1960s and 1970’s Events Significant to African Americans 1960

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1960s and 1970’s Events Significant to African Americans


  • February 1 – Four black students sit at the Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, sparking six months of the Greensboro Sit-Ins.

  • February 17 – Alabama grand jury indicts MLK for tax evasion.

  • March 3 – Vanderbilt University expels James Lawson for sit-in participation.

  • March 7 – Felton Turner of Houston is beaten and hanged upside-down in a tree, initials KKK carved on his chest.

  • March 19 – San Antonio becomes first city to integrate lunch counters.

  • April 8 – Weak civil rights bill survives Senate filibuster.

  • July 31 – Elijah Muhammad calls for an all-black state. Membership in Nation of Islam estimated at 100,000.

  • October 26 – MLK’s earlier probation revoked; he is transferred to Reidsville State Prison.

  • October 28 – After intervention from Robert F. Kennedy (RFK), King is free on bond.

  • November 8 – JFK defeats Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election.

  • November 14 – Ruby Bridges becomes the first African-American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South (William Frantz Elementary School) following court-ordered integration in New Orleans, Louisiana. This event was portrayed by Norman Rockwell in his 1964 painting The Problem We All Live With.

  • December 5 – In Boynton v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court holds that racial segregation in bus terminals is illegal because such segregation violates theInterstate Commerce Act.

  • 1961

  • January 11 – Rioting over court-ordered admission of first two African Americans (Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter-Gault) at the University of Georgia leads to their suspension, but they are ordered reinstated.

  • January 31 – Member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and nine students were arrested in Rock Hill, South Carolina for a sit-in at a McCrory's lunch counter.

  • March 6 – JFK issues Executive Order 10925, which establishes a Presidential committee that later becomes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

  • May 4 – The first group of Freedom Riders, with the intent of integrating interstate buses, leaves Washington, D.C. by Greyhound bus. The group, organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), leaves shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court has outlawed segregation in interstate transportation terminals.[33]

  • May 14 – The Freedom Riders' bus is attacked and burned outside of Anniston, Alabama. A mob beats the Freedom Riders upon their arrival in Birmingham. The Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, and spend forty to sixty days in Parchman Penitentiary.[33]

  • May 17 – Nashville students, coordinated by Diane Nash and James Bevel, take up the Freedom Ride, signaling the increased involvement of SNCC.

  • May 20 – Freedom Riders are assaulted in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Greyhound Bus Station.

  • May 21 – MLK, the Freedom Riders, and congregation of 1,500 at Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s First Baptist Church in Montgomery are besieged by mob of segregationists; RFK as Attorney General sends federal marshals to protect them.

  • May 29 – Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, citing the 1955 landmark ICC ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company and the U.S. Supreme Court's 1960 decision in Boynton v. Virginia, petitions the ICC to enforce desegregation in interstate travel.

  • June–August – U.S. Dept. of Justice initiates talks with civil rights groups and foundations on beginning Voter Education Project.

  • July – SCLC begins citizenship classes; Andrew J. Young hired to direct the program. Bob Moses begins voter registration in McComb, Mississippi.

  • September – James Forman becomes SNCC’s Executive Secretary.

  • September 23 – The Interstate Commerce Commission, at RFK’s insistence, issues new rules ending discrimination in interstate travel, effective November 1, 1961, six years after the ICC's own ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company.

  • September 25 – Voter registration activist Herbert Lee killed in McComb, Mississippi.

  • November 1 – All interstate buses required to display a certificate that reads: “Seating aboard this vehicle is without regard to race, color, creed, or national origin, by order of the Interstate Commerce Commission.”[34]

  • November 1 – SNCC workers Charles Sherrod and Cordell Reagon and nine Chatmon Youth Council members test new ICC rules at Trailways bus station inAlbany, Georgia.[35]

  • November 17 – SNCC workers help encourage and coordinate black activism in Albany, Georgia, culminating in the founding of the Albany Movement as a formal coalition.[35]

  • November 22 – Three high school students from Chatmon’s Youth Council arrested after using “positive actions” by walking into white sections of the Albany bus station.[35]

  • November 22 – Albany State College students Bertha Gober and Blanton Hall arrested after entering the white waiting room of the Albany Trailways station.[35]

  • December 10 – Freedom Riders from Atlanta, SNCC leader Charles Jones, and Albany State student Bertha Gober are arrested at Albany Union Railway Terminal, sparking mass demonstrations, with hundreds of protesters arrested over the next five days.[36]

  • December 11–15 – Five hundred protesters arrested in Albany, Georgia.

