BHR Timeline

History is a critical component of learning, not only about yourself but also about the world around you. Here, we will trace Black people’s history in the United States beginning in 1619 to the present. I hope that this timeline will help to give you a foundation in which to start your quest for learning Black history.

Side Note:
Since Black history is vast, this timeline highlights only a snippet of events that have happened throughout time.


Black History Timeline

Kamala Harris Becomes Vice President

Kamala Harris is sworn in as the 49th Vice President of the United States of America. She is the first Black woman, the first South Asian, and the first woman ever to hold this office.

First Black Secretary of the Smithsonian

In 2019, Lonnie G. Bunch became 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian and the first Black person in the position. In his role, he oversees the National Zoo, research centers, 19 libraries, 21 museums, and more. Secretary Bunch was previously the founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

On September 24, 2016, the Smithsonian officially opened the doors to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This museum is significant because it highlights the Black experience in America. The various exhibits within this museum bring attention to key people, places, and events that shaped and currently shape Black people in American history.

Loretta Lynch

On April 27, 2015, Loretta Lynch was sworn in, by Vice President Joe Biden, as the 83rd U.S. Attorney General of the United States. She is the first Black woman to hold this position.

President Barack Obama is Re-Elected

President Barack Obama is re-elected by the general public to continue serving as President of the United States of America during the 2012 presidential election.

Black Lives Matter

In 2012 Black Lives Matter (#blacklivesmatter), a national organization, was formed to combat the anti-black racism that has been displayed by police and civilian brutality throughout the United States.

Trayvon Martin

On February 12th, 2012, 17-year old Trayvon Martin was killed as he walked home from the store. The shooter was acquitted of all charges relating to his death, which marked a pivotal point in modern American society. Protests ensued all over the country in response.

First Black President of the United States Elected into Office

On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama, a U.S. Senator from Chicago, Illinois, was elected into office as the 44th President of the United States of America. He was the first Black man to hold this office.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast of the United States on August 29, 2005. This hurricane caused devastation in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. In Louisiana, the storm caused the levees to break in New Orleans, causing massive flooding. Thousands of black and brown people were left stuck without governmental aid for an extended time.

Colin Powell Becomes Secretary of State

In 2001 President George W. Bush appointed U.S. General Colin Powell to the role of Secretary of State. He is the first African American to hold this position.

Racism Still a Critical Problem

The White House Initiative on Race and Reconciliation released a report confirming that racism is still a critical problem in the United States, after conducting a 15-month examination/study.

Million Man March

The Million Man March, organized by Louis Farrakhan, brought over 800,000 Black men to Washington D.C.

Political Increase

The number of African American elected officials increase at the federal, state, and local levels.

Shirley Chisholm Runs for President

New York Representative Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman to run as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. She made it to the Democratic National Convention, receiving more than 150 votes; however, she lost the primary to George McGovern.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is Assassinated

On April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a single bullet as he overlooked the motel balcony.

Thurgood Marshall Becomes a Supreme Court Justice

Thurgood Marshall is appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He's the first African American to designated to this role.

Black Panther Party Is Created

Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale create the Black Panther Party.

Voting Rights Act

President Lyndon Johnson signs the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which aids African Americans with the barriers that prevented them from exercising their right to vote.

Malcolm X is Assassinated

On February 21, 1965, in New York City at the Audubon Ballroom, Malcolm X was assassinated while he was giving a speech.

The March on Washington

Over 200,000 people attend the March on Washington in Washington, D.C.; this is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gives his famous I Have A Dream speech.

Medgar Evers

Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers is assassinated in the doorway of his home in Jackson, Mississippi.

Rosa Parks Refusal to Move

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her seat and move to the back of a segregated public bus. This act of defiance marks the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Citations: Accessed August 18, 2016.

Bracks, Lean’tin L., and Jessie Carney Smith. African American Almanac: 400 Years of Triumph, Courage and Excellence. Visible Ink Press, 2011.

Brooks, Christopher Antonio, and Benjamin Todd Jealous. The African American Almanac. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Cengage Learning, 2011. Staff. “Hurricane Katrina.” 2009. Accessed August 18, 2016.

“Meet the Attorney General.” U.S. Department of Justice. Accessed August 10, 2016.

“President Barack Obama.” The White House. 2014. Accessed August 18, 2016.