Some Black History Highlights

Article excerpt

The following timeline points out some important historical events in Black History. To view the entire timeline, go to the Encyclopedia Brittanica's Black History page at

c. 1517 * Black plantation slavery begins in the New World when Spaniards begin importing slaves from Africa to replace Indians who died from harsh working conditions and exposure to disease.

1619 * A Dutch ship with 20 African slaves aboard arrives at the English colony of Jamestown, Va.

1831 * Nat Turner leads the only effective, sustained slave rebellion in U.S. history, attracting up to 75 fellow slaves and killing 60 whites. After the defeat of the insurrection, Turner is hanged on November 11.

1839 * Slaves revolt on the Spanish slave ship Amistad in the Caribbean. After their arrest in Long Island Sound, former U.S. president John Quincy Adams successfully defends the rebels before the Supreme Court.

1850 * Speaking on behalf of the Abolitionist movement, Sojourner Truth travels throughout the Midwest, developing a reputation for personal magnetism and drawing large crowds.

1850 * Harriet Tubman returns to Maryland to guide members of her family to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Later helping more than 300 slaves to escape, she comes to be known as the "Moses of her people."

1857 * In its Dred Scott decision, the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes slavery in all the territories, exacerbating the sectional controversy and pushing the nation toward civil war.

1861 * The Civil War begins in Charleston, S.C., as the Confederates open fire on Fort Sumter.

1863 * President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1.

1865 * The Civil War ends on April 26, after the surrender of the Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and J.E. Johnston.

1867 * Howard University, a predominantly black university, is founded in Washington, D.C. It is named for General Oliver Otis Howard, head of the post-Civil War Freedmen's Bureau.

1909 * A group of whites shocked by the Springfield riot of 1908 merge with W.E.B. Du Bois's Niagara Movement, forming the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

1936 * Track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens wins four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. His victories derail Adolf Hitler's intended use of the games as a show of Aryan supremacy.

1957 * The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is established by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. …