  • December 15 – MLK arrives in Albany, Georgia in response to a call from Dr. W. G. Anderson, the leader of the Albany Movement to desegregate public facilities.[33]

  • December 16 – MLK is arrested at an Albany, Georgia demonstration. He is charged with obstructing the sidewalk and parading without a permit.[33]

  • December 18 – Albany truce, including a 60-day postponement of MLK's trial; MLK leaves town.[37]

  • Whitney Young is appointed executive director of the National Urban League and begins expanding its size and mission.

  • Black Like Me written by John Howard Griffin, a white southerner who deliberately tanned and dyed his skin to allow him to directly experience the life of the Negro in the Deep South, is published, displaying the brutality of "Jim Crow" segregation to a national audience.


  • January 18–20 – Student protests over sit-in leaders’ expulsions at Baton Rouge’s Southern University, the nation’s largest black school, close it down.

  • February – Representatives of SNCC, CORE, and the NAACP form the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). A grant request to fund COFO voter registration activities is submitted to the Voter Education Project (VEP).

  • February 26 – Segregated transportation facilities, both interstate and intrastate, ruled unconstitutional by U.S. Supreme Court.

  • March – SNCC workers sit-in at US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy's office to protest jailings in Baton Rouge.

  • March 20 – FBI installs wiretaps on NAACP activist Stanley Levison’s office.

  • April 3 – Defense Department orders full racial integration of military reserve units, except the National Guard.

  • April 9 – Corporal Roman Duckworth shot by a police officer in Taylorsville, Mississippi.

  • June – Leroy Willis becomes first black graduate of the University of Virginia College of Arts and Sciences.

  • June – SNCC workers establish voter registration projects in rural southwest Georgia.

  • July 10 – August 28 SCLC renews protests in Albany; MLK in jail July 10–12 and July 27 – August 10.

  • August 31 – Fannie Lou Hamer attempts to register to vote in Indianola, Mississippi.

  • September 9 – Two black churches used by SNCC for voter registration meetings are burned in Sasser, Georgia.

  • September 20 – James Meredith is barred from becoming the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi.

  • September 30-October 1 – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black orders James Meredith admitted to Ole Miss.; he enrolls and a riot ensues. French photographer Paul Guihard and Oxford resident Ray Gunter are killed.

  • October – Leflore County, Mississippi, supervisors cut off surplus food distribution in retaliation against voter drive.

  • October 23 – FBI begins Communist Infiltration (COMINFIL) investigation of SCLC.

  • November 7–8 – Edward Brooke selected Massachusetts Attorney General, Leroy Johnson elected Georgia State Senator, Augustus F. Hawkins elected first black from California in Congress.

  • November 20 – RFK as Attorney General authorizes FBI wiretap on Stanley Levison’s home telephone.

  • November 20 – JFK upholds 1960 presidential campaign promise to eliminate housing segregation by signing Executive Order 11063 banning segregation in Federally funded housing.


  • January 18 – Incoming Alabama governor George Wallace calls for "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" in his inaugural address.

  • April 3–May 10 – The Birmingham campaign, organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights challenges city leaders and business owners in Birmingham, Alabama, with daily mass demonstrations.

  • April – Mary Lucille Hamilton, Field Secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality, refuses to answer a judge in Gadsden, Alabama, until she is addressed by the honorific "Miss". It was the custom of the time to address white people by honorifics and people of color by their first names. Hamilton is jailed for contempt of court and refuses to pay bail. The case Hamilton v. Alabama is filed by the NAACP. It was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1964 that courts must address persons of color with the same courtesy extended to whites.

  • April 7 – Ministers John Thomas Porter, Nelson H. Smith and A. D. King lead a group of 2,000 marchers to protest the jailing of movement leaders in Birmingham.

