil within it.
The fact that time should be geared principally to man, tailored to his measure and defined in function of his needs, both existential and cultural, is constantly made clear precisely in those mythical traditions that, from time to time and in one civilization after another, emphasize this point at levels that are diverse but that, in every case, deal with the common necessity of turning absolute time into a human category. To begin with, great importance is attached in myth to the active role played by the human race in the acquisition of time during the period of origins, as compared with the more passive role played by the suprahuman powers. Those who request, take, conquer, or otherwise obtain time may be, according to circumstances, the First Man (natives of Vanuatu; the Sulka of New Britain); the earthly wife of the moon (the Aleut of Alaska); a child (the Micmac of Cape Breton); the carpenter and his sons (the Bambara of the Sudan); the shaman (the Caddo); or mythical kings (Rome and China). Or the social group in its entirety may play this active role by determining to couple peacefully in the dark (the Selk'nam of Tierra del Fuego); by turning in need to Wild Duck against the negative action of Coyote and the ineptitude of Wolf (the Paiute); by paying Bazzagro to keep the sun in the sky, while Coyote appears to play a secondary role in the entire event (the Pomo of California); by crying out their desire for "long days" so that Maikaffo, the master of atmospheric phenomena, cannot but hear and heed (the Hausa of the Sudan); or by claiming and obtaining a certain course of the sun through the sky, while the creator limits himself to granting their desire (the Tsimshian of the Northwest).
In short, individuals or social groups adapt time to their own use, whereas otherwise it would have other proportions, dimensions, and characteristics. There would, for instance, have been as many months of winter as there are hairs in the trickster's fur coat, instead of winters of only seven months (the Assiniboin of Canada); ten cold moons and, for sole nourishment, soup made of refuse, instead of two such moons, with sunflower seeds, roots, and berries to eat (the Atsugewi of California); lunar months of forty days, as Porcupine wanted, instead of months according to rule (the Tsimshian); excessively short days instead of "long days" (the Hausa); periods of either light alone or darkness alone, with either sleeping or fishing excluded, instead of the indispensable alternation of day and night (natives of Mota in Melanesia and the Tlingit).
It is also significant that time is made available in periods that are keyed to specifically human existence. In fact, time alone makes possible the existence of beds and sleep (natives of Mota); fire and the eating of cooked foods (the Sulka of New Britain); the present manner of making love (the Pomo and the Selk'nam); and death (the Luiseño of California and the Bambara). Prior to the acquisition of time, human beings had not yet carved out a special—that is to say, human and cultural—place for themselves that would differentiate them from the suprahuman and subhuman worlds. As long as time did not exist, either absolutely or in its definitive forms and with its definitive characteristics, mythical beings exercised governance (Rome); the gods were not yet born (Egypt); it was possible to marry the moon (the Aleut); men were still like the animals (the Tsimshian); and, finally, it was possible to use the channels of communication between earth and heaven (the Bambara, the Sulka, and natives of Vanuatu).
As for the acquisition or conquest of time as a function of elementary human needs, here, too, there is a widespread and much accentuated mythical motif. Claim was laid to a winter that was not too long and that was mitigated by the summer so that humans might endure the cold (the Assiniboin and the Micmac). There was a desire for daylight in order to obtain food and cook it (the Paiute, Caddo, Tlingit, and Atsugewi), and for the darkness of night in order to safeguard personal privacy (the Selk'nam) and to rest (the Caddo, natives of Mota, and the Sulka). And all manner of efforts were made to divide the year into months in order to have rest from fatigue (the Bambara) and to be able to commemorate the dead (the Luiseño).
Finally, one also finds a marked awareness that the acquisition of this human category of time had immediate and lasting repercussions in relation to the world of nature, which now received its definitive shape. With time, light first appeared (the Tlingit, natives of Vanuatu, Israel), and darkness as well (the Tlingit). With time, the moon rises and begins its successive phases (the Luiseño, Pomo, Aleut, Tlingit, and Bambara), and plants and animals come into existence (the Tlingit and Sulka, natives of Vanuatu, Iran, Israel) and take on their definitive traits (the Paiute, Tsimshian, Tlingit). The gods can now be born and, in turn, generate the world (Egypt), and death comes upon the earth (the Bambara and Luiseño).
