The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line -- the struggle between lighter skinned people and dark skinned people. From the 16th through the 19th century, 12 million Africans were sold as slaves in the Americas, 645,000 of whom landed in North America. By the time of the Civil War the number had grown to 2 million.
1619 | First Africans arrive as slaves in Virginia
1808 | Ban on trans-Atlantic slave trade
1850 | Fugitive Slave Act
1854 | U.S .Supreme Court Dred Scott Decision
1861 | Start of the Civil War
1863 | Emancipation Proclamation (January 1)
1865 | Civil War ends and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishes slavery. The South implements racial segregation or “Jim Crow” laws. The Freedmen’s Bureau is established to protect the economic interest of freed slaves.
1866 | First Branch of Ku Klux Klan is established in Pulaski, Tennessee. The American Missionary Association establishes Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, for former slaves.
1867 | When most southern states refuse to ratify the proposed 14th Amendment designed to protect the rights of black citizens, Congress passes the Reconstruction Acts.
1868 | The 14th Amendment to the Constitution grants the freed slaves citizenship and guarantees their civil rights.
1870 | The 15th Amendment gives black men the right to vote.
1896 | The U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of “separate but equal,” segregation laws in Pleasey vs. Fergusons. The National Association of Colored Women is established in Washington D.C.
1909 | The 1908 lynching of two black people in Springfield, Illinois, leads to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
1954 | The Supreme Court ruling in Brown v Board of Education prohibits segregation in public schools
1955 | On December 1, Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man. As a result, Martin Luther King Jr. leads a boycott against the bus company
1957 | Martin Luther King founds the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
1964 | The Civil Rights Act is passed making voting easier for African Americans but it was thwarted by the power of the states to impose registration restrictions
1965 | One hundred years after the end of the Civil War and the establishment of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, the Voting Rights Act is passed empowering national governments to override state imposed limitations on the right of African Americans to vote.