Black History Timeline
Timeline Description: An important part of American history is black history. Many of the first black people that came to America were slaves and even those that were free were not treated fairly. However, many black people overcame that discrimination and contributed important achievements to history.

Date Event
1619 The first African slaves arrive in Jamestown.

Africans are brought to Jamestown, Virginia by Dutch traders to work as slaves. Most of the slaves work on tobacco plantations.
1773 The first book by a black woman is published.

Phillis Wheatley writes a book of poems called "Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral." She is tested to make sure she could really read and write because many people did not believe that a black person could write poetry.
1850 The Underground Railroad is started.

William Still starts the Underground Railroad, which helps slaves escape from their owners. The Underground Railroad is a system of secret trails, passageways, and symbols that helps slaves get as far north as Canada.
March 6, 1857 The Supreme Court rules on the Dred Scott decision.

A slave named Dred Scott sues his former owner to get his freedom because he had lived in free states with his owner. The Supreme Court rules against him, saying that a slave and a slave's children can never be citizens of the United States and cannot sue anyone.
January 31, 1865 Slavery is abolished.

The United States Congress passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment makes slavery illegal in all states.
May 18, 1896 Segregation is made legal.

The Supreme Court decides that it is legal to separate black and white people in schools, on buses, in restaurants, or in any other public place. This type of separation, called segregation, leads to Jim Crow laws that treat blacks unfairly.
1914 Madam CJ Walker becomes a millionaire.

Madam CJ Walker, owner of a business that sells hair care products to black women, becomes the first black woman to earn a million dollars. Just nine years earlier, she was down to her last $2.
April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson plays for the Dodgers.

Jackie Robinson becomes the first black man to play for a Major League Baseball team when he plays his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
May 17, 1954 The Supreme Court rules on Brown vs. the Board of Education

Oliver Brown sues the Kansas Board of Education because his young daughter is forced to walk many miles to a black school, even though a white school is closer. The Supreme Court says that segregation in public schools is now illegal.
December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks is arrested.

After refusing to get up and give her seat on a bus to a white man, Rosa Parks is arrested. Blacks refuse to use the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, for over a year until the Supreme Court rules that it is illegal to have separate seats on buses for blacks and whites.
July 6, 1957 Althea Gibson wins Wimbledon.

Tennis player Althea Gibson defeats Darlene Hard to win the Wimbledon singles championship. Gibson is the first black person to win Wimbledon.
August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King gives his "I Have a Dream Speech."

Martin Luther King is the final speaker of the afternoon at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He gives one of the most memorable speeches in American history when he talks about his dream of a country when blacks and whites are equal.
July 2, 1964 The Civil Rights Act is passed.

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act. The Act says that it is illegal to discriminate against blacks and women in schools, businesses, government, and any other public place.
October 1967 Thurgood Marshall joins the Supreme Court

President Lyndon Johnson names Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. Marshall is the first black person to be a Supreme Court judge.
April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King is assassinated.

Martin Luther King is shot and killed at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee by James Earl Ray. King's birthday is now an American holiday, celebrated every year on the third Monday of January.
September 8, 1986 Oprah Winfrey gets a national TV show.

Oprah Winfrey becomes the first black woman to host a national TV show when The Oprah Winfrey Show goes on the air. She goes on to become one of the wealthiest people in the United States.
November 4, 2008 Barack Obama is elected president.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama defeats Arizona Senator John McCain in the presidential election, becoming the first black person to be president of the United States. He is re-elected on November 6, 2012