Paradoxically, time marks the real beginning of history and opens the way for nature to exist. Nature would otherwise have been different or would not even have existed at all. This enables us to understand how, among the rich and complex systems used for describing time in both primitive cultures and the higher civilizations, those systems that give material embodiment to time by specifically human and cultural means acquire special prominence. One such means in widespread use is the voice. In its most diverse forms, time can be announced in a loud voice to the collectivity by the qualified sacral personnel, or at least by individuals of exalted religious standing. We may think here of the solemn public proclamation of the new moon (on the basis of which the month now beginning acquired its special structure) by a pontifex minor (minor pontiff or subpontiff) in Rome; or of Muḥammad's reestablishment in Mecca in 631 of a lunar year uncontaminated by intercalations of any kind. Actions of this type, usually ritualized in various ways according to the particular cultural environment, seem to be found in a significant degree in those cultural traditions in which time has not yet become an integral part of the order of things. Time may make its first appearance as something announced and proclaimed (the Luiseño, Atsugewi, Paiute), but remember also Genesis 1:1–5, where God says: "Let there be light!" Or time may be repeated (the Assiniboin and Atsugewi), discussed (the Assiniboin, Paiute, Atsugewi, Nandi of northeastern Africa, and Tsimshian), or even obtained by shouting (the Maidu, Tlingit, and natives of Mota) on the part of suprahuman beings or primitive humankind.
Another system of circumscribing time is that represented by work and, in particular, the manual labor of craftsmen. In archaic societies such work soon acquired a properly creative value in relation to realities that are in themselves abstract and difficult, if not impossible, to regulate, as witnessed by the well-known Roman saying that the individual is the faber (creator) of his own destiny. The labor of a handworker and, more specifically, of a weaver, a carpenter, or an engraver—that is, the labor of individuals who are accustomed to using fibers, nails and hammer, or chisel and burin in order to produce something that is new, different, and, above all, irreversible (cloths; various objects; and marble and/or metals that are shaped and moved from one place to another) in relation to the raw material that human labor has now immobilized in a given form and thus rendered usable—is the kind of labor that seems to show through, even if sublimated to a henceforth symbolic level, in conceptions of time as something knotted, nailed, chiseled, or engraved. One can cite the knotted cords used for measuring time among various primitive peoples, as well as the "binding of the sun" into the arc of the seasons or into cycles of many years in pre-Columbian America; or the ritual hammering in of the clavus annalis ("nail of the year") at Rome, and the comparable way of marking the passage of the years in Etruria; or various epigraphic calendars.
Given the well-known fact that the specialization of trades appears with the rise of the higher civilizations, conceptions of the kind cited can be found only sporadically in primitive cultures, whereas other cultures give them a privileged place. In the myths of primitive peoples, the kind of toil by which time in its various forms is acquired is far from being the labor of a craftsman; rather, it is related to the habitual activities of the various sectors of these societies. In these stories time is hunted down and captured with bow and arrow (the Caddo); hoisted up by brute strength and ropes (the Aleut and Sudanese); ferried in a canoe (natives of Mota); given new form by means of an obsidian knife (natives of Mota); or even looked upon as something to be traded—for example, "bought" with a basket of pearls or a little necklace or even a pig (the Pomo, Paiute, and natives of Mota, respectively).
A further method of circumscribing or actuating time is even more human and cultural by comparison with the other systems. This is the system that actualizes time, in forms that vary constantly from civilization to civilization, through the more or less massive display of ludic activity. Scholars have long known and studied rituals in both primitive and higher cultures that focus on spectacle. Less well known, on the other hand, is the fact that such rituals (usually celebrated to highlight the salient moments of human, social, and cosmic existence and to create or recreate them from time to time at the sacral level) often specifically signal the passage of time by materially describing, characterizing, influencing, and even "realizing" its several and diverse forms and modalities. Among the Witóto, for example, the ritual game of soccer, in which the ball is identified with the moon, is played in precise relation to the various phases of this heavenly body. In the same context the Shasta of Oregon, try to "strike the moon" by hitting the ball with twelve vertebrae of a salmon, and thus to help the moon increase so that, month by month, it may travel the entire arc of the year; this action, in their view, even accelerates the moon's course in winter. The Pygmies of Africa annually dance around a fire to bring about the succession of the seasons; at the spring feast of Ysiah, the Yakuts of Siberia stage a combat between winter and the salutary season; and the Delaware of Oklahoma assign a clearly solstitial character, value, and purpose to the game of soccer.
Examples of this kind help us to grasp the ultimate function of the countless elements of spectacle (dances and songs, games and contests of every kind, dramatic representations, etc.) that, as is well known, are a constant component of New Year festivals both in the most widely varying primitive cultures and in the archaic higher civilizations. Even in these last, in fact, ludic activity, though tending to become what in the modern world is now simply sport and theatricals, still to a degree seeks to shape the varied and manifold formulations of time by describing its rhythms in the form of spectacles. To multiply examples here would carry us beyond the limits set for this article; we need only think of the Assyrian determination of the years by means of a game of chance, or the Greek custom of dating time in relation to the Olympiads celebrated every fifth year. Reflect, too, on the wealth and complexity of the elements offered by the inevitable projection of motifs of this kind in the mythic traditions of these civilizations. One can cite the Egyptian story told by Plutarch, according to which the five days added annually to the other 360 were made up by the god Thoth out of the fractions of time he had acquired by playing chess with the moon. Thoth's purpose in thus composing these days was to create a specific chronological space that would at last allow the divinities to enter the world, since the sun god Re would not allow them to be conceived and born during the regular year.
