Racial Equality; key historical events
Page last modified 10/9/2020
See also History of Slavery
Martin Luther King
Klu Klux Klan
25/11/2015, The first Asian woman to become a High Court Judge in Britain, Mrs Cheena-Grubb, 49, from Derby, was sworn in. There were now 22 female High Court Judges, compared with just 10 in 2005.
24/11/2014, In Missouri, the Prosecutor’s Office announced it would not pres charges against a policeman, Mr Wilson, for shooting dead a Black teenager, Michael Brown (see 9/8/2014). Several nights rioting followed.
9/8/2014, A Black man, Mr Brown, was shot dead by a White policeman, Mr Darren Wilson, in the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, USA. Several nights of racial-based rioting followed.
3/8/2009, Bolivia became the first country in South America to grant self-government to its indigenous peoples.
24/10/2005, Rosa Parks, who in 1955 refused to give up her bus seat to a White passenger, so starting the civil rights movement, died aged 92.
24/6/2004, In Thetford, Norfolk, a mob of 200 local youths laid siege to the Portuguese run Red Lion pub, hurling paving slabs and other missiles. 40 Portuguese workers and their families were trapped inside for two hours until police could bring in sufficient reinforcements to quell the disturbance. Eight people were injured, and ten people subsequently arrested. The event was initially linked to Portugal having beaten the English football team out of the Euro 2004 tournament. However there was also a strong racist element, with the town having suffered major job losses to its agricultural food processing industries and local wages being depressed.
27/9/2001. The UK Home Secretary, David Blunkett, condemned as offensive remarks by the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi had said that Western civilisation was superior to Islamic society.
7/6/1991, Bill Morris became the General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, the first Black leader of a UK trade union.
2/1/1991, Sharon Pratt Dixon was sworn in as Mayor of Washington DC, becoming the first Black woman to lead such a major US city.
24/11/1990, White extremists attacked 300 Black children in a park in Louis Trichardt.
8/11/1989, In Virginia, Douglas Wilder became the first Black Governor in the USA.
6/11/1989, David Dinkins became the first African-American mayor of New York City.
5/5/1988, In the US, Eugene Antonio became the country’s first Black Roman Catholic Archbishop.
2/1/1987. The traditional golliwogs in Enid Blyton’s Noddy books were replaced by neutral gnomes to remove any taint of racism.
30/4/1985, Britain’s first Black bishop, Wilfrid Wood, was appointed.
12/4/1983. Chicago got its first Black mayor.
27/8/1981. Moira Stuart was appointed the BBC’s first Black female newsreader.
27/6/1979, Brian Weber lost a reverse discrimination case against his union (US Supreme Court, United Steel Workers v Weber), which had recruited Black and White workers in equal numbers to a training programme, although White workers outnumbered Black ones.
1978, The case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. A Whute engineering graduate, Alan Bakke, had applied to the American University of California (Davis) Medical School, but was not offered a place, despite his having higher qualifications than most of the Black students admitted. Of the 100 places available, 16 were reserved for Black students. The US Supreme Court ruled that, although the University had violated the 14th Amendment and Bakke had suffered discrimination, and was entitled to a place, it was nevertheless reasonable for the University to consider racial background in admittance decisions. This rather confused decision opened the way to further cases over ‘reverse discrimmination’.
29/11/1978, Viv Anderson, of Nottingham Forest, became the first Black footballer to play for England.
8/6/1977. In Britain the Commission for Racial Equality began work. In 1996 it registered 1,750 calls for assistance with racial discrimination and handled 142 court cases in this area. In 1997 asimilar Commission was established in Northern Ireland.
1973, In the UK, the TUC changed its traditional pro-immigration-control stance and became very much anti-racist and pro-equal-opportunity,
26/11/1972, The Race Relations Act became UK law; employers were now not allowed to discriminate on grounds of race.
14/10/1971, Two killed in Memphis, Tennessee in racial disturbances.
9/8/1970. Police and Black protestors clashed in Notting Hill, London.
12/5/1970. 12 Black protestors died in race riots in
10/6/1969, James Earl Ray was sentenced to 99 years in Memphis, Tennessee, for the murder of Martin Luther King in April 1968.
9/4/1969, Sikh bus drivers in Wolverhampton won the right to wear turbans.
10/3/1969, James Ray Earl pleaded guilty to the murder of civil rights leader Martin Luther King. He was sentenced to 99 years.
