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Historical Timeline

 

National events are black. Events in BROWN occurred in Greensboro.

ca. 1819 - ca. 1850
The Guilford County’s large Quaker population, including members of the Coffin family, provides a stop on the Underground Railroad for slaves escaping to freedom in the North.

1857
In the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, the U.S. Supreme Court denies citizenship and constitutional rights to slaves and their descendants.

1862
The Emancipation Proclamation frees slaves in states of the Confederate States of America.

1865, December 6
The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, abolishing slavery.

1866
The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is founded in Pulaski, Tennessee.

1867
Pennsylvania Quaker Yardley Warner purchases acreage that is subdivided into lots for sale to freed slaves to provide opportunities for African American home ownership and security. Management is soon transferred to Harmon Unthank, a leader within the Warnersville community.

1868, July 9
The 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, granting full rights of citizenship and protection of the laws to any person born in the United States.

1870, February 3
The 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, granting the right to vote to any male regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

1873
Bennett College is established in the Warnersville suburb of Greensboro as Bennett Seminary. Starting the following year, it becomes associated with the Freedmen’s Aid Society.

1875, March 1
U.S. Congress passes the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in public places and guarantees equal access to public accommodations regardless of race or color.

1877-1880
In the Compromise of 1877, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes is elected U.S. President on the agreement that he end Reconstruction in the South. The South replaces Reconstruction laws with local laws that restrict the rights of blacks, implementing a form of racial segregation known as Jim Crow.

1891
North Carolina A&T State University is established in Raleigh as The Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race. The college moves to Greensboro in 1893.

1896, May 18
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson upholds an 1890 Louisiana statute that mandates racially segregated but equal railroad cars, reinforcing the concept of “separate but equal” access for black in America.

1902
The Palmer Memorial Institute, a preparatory school for African Americans, is established just outside Greensboro by Charlotte Hawkins Brown.

1909, February 12
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded by a group of multi-racial activists in New York City, including Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois, and Mary White Ovington.

1911
The National Urban League forms to advocate against racial discrimination.

1911
The Greensboro city council joins other southern cities in passing an ordinance requiring separate white and black residential areas.

1919, summer
Twenty-six race riots break out across the U.S. during the period—coined the Red Summer—the most violent of which occur in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Elaine, Arkansas.

1942
The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) forms with plans to use nonviolent civil disobedience as a tactic to fight segregation.

1941
President Franklin D. Roosevelt passes Executive Order 8802 prohibiting racial discrimination in the defense industry.

1948
President Truman expands Executive Order 8802 with Executive Order 9981, desegregating the military.

1951
William Hampton becomes the first African American elected to the Greensboro City Council.

1954, May 17
U.S. Supreme Court rules on Brown v. Board of Education, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court by Thurgood Marshal. The court unanimously agrees that segregation in public school is unconstitutional, thus overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.

1955
Bennett College sociology professor Edward Edmonds leads protests against inferior public schools and segregated swimming pools in Greensboro, and Dr. George Simkins begins a successful drive to desegregate city-owned gold courses.

1955, August-September
While visiting family in Money, Mississippi, fourteen-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till is kidnapped, brutally beaten, shot, and dumped in the Tallahatchie River for allegedly whistling at a white woman. On September 19, 1955 the trial against J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant begins. Five days later an all-white jury returned with a not-guilty verdict. In January 1956, the two men publish their story in Look magazine, confessing to the murder.

1955, December 1
Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus, resulting in her arrest. The Montgomery Improvement Association forms, with Martin Luther King Jr. as its head, to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which lasts 381 days. On November 13, 1956 the U.S. Supreme Court declares segregation on Montgomery buses unconstitutional, and the boycott officially ends December 20, 1956 when the ruling is enacted.

1956
In a reaction to Brown vs. Board of Education, North Carolina adopts the Pearsall Plan, which provides subsidies and other alternatives to excuse students from attending segregated schools. In 1969, the legislation is overturned by the federal courts. Read more about the Pearsall Plan.

1956, fall
JoAnne Smart of Raleigh, North Carolina and Bettye Ann Davis Tillman of Wadesboro, North Carolina become the first African-American students to enroll at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro). JoAnne Smart Drane later becomes a member of the school's Board of Trustees. Read more about Desegregation at UNCG.

Later 1950s
NAACP youth councils and college students in Oklahoma, Kansas, and other cities stage successful sit-ins.

1957, February 14
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is formed, with Martin Luther King Jr. as its first president. The organization uses nonviolent civil disobedience to fight for civil rights.

1957, August
Six African American students begin attending formerly all-white schools in Greensboro, one at Greensboro Senior High and the remainder at Gillespie Park Elementary, ushering in the era of “token integration.” Read more about school desegregation in Greensboro.