Given the limitations of space, I shall restrict myself to a brief consideration of how all this was verified in Roman society, where there were many rituals of a spectacular kind. If we keep in mind that the rotation and revolution of the heavenly bodies, which regulate the course of time, were assimilated in Roman culture to the special movement proper to ludus ("play"), we will readily understand the imposition of a complex astronomical symbolism on the space occupied by the circus, where every chariot race was intended to mime the course of the sun through the heavens. We will also see a more specific meaning in the fact that the periodic ludi served to mark in a solemn manner the expiration of fixed periods of time. Thus, the lustrum, or purificatory sacrifice, defined a regularly recurring cycle of four years; the ludi saeculares, or centennial games celebrated the end of a saeculum; and the various New Year festivals—the Saturnalia, Feriae Annae Perennae (festival of the goddess of the year), and Palilia (festival of Pales, the tutelary deity of shepherds and cattle)—abounded in spectacle.
When thus reduced to a mere product of a game, time seems to be rendered completely subordinate to a given culture. This does not mean, however, that time is undervalued in the slightest; on the contrary, there is always the greatest esteem for it, independent of cultural contexts and historical situations. The value assigned to time is extremely high in comparison with other categories, as seen in the widespread conviction that time is something "precious" that "must not be lost." This evaluation is independent of oscillations in value when moving from a merely economic level (in myth, time can be "bought," while in the modern world it becomes "money" pure and simple) to a highly ideological level. Thus time is equated with the uniqueness of existence in some myths (the Assiniboin, Luiseño, Bambara) in which the conquest of time has been made possible only by someone's sacrifice, suffering, and death.
Duval, Paul-Marie. "Observations sur le Calendrier de Coligny." Études celtiques 11 (1966–1967): 269–313.
Goudoever, J. M. van. Fêtes et calendriers bibliques. Théologie historique, vol. 7. 3d ed. Paris, 1967.
Hallo, William W. "The First Purim." Biblical Archaeologist 46 (Winter 1983): 19–26.
Hartner, Willy. "The Young Avestan and Babylonian Calendars and the Antecedents of Precession." Journal for the History of Astronomy 10 (1979): 1–22.
Herz, Peter. "Untersuchungen zum Festkalender der römischen Kaiserzeit nach datierten Weih- und Ehreninschriften." Ph.D. diss., University of Mainz, 1975.
Melena, José L. "Reflexiones sobre los Meses del Calendario Micénico de Cnoso y sobra la Fecha de la Caída del Palacio." Emerita 42 (1974): 77–102.
Michels, Agnes K. The Calendar of the Roman Republic. Princeton, 1967.
Mikalson, Jon D. The Sacred and Civil Calendar of the Athenian Year. Princeton, 1975.
Strobel, August. Ursprung und Geschichte der frühchristlichen Osterkalendars. Berlin, 1977.
Giulia Piccaluga (1987)
Translated from Italian by Matthew J. O'Connell
The human notion of time involves the simultaneous and successive occurrence of events; the science of chronology ascertains their proper sequence. The human idea of time also involves measuring; chronology, therefore, attempts to determine the duration of past events, the amount of time between events, and the distance between past events and our time, measured in regular astronomical units: days, years, etc. Thus chronology attempts to locate an event relatively with respect to other events, and absolutely in terms of the present system of reckoning dates.
In an archaeological excavation several layers of habitation may be uncovered, those nearest to the surface being the most recent. Pottery specimens (especially good evidence because of their virtual indestructibility and therefore useful as a scale for relative dating in archaeology) may be found in each stratum, and a relative sequence of pottery styles can be established. Another way of establishing such a sequence is through finds in different sites whose relative chronology is known from another source, e.g., Greek colonies in Italy whose order of foundation is given by Thucydides. Once this stylistic, or typological, sequence is established, it is possible to determine the place in that sequence for other materials found in close association with one of the known pottery styles.
Paleography, the study of ancient modes of writing and alphabet forms, can often give relative dates for undated documents. Where evidence is abundant, e.g., epigraphic Athenian decrees or Greco-Roman papyri from Egypt, literary analysis – particular usage of language, especially technical terms or legal formulas – can be valuable for approximate dating.
numbered and named years
Ancient Near Eastern historical records such as king lists and annals furnish sequences of rulers, the number of years in a king's reign, and, in the case of annals and some monuments, events assigned to numbered regnal years. In counting years the historian must know when the first regnal year began. In Egypt the interval between a king's accession and the subsequent new year was his first regnal year; but in Babylon that period was called "the beginning of the reign," while the counting of regnal years commenced only after the new year.
In certain countries years were named after important events, as in ancient Mesopotamia, or after "eponymous" magistrates of whom there are some extant lists, e.g., limmu in Assyria, archon in Athens (in the histories of Diodorus and Dionysius of Halicarnassus), and consul in republican Rome (in the fasti Capitolini).