1/1/1969. Sir Learie
26/11/1968, In Britain the1968 Race Relations Act was passed, banning racial discrimination in employment and housing. However contravening the Act was still not a criminal offence; cases were solved through a conciliation procedure.
5/11/1968 The first Black woman was elected to the US House of Representatives.
12/8/1968. Race riots in Watts, Los Angeles.
4/4/1968. Martin Luther King, 39, was assassinated, shot
dead by James
Earl Ray on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in
23/8/1967, Race riots in Detroit.
23/7/1967, Riots broke out in Detroit after police raided a ‘blind pig’, an unlicensed bar, in the 12th street area of Detroit. In 5 days of disorder, 43 people were killed and 467 injured. 7,200 were arrested and almost 3,000 buildings burnt or looted. The US Army had to go in with tanks and machine guns. The root cause of the riots was credit discrimination by banks against addresses in districts that were mainly Black.
15/6/1967. Race riots shook New Jersey, USA, following the arrest of a black taxi driver for a traffic offence. The riots lasted for four nights 1,600 people were arrested, 1,100 were injured, and 22 died.
7/2/1967, In Britain the Far Right anti-immigration National Front party was formed. It was founded by A.K.Chesterton, cousin of the famous author.
1966, The Black Panther Party was founded by two Black people from Oakland California; Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The aim of the Party was to secure better economic and civil rights for Black people in the USA.
8/11/1966. Edward Brooke became the USA’s first black senator.
31/7/1966, In the US, there were race riots in Chicago, New York, and Cleveland.
20/7/1966. Racial unrest continued in Brooklyn, New York, resulting in the fatal stabbing of an 11 year old boy. There were other racial tensions across the USA.
16/7/1966. Race riots in Chicago caused Governor Kerner to call out 3,000 men from the Illinois National Guard who supplemented 900 police facing 5,000 rioters.
14/3/1966, Britain’s first Asian policeman, Muhammad Yusuf, was sworn in to the Coventry force
22/1/1966, Martin Luther King moved to a tenement flat in a deprived part ofChicago to draw attention to Black urban poverty.
1965, In the UK, the first Race Relations Act was passed. Modelled on US civil rights legislation, it outlawed racial segregation in public places.
6/12/1965.. The Governor of California received a report on the necessity of stimulating employment and education among the Black population as a means of avoiding race riots.
19/10/1965, In the USA, the Un-American Activities Committee of the House of Representatives began a public hearing on the Klu Klux Klan.
11/8/1965, Race riots in the Watts area of Los Angeles, USA. A local Black woman, Marquette Fry, was arrested by White police officers on suspicion of drunk-driving and then beaten up. Over the next two nights rioting in the predominantly Black area spread to involve some 130 square kilometres, with cars and shops being looted and burnt. On 13/8/1965 2,000 national Guardsmen arrived to support the thousands of police in enforcing an 8.pm curfew for the next three nights. The riots saw the deaths of 34 people, mostly Black civilians shot by National Guards or police.
6/8/1965, US Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, outlawing racial discrimination in voting procedures.
31/5/1965. Within a day of moving into a semi detached house on a Staffordshire housing estate a Jamaican family was approached by the resident’ association with an offer to buy them out. ‘We are not against coloured people’ said the chairman, ‘but we are concerned about maintaining the value of our house.
15/3/1965. Doctor Martin Luther King led a Freedom March in Selma, Alabama, in defiance of a court ban. State police stopped the procession with tear gas.
7/3/1965, US State Troopers and police attacked some 600 Civil Rights marchers with clubs, whips, and tear gas on the Selma Freedom March from Selma, Alabama, to the State capital, Alabama. 17 marchers were hospitalised and scores more injured.
21/2/1965. American Black leader Malcolm X was shot dead whilst addressing a meeting in New York. He was shot 15 times at point-blank range by three gunmen, and was dead on arrival at hospital. Born on 19/5/1925 in Nebraska, Malcolm X was the son of a Baptist minister, Earl Little, who was a supporter of the Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Little received death threats and in 1931 his body was found, mutilated. Malcolm dropped out of school and by 1942 was involved in the criminal gangs of Harlem, New York. He was imprisoned for burglary in 1946 and in the same year converted to an Islamic sect led by Elijah Mohammed. Malcolm changed his surname to X because he viewed Little as a slave name. Out on parole in 1952, Malcolm preached for the sect, supporting Black separatism and violence. He made a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1964 and then changed his views to supporting all races. He founded the Organisation of Afro-American Unity and toured many countries before he was assassinated.
