African American History

African Americans in Religion

First known black Baptist church is founded in Sliver Bluff, South Carolina; other congregations soon form in Georgia and Virginia
Lemuel Haynes begins to preach at a Congregational church in Connecticut, making him the first African American minister of a predominantly white congregation
First African American church congregations in the North Read more

African Americans in the Arts

Poet Jupiter Hammon, an ex-slave living in New York, publishes his first poem, “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penetential [sic] Cries”
First major African American author and poet Phyllis Wheatley publishes her collection Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral
African Grove Company, the first all–African American acting troupe, Read more

African Americans in Politics

Alexander Twilight becomes the first African American elected to public office when he wins a seat on the Vermont legislature; in 1845, William Leidesdorff becomes the second when he is named sub-consul to Yerba Buena, part of the Mexican territory that would later become San Francisco
Edward G. Walker and Read more

African Americans in Sciences and Professional Fields

Former slave James Derham buys his freedom from his physician slave owner, who trains him as a physician; Derham goes on to open his own medical practice in New Orleans
James Hall becomes the first known African American to graduate from an American college of medicine (Medical College of Maine)
Macon Read more

African Americans in Education

Lemuel Haynes receives an honorary master’s degree from Middlebury College in Vermont
Alexander Twilight earns a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury
Cheney State Training School in Pennsylvania is founded as the first major black college or university
Charles Reason becomes the first African American professor at a predominantly white university, teaching French, Greek, Read more

Post-Civil-Rights Challenges 1970–2004

Rev. Jesse Jackson founds Operation PUSH, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that supports black empowerment and self-help
Under mayors Tom Bradley, Maynard Jackson, and Coleman Young, the cities of Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Detroit each declare Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a holiday
Harvard University establishes the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Read more

Activism and the Civil Rights Era 1940–1969

United States enters World War II; President Roosevelt prohibits racial discrimination within the defense industry
African American pastor and statesman Adam Clayton Powell begins an 11-term career in the U.S. House of Representatives
Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie begins a stint at the Onyx Club in New York City, where he pioneers Read more

The “New Negro” and the Great Depression 1900–1939

First Pan-African Congress convenes in London to promote the liberation of colonized people; W.E.B. Du Bois serves as secretary
Composers Scott Joplin and Eubie Blake pioneer ragtime music
Booker T. Washington organizes the National Negro Business League
W.E.B. Du Bois publishes The Souls of Black Folk
Robert S. Abbott publishes the Chicago Defender,which Read more

The Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Jim Crow Era 1860–1899

The Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Jim Crow Era 1860–1899
After the election of antislavery president Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina secedes from the Union, followed by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, to form the Confederate States of America
Civil War begins when Confederates fire on Union forces at Fort Sumter, Read more

Rise of the Abolitionist Movement 1830–1859


First National Negro Convention convenes in Philadelphia
Nat Turner leads approximately 70 fellow slaves in a major slave rebellion in Southampton, Virginia; some 60 whites are killed before several state forces suppress the uprising; Turner and his followers are hanged; Thomas R. Gray edits and publishes The Confessions of Nat Read more