References to contemporary persons or events in ancient documents are helpful in establishing more accurate sequences, or in relating two known sequences to each other. An example is the so-called "Synchronistic Chronicle," an Assyrian document listing Assyrian monarchs and contemporary Babylonian kings. More sophisticated synchronisms are found in the works of historians like Diodorus, who prefaces each annual account with the year's Athenian archon, Roman consul, and, if appropriate, Olympiad.
The historian who works with these materials faces a variety of problems. Lists of kings and eponymous officials are often schematic and inaccurate, especially for early periods. Mesopotamian king lists, for example, are not reliable for the first part of the second millennium b.c.e., while Manetho's list of Egyptian pharaohs is reliable for the New Kingdom but unreliable for the First and Second Intermediate Periods, where it differs from another king list, the Turin Papyrus. Although trustworthy after around 300 b.c.e., the Roman fasti present difficulties for earlier dates. The date indicated by the fasti for the Gallic sack of Rome, for instance, differs from the date established by Polybius through synchronisms with Greek history.
Contemporary, often rival, dynasties were sometimes recorded as successive in the king lists, either erroneously or because of political considerations. Some rulers were accidentally omitted from the lists or intentionally suppressed, and a king could predate his years to the beginning of a previous reign in order to strengthen his own legitimacy by refusing to recognize that of his predecessor. Editors altered their material to bring it into harmony with accepted historical traditions. Another problem for the historian is that political calendars, e.g., the Athenian and Roman, began at different times of the year, making exact synchronisms difficult.
Where hypothetical sequences have been established, the dating still remains relative until an absolute date for at least one unit in the sequence is known. This is true for pottery, written documents, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and king or eponym lists. The goal of chronology is to date objects or events accurately according to our calendar (the Julian, see below).
A physical process known as radiocarbon dating, devised by W.F. Libby, is a direct method of determining approximately the absolute date of an ancient object. In living organisms, a certain organic proportion of the carbon is carbon 14, i.e., "heavy," or radioactive carbon, which, after death, disintegrates at a constant rate. In substances of organic origin, therefore, approximate dates can be calculated from the extent to which the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 (the normal, non-radioactive variety) has fallen. This radiocarbon method is especially useful for dating prehistoric discoveries, e.g., organic (wooden) objects from the pre-urban civilizations of Mesopotamia. Dates, however, can be given only with wide margins of error, extending to centuries.
The most accurate keys for reduction to absolute dates are references to astronomical events, which modern science can pinpoint to exact calendar dates. For example, the entire series of Assyrian limmu (successive eponyms) from 911 to 648 b.c.e. can be dated by means of an eclipse which occurred in 763 b.c.e. Celestial phenomena, however, are cyclical; so the approximate date of the recorded event must be known before this method can be used.
The historical method of arriving at absolute dates is based on the fact that our reckoning of years continues (with slight modifications, see below) to be according to the Julian calendar. From a fixed point – the Christian Era – we can count forward or backward by Julian years and months to get an exact date. Thus all non-Julian, even Roman pre-Julian dates, must be converted into Julian ones before they can be made absolute. Several factors, however, make this task difficult.
Counting backward would be easier if we possessed a sufficient number of ancient systems of enumerating years. However, before the Seleucids, who used the date of the accession of their dynasty (312/311 b.c.e.; see below) as the key for calculating the years, such systems are nonexistent. Later eras also marked accessions (e.g., that of Diocletian, 284 c.e.), victories (e.g., that of Actium, 31 b.c.e.), or the establishment of a Roman province (e.g., Macedonia, 148 b.c.e.). None of these, of course, is of help for pre-Seleucid dates.
Other related systems are the counting of Olympiads (every four years from 776 b.c.e.), Roman reckoning ab urbe condita ("from the founding of the city," in 753 b.c.e.), the Jewish "Era of Creation" (Anno Mundi, from 3761 b.c.e.; see below), and the Christian Era, devised by Dionysius Exiguus 532 years after the Incarnation. These, however, are the reckonings of chronographers, and were not officially used as designations for years.
Another factor which makes absolute dating difficult, even where a dated document is extant, is the great variation among ancient *calendar systems. Widespread in the Near East and Greece was the lunisolar year, a system of twelve annual lunar months made to correspond with the solar year, by means of periodic intercalation. Determination of the calendar evolved from declaring the beginning of each month upon the sighting of the first crescent of the new moon to the more sophisticated cyclical calculation of new moons and intercalations. The basic Babylonian scheme was adopted by the Jews (who did not, however, abandon lunar observation for calculation until the fourth century c.e.), the Persians, and later the Seleucids (who retained the Macedonian names of the months).