  • April 12 – MLK is arrested in Birmingham for "parading without a permit".

  • April 16 – MLK's Letter from Birmingham Jail is completed.

  • April 23 – CORE activist William L. Moore is killed in Gadsden, Alabama.

  • May 2-4 – Birmingham's juvenile court is inundated with African-American children and teenagers arrested after James Bevel, SCLC's Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education, launches his "D-Day" youth march. The actions spans three days to become the Birmingham Children's Crusade.[38]

  • May 9–10 – After images of fire hoses and police dogs turned on protesters are televised, the Children's Crusade lays the groundwork for the terms of a negotiated truce on Thursday, May 9 puts an end to mass demonstrations in return for rolling back oppressive segregation laws and practices. MLK and Rev.Fred Shuttlesworth announce the settlement terms on Friday, May 10 only after MLK holds out to orchestrate the release of thousands of jailed demonstrators with bail money from Harry Belafonte and RFK.[39]

  • May 11–12 – Double bombing in Birmingham, probably conducted by the KKK in cooperation with local police, precipitates rioting, police retaliation, intervention of state troopers, and finally mobilization of federal troops.

  • May 13 – In United States of America and Interstate Commerce Commission v. the City of Jackson, Mississippi et al., the United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit rules the city's attempt to circumvent laws desegregating interstate transportation facilities by posting sidewalk signs outside Greyhound, Trailways andIllinois Central terminals reading "Waiting Room for White Only — By Order Police Department" and "Waiting Room for Colored Only – By Order Police Department" to be unlawful.[40]

  • May 24 – A group of Black leaders (assembled by James Baldwin) meets with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to discuss race relations.

  • May 29 – Violence escalates at NAACP picket of Philadelphia construction site.[41]

  • May 30 – Police attack Florida A&M anti-segregation demonstrators with tear gas; arrest 257.[42]

  • June 9 – Fannie Lou Hamer is among several SNCC workers badly beaten by police in the Winona, Mississippi, jail after their bus stops there.

  • June 11 – "The Stand in the Schoolhouse Door": Alabama Governor George Wallace stands in front of a schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama in an attempt to stop desegregation by the enrollment of two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. Wallace only stands aside after being confronted byfederal marshals, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, and the Alabama National Guard. Later in life he apologizes for his opposition to racial integration then.

  • June 11 – JFK makes his historic civil rights address, promising a bill to Congress the next week. About civil rights for "Negroes", in his speech he asks for "the kind of equality of treatment which we would want for ourselves."

  • June 12 – NAACP worker Medgar Evers is murdered in Jackson, Mississippi. (His killer is convicted in 1994.)[43]

  • Summer – 80,000 blacks quickly register to vote in Mississippi by a test project to show their desire to participate.

  • June 19 – President Kennedy sends Congress (H. Doc. 124, 88th Cong., 1st session.) his proposed Civil Rights Act.[44] White leaders in business and philanthropy gather at the Carlyle Hotel to raise initial funds for the Council on United Civil Rights Leadership

  • August 28 – ( Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Northwest Baltimore, County, Maryland is desegregated.

  • August 28 – March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is held. MLK gives his I Have a Dream speech.[45]

  • September 10 – Birmingham, Alabama City Schools are integrated by National Guardsmen under orders from President Kennedy.

  • September 15 – 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham kills four young girls. That same day, in response to the killings, James Bevel and Diane Nashbegin the Alabama Project, which will later grow into the Selma Voting Rights Movement.

  • November 10 – Malcolm X delivers "Message to the Grass Roots" speech, calling for unity against the white power structure and criticizing the March on Washington.

  • November 22 – President Kennedy is assassinated. The new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, decides that accomplishing Kennedy's legislative agenda is his best strategy, which he pursues.[46]


  • All year – The Alabama Voting Rights Project continues organizing as James Bevel, Diane Nash, and James Orange work without the support of SCLC, the group which Bevel represents as its Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education.

  • January 23 – Twenty-fourth Amendment abolishes the poll tax for Federal elections.

