September 22. Ralph J. Bunche won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a mediator in Palestine.
After keeping statistics kept for 71 years, Tuskegee reported that this was first year with no lynchings.
May 17. In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Supreme Court completed overturning legal school segregation at all levels.
December 1. Rosa Parks refused to change seats in a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. On December 5 blacks began a boycott of the bus system which continued until shortly after December 13, 1956, when the United States Supreme Court outlawed bus segregation in the city.
February 14. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was formed with Martin Luther King, Jr., as president.
August 29. Congress passed the Voting Rights Bill of 1957, the first major civil rights legislation in more than 75 years.
February 1. Sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, initiated a wave of similar protests throughout the South.
April 15-17. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee was founded in Raleigh, North Carolina.
April 3. Under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr., blacks began a campaign against discrimination in Birmingham.
June-August. Civil rights protests took place in most major urban areas.
August 28. The March on Washington was the largest civil rights demonstration ever. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
January 23. The Twenty-fourth Amendment forbade the use of the poll tax to prevent voting.
July 18-August 30. Beginning in Harlem, serious racial disturbances occurred in more than six major cities.
January 2. The SCLC launched a voter drive in Selma, Alabama. which escalated into a nationwide protest movement.
February 21. Malcolm X assisinated in Harlem by members of the Nation of Islam.
August 11-21. The Watts riots left 34 dead, more than 3,500 arrested, and property damage of about 225 million dollars.
July 1-9. CORE endorsed the concept "Black Power." SNCC also adopted it. SCLC did not and the NAACP emphatically did not.
October. The Black Panther Party was founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.
May 1-October 1. This was the worst summer for racial disturbances in United States history. More than 40 riots and 100 other disturbances occurred.
April 4. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. In the following week riots occurred in at least 125 places throughout the country.
October 29. The Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools had to end at once and that unitary school systems were required.
July 1. Kenneth Gibson became the first black mayor of an Eastern city when he assumed the post in Newark, New Jersey.
August 7. There was a shootout during an attempted escape in a San Rafael, California, courthouse. Implicated in the incident, Angela Davis went into hiding to avoid arrest. Davis would be acquitted of all charges on June 4, 1972.
March 24. The Southern Regional Council reported that desegregation in Southern schools was the rule, not the exception. The report also pointed out that the dual school system was far from dismantled.
May 29. Thomas Bradley was elected the first black mayor of Los Angeles.
October 16. Maynard H. Jackson was elected the first black mayor of Atlanta.
April 8. Henry Aaron hit his 715th home run to become the all-time leading hitter of home runs.
July 1. The largest single gift to date from a black organization was the $132,000 given by the Links, Inc., to the United Negro College Fund.
February 3. This was the eighth and final night for the miniseries based on Alex Haley's Roots. This final episode achieved the highest ratings ever for a single program.
May 18. Racial disturbances beginning on May 17 resulted in 15 deaths in Miami, Florida. This was the worst riot since those in Watts and Detroit in the 1960s.
May 23. Lee P. Brown was named the first black police commissioner of Houston, Texas.
February 23. Harold Washington won the Democratic party nomination for mayor of Chicago. On April 12 he would win the election for mayor.
June 22. The state legislature of Louisiana repealed the last racial classification law in the United States. The criterion for being classified as black was having 1/32nd Negro blood.
November 2. President Ronald Reagan signed the bill establishing January 20 a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 30. Guion (Guy) S. Bluford, Jr. was the first black American astronaut to make a space flight on board the space shuttle Challenger.
January 16. A bronze bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., was the first of any black American in the halls of Congress.
January 20. The first national Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday was celebrated.
Frederick Drew Gregory was the first black to command a space shuttle.
July 20.Jesse L. Jackson received 1,218 delegate votes at the Democratic National Convention. The number needed for the nomination, which went to Michael Dukakis, was 2,082.
November 4. Bill Cosby announced his gift of $20,000,000 to Spelman College. This is the largest donation ever made by a black American.
January 29. Barbara Harris was elected the first woman bishop of the Episcopal Church.
August 10. General Colin L. Powell was named chair of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff.
November 7. David Dinkins was elected mayor of New York, and L. Douglas Wilder, governor of Virginia.
February 11. Nelson Mandela, South African Black Nationalist, was freed after 27 years in prison.
May 13. George Augustus Stallings became the first bishop of the African-American Catholic Church, a breakaway group from the Roman Catholic Church.
November 1. Ebony magazine celebrated its 45th anniversary.
January 15. Roland Burris became the first black attorney general of Illinois.
June 18. Wellington Webb was elected mayor of Denver, Colorado.
April 30. "The Cosby Show" broadcast the final original episode of its highly successful eight season run.
August 3. Jackie Joyner-Kersee was the first woman to repeat as Olympic heptathlon champion.
September 12. Mae C. Jemison was first black American woman in space on board the space shuttle Endeavor.
November 3. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois was the first black woman ever elected to the United States Senate.
September 7. M. Joycelyn Elders became the first black and the first woman United States Surgeon General.
October 7. Toni Morrison was the first black American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
October 21. Dexter Scott King, the youngest son of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, is named chief executive and chairman of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.
October 16. The Million Man March was held in Washington D.C. The march was the idea of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who called the event, "A Day of Atonement and Reconciliation." The march was described as a call to black men to take charge in rebuilding their communities and show more respect for themselves and devotion to their families.
November 8. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, ends months of speculation by announcing that he will not run for the U.S. presidency in 1996.
December 9. Kweisi Mfume is unanimously elected as president and chief executive officer of the NAACP.
April 3. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and distinguished business leaders are killed in a plane crash in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
October 25. Black American women participated in the Million Woman March in Philadelphia, focusing on health care, education, and self-help.
January 15. Civil rights veteran James Farmer was one of 15 men and women awarded the Medal of Freedom from President Clinton. Born in Marshall, Texas, he was the national director of the Congress of Racial Equality during the 1960s and was one of the most influential leaders of the civil rights movement throughout its most turbulent decade.
January 18. Now an annual observance, the New York Stock Exchange closed, for the first time, in honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
September 21. Track star Florence Griffith Joyner died at the age of 38. In the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, Griffith became the first American woman to win four track and field medals — three gold and one silver — in one Olympic competition.
Alan Keyes announces his candidacy in the Republican presidential primaries for election 2000. Keyes, a radio talk show host and a leader of the conservative movement also ran in the 1996 presidential elections.
January 13. After 13 seasons and six NBA championships, professional basketball star Michael Jordan retired from the game.
August. The NAACP calls for a national boycott of vacation spots in South Carolina in an attempt to force the state government to remove the Confederate flag from the dome of its statehouse. Controversy on this issue grows, involving the flying of the Confederate flag in other southern states as well.
December 2. A location for a national monument to Martin Luther King, Jr., on the mall in Washington D.C. between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument was approved by the National Capital Planning Commission. The architectural design will be determined in an international competition to be completed by November 12, 2003.