Greek calendars were theoretically lunisolar, but alternated "full" (30 days) with "hollow" (29 days) months. These were somewhat artificial calendars, according to which festivals were held, and they did not necessarily correspond to the actual lunar cycles. lntercalations and other adjustments were made arbitrarily when deemed necessary, even for political reasons. In Athens, there was in addition to the civil lunisolar calendar the political Prytany calendar, which divided the year into administrative periods. This artificiality and, furthermore, the lack of uniformity between the calendars of different Greek cities, makes it extremely difficult to establish a correct Julian date; the historian considers himself fortunate when he is able to determine the correct Julian year and season of an event in Greek history.
The Macedonian calendar used by the Ptolemies for official purposes was lunisolar; but by the end of the third century b.c.e. it was adjusted to fit the ancient standard Egyptian year, a uniform and completely solar year of 365 (12 × 30 + 5) days.
The early Roman calendar of 355 days with intercalations every second year also ignored the moon. Julius Caesar abandoned the old system and instituted the nearly astronomically correct year of 365¼ days, which agreed with the sun and the seasons. The modern calendar is this Julian calendar (used regularly from 8 c.e.) adjusted by Pope Gregory xiii: ten days were dropped in 1582 and the quadrennial intercalary day is to be omitted in three years out of every 400 (i.e., it was omitted in 1700, 1800, and 1900, but not in 2000).
It must be noted that although the various official calendars may aid the modern historian, the ancient peasant probably reckoned time according to the "natural" year, i.e., by the seasons, stars, and certain constellations like the signs of the zodiac.
Hellanicus of Lesbos was the first to adjust the dates of events to a common standard, the year of the priestesses of Hera at Argos. Timaeus and Eratosthenes dated by Olympiads. Eratosthenes, the first "scientific" chronographer, also produced a scheme for dating events in Greek history by counting the number of years in the intervals between important occurrences.
The "Canon" in Eusebius' Chronica (c. 300 c.e.), translated by Jerome and continued up to 378 b.c.e., has an ambitious scheme of synchronisms: years after Abraham (counted from 2016 b.c.e.), royal years, Olympiads, and so on. Theon's commentary on the astronomer Ptolemy's work (the "Ptolemaic Canon") gives astronomically exact dates for successive reigns of Babylonian, Persian, Ptolemaic, Roman, and Byzantine rulers.
Using these sources, especially Eusebius, the first modern chronographers, G. Scaliger (1540–1609) and D. Fetavius (1583–1652), calculated the ancient dates in terms of Julian years. The weakness of their systems was that they were limited in their sources to often erroneous dates furnished by the ancients themselves, and to sometimes faulty manuscript traditions which perpetuated errors.
The basic method of converting dates to our own reckoning is to establish a Julian date by working back through years in the era of Diocletian and Roman consular lists. For Roman pre-Julian and Greek dates with rare exception we must be satisfied with getting the Julian year and the approximate season with the help of synchronisms. Using king lists and synchronisms for the Near East, we must still recognize a margin of error of about ten years back to the 14th century b.c.e., 50 to the 17th century, and 100 or more for earlier dates. For the pre-literate period we must resort to archaeological methods.
jewish methods of counting
In the biblical period, especially from the beginning of the Monarchy, the years were counted according to the regnal years of the Israelite and Judahite kings. There was never a fixed era, such as the classical Greek Era of the Olympiads (see above). In the Persian period (from 539 b.c.e. on), the Jews, as Persian subjects, counted according to the regnal year of the contemporary Persian monarch (e.g., Haggai 1:1; Zech. 1:1).
In the Hellenistic period, the Seleucid reckoning came into use. The victory of Seleucus and his ally Ptolemy over Demetrius Poliorcetes at Gaza in 312 b.c.e. and the triumphant return of Seleucus to Babylon was taken to mark the beginning of a new era (Dec. 7, 312, in the Macedonian calendar and April 3, 311, in the Babylonian calendar). The Seleucid era was in vogue among the Jews until the Middle Ages (in the East it lasted until the 16th century).
Other eras which did not last were the Hasmonean era (from the accession of *Simeon the Hasmonean 143/2 b.c.e.), and the "Era of the Redemption of Zion" (between the years 66 and 70 and the era of "The Freedom of Israel," front 131 to 135 c.e.).
Dates have also been reckoned from the destruction of the Second Temple (minyan le-ḥurban ha-bayit): year one of this era = 3830 Anno Mundi = year 381 of the Seleucid era = 69/70 c.e.
The era at present in use among the Jews is the minyan la-yeẓirah, "Era of the Creation," according to which the years are calculated from the creation of the world (Anno Mundi). This era came into popular use about the ninth century c.e. In various rabbinical computations the "Era of the Creation" began in the autumn of one of the years between 3762 and 3758 b.c.e. From the 12th century c.e., however, it became accepted that the "Era of the Creation" began in 3761 b.c.e. (to be exact, on Oct. 7 of that year). This computation is founded on synchronisms of chronological elements expressed in the Bible and calculations found in early post-biblical Jewish literature.