14/10/1964. Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize.
2/8/1964, US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act 1964.
2/7/1964. President Johnson of the USA signed the Civil Rights Bill prohibiting racial discrimination.
1/2/1964. The mayor of Notasulga, Alabama, turned away six black pupils from an all white school.
15/9/1963, During race violence in the US, an African-American church in Birmingham, Alabama, was blown up.
4/9/1963, Desegregation riots in Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
2/9/1963, George Wallace, Governor of Alabama, halted integration of Black and White students by surrounding Tuskegee High School with state troopers. See 15/5/1972.
28/8/1963. Black civil rights leader Martin Luther King made his famous speech, “I have a dream…” to a rally of 200,000 people in Washington DC, demonstrating for civil rights for Blacks. On 4/9/1963 there were desegregation riots at Birmingham, Alabama.
27/8/1963, Du Bois, fighter for Black equality (born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, 23/2/1868), died in Accra, Ghana. He founded the Niagara Movement, an association of Black intellectuals, in 1905, which became part of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in 1909. Du Bois also participated on the conferences that led to the founding of the United Nations, moving to Ghana in 1961.
12/6/1963, Civil Rights lawyer Medgar Evers was murdered by White segregationists in Mississippi.
11/6/1963, George C Wallace, Governor of Alabama, barred the path of two Black students, James A Hood and Vivian J Malone, who were attempting to enrol at the University of Alabama.
10/5/1963, African-Americans were finally allowed to use the shops and public services in Birmingham, Alabama, after the ‘Birmingham Campaign’ led by Martin Luther King.
2/4/1963, A Black Civil Rights campaign began in the USA.
18/11/1962. Birmingham Corporation, UK, revoked a ban on turbaned Sikhs working as bus conductors and drivers.
1/10/1962. The first Black student attended classes at Mississippi University, and 200 were arrested in subsequent riots. James Howard Meredith arrived at university with a large guard of 170 federal marshals. After White rioting, gunfire erupted in the evening, with two killed and over 50 injured, including a French journalist. Under armed guard for his entire period of study, Meredith obtained his degree. However four years later he was shot dead by an armed White man in ambush, in June 1966 on a civil rights march in Mississippi.
25/5/1961, Klu Klux Klan marchers clashed with civil rights ‘Freedom Riders’ in Montgomery, Alabama.
8/11/1960, Former Massachusetts Attorney-General Edward Brooke became the first Black Senator in the US. He was born in Washington DC in 1919.
13/9/1960, In Washington, D.C., charges were filed against a Tennessee bank and 27 individuals said to have used economic pressure to prevent black people from voting.
25/4/1960, Race riots in Mississippi, ten Blacks were shot dead. Extremist Whites in the State disliked the 1954 US Supreme Court ruling that racially segregated schools were unconstitutional.
10/4/1960. The US Senate passed the Civil Rights Bill.
6/2/1960, A bomb attack was made on the house of Carlotta Watts, one of five Black children who had been admitted to the Little Rock High School 5 months earlier.
2/2/1960. Black protestors began a lunch-counter sit-in campaign in the USA. They were protesting against racial segregation at the local Woolworth’s canteen, also at other ‘Whites-only’ restaurants in Sumter, South Carolina. Black citizens also organised ‘Freedom rides’ on buses that were segregated for Whites only.
10/11/1959. The UN condemned apartheid and racism.
12/8/1959, Parents and children rioted in Arkansas over racial segregation in schools.
25/5/1959, The US Supreme Court ruled that Alabama’s ban on boxing matches between Black and White contestants was unconstitutional.
24/5/1959, Empire day was renamed Commonwealth Day.
12/9/1958. The Governor of Arkansas closed all High Schools in Little Rock.
8/9/1958. Race riots in Notting Hill, London. White youths attacked five Black people, leading to 150 arrests and gang fights involving up to 2,000 people.
31/8/1958, Fighting between Black and White youths in Notting Hill, London.
25/9/1957, 1,000 US armed paratroopers turned out to protect 9 Black schoolchildren who were taking their places at the all-White Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. This followed a US Supreme Court ruling that segregated schools contravened the 14th Amendment. However Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus flouted the court ruling and deployed armed National Guardsmen to bar the Black children, whilst a White mob shouted ‘Niggers go home’. President Eisenhower intervened and the Guardsmen were withdrawn, but a White mob remained. In an unprecedented move, Eisenhower removed control of the National Guard from Faubus and sent in the 101st Airborne Division to protect the Black schoolchildren, to the fury of southern Governors.
