Milestones in Black History


African Americans and their contributions to American society and culture are honored each February with Black History Month. Since arriving in America in 1619 as slaves, African Americans have fought for their independence and to be seen as equals. These struggles have produced many historical icons and events that make all Americans proud.

Events such as the Emancipation Proclamation, which gave slaves their freedom, and the Civil Rights Movement often divided the country, as well as individuals such as Booker T. Washington, a former slave who became a great educator, and Sojourner Truth, who was not only an abolitionist, but also a women’s rights activist, eventually brought all Americans together to a place of greater peace, understanding, and acceptance of each other. One of the most recent historical events in black history is the election of the first African American president, Barack Obama.

Below is a chronological list of many events that shaped black history and some information about the brave men and women who led the way for today’s generation:

Nat Turner Slave Revolt, 1831 

  • The Confessions of Nat Turner – A publication written by Thomas R. Gray, who spoke with Nat Turner after he was arrested for the 1831 revolt against slavery.

Frederick Douglass

  • Frederick Douglass – A biography of the great abolitionist, editor, orator, author, reformer, statesman, minister, and women’s suffragist.

The Emancipation Proclamation, 1862 & 1863

Underground Railroad, 1850-1860

  • Underground Railroad – Learn more about the network of routes and abolitionist safe houses that helped slaves escape captivity.

Booker T. Washington

NAACP founded, 1909

  • NAACP Official Site – The NAACP is one of the oldest U.S. organizations to fight for civil rights.

The Scottsboro Boys, 1931

  • Scottsboro Boys Biographies – Learn more about the men who set the precedent that all defendants deserved counsel, despite their race.
  • Part 1 and Part 2 – View videos about the Scottsboro Boys case.

The Tuskegee Airmen, 1941

  • Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. – The official site of the brave men who became the first African American military aviators.
  • Tuskegee Airmen – Information about the famous fighters at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

This Is Our War

  • The Crisis – Read an article about W.E.B. Dubois’ July 1918 call that black be allowed to fight in World War I, saying “If this is our country, then this is our war.”

Jackie Robinson

  • Jackie Robinson – A biography of Jackie Robinson, the first African American player in Major League Baseball.

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, December 1955

  • Rosa Parks – An NPR article about the death of Parks in 2005 and excerpts of an interview with her in 1992 about the bus incident.

Integration of Central High School, 1957

  • The Legacy of Little Rock – Little Rock’s Central High School was the site of the first forced school desegregation by the Little Rock nine, nine African American students, in 1957.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • I Have a Dream” – Audio from the August 28, 1963 speech Martin Luther King, Jr. gave on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
  • The King Center – A center dedicated to advancing the philosophies and legacy of King.

The Black Panther Party, 1966 

Thurgood Marshall, 1966

Million Man March, 1995

Obama Election, 2008

  • Election Reaction Photos – Americans react to the election of African American Barack Obama as the 44th president of the U.S.
  • Barack Obama – The official website of the President of the U.S.