Traditional Jewish Chronography
The earliest Jewish chronological works that counted the years from the Creation have not survived. Of the work by the Alexandrian Jew Demetrius (third century b.c.e.), which deduced Jewish historical dates from the Bible, only a few fragments are extant. In the Book of *Jubilees, events from the Creation to the Exodus are dated by the cycles of jubilee and sabbatical years, i.e., cycles of 49 and seven years. Scholars differ as to the date and origin of Jubilees (see *Calendar). The Era of the Creation in this work is probably only hypothetical.
The earliest and most important of all the Jewish chronological works extant is the *Seder Olam, which, according to talmudic tradition, was compiled by Yose b. Ḥalafta in the second century c.e. The author, whose date is unknown, was possibly the first to use the rabbinic "Era of the Creation." His chronology extends from the Creation to the period of Bar Kokhba, i.e., to the days of the Roman emperor Hadrian; but the period from Nehemiah to Bar Kokhba (i.e., from Artaxerxes to Hadrian) is compressed into one single chapter. The Persian phase shrinks to only 54 years (the variant reckoning of 250 years is corrupt, see Seder Olam).
In the Talmud
Seder Olam combines an interpretation of biblical data with rabbinic tradition. According to the latter, the period of the Second Temple lasted 420 years (Av. Zar. 9a). This calculation is related to the 490 years of Daniel (Dan. 9:24), taken as the interval between the destruction of the First Temple and the destruction of the Second Temple. If 70 years are subtracted for the Exile, then a period of 420 years is left for the Second Temple. The author of Seder Olam divides this period as follows: the period of Persian rule – 34 years; the Greek period – 180 years; the Maccabees – 103 years; and the Herods – 103 years. Counting back from the destruction of the Second Temple (70 c.e.) would give the date 33 c.e. for the accession of Herod the Great, 136 b.c.e. for the Hasmonean era, and, with 180 years for the rule of the Greeks, would place Alexander the Great in the Land of Israel in the year 316 b.c.e. Before this, however, the schematic 420 years for the existence of the Second Temple leaves only 34 years from the completion of the Temple (according to our chronology 516 b.c.e.) to Alexander the Great (332 b.c.e.) instead of 184 years. In other words, a large error emerges in the Seder Olam author's calculations of the Persian period.
A number of attempts have been made to reconcile the Seder Olam with accepted historical data. H. Englander has suggested that the 34 years mentioned by the tanna are not to be counted from the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus to Alexander, but from the time when the Jewish community was truly reestablished on the basis of the Torah as the fundamental law after Ezra's arrival. This interpretation would imply that the Artaxerxes of Ezra's time was the second king by that name and that Ezra's arrival must be dated at about 398 b.c.e. The above assumptions are not the predominant view among scholars, and even if they were, they would place Alexander's arrival at 364 b.c.e. which in itself is incorrect. According to J.Z. Lauterbach, the chronological problem is the result of amoraic misunderstandings of tannaitic statements that were essentially correct. The intention of the author of Seder Olam was not to give one complete and congruous report on the period of the Second Temple. He merely assembles sundry ideas about the various governments, each one complete in itself but not connected. His statement attributing 103 years each to the Hasmonean and Herodian regimes is basically correct. The 180 years of Greek rule can also be upheld if Ptolemy's invasion of Jerusalem in 320 b.c.e. is taken as the beginning of Greek rule and the recognition of Jewish independence by the Roman senate in 139 b.c.e. as the end of Greek rule. As to the problematic 34 years of Persian rule, Lauterbach claims that the statement בפני הבית (at the time of the Temple) was not correctly understood. In reality it means לפני הבית (before the time of the Temple; there may even have been a copyist's error), and the intention was merely to state that Persian rule before the rebuilding of the Temple extended for 34 years. From Cyrus' conquest of Babylon in 549 b.c.e. until 516 b.c.e., when the Temple was completed, spans 34 years. The suggestion is ingenious but unacceptable, since Babylon fell not in 549 but in 539 b.c.e. Although Cyrus undertook the conquest of Lydia in 547–546, and large parts of Babylonian territory were conquered, Babylon itself was not.
The attempt to reconcile biblical and talmudic chronology with historical data is not always successful for a number of reasons. First, despite their relative proximity to the events, the ancients did not possess the scientific and archaeological methods that enable modern scholars to arrive at far more accurate conclusions. Second, and perhaps more significant, their interest was not so much academic as religious. Tradition had to be upheld at all costs, especially in the face of dissident sectarians.