13/6/1957. US Vice-President Richard Nixon and civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King discussed how to enforce the racial desegregation of the southern states of the USA. The Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, said he would never permit racial integration of his schools and would use state militia to stop Black students entering White facilities. On 25/9/1957 an angry crowd of 1,500 White demonstrators watched as 1,000 US armed National Guardsmen, bayonets drawn, enforce the arrival of nine black students at the Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Seven protesters were arrested as one demonstrator tried to grab a guardsman’s rifle; some shouted ‘go home, niggers!’
13/11/1956, The US Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation on buses was illegal.
5/3/1956, The US Supreme Court upheld a ban on racial segregation in schools and universities.
1/3/1956. The University of Alabama expelled its first Black student. Autherine Lucy had been suspended ‘for her own safety’ after attacks by an angry White mob. The US Federal Court ruled that she must be re-admitted.
5/12/1955, Martin Luther King was elected leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott movement which had started following the arrest of Rosa Parks on 1/12/1955.
1/12/1955, In Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her front of bus seat for a White man and move to the rear of the bus. On 4/12/1955 she was fined US$ 14. A boycott of Montgomery City Lines buses began by the Afro-American population, costing 65% of pre-boycott revenue. The bus company had to end seat discrimination and hire Afro-American drivers, an outcome hailed as the start of the Black Rights movement in the USA.
8/3/1955, In West Bromwich, Birmingham, UK, bus drivers re-imposed a colour bar, which had already led to strikes.
7/1/1955, Marian Anderson became the first African-American to appear in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s Masked Ball.
17/5/1954, The US Supreme Court, in the case of Brown v The Board of Education, unanimously outlawed racial segregation in school as unconstitutional. The principle of ‘separate but equal’ facilities for Black and White pupils was struck down. This ruling was to be extended to all areas of public life.
8/6/1953, The US Supreme Court ruled that restaurants in the District of Columbia could not refuse to serve African-Americans.
12/1/1948. A law school in Oklahoma was ordered to admit a Black student.
1942, The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded in the USA. It was involved in campaigns against racial segregation on public transport and in increasing the registration of Black voters in the US South.
26/6/1938, James Weldon Johnson, Black civil rights leader, died.
15/1/1929, US civil rights leader Martin Luther
King was born in
22/9/1927. Sierra Leone abolished domestic slavery.
8/8/1925. The first national
congress of the Klu Klux Klan opened
27/6/1925, Michael Dummett, British campaigner for racial equality, was born (died 2011).
19/5/1925, Malcolm X,
30/6/1923. The Klu Klux Klan claimed to have a million members. Founded after Black slaves gained freedom in the American Civil War, it has gradually widened its targets to include Jews, Catholics, even foreigners; in fact anyone who is not Protestant and White. It was disbanded in 1869 but revived in 1915, under its ‘imperial wizard’, a dentist called Hiram Evans.
11/9/1921, The Klu Klux Klan took control of a university faculty in Atlants, Georgia, for the purposes of teaching ‘Americanism’.
27/7/1919. Large scale race riots in Chicago. Violent interracial clashes resulted in 38 dead, 537 injured, and 1,000 rendered homeless. The spark for these riots had been a trivial incident when a Black person swam into a part of Lake Michigan that White people had claimed as ‘their’ preserve.
13/1/1919. Satyendra Prasano Sinha became the first Indian peer of Britain and so the first Indian member of the House of Lords.
2/7/1916. Hundreds died in race riots in
25/11/1915, The White supremacist society Klu Klux Klan was revived at Stone Mountain, Georgia, by Colonel William Simmons. The original Klan, from Greek kuklos = circle, was formed as a secret Confederate Army. Its ‘night riders’ in their hooded costumes terrorised Blacks. The new Klan also opposed Catholics, Jews, immigration, birth control, the repeal of Prohibition, pacifism and Darwinism, as well as Black people.
14/11/1915, Death of Booker T Washington, first principal of the Tuskegee Institute (Alabama) for Blacks.
10/11/1913, In Battersea, London, Britain’s first Black mayor was elected.
4/2/1913, Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, USA.
1/5/1910, The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) was launched. It was an organisation of African-American Liberals; it published Crisis, edited by W E B Du Bois.
22/6/1908, Six Black people accused of murder were lynched in the USA.
8/4/1908. In the US, President Roosevelt issued an injunction allowing Black people to use the same train carriages as Whites in the South.