  • Summer – Mississippi Freedom Summer – voter registration in the state. Create the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to elect an alternative slate of delegates for the national convention, as blacks are still officially disfranchised.

  • April 13 – Sidney Poitier wins the Academy Award for Best Actor for role in Lilies of the Field.

  • June 21 – Mississippi Civil Rights Workers Murders, three civil rights workers disappear, later to be found murdered.

  • June 28 – Organization of Afro-American Unity is founded by Malcolm X, lasts until his death.

  • July 2 – Civil Rights Act of 1964[47] signed, banning discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex or national origin" in employment practices and public accommodations.[46]

  • August – Congress passes the Economic Opportunity Act which, among other things, provides federal funds for legal representation of Native Americans in both civil and criminal suits. This allows the ACLU and the American Bar Association to represent Native Americans in cases that later win them additional civil rights.

  • August – The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegates challenge the seating of all-white Mississippi representatives at the Democratic national convention.

  • December 10 – MLK is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest person so honored.[48]

  • December 14 – In Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[47]

The Edmund Pettus Bridge on "Bloody Sunday" in 1965.


  • February 18 – A peaceful protest march in Marion, Alabama leads to Jimmie Lee Jackson being shot by Alabama state trooper James Bonard Fowler. Jackson dies on February 26, and Fowler is indicted for his murder in 2007.

  • February 21 – Malcolm X is shot to death in Manhattan, New York, probably by three members of the Nation of Islam.

  • March 7 – Bloody Sunday: Civil rights workers in Selma, Alabama, begin the Selma to Montgomery march but are forcibly stopped by a massive Alabama State trooper and police blockade as they cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Many marchers are injured. This march, initiated and organized by James Bevel, becomes the visual symbol of the Selma Voting Rights Movement.

  • March 15 – President Lyndon Johnson uses the phrase "We Shall Overcome" in a speech before Congress on the voting rights bill.[49]

  • March 25 – After the completion of the Selma to Montgomery March a white volunteer Viola Liuzzo is shot and killed by Ku Klux Klan members in Alabama, one of whom was an FBI informant.

  • June 2 – Black deputy sheriff Oneal Moore is murdered in Varnado, Louisiana.

  • July 2 – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission opens.

  • August 6 – Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed by President Johnson. It eliminated literacy tests, poll tax, and other subjective voter tests that were widely responsible for the disfranchisement of African-Americans in the Southern States and provided Federal oversight of voter registration in states and individual voting districts where such discriminatory tests were used.[49][49]

  • August 11–15 – Following the accusations of mistreatment and police brutality by the Los Angeles Police Department towards the city's African-American community, Watts riots erupt in South Central Los Angeles which lasted over five days. Over 34 were killed, 1,032 injured, 3,438 arrested, and cost over $40 million in property damage in the Watts riots.

  • September – Raylawni Branch and Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong become the first African-American students to attend the University of Southern Mississippi.

  • September 15 – Bill Cosby co-stars in I Spy, becoming the first black person to appear in a starring role on American television.

  • September 24 – President Johnson signs Executive Order 11246 requiring Equal Employment Opportunity by federal contractors.


  • January 10 – NAACP local chapter president Vernon Dahmer is injured by a bomb in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He dies the next day.

  • June 5 – James Meredith begins a solitary March Against Fear from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. Shortly after starting, he is shot with birdshot and injured. Civil rights leaders and organizations rally and continue the march leading to, on June 16, Stokely Carmichael first using the slogan Black power in a speech.

  • Summer – The Chicago Open Housing Movement, led by MLK, James Bevel[50][51] and Al Raby, includes a large rally, marches, and demands to Mayor Richard J. Daley and the City of Chicago which are discussed in a movement-ending Summit Conference.

  • September – Nichelle Nichols is cast as a female black officer on television's Star Trek. She briefly considers leaving the role, but is encouraged by MLK to continue as an example for their community.

  • October – Black Panthers founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.

  • November – Edward Brooke is elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts. He is the first black senator since 1881.


  • January 9 – Julian Bond is seated in the Georgia House of Representatives by order of the U.S. Supreme Court after his election.

