Health History: Significant Dates and Periods

Table 3: African Americans—Significant Dates and Periods in Recent History

Periods and Events
Population (in 1000’s)

Late 1800s

Chaos of Reconstruction Era in South; legal marriages, families united after ancipation; violence toward colored people, Ku Klux Klan founded, schools for freedmen burned; “Separate but Equal Doctrine” legalized inequality, Jim Crow Era began; Tuskegee Institute founded by Booker T. Washington, and other Historically Black Schools and Colleges founded; first colored graduate from West Point.


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People founded

by leading members of white and colored communities, including

W.E.B. DuBois; initial migration of colored people from the

South to the urban North.


The Urban League was founded to assist migrants; WWI included 100,000 Negro soldiers who fought overseas; colored units honored for their valor; Ku Klux Klan (KKK) active; “Red summer” when GIs and others victims of bloody anti-colored rioting.



KKK claimed 5 million members; 40,000 robed Klansmen marched in Washington, DC; one million Negroes migrated from the South to the urban North; rise of arts and music, especially jazz, centered in Harlem; Marcus Garvey preached racial pride and “Back to Africa”; labor and radical political movement emerged; Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters affiliated with AFL.


Depression: thousands lost jobs and sharecroppers destitute; Negro political leaders assisted in framing New Deal; poll tax, segregated schools and anti-miscegenation laws existed in South; de facto segregation in North; track star Jessie Owen won Olympic gold; Marion Anderson denied right to give concert; Social Security legislation enacted; Hitler invaded European countries; boxer Joe Lewis became an idol for Negroes.



Over a million Negro men and women served in segregated armed forces in World War II; Tuskegee Airmen fought with distinction; Executive Order 8802 banned discrimination in defense plants prompting migration to North and West; armed forces officially desegregated.



Korean War; Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling ended “Separate but Equal Doctrine” in education; Montgomery Bus Boycott began non-violent Civil Rights Movement; lunch counter sit-ins and civil disobedience began; Jackie Robinson first Negro baseball player in major leagues.


March on Washington; President Kennedy assassinated; President Johnson signed Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act; Medicare legislation enacted; Vietnam War began; Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy assassinated; riots in Northern cities resulting in white backlash.



Affirmative Action implemented gradually; increasing number of elected Black officials; increasing political conservatism; TV series “Roots” taught Black history.


Jesse Jackson ran for the nomination for President of the U.S. twice; Rainbow Coalition established; Dr. Ronald McNair died on the Space Shuttle Challenger; rise of the Black Muslims.



War with Iraq; Healthy People 2000 set goal to improve minority health; Dr. Mae Jamison was first Black female to fly in space; Rodney King beaten, African Americans riot in Los Angeles; Million Man March, Million Woman March; affirmative action legislation reversed.



Barack Obama becomes first African American President of the U.S.

Source: Yeo, G., Hikoyeda, N., McBride, M., Chin, S.Y., Edmonds, M. & Hendrix, L. (1998). Cohort analysis as a tool in ethnogeriatrics: Historical profiles of older adults from eight ethnic populations in the United States. Stanford, CA: Stanford Geriatric Education Center.