1957, September
On the day Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, is scheduled to desegregate, Governor Orval Faubus blocks nine black students (the Little Rock Nine) from entering the school. On September 20, a federal judge grants an injunction against the governor’s use of National Guard troops to block desegregation. On September 25, President Dwight Eisenhower sends the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army to escort the nine students into the school and protect them against the mob. The students are given personal guards, but still face harassment. On May 27, 1958, Ernest Green becomes the first black student to graduate from the school.

1958
Urban renewal begins in Greensboro with the Cumberland Project near A&T State University. Over the next eighteen years, numerous black neighborhoods and business districts are destroyed as part of “slum clearance” projects.

1960, February 1
Four students from North Carolina A&T State University begin a sit-in at the segregated downtown Woolworth’s lunch counter, setting off the sit-in movement. Read more about the sit-ins.

1960, March 6
President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order 10925, mandating equal employment opportunity in the federal government regardless of race, religion, or national origin. The order also creates the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity [later known as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)] to investigate the hiring practices of the federal government and create recommendations to end discriminatory practices.

1960, April
Stemming from the Greensboro sit-ins, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is founded at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. The group uses grassroots organizing to fight segregation and register voters in the South.

1961, May 4
The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) begins a campaign to test Boynton v. Virginia, a Supreme Court ruling that outlaws segregation in public transportation. An integrated group of activists known as the Freedom Riders ride buses to terminals in the South, facing violence and mass arrests in Alabama and Mississippi.

1962, Spring
In the spring semester, Guilford College integrates the main campus by admitting two Kenyan Quakers for fall enrollment. That fall, they enroll the first African American student.

1962, October 1
James Meredith becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, setting off riots on campus that leave two people dead.

1963, May 17-24
Demonstrations against business segregation in Greensboro reach a peak, with mass marches of African Americans primarily lead by N.C. A&T State University student Jesse Jackson resulting in mass detentions at the Greensboro Coliseum and an abandoned polio hospital.Read more about the 1963 protests.

1963, May
After Martin Luther King Jr. is jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, the SCLC organizes a march made primarily of children. Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor orders fire hoses and police dogs against the protestors, and footage of the event is broadcast worldwide.

1963, June 12
Medgar Evers, field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi, is shot and killed outside his home in Jackson. White supremacist Byron De La Beckwith is tried for the murder twice in 1964, with both trials resulting in hung juries. In 1994 he was tried again, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison.

1963, August 28
More than 250,000 people march from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington, organized by the NAACP, SNCC, CORE, and other civil rights organizations. The event culminates with multiple performances and speeches, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech.

1963, September 15
The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, is bombed, killing four young African American girls attending Sunday school: Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins. There is rioting in the city for the rest of the day, resulting in the death of two young African American boys. In 1978 Robert Chambliss is convicted of the four murders and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2000 Bobby Cherry and Thomas Blanton Jr. are also convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

1963, Fall
Following demonstrations and protests earlier in the year, forty percent of restaurants and motels in Greensboro are desegregated, compared with nearly complete desegregation of facilities in Charlotte and Durham.

1964, January 23
The 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, outlawing the poll tax, which is a tool used in the South to prevent blacks from voting.

1964, Summer
The Mississippi Summer Project, or Freedom Summer, is a large scale campaign to register African American voters in the state, organized by the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), composed of SNCC, CORE, NAACP, and SCLC. Over the course of the project, organizers and community members face violence from white supremacists, most notably with the murders of three CORE members: James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman.

CORE forms the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to challenge the white-only Democratic Party in the state. After finding it difficult to register black voters against strong state opposition, Freedom Summer activists begin registering blacks as supporters of the party. They send delegates to the Democratic National Convention and attempt to unseat the all-white party, but they are denied official recognition.

1964, July 2
President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, and national origin in government, employment, and public spaces. The federal government is given power to enforce desegregation by cutting funding and taking legal action when the laws are resisted.

1965, February 21
Malcolm X, an activist and black nationalist, is assassinated at a meeting of the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Audubon Ballroom, in Manhattan, New York.

1965, March 7
A march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, is held by the SCLC in support of voting rights. Some six-hundred people participate. When the march reaches the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, it is stopped by a police blockade. Police officers attack the marchers with billy clubs, tear gas, and bull whips. The event is filmed by news cameras, broadcast on three networks, and dubbed “Bloody Sunday.”

A second march is held March 9. Though organizers try to gain a court order prohibiting police interference, a restraining order is taken against them, preventing a march to Montgomery. The day of the march, Martin Luther King Jr. leads protestors to the Edmund Pettus Bridge where they pray before turning back. That night three ministers are beaten by white supremacists. James Reeb, a white Unitarian minister, dies on March 11 from his injuries.

