1619: The first slaves arrive in British North America at Jamestown, Virginia.
1641: Massachusetts becomes the first colony to legalize slavery.
1770: Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave, is killed during the Boston Massacre, remembered as the ‘first martyr of the American Revolution’.
1772 In Britain, Lord Mansfield presides over the Somersett case and, as a result, abolishes slavery within England and Wales.
1773: Phillis Wheatley becomes the first African-American to be published with her book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.
1776: Colonial North America attains its independence from Britain.
1777: Vermont becomes the first US territory to abolish slavery.
1780: Pennsylvania becomes the first US state to abolish slavery.
1787: The Constitution of the United States decrees that a male slave counts as three-fifths of a white man in determining representation in the House of Representatives.
In Britain, the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade is formed which uses, among its many forms of agitation, boycotts, petitions, leaflets and flyers. It would take twenty years but its efforts are duly rewarded.
1793: Congress passes the first Fugitive Slave Law.
Eli Whitney patents his cotton gin, a device that mechanized the farming of cotton.
1807: Great Britain abolishes the slave trade throughout its empire.
1808: The United States abolishes the slave trade.
1820: The Missouri Compromise bans slavery north of the southern boundary of Missouri.
1822: In Charleston, South Carolina, Denmark Vesey’s plan for a mass slave resurrection is betrayed.
The American Colonization Society establishes the colony of Liberia in West Africa for freed slaves. In 1847 Liberia declares its independence.
1831: 21–22 August: The slave Nat Turner leads a revolt in Southampton County, Virginia.
1852: Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes her anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
1857: The Dred Scott case denies blacks any legal rights within the United States.
1860: Abraham Lincoln is elected sixteenth president of the United States.
1861: 12 April: Start of the American Civil War between the Union forces of the North and the Confederate States of the South.
1863: 1 January: The Emancipation Proclamation frees all slaves in the Confederacy.
1865: 9 April: Confederate forces surrender, ending the American Civil War.
15 April: Death of Abraham Lincoln, having been shot the previous day.
24 December The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Tennessee by ex-Confederates.
Black codes are passed by Southern states, restricting the rights of newly freed slaves (no, different states introduced them at different times throughout the year.)
18 December: the Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery, is passed by Congress.
1867: A series of Reconstruction acts are passed, guaranteeing the civil rights of freed slaves.
1868: 28 July: The Fourteenth Amendment recognizes blacks as citizens of the United States.
1870: 30 March: The Fifteenth Amendment requires every state to legally recognize the black vote, that no citizen could be denied the vote ‘on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude’.
1877: Reconstruction ends in the South.
1881: Booker T. Washington is appointed the first head of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama.
1895: 18 September: Booker T. Washington delivers what later becomes known as the ‘Atlanta Compromise’ speech at the Atlanta World Fair.
1896: 18 May: In the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court gives legal backing to ‘separate but equal’ public facilities for blacks.
1905: July: W.E.B. Du Bois (pictured) forms the Niagara Movement, the forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which would be founded in 1909.
1919: ‘Red Summer’ race riots throughout the US.
1922–1929: The Harlem Renaissance flourishes.
1931: 6 April: The Scottsboro Case: nine young blacks are accused of raping two white women on a train in Scottsboro, Alabama.
1936: August: Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Berlin.
1937: 22 June: Joe Louis becomes the heavyweight boxing champion of the world.
1947: 19 April: Jackie Robinson becomes the first black to play major league baseball.
1948: Harry S. Truman integrates the US armed forces.
22 June: The ship Empire Windrush arrives in London bringing 492 immigrants from the Caribbean, signalling the start of mass immigration into Britain.
1950: 22 September: Ralph J. Bunche wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a mediator in Palestine.
1952: After keeping statistics for seventy-one years, the Tuskegee Institute reports that this was the first year that had no recorded cases of lynching.
1954: 17 May: In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Supreme Court declares segregation within schools as unconstitutional.
1955: 1 December: Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat for a white man sparks off a year-long and ultimately successful boycott of state-run buses in a Montgomery, Alabama.
1957: 14 February: Martin Luther King, Jr becomes president of the newly formed Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
1960: 1 February: A sit-in in a restaurant in Greensboro, North Carolina sees the start of similar protests throughout the South.
15–17 April: The Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee founded in North Carolina.
1962: October: James Meredith becomes the first black student to enrol at the University of Mississippi but President Kennedy has to send in 5,000 Federal troops after rioting breaks out.
1963: 16 April: Martin Luther King writes his Letter from Birmingham Jail whilst incarcerated following his arrest during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Alabama.
28 August: The March on Washington, culminating with Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
15 September: Birmingham Church Bombing – four teenage girls are killed in a racist attack.
1964: 12 March: Malcolm X announces his split from Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam.
2 July: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting discrimination of all kinds based on race, colour, religion, or national origin.
August: The bodies of three civil rights workers are found in Mississippi, murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.
October: Martin Luther King receives the Nobel Peace Prize.
1965: 2 January: The SCLC launches a drive to register black votes in Selma, Alabama, which escalates into a nationwide campaign.
21 February: Malcolm X is assassinated in Harlem, New York.
March: Martin Luther King, Jr (pictured with Malcolm X) leads the Selma to Montgomery March, in which marchers are attacked by police.
10 August: Voting Rights Act passed, making it easier for Southern African-Americans to register to vote. Literacy tests and poll taxes, used to restrict black voting, are made illegal.
11–21 August: Riots in the Watts area of Los Angeles leaves thirty-four dead.
1966: October: The Black Panther Party is founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.
1967: 19 April: Stokely Carmichael, a leader of the Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC), coins the phrase ‘black power’ in a speech on the March Against Fear.
12 June: Relationships between blacks and whites are still deemed illegal in sixteen states until the Supreme Court rules otherwise in the Loving v. Virginia case.
13 June: President Johnson appoints Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court, the first African-American.
1968: 4 April: Martin Luther King, Jr is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots break out across America.
20 April: In Britain, Enoch Powell delivers his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.
1969: 29 October: The Supreme Court rules that school segregation has to end at once.
1977: US televising of Roots, adapted from Alex Haley’s novel.
1983: 30 August: Guion S. Bluford, Jr is the first African-American astronaut to make a space flight, on board the space shuttle Challenger.
1989: General Colin Powell is appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, becoming the first African-American to achieve the highest military ranking in the US armed forces.
1990: 11 February: Nelson Mandela, member of the African National Congress, is freed after twenty-seven years in prison.
1992: 29 April: Race riots erupt in Los Angeles after a jury acquits four white police officers of the beating of African-American Rodney King despite video evidence to the contrary.
1993: 7 October: Toni Morrison becomes the first African-American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
1995: 16 October: The Million Man March is held in Washington DC.
2000: December: President-Elect George W. Bush announces the appointment of several African-Americans to his cabinet including Colin L. Powell as secretary of state and Condolezza Rice as foreign policy adviser.
2002: 24 March: Halle Berry becomes the first African-American woman to receive an Academy Award for Best Actress.
2008: 4 November: Barack Obama is elected the forty-fourth president of the United States and the first black US president.
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