50 Events That Changed Black America

Ebony, November 1992 | Go to article overview

50 Events That Changed Black America


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1) March 7, 1942--First Black cadets graduate from flying school at Tuskegee, Alabama. In June 1943, the first squadron of Black aviators, the 99th Pursuit Squadron, flew its first combat mission, strafing enemy positions on the Italian island of Pantelleria.

2) November 1, 1942--John H. Johnson, editor of Supreme Life Insurance Company newsletter, organizes Johnson Publishing Company and publishes first issue of Negro Digest.

3) November 3, 1942--William L. Dawson is elected to Congress from Chicago. On August 1, 1944, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. of Harlem became the first Black congressman from the East.

4) April 3, 1944--The Supreme Court rnles in Smith v. Allwright that "White primaries" could not exclude Black voters.

5) April 24, 1944--The United Negro College Fund is incorporated.

6) April 25, 1945--The United Nations is rounded at San Francisco meeting attended by Black American consultants, including W.E.B. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ralph J. Bunche and Walter White.

7) May 8, 1945--Germany surrenders on V-E Day. Japan surrendered on September 2, V-J Day, ending World War II. A total of 1,154,720 Blacks were inducted into the armed services. Many returned to America and attended college with GI Bill of Rights benefits.

8) October 23, 1945--Brooklyn Dodgers sign Jackie Robinson and send him to their Montreal farm team. On April 15, 1947, Robinson made his debut at Ebbetts field and became the first Black in the Major Leagues in modern times.

9)November 1, 1945--Founding of Ebony Magazine marks the beginning of a new era in Blackoriented journalism.

10) March 21, 1946--Kenny Washington signs with the Los Angeles Rams and becomes the first Black player in professional football in 13 years. Three other Blacks-- Woody Strode of the Rams and Ben Willis and Marion Motley of the Cleveland Browns--signed in the same years.

11) June 3, 1946--U. S. Supreme Court (Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia) bans segregation in interstate bus travel.

12) December 5, 1946--President Harry S. Truman creates the landmark Committee on Civil Rights. In October 1947, the committee issued a formal report, "To Secure These Rights," which condemned racism in America.

l3) July 26, 1948--In response to widespread Black protests and a threat of civil disobedience, President Truman issues two executive orders ending racial discrimination in federal employment and requiring equal treatment in the armed services.

14) Sept. 18, 1948--Ralph J. Bunche is confirmed as acting United Nations mediator in Palestine. On September 22, 1950, Bunche was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his successful mediation of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. He was the first Black to win a Nobel Prize.

15) Nov. 1, 1951--Publication of first issue of Jet magazine by Johnson Publishing Company marks the beginning of a new era of weekly news coverage in Black America.

16) May 17, 1954--In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court outlaws segregation in the public school system. Landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision sounded death knell for legal segregation in the United States.

17) May 10, 1955--Chuck Berry records "Maybelline," which played major role in development of rock 'n' roll. Berry and other Black stars, notably Muddy Waters and Little Richard, were the major musical influences on the Beatles and other White groups.

18) December 5, 1955--Historic Bus Boycott begins in Montgomery, Ala. Rosa Parks sparked the boycott when she refused (December 1) to give her bus seat to a White man. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr was elected president of the boycott or ganization.

19) March 6, 1957--Independence celebration of Ghana marks the beginning of the end for colonial rule in Africa.

20) August 29, 1957--U.S. Congress passes Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first federal civil rights legislation since 1875. …

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