A classic example of this situation is the Sefer ha-Kabbalah by Abraham ibn Daud. Until recent times, this work served as a standard textbook on Jewish history. Today, however, the work is recognized as virtually worthless as a source of information on the biblical, talmudic, and geonic periods. Its value lies mainly in the picture the author gives of the spirit of his day and of Spanish Jewry. It is quite clear from Ibn Daud's methods and chronological conclusions that he had neither the Seder Olam Rabbah or its Zuta at his disposal. The question as to what sources were available is problematic. Ibn Daud, the staunch Rabbanite defending traditional Judaism in the face of Karaite sectarianism, uses history as a polemic to prove the validity of rabbinic tradition. History, moreover, also comforts as there is consolation in its symmetry. One purpose of the study of Israel's history is to detect the hand of Divine Providence. The proof of the existence of this force is in its rhythmic working – construction, destruction, and reconstruction, "21 years passed from the beginning of the Exile until the destruction of the First Temple and 21 years from the rebuilding of the Temple to its completion." All this was decreed from heaven to occur in periods that were equal in length and therefore symmetrical. Thus according to Ibn Daud, both the First and Second Temples endured 427 years. The First Temple was built in seven years and destroyed after a siege of seven years. The Second Temple too was destroyed after seven years of subjection to Rome and rebellion against her. It is irrelevant that Ibn Daud's symmetry blatantly contradicts the chronological data contained in the Bible. The historian's task is to find the plan and rewrite the chronological facts if necessary. This approach was not Ibn Daud's invention. In the Midrash (Gen. R. 12:8) the symmetrical balance in the story of Creation is stressed. In fact parallelism and symmetry were part of the rabbinic mind. The novelty of Ibn Daud was his use of this pattern of thinking as a law of history, Jewish as well as general.
F.K. Ginzel, Handbuch der Chronologie, 2 vols. (1906–14); R.W. Ehrlich (ed.), Chronologies in Old World Archaeology (1965); E.J. Bickerman, Chronology of the Ancient World (1968); E. Mahler, Handbuch der juedischen Chronologie (1916; repr. 1967); H. Englander, in: Journal of Jewish Lore and Philosophy, 1 (1919), 83–103; G.F. Moore, Judaism, 1 (1927), 5–7; J.Z. Lauterbach, in: paajr, 5 (1934), 77–84; A.A. Akavia, Ha-Lu'aḥ ve-Shimmusho be-Khronologyah (1953); H. Tadmor in: World History Of the Jewish People (ed. by B. Mazar), 2 (1970), 63–101; E. Frank, Talmudic and Rabbinical Chronology (1956).
Chronology and Timeline
CHRONOLOGY AND TIMELINE
1904 The Fleming valve, the first vacuum tube, is patented by Sir John A. Fleming.
1905 Albert Einstein publishes the theory of relativity.
1915 The first transcontinental call, between San Francisco and NewYork, is placed by researchers working at AT&T.
1920 Czech author Karel Capek coins the word, "robot."
1924 The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company is renamed International Business Machines (IBM).
1934 Federal legislation is passed in the form of the Communications Act in an attempt to begin regulation of the telephone industry.
1939 The first digital computer prototype is created at Iowa State College by Clifford Berry and John Atanasoff. Hewlett-Packard is founded.
1941 Regular television broadcasting begins.
1948 Bell Labs unveils the transistor to the U.S. military and to the public at large.
1951 The UNIVAC 1, considered the first commercial computer, is sold to the U.S. Census Bureau by the Eckert and Mauchly Computer Co.
1962 Dr. J.C.R. Licklider defines the concept of global networking in a pioneering thesis at MIT, "On-Line Man Computer Communications."
1965 Moore's Law is espoused for the first time by Gordon Moore.
1968 Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore form the Intel Corp.
1969 ARPAnet is created.
1970 Glass fiber, precursor to the development of fiber optics, is created at Corning Glass.
1971 Intel creates the first microprocessor.
1972 The concept of electronic mail is introduced, as is the concept of open-architecture networking.
1974 Barcoded products appear in U.S. stores and cashiers begin using scanners.
1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen form a partnership, naming their new business Microsoft.
1976 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak found Apple Computer Co. Cray Research, Inc. unveils the Cray-1, a supercomputer with revolutionary speed capabilities.
1981 IBM introduces its personal computer.
1982 The TCP/IP protocol is developed.
1983 Microsoft Word is unveiled, as is the Windows operating system. Time magazine chooses the PC as its 1982 "Man of the Year."
1984 Apple Computer Co. introduces the Macintosh.
1985 The National Science Foundation establishes NSFNET, an enhanced version of ARPAnet.
1986 Microsoft Corp. conducts its IPO.
1989 BITNET is born.
1990 Microsoft Corp. revenues exceed $1 billion. ARPAnet is decommissioned and shut down.
1993 Graphics-based Web browser Mosaic is released. The U.S. Justice Dept. begins its antitrust investigation into Microsoft Corp.
1994 The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is established.
2000 Technology stocks plummet in value as the dot-com shakeout takes hold. Internet startups are hit hard and many fold or merge.
2001 Time Warner and America Online (AOL) finalize their mega-merger.
Chronology and Timeline
CHRONOLOGY AND TIMELINE
1904 The Fleming valve, the first vacuum tube, is patented by Sir John A. Fleming.
1905 Albert Einstein publishes the theory of relativity.
1915 The first transcontinental call, between San Francisco and NewYork, is placed by researchers working at AT&T.
1920 Czech author Karel Capek coins the word, "robot."
1924 The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company is renamed International Business Machines (IBM).
1934 Federal legislation is passed in the form of the Communications Act in an attempt to begin regulation of the telephone industry.
