July 4, 1852

Frederick Douglass gave a keynote address at an Independence Day celebration and asked, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Jane: “Ned changed it [his name] to Douglass. He was going to be a great leader like Mr. Douglass…[later in the book] Mr. Frederick Douglass taught that everybody…

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October 16, 1859

John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry  

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January 31, 1865

13th Amendment formally abolishing slavery was passed.

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May 9, 1867

Sojourner Truth, a formerly enslaved person, delivered her “I Want Women to Have Their Rights” speech.

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February 25, 1870

Hiram R. Revels (Republican) of Mississippi took his seat February 25. He was the first black United States senator, though he served only one year.

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November 30, 1877

1877 marked the end of the Reconstruction era. A deal with Southern Democratic leaders made Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) president, in exchange for the withdrawal of federal troops from the South and the end of federal efforts to protect the civil rights of African-Americans.

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July 4, 1881

Booker T. Washington, born into slavery, founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University). Jane: “All I knowed was Booker T. Washington and Mr. Frederick Douglass were two great colored spokesmen. What they taught people I had no idea. Ned said Mr. Booker T. Washington taught that all colored…

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May 18, 1896

In 1896, the Supreme Court decision of Plessy vs. Ferguson established separate public schools for black and white students. The Court stated that segregation was legal and constitutional as long as “facilities were equal” – the famous “separate but equal” segregation policy.

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February 18, 1898

Equal rights activist Mary Church Terrell spoke on “The Progress of Colored Women.”

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April 14, 1919

An outbreak of racial violence known as the “Red Summer” occurred in the summer and fall of 1919 in a number of cities in both the North and South.

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April 15, 1927

The Flood of 1927 inundated nearly 26,000 square miles in 170 counties in seven states, driving an estimated 931,159 people from their homes. In Louisiana alone, 10,000 square miles in 20 parishes went underwater. Jane: “I remember the high water of 12 well enough, but the high water of 27…

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September 10, 1935

United States senator and former Louisiana governor, Huey Long, was assassinated. Jane: “Huey Long came in the year after the high water. Nothing better could ‘a’ happened to the poor black man or poor white man no matter what they say…I remember the night they shot him well.”

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June 22, 1937

Joe Louis reigned as the world heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949. When he beat James J. Braddock in 1937, he became the first black heavyweight champion in twenty-two years. Jane: “Joe was to lift the colored people’s hearts…And to show us we could take a little, just a little…

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April 15, 1947

Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in major league baseball. Jane: “Jackie and the Dodgers was for the colored people; the Yankees for the white folks…It made my day just to hear what Jackie had done.”  

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December 1, 1955

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.  

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August 28, 1963

Martin Luther King Jr., a leader in the civil rights movement, helped organize the March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance and was…

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January 31, 1974

An American television film based on the novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman was broadcast on CBS.

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July 13, 2013

The Black Lives Matter movement began after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin 17 months earlier in February 2012.

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