  • April 4 – MLK delivers "Beyond Vietnam" speech, calling for defeat of "the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism".

  • June 12 – In Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that prohibiting interracial marriage is unconstitutional.

  • June 13 – Thurgood Marshall is the first African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • July 23-27 – The Detroit riot erupts in Detroit, Michigan, for five days following a raid by the Detroit Police Department on an unlicensed club which celebrated the returning Vietnam Veteran hosted by mostly African Americans. Over 43 (33 were black and ten white) were killed, 467 injured, 7,231 arrested, and 2,509 stores looted or burned during the riot. It was one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in United States history, lasting five days and surpassing the violence and property destruction of Detroit's 1943 race riot.

  • August 2 – The film In the Heat of the Night is released, starring Sidney Poitier.

  • November 17 – Philadelphia Student School Board Demonstration, 26 demands peacefully issued by students, but event became a police riot.

  • December 11 – The film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is released, also with Sidney Poitier.

  • In the trial of accused killers in the Mississippi civil rights worker murders, the jury convicts 7 of 18 accused men. Conspirator Edgar Ray Killen is later convicted in 2005.

  • The film The Great White Hope starring James Earl Jones is released; it is based on the experience of heavyweight Jack Johnson.

  • The book Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools is published.


  • February 1 – Two Memphis sanitation workers are killed in the line of duty, exacerbating labor tensions.

  • February 8 – The Orangeburg Massacre occurs during university protest in South Carolina.

  • February 12 – First day of the (wildcat) Memphis Sanitation Strike

  • March – While filming a prime time television special, Petula Clark touches Harry Belafonte's arm during a duet. Chrysler Corporation, the show's sponsor, insists the moment be deleted, but Clark stands firm, destroys all other takes of the song, and delivers the completed program to NBC with the touch intact. The show is broadcast on April 8, 1968.[52]

  • April 3 – MLK returns to Memphis; delivers "Mountaintop" speech.

  • April 4 – MLK is shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee.

  • April 4–8 and one on May 1968 – Riots broke out in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Louisville, Kansas City, and more than 150 U.S. cities in response to the assassination of MLK.

  • April 11 – Civil Rights Act of 1968 is signed. The Fair Housing Act is Title VIII of this Civil Rights Act – it bans discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing. The law is passed following a series of contentious open housing campaigns throughout the urban North. The most significant of these campaigns were the Chicago Open Housing Movement of 1966 and organized events in Milwaukee during 1967–68. In both cities, angry white mobs attacked non-violent protesters.[53][54]

  • May 12 – Poor People's Campaign marches on Washington, DC.

  • June 6 – Senator Robert F. Kennedy, a Civil Rights advocate, is assassinated after winning the California presidential primary. His appeal to minorities helped him secure the victory.

  • September 17 – Diahann Carroll stars in the title role in Julia, as the first African American actress to star in her own television series where she did not play a domestic worker.

  • October 3 – The play The Great White Hope opens; it runs for 546 performances and later becomes a film.

  • October – Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists to symbolize black power and unity after winning the gold and bronze medals, respectively, at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games.

  • November 22 – First interracial kiss on American television, between Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner on Star Trek.

  • In Powe v. Miles, a federal court holds that the portions of private colleges that are funded by public money are subject to the Civil Rights Act.

  • Shirley Chisholm becomes the first African-American woman elected to Congress.


  • January 8–18 – Student protesters at Brandeis University take over Ford and Sydeman Halls, demanding creation of an Afro-American Department. This is approved by the University on April 24.

  • February 13 – National Guard with teargas and riot sticks crush a pro-black student demonstration at University of Wisconsin.

  • February 16 – After 3 days of clashes between police and Duke University students, the school agrees to establish a Black Studies program.

  • February 23 – UNC Food Worker Strike begins when workers abandon their positions in Lenoir Hall protesting racial injustice

  • April 3–4 – National Guard called into Chicago, and Memphis placed on curfew on anniversary of MLK's assassination.

  • April 19 – Armed African-American students protesting discrimination take over Willard Straight Hall, the student union building at Cornell University. They end the seizure the following day after the University accedes to their demands, including an Afro-American studies program.