7/1/1905, The US Senate approved the first government appointment of a Black man, as head of South Carolina Customs Services.
7/8/1904, Ralph Johnson Bunche, who became the first Black person to hold an important position at the US State Department, was born. He helped found the United Nations and won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the 1949 Arab-Israeli truce.
6/2/1904. Maryland disenfranchised Black voters.
closed a Post Office in
28/10/1901, Race riots in America over the Presidential dinner on 21/10/1901. The event was condemned by racist Whites as ‘a breach of etiquette’. In 1900 Mr Washington had formed the ‘National Negro Business League’ to promote entrepreneurialism amongst Black people.
16/10/1901, A Black teacher, Booker T Washington, dined with President Roosevelt at the White House. See 28/10/1901.
28/1/1889, Prudence Crandall, campaigner for education for Black people in the US, died (born 3/9/1803)
1898, Louisiana amended its jury system to disenfranchise Black jurors. Having required unanimous verdicts in jury cases since the State’s inception, Louisiana now ruled that 10:2 majority verdicts were permissible. This was so that if twoBlack jurors were on a jury, their verdict could be discounted.
1896, The US Supreme Court ruled that facilities for Whites and non-Whites could be segregated if they were ‘equal’.
20/1/1895, Frederick Douglass, US campaigner for Black Equality, died.
6/7/1892, Dadabhai Naoroji became Britain’s first non-White MP. He was elected Liberal representative for Central Finsbury, London, by a majority of 3 votes over his Unionist rival
1887, The USA passed the Dawes Allotment Act. It was an attempt to assimilate the American Indians into the US economy by giving them each a free 160 acres of farmland and farm equipment.
1885, Anti-Chinese migrant violence broke out in Rock Springs, Wyoming. 28 Chinese were murdered.
1/3/1875. The US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, giving equal rights to all races in transport, theatres, inns, and juries.
17/6/1871, James Weldon Johnson, Black civil rights leader, was born in Jacksonville, Florida.
20/4/1871, In the US, the Klu Klux Klan Act outlawed paramilitary organisations such as the Klu Klux Klan.
12/12/1870. Joseph H Rainey became the first Black member of the House of Representatives in the USA. The Reverend Hiram H Revels became the first Black member of the Senate in February 1871.
3/2/1870, In the US, the Fifteenth Amendment gave every US citizen, regardless of race, the right to vote.
27/2/1869. The US passed the 15th Amendment, entitling all southern Black citizens to vote. No State could be admitted to the Union without ratifying this amendment. However poll tax and literacy qualifications could still be used to debar Black people from voting, and the Klu Klux Klan intimidated many Black people from claiming their rights.
9/7/1868, The US passed the Fourteenth Amendment, during the period of ‘reconstruction’ following the conclusion of the Civil War. It guaranteed equality before the law for Blacks and Whites alike, specifically including ex-slaves here, and prohibited any State from ‘abridging their privileges’ or denying them ‘equal protection of the laws’. However, due to the fact that corporations are also ‘persons’ before the law, the 14th Amendment began to be used for purposes it was not intended for. The 14th Amendment was used to shield companies from government regulation, and even, before the 1950s, to justify racial discrimination because it contained the words ‘separate but equal’. Later, in the 1980s, it was still being used to block so-called ‘positive discrimination in favour of racial minorities.
10/5/1866, The American Equal Rights Association was founded.
24/4/1866, The Klu Klux Klan was formed by White Supremacists, in reaction to US President Andrew Johnson’s programme of reconstruction following the American Civil War, which included enlarging the civil rights of the Black population.
24/12/1865, The Klu Klux Klan was founded in the US by six men in Pulaski, Tennessee.
29/6/1864, Samuel Crowther, Bishop of Niger, became the first Black Church of England Bishop.
22/8/1848, Mathieu Louisi became the first Black MP to sit in a European Parliament when he was elected representative for Guadeloupe to the French Parliament. His maiden speech in November calling for more harmonious relations between the races was met with disapproval, and he lost his seat at the next election.
5/1833, The Connecticut State Legislature passed the infamous Black Law, which prohibited the establishment of any ediucational facility for ‘non-resident negroes’ without the cfonsent of the local authorities. This law was to thwart the effforts of Prudence Crandall in proimoting education for Black children. The Black Law was rfepealed in 1838.
3/9/1803, Prudence Crandall, campaigner for education for Black people in the US, was born (died 28/1/1889)
30/10/1503, Queen Isabella of Spain banned violence against indigenous tribes.