Selected Dates in History and Activism
Timeline: Key Dates in History and Activism
1960Feb. 1: Black students sit in at Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., launching the sit-in movement.
March 21: Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa. April: Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee formed
Nigeria and Jamaica gain their independence, three years after Ghana.
1961May: Freedom Riders attacked in Alabama and Mississippi
Sept. 23: Kennedy names Thurgood Marshall to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals
1962February: The Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) is formed.
June 25: James Meredith desegregates the University of Mississippi with federal support
1963April/May: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
June: Federal government compels Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace to desegregate the University of Alabama.
June 12: Medgar Evers is killed.
Aug. 17: W.E.B. Du Bois dies in Ghana, at the age of 95.
Aug. 28: King delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington.
Sept. 15: Ku Klux Klan bombs the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., killing four girls.
November: President John F. Kennedy assassinated in Dallas.
Filmmaker St. Clair Bourne and white classmates from Georgetown University are arrested after a sit-in at a luncheonette in Arlington, Va.
1964SNCC launches the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project to promote voter registration
June 21: James E. Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman killed in Mississippi.
July 2: Civil Rights Act of 1964 enacted
August: The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party denied seating at the Democratic National Convention
December: Martin Luther King Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize
1965Malcolm X assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City.
March 21: Civil rights marchers walk to Montgomery, Ala., after violent confrontation in Selma.
Aug. 6: Voting Rights Act of 1965 enacted.
1966Black Panther Party formed.
Edward William Brooke elected first black senator since Reconstruction.
1967Uprisings in Newark, Detroit and other cities.
Muhammad Ali refuses to be drafted.
Thurgood Marshall confirmed as first black U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. denied his seat in Congress.
1968Poor people’s campaign in Washington, D.C.
Feb. 1: The first Black Studies program is established at San Francisco State under Nathan Hare, a professor fired at Howard University the year before.
Feb. 8: State police kill three and wound 27 during a protest of a segregated bowling alley by students at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, S.C. After the Orangeburg Massacre, students on other campuses deepen their commitment to activism.
April: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Nashville, Tenn.
June: Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Shirley Chisholm elected to the House of Representatives.
Black Power protest at the Olympics in Mexico.
1969Harvard establishes a black studies program, as students push for similar departments elsewhere into the next decade.
Maulana Karenga publishes “Introduction to Black Studies.”
Black Panther leaders “Jammin” Fred Hampton and Mark Clarke killed in Chicago police raid.
1970April 22: 2,000+ colleges and universities celebrate the first Earth Day. [check key anti-nuclear protests]
May: Ohio National Guardsmen kill four Kent State students during a Vietnam War protest, sparking demonstrations at other colleges. [need exact date; also check invasion of Cambodia]
1972June 17: Security guard Frank Willis discovers break-in at Democratic National Committee offices at Watergate Hotel in Washington.
1974Aug. 9: President Richard Nixon resigns.
1976June 16: Soweto uprising in South Africa over mandate of Afrikaans language, following student strike in late April. Unrest fuels apartheid protests at U.S. colleges.
1977Aug. 18: Arrest of Steven Biko in South Africa; he dies in police custody on Sept. 12.
Nov. 4: U.N. Security Council arms embargo against South Africa.
1978June 28: Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, landmark affirmative action case
1979Oct. 14: 100,000 attend first gay rights march in D.C.
Nov. 4, 1979-Jan. 21, 1981: Iran hostage crisis
1980Ronald Reagan elected president of the United States.
Jimmy Carter calls for a boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow.
The Iran/Iraq War starts. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is internationally introduced as a brutal and ruthless leader.
1981 AIDS is first detected in homosexual men.
The Sanctuary Movement, also known as the Latino Underground Railroad, moves a number of refugees from Central America through a network of safe houses throughout the United States.
1982 Ground is broken for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The first death by lethal injection takes place in Texas.
1984″The Cosby Show” debuts and quickly because the highest ranking show on television.
1985AIDS is declared a global pandemic.
1987The Rev. Jesse Jackson launches his second bid for the presidency of the United States.
1989 The Berlin Wall is toppled, symbolizing the end of the Cold War.
1990South African government frees Nelson Mandela after 27 years in prison.
Iraqi troops invade Kuwait and seize petroleum reserves, setting off Persian Gulf War.
East and West Germany reunite.
Charles Taylor, a former junta member driven out of Liberia after being accused of embezzlement, returns with an invasion force of 150 Libyan trained guerrillas, plunging the country into civil war.
1991U.S.-led coalition forces launch massive air strikes against Baghdad and follow with brief ground offensive to liberate Kuwait. Cease-fire ends Persian Gulf War with U.N. forces victorious after six-week war.
The government of South Africa repeals apartheid laws. Haitian troops seize President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in uprising.
Professor Anita Hill accuses Judge Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. After Congressional hearings, Thomas is confirmed for the Supreme Court.
With President Gorbachev’s resignation, constituent republics form Commonwealth of Independent States, thereby breaking up the Soviet Union.
1992 Four police officers acquitted in Los Angeles beating of Rodney King; rioting erupts in South-Central Los Angeles.
William Jefferson Clinton elected president, Al Gore vice president, denying George Bush Sr. a second term.
“The Year of the Woman” sees a record number of women winning public office. Carol Moseley Braun becomes first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
George Bush pardons former Reagan administration officials involved in Iran-Contra affair.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed.
1993 President Clinton agrees to compromise on military’s ban on homosexuals.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg appointed to Supreme Court.
Israeli-Palestinian accord reached.
South Africa adopts majority rule constitution.
Toni Morrison wins Nobel prize for literature.
Cesar Chavez, United Farm Workers labor leader, dies at 66. 1994President Clinton ends trade embargo on Vietnam.
