1619—First African slaves arrive in the American colonies
1780—Pennsylvania becomes the first US state to abolish slavery
1793—Eli Whitney’s cotton gin increases the need for slaves
1831—Nat Turner leads the most successful slave rebellion in U.S. history
1831 – 1861—Approximately 75,000 slaves escape to the North using the Underground Railroad
1843—Pittsburgh based abolitionist Martin Delany begins publishing abolitionist newspaper The Mystery
1847—Ex-slave Frederick Douglass publishes the abolitionist North Star newspaper
1850—Congress passes Fugitive Slave Act, mandating government participation in capture of slaves
1857—Dred Scott v. Sanford case. Slaves are not citizens
1861 – 1865—The American Civil War is fought. Many free blacks and escaped slaves fight for the Union
1863—Abraham Lincoln delivers the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves in Confederate states free
1865—Martin Delany becomes the only black officer to receive the rank of major in the Civil War. The 13th Amendment, prohibiting slavery, is ratified. Abraham Lincoln is assassinated.
1865 – 1877—Reconstruction era
1866—The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Tennessee
1868—14th Amendment, re-defining citizenship, is ratified.
1870—15th Amendment, giving African American men the right to vote, is ratified.
1879—Thousands of African Americans migrate out of the South to escape oppression.
1892—The Homestead Steel Strike takes place. Pennsylvania’s first black steelworkers are among the strikebreakers, and racial tensions explode into a massive riot against black families
1895—Booker T. Washington delivers Atlanta Compromise speech, arguing that blacks forgo civil and political rights in favor of economic rights. W.E.B. DuBois becomes first African-American to receive a PhD from Harvard.
1896—Plessy v. Ferguson case. Racial segregation is constitutional. The Jim Crow era begins.
1903—W.E.B. DuBois’ seminal work The Souls of Black Folk is published