On March 21 a third march begins under protection of a federalized National Guard. Some 25,000 people participate in the march that reaches the state capitol in Montgomery on March 25. These events lead to the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

1965, August 10
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is passed by Congress, outlawing literacy tests, poll taxes, and other methods used to restrict African Americans’ right to vote.

1965, August 11-17
Race riots erupt in Watts, California. Thirty-four people are killed.

1965, September 24
President Lyndon Johnson signs Executive Order 11246, which requires that government contractors with fifty or more employees use affirmative action toward hiring minority employees. 

1966, June 5
During the March Against Fear, Stokely Carmichael is arrested in Greenwood, Mississippi, for trespassing on public property. After being released, he gives a speech promoting Black Power to the crowd.

1966, October
Huey Newton and Bobby Seale found the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California.

1967, March 30
The Carolina Peacemaker begins publication.

1967, June 12
In Loving v. Virginiathe U.S. Supreme Court rules that prohibiting interracial marriage is unconstitutional.

1967, July
Race riots in Newark and Detroit leave a total of sixty-nine people dead.

1967, August 31
Thurgood Marshall is confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the first African American Justice of the Supreme Court.

1967, November 1-3
The UNCG Student Government Association sponsors a Black Power Forum, one of a series of programs on controversial issues that also included drug use, urban issues, and the Vietnam War. Among the speakers is controversial activist Howard Fuller. There is considerable negative reaction statewide, although members of the academic community congratulate Chancellor James Sharbrough Ferguson for his defense of the event.Read more about the Black Power Forum at UNCG.

1968, February 8
Students protest segregation at a local bowling alley on the campus of South Carolina State University, a historically black university. At a bonfire that night, police believe they are coming under small weapon fire. They shoot into the crowd and kill three students. The event is referred to as the Orangeburg Massacre.

1968, April 4
Martin Luther King Jr. is shot and killed while standing on the balcony of his hotel room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The assassination sparks riots across the U.S. Escaped convict James Earl Ray pleads guilty to the murder and is sentenced to a ninety-nine year prison term.

1968, April 11
President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (aka Fair Housing Act), prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, nation of origin.

1969, March 26
Following strikes at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at North Carolina A&T State University, predominantly black food service workers at UNCG go on strike. Five days later, a group of 1200 protesters demonstrate at UNCG, and there is some threat of violence. Eventually, the issue is settled in favor of the striking workers.Read more about the Food Workers Strike at UNCG.

1969 May
Protests erupt at Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina, over the results of a student council election that barred Claude Barnes, a civil rights activist, from taking office. Hostilities spread to the North Carolina A&T State University campus after three days. Gunfire breaks out between the National Guard and A&T students. Willie Grimes, an A&T student not involved in the protests, is shot and killed while returning to his dormitory.Read more about Dudley/NC A&T protests

1970
Malcolm X University, led by controversial Black Power figure Howard Fuller, relocates from Durham to Greensboro.

1971, April 20
The Supreme Court rules on Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, upholding busing as a legitimate way to integrate school systems.

1971, Fall
The Greensboro school system is integrated through the institution of cross-town busing following the Swann decision.Read more about school integration in Greensboro.

1973, Spring and Summer
On March 27, the UNCG Student Government Association votes to strip the Neo-Black Society (NBS) of its funding, citing reverse racism. Chancellor James Sharbrough Ferguson reverses the decision, leading to a lawsuit filed by several students. The issue is resolved in fall when NBS revises its constitution stressing that it is open to all students without regard to race.Read more about Neo-Black Society controversy at UNCG.

1979, November 3
At a Death to the Klan march organized by the Communist Workers Party (CWP) in Greensboro, five CWP members are shot and killed by Klansmen and Nazis. Six were tried in two criminal trials and were acquitted by all-white juries. Read more about "Greensboro Massacre".

1983
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday is established.

1988, March 22
U.S. Congress passes the Civil Rights Restoration Act, which expands the reach of non-discrimination laws within private institutions receiving federal funds. 

1991, November 22
President George H.W. Bush signs the Civil Rights Act of 1991 into law.

1992, April 29
Los Angeles sees the first American race riots in decades following the acquittal of four white police officers for the videotaped beating of African American Rodney King.

1994, January 15
Plans are announced to convert the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro into an international civil rights museum. The project faces numerous delays but is currently projected to open in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning on the sit-ins on February 1, 2010.

2003, June 23
U.S. Supreme Court upholds the University of Michigan Law School's policy, ruling that race can be one of many factors considered by colleges when selecting their students.