Rwandan genocide of Tutsis by Hutus begins; estimated quarter-million people will be killed in the civil war.
O. J. Simpson arrested, charged with killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
First of three planned facilities, the National Museum of the American Indian opens in New York City at the George Gustav Heye Center.
1995 After lengthy trial, a Los Angeles jury finds O.J. Simpson not guilty of murder.
Powerful car bomb set off in front of federal building in Oklahoma City, investigation leads to right-wing paramilitary groups as Timothy McVeigh, Army veteran, is arrested.
Killing continues in Rwanda; death toll rises to 2,000 in massacre.
Louis Farrakhan calls for Million Man March on Washington, D.C.
Nigerian writer and human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his fellow activists were sentenced to death by a military court despite world-wide protests. They were accused of inciting a riot in which four people were killed.
1996Barbara Jordan dies. Noted U.S. Congresswoman was best remembered for the impeachment speech that ultimately led to the resignation of President Nixon. Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown killed in plane crash. Clinton-Gore re-elected.
Texaco settles racial bias suit that stemmed from insensitive racial remarks by top company executives against its African-American workers.
President Clinton appoints Madeleine Albright as first female U.S. secretary of state. After complicated negotiations, Kofi Annan named UN secretary-general.
1997U.S. Appeals Court upholds California ban on affirmative action. Timothy McVeigh given death penalty for Oklahoma City bombing.
World Jewish Restitution Organization succeeds in getting Holocaust victims’ assets returned, Swiss fund set up to make payments to heirs.
1998Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, sentenced to life plus 240 years.
Pope John Paul II visits Cuba.
President Clinton accused in White House scandal, denies allegations of affair with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.
U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania bombed.
House of Representatives panel drafts impeachment charges, approving four articles in party line voting. The full House impeaches President Clinton along party lines on two charges, perjury and obstruction of justice.
1999U.S. agrees to ease restrictions on Cuba.
Senate acquits President Clinton of impeachment charges. Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and PLO leader Yasir Arafat announce peace accord.
Nelson Mandela steps down as first black president of South Africa; Thabo Mbeki elected in his place.
White supremacist John William King is sentenced to death in hate killing of James Byrd Jr.
2000First Lady Hillary Clinton officially enters N.Y. Senate race.
After NAACP boycott, South Carolina removes Confederate battle flag from capitol dome.
Presidents of North and South Korea sign peace accord, ending half-century of antagonism.
Six-year Whitewater investigation of Bill and Hillary Clintons ends with no indictments.
In one of the most divisive presidential elections in U.S. history, the Supreme Court seals victory of George W. Bush victory by 5-4; rules against any further recounting.
President Bill Clinton approves Congressional Medals for WWII Navajo Code Talkers.
Mexico ends 71 years of one-party rule with the election of Vicente Fox Quesada as president.
2001Congo president Laurent Kabila assassinated by bodyguard; son Joseph Kabila takes over amid continuing civil war.
Bush abandons global-warming treaty (Kyoto Protocol), angering European leaders.
Former Klansman Thomas E. Blanton convicted of 1963 murder of four black girls in Birmingham, Ala.
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh executed.
Terrorists attack World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11. Islamic militant Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terrorist network are held responsible.
Anthrax-laced letters are sent to certain media and government officials, several people die after handling the letters.
In response to Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, U.S. and British forces launch bombing daily campaign against Taliban government and al-Qaeda terrorist camps in Afghanistan.
Enron Corp, one of world’s largest energy companies, files for bankruptcy.
2002In his first State of Union address, President Bush labels Iran, Iraq and North Korea “an axis of evil.”
Angolan UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi killed in battle, UNITA rebels and Angolan government sign a cease-fire ending 30 years of civil war.
East Timor becomes a new nation, Timor Lorosae, gaining a bloody independence from Indonesia. U.S. abandons 31-year-old Antiballistic Missile treaty. WorldCom, after admitting to misstating profits, files for bankruptcy-largest claim in U.S. history.
Snipers prey upon DC suburbs, killing ten and wounding others, police arrest two sniper suspects, John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo.
Bush signs legislation creating cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.
Trent Lott steps down as Republican leader after furor over pro-segregationist remark at Strom Thurmond’s retirement bash.
2003President Bush’s lawyers file a brief with the Supreme Court contending that the University of Michigan’s program to increase the number of minorities enrolled as undergraduates and as law students amounts to a quota system and is unconstitutional. Howard University and other college students stage a sleep-in and march outside of Supreme Court on “Black Tuesday,” April 1.
In rally against war in Iraq, marchers demonstrate in New York and other U.S. cities, in London, Melbourne, Paris, Seoul and many other locations worldwide.
U.S. launches Operation Iraqi Freedom, targeting Saddam Hussein and Iraqi leadership.
Senate nearly unanimous in vote to expand federal government’s right to spy on suspected foreign terrorists living in the U.S.
Saddam Hussein removed from power in Iraq, attention turns to aftermath of war and rebuilding process.
2004President George W. Bush wins a second term in office.
2005Elections held in Iraq
Pope John Paul II dies.
Hurricane Katrina makes landfall on New Orleans.
2006Howard University students spend spring break helping to clean up and rebuild New Orleans. ABC News names them “Persons of the Week.”
Foreign immigration protest.
Sadam Hussein Sentenced to death.
Democrats win control of the House.
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in challenge to voluntary integration plans in Kentucky and Washington State. Students from Howard and other colleges join in “Black Monday” rally outside Supreme Court and on the National Mall.
2007Howard students return to New Orleans to continue their work from the previous year.
Sources: Archives of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University; “Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America” by Lerone Bennett Jr.; “My Soul Looks Back in Wonder: Voices of the Civil Rights Experience” by Juan Williams; “Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America” by Peniel E. Joseph; World Almanac.