  • April 25–28 – Activist students takeover Merrill House at Colgate University demanding Afro-American studies programs.

  • May 8 – City College of New York closed following a two-week-long campus takeover demanding Afro-American and Puerto-Rican studies; riots among students break out when the school tries to reopen.

  • June – The second of two US federal appeals court decisions confirms members of the public hold legal standing to participate in broadcast station license hearings, and under the Fairness Doctrine finds the record of segregationist TV station WLBT beyond repair. The FCC is ordered to open proceedings for a new licensee.[55]

  • September 1–2 – Race rioting in Hartford, CT and Camden, NJ.

  • October 29 – The U.S. Supreme Court in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education orders immediate desegregation of public schools, signaling the end of the "all deliberate speed" doctrine established in Brown II.

  • December – Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, is shot and killed while asleep in bed during a police raid on his home.

  • United Citizens Party is formed in South Carolina when Democratic Party refuses to nominate African-American candidates.

  • W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research founded at Harvard University.

  • The Revised Philadelphia Plan is instituted by the Department of Labor.

  • The Congressional Black Caucus is formed.



  • January 19 – G. Harrold Carswell's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is rejected following protests from the NAACP and feminists.

  • April 23 – Black Panther Marshall "Eddie" Conway arrested in Baltimore, MD.

  • May 27 – The film Watermelon Man is released, directed by Melvin Van Peebles and starring Godfrey Cambridge. The film is a comedy about a bigoted white man who wakes up one morning to discover that his skin pigment has changed to black.

  • August 7 – Marin County courthouse incident.

  • August 14 – Hoover adds Angela Davis to FBI Most Wanted list.

  • October 13 – Angela Davis captured in New York City.

  • First blaxploitation films released.


  • April 20 – The U.S. Supreme Court, in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, upholds desegregation busing of students to achieve integration.

  • April 27 – FBI officially ends COINTELPRO

  • June – Control of segregationist TV station WLBT given to a bi-racial foundation.

  • June 4 – Angela Davis acquitted of all charges.

  • August 21 – George Jackson shot to death in San Quentin Prison.

  • Ernest J. Gaines's Reconstruction-era novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is published.


  • January 25 – Shirley Chisholm becomes the first major-party African-American candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

  • November 16 – In Baton Rouge, two Southern University students are killed by white sheriff deputies during a school protest over lack of funding from the state. The university’s Smith-Brown Memorial Union is named as a memorial to them.

  • November 16 – The infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment ends. Begun in 1932, the U.S. Public Health Service's 40-year experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis has been described as an experiment that "used human beings as laboratory animals in a long and inefficient study of how long it takes syphilis to kill someone."


  • May 8 – Nelson Rockefeller signs the Rockefeller Drug Laws for New York state with draconian indeterminate sentences for drug possession, as well as sale.

  • July 31 – FBI ends Ghetto Informant Program

  • Combahee River Collective, a Black feminist group, is established in Boston, out of New York's National Black Feminist Organization.


  • July 25 – In Milliken v. Bradley, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5–4 decision holds that outlying districts could only be forced into a desegregation busing plan if there was a pattern of violation on their part. This decision reinforces the trend of white flight.

  • Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc Collective, the first "out" organization for lesbians, womanists and women of color formed in New York City.


  • April 30 – In the pilot episode of Starsky and Hutch, Richard Ward plays an African-American supervisor of white American employees for the first time on TV.


  • February – Black History Month is founded by Professor Carter Woodson's Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History.

  • The novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley is published.


  • Combahee River Collective, a Black feminist group, publishes the Combahee River Collective Statement.

  • President Jimmy Carter appoints Andrew Young to serve as Ambassador to the United Nations, the first African-American to serve in the position.


  • June 28 – Regents of the University of California v. Bakke bars racial quota systems in college admissions but affirms the constitutionality of affirmative actionprograms giving equal access to minorities.


  • United Steelworkers of America v. Weber is a case regarding affirmative action in which the U.S. Supreme Court holds that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not bar employers from favoring women and minorities.

  • November 2 – Assata Shakur escapes from prison.

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