History & Periods

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

Slavery in Early America 1777–1829

1777 Vermont becomes the first U.S. territory to abolish slavery
Black slaves in Massachusetts petition the legislature for freedom based on the stated principles of the Declaration of Independence and military service in the Revolutionary War
1778 Virginia abolishes the slave trade
1779 Black Canadian fur trader and pioneer Jean-Baptist-Point du Sable Read more

The Colonial Period 1500s–1776

1526 Spanish explorer Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon brings African slaves to coastal South Carolina to establish a settlement
1530s Africans take part in numerous Spanish expeditions to the New World, from present-day Florida to California
1542 Criticism from humanitarians leads Spanish monarch Charles V to outlaw Native American slavery and theencomienda Read more

Eras and Movements in Western Music

Music historians traditionally divide the development of Western music into several major periods and movements.
Medieval (c. 500–1400)
The Medieval era was the first time that composers in significant numbers began to write down music to preserve it and communicate it to others. The earliest examples of this written music come Read more

Shaker c.1747 to 1900

A religious sect founded in England in the late 1700s, the Shakers believed in common ownership of property and communal living. Persecuted for their beliefs, they emigrated to America where they led lives of abstinence and celibacy.
The Shakers believed that every object in the home should have a function Read more