The Civil Rights Act of 1866 affirmed the rights of all citizens regardless of race or “previous condition of slavery,” but failed to protect African Americans from violence, exploitation, segregation, and discrimination. Visit sites of resistance.Less
1980 A Riot Erupts in Miami After police officers in Liberty City, Florida, are acquitted of murdering an unarmed African American man, a riot erupts during which many people are injured and killed. The "Miami Riot" is considered the worst in U.S. history since the Detroit Riots of 1967.
1982 Chavis Shines Light on Race and the Environment Reverend Benjamin Chavis spearheads a report on the racial and socioeconomic characteristics of communities with hazardous waste sites. It is the first national report to comprehensively document the rising concern of toxic waste in African American communities.
1985 Gwendolyn Brooks Receives Distinguished Poet Awards After becoming the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950 for Annie Allen, Gwendolyn Brooks is appointed by the Librarian of Congress as the first African American United States Poet Laureate. “I am a writer perhaps because I am not a talker.”
1986 Congress Passes Anti-Apartheid Act Overriding the veto of President Ronald Reagan, the US Congress sides with the Free South Africa movement and passes the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, which supports economic sanctions against South Africa. Coupled with ongoing protests in the United States and among the South African people, these sanctions become a tool that helps end apartheid. Four years later, Nelson Mandela is released from prison.
1988 Jesse Jackson Paves Way for Future Black President Jesse Jackson seeks the Democratic Party's presidential nomination for the second time. Jackson receives 1,218 delegate votes but loses the nomination to Michael Dukakis at the Democratic National Convention, held at the Omni Coliseum (now State Farm Arena) in Atlanta. Though unsuccessful, Jackson's two presidential campaigns—this year and in 1984—lay the groundwork for Barack Obama to become president two decades later.
1992 King Beating Caught on Tape Rioting in Los Angeles follows the acquittal of four white policemen caught on videotape beating African American motorist Rodney King. Mr. King receives $3.8 million in compensatory damages from the city of Los Angeles, but never fully recovers from the physical and emotional injuries sustained during the beating. The trial of the police officers was held in the predominantly white community of Simi Valley.
1995 A Million Men March on the Mall Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, and the National African American Leadership Summit, founded by civil rights leader Benjamin Chavis, organize the Million Man March on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Its theme is assuming responsibility for self, family, and community. It becomes the largest gathering in history of African American men on the National Mall.
1996 Churches Set Ablaze in the South Congress passes the Church Arson Prevention Act after growing racial tension in the South leads to the burning of nearly 40 African American churches between 1995 and 1996.
2001 General Powell Becomes Secretary of State General Colin L. Powell becomes the first African American to serve as Secretary of State. Previously, Powell was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in 1989.
2005 Condoleezza Rice Becomes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice becomes the First African American Woman to Serve as Secretary of State “Our forebears established a democratic system of, by, and for the people that contained within it the means for citizens of conviction and of courage to correct its flaws. The enduring principles enshrined in our Constitution made it possible for impatient patriots ... to move us ever closer to our founding ideals.”