1939 The first digital computer prototype is created at Iowa State College by Clifford Berry and John Atanasoff. Hewlett-Packard is founded.
1941 Regular television broadcasting begins.
1948 Bell Labs unveils the transistor to the U.S. military and to the public at large.
1951 The UNIVAC 1, considered the first commercial computer, is sold to the U.S. Census Bureau by the Eckert and Mauchly Computer Co.
1962 Dr. J.C.R. Licklider defines the concept of global networking in a pioneering thesis at MIT, "On-Line Man Computer Communications."
1965 Moore's Law is espoused for the first time by Gordon Moore.
1968 Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore form the Intel Corp.
1969 ARPAnet is created.
1970 Glass fiber, precursor to the development of fiber optics, is created at Corning Glass.
1971 Intel creates the first microprocessor.
1972 The concept of electronic mail is introduced, as is the concept of open-architecture networking.
1974 Barcoded products appear in U.S. stores and cashiers begin using scanners.
1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen form a partnership, naming their new business Microsoft.
1976 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak found Apple Computer Co. Cray Research, Inc. unveils the Cray-1, a supercomputer with revolutionary speed capabilities.
1981 IBM introduces its personal computer.
1982 The TCP/IP protocol is developed.
1983 Microsoft Word is unveiled, as is the Windows operating system. Time magazine chooses the PC as its 1982 "Man of the Year."
1984 Apple Computer Co. introduces the Macintosh.
1985 The National Science Foundation establishes NSFNET, an enhanced version of ARPAnet.
1986 Microsoft Corp. conducts its IPO.
1989 BITNET is born.
1990 Microsoft Corp. revenues exceed $1 billion. ARPAnet is decommissioned and shut down.
1993 Graphics-based Web browser Mosaic is released. The U.S. Justice Dept. begins its antitrust investigation into Microsoft Corp.
1994 The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is established.
2000 Technology stocks plummet in value as the dot-com shakeout takes hold. Internet startups are hit hard and many fold or merge.
2001 Time Warner and America Online (AOL) finalize their mega-merger.
c. 600 b.c. Thales of Miletus originates both Western philosophy and physics with a treatise in which he postulates that water is the foundational substance of the universe.
570 b.c. Greek philosopher Anaximander recognizes that the heavens revolve around the Pole star, that the sky is a "sphere" rather than an arch over Earth, and that space is three-dimensional.
c. 450 b.c. Leucippus, a Greek philosopher, first states the rule of causality—i.e, that every event has a natural cause.
c. 450 b.c. The Greek philosopher Philolaus is the first to state that Earth moves through space.
c. 425 b.c. Democritus, a Greek philosopher and student of Leucippus, states that all matter consists of tiny, indivisible particles called atoms; it will be some 2,300 years before scientific knowledge catches up to him.
c. 350 b.c. Aristotle states that Earth is constantly changing, and that erosion and silting cause major changes in its physical geography; he also provides observational proof that it is not flat.
c. 300 b.c. Greek physicist Strato is the first to argue that in falling, a body accelerates.
c. 300 b.c. Greek explorer Pytheas is the first to scientifically observe tides, and suggests that they are influenced by the Moon.
c. 260 b.c. Aristarchus, a Greek astronomer, states that the Sun and not Earth is the center of the universe, and that the planets revolve around it; unfortunately, Ptolemy will later reject this heliocentric view in favor of a geocentric universe, a notion only refuted by Copernicus in the 1500s.
c. 240 b.c. Eratosthenes, a Greek astronomer and librarian of Alexandria, makes a remarkably accurate measurement of Earth's size, calculating its circumference at about 25,000 miles.
c. 220 b.c. Archimedes discovers the principle of buoyancy, noting that when an object is placed in water, it loses exactly as much weight as the weight of the water it has displaced.
c. 150 b.c. Greek astronomer Hipparchus, adapting an idea originated some 150 years before by Dicaearchus, develops a system of latitude and longitude; he also creates the first star catalogue, is the first to note the precession of the equinoxes, and accurately calculates the length of a year.
c. a.d. 425 The Byzantine historian Zosimus first notes the electrolytic separation of metals.
a.d. 517 Johannes Philoponus, a Byzantine philosopher, offers a theory of motion which prefigures Newton by stating that a body will continue moving in the absence of friction or opposition from another body.
chro·nol·o·gy / krəˈnäləjē/ • n. (pl. -gies) the study of historical records to establish the dates of past events. ∎ the arrangement of events or dates in the order of their occurrence. ∎ a table or document displaying such an arrangement. DERIVATIVES: chro·nol·o·gist / -jist/ n.