1881 to 1900
Chronicles major efforts of African Americans to organize to effect change through the courts as well as through the establishment of educational institutions. Also notes the strong resistance of these efforts through mass lynchings as well as through legal avenues meant to stifle civil rights.
President Garfield assassinated. President Garfield was shot on July 2; he died on September 19. Vice President Chester A. Arthur (Republican) succeeded Garfield as president.
Tuskegee Institute founded. Booker T. Washington became the first principal of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, on July 4. Tuskegee became the leading vocational training institution for African-Americans.
Segregation of public transportation. Tennessee segregated railroad cars, followed by Florida (1887), Mississippi (1888), Texas (1889), Louisiana (1890), Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Georgia (1891), South Carolina (1898), North Carolina (1899), Virginia (1900), Maryland (1904), and Oklahoma (1907).
Lynchings. Forty-nine black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1882.
Civil Rights Act overturned. On October 15, the Supreme Court declared the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. The Court declared that the Fourteenth Amendment forbids states, but not citizens, from discriminating.
Sojourner Truth dies. Sojourner Truth, a courageous and ardent abolitionist and a brilliant speaker, died on November 26.
A political coup and a race riot. On November 3, white conservatives in Danville, Virginia, seized control of the local government, racially integrated and popularly elected, killing four African-Americans in the process.
Lynchings. Fifty-three black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1883.
Cleveland elected president. Grover Cleveland (Democrat) was elected president on November 4.
Lynchings. Fifty-one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1884.
A black Episcopal bishop. On June 25, African-American Samuel David Ferguson was ordained a bishop of the Episcopal church.
Lynchings. Seventy-four black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1885.
The Carrollton Massacre. On March 17, 20 black Americans were massacred at Carrollton, Mississippi.
Labor organizes. The American Federation of Labor was organized on December 8, signaling the rise of the labor movement. All major unions of the day excluded black Americans.
Lynchings. Seventy-four black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1886.
Lynchings. Seventy black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1887.
Two of the first African-American banks. Two of America's first black-owned banks -- the Savings Bank of the Grand Fountain United Order of the Reformers, in Richmond Virginia, and Capital Savings Bank of Washington, DC, opened their doors.
Harrison elected president. Benjamin Harrison (Republican) was elected president on November 6.
Lynchings. Sixty-nine black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1888.
Lynchings. Ninety-four black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1889.
Census of 1890.
U.S. population: 62,947,714
Black population: 7,488,676 (11.9%)
The Afro-American League. On January 25, under the leadership of Timothy Thomas Fortune, the militant National Afro-American League was founded in Chicago.
African-Americans are disenfranchised. The Mississippi Plan, approved on November 1, used literacy and "understanding" tests to disenfranchise black American citizens. Similar statutes were adopted by South Carolina (1895), Louisiana (1898), North Carolina (1900), Alabama (1901), Virginia (1901), Georgia (1908), and Oklahoma (1910).
A white supremacist is elected. Populist "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman was elected governor of South Carolina. He called his election "a triumph of ... white supremacy."
Lynchings. Eighty-five black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1890.
Lynchings. One hundred and thirteen black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1891.
Grover Cleveland elected president. Grover Cleveland (Democrat) was elected president on November 8.
Lynchings. One hundred and sixty-one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1892.
Lynchings. One hundred and eighteen black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1893.
The Pullman strike. The Pullman Company strike caused a national transportation crisis. On May 11, African-Americans were hired by the company as strike-breakers.
Lynchings. One hundred and thirty-four black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1894.
Douglass dies. African-American leader and statesman Frederick Douglass died on February 20.
A race riot. Whites attacked black workers in New Orleans on March 11-12. Six blacks were killed.
The Atlanta Compromise. Booker T. Washington delivered his famous "Atlanta Compromise" address on September 18 at the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition. He said the "Negro problem" would be solved by a policy of gradualism and accommodation.
The National Baptist Convention. Several Baptist organizations combined to form the National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A.; the Baptist church is the largest black religious denomination in the United States.
Lynchings. One hundred and thirteen black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1895.
Plessy v. Ferguson. The Supreme Court decided on May 18 in Plessy v. Ferguson that "separate but equal" facilities satisfy Fourteenth Amendment guarantees, thus giving legal sanction to Jim Crow segregation laws.
Black women organize. The National Association of Colored Women was formed on July 21; Mary Church Terrell was chosen president.
McKinley elected president. On November 3, William McKinley (Republican) was elected president.
George Washington Carver. George Washington Carver was appointed director of agricultural research at Tuskegee Institute. His work advanced peanut, sweet potato, and soybean farming.
Lynchings. Seventy-eight black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1896.
American Negro Academy. The American Negro Academy was established on March 5 to encourage African-American participation in art, literature and philosophy.
Lynchings. One hundred and twenty-three black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1897.
The Spanish-American War. The Spanish-American War began on April 21. Sixteen regiments of black volunteers were recruited; four saw combat. Five black Americans won Congressional Medals of Honor.
The National Afro-American Council. Founded on September 15, the National Afro-American Council elected Bishop Alexander Walters its first president.
A race riot. On November 10, in Wilmington, North Carolina, eight black Americans were killed during white rioting.
Black-owned insurance companies. The North Carolina Mutual and Provident Insurance Company and the National Benefit Life Insurance Company of Washington, DC were established. Both companies were black-owned.
Lynchings. One hundred and one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1898.
A lynching protest. The Afro-American Council designated June 4 as a national day of fasting to protest lynchings and massacres.
Lynchings. Eighty-five black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1899.
Census of 1900.
U.S. population: 75,994,575
Black population: 8,833,994 (11.6%)
Lynchings. One hundred and six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1900.
A World's Fair. The Paris Exposition was held, and the United States pavilion housed an exhibition on black Americans. The "Exposition des Negres d'Amerique" won several awards for excellence. Daniel A. P. Murray's collection of works by and about black Americans was developed for this exhibition.
The following works were valuable sources in the compilation of this Time Line: Lerone Bennett's Before the Mayflower (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Co., 1982), W. Augustus Low and Virgil A. Clift's Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: Da Capo Press, 1984), and Harry A. Ploski and Warren Marr's The Negro Almanac (New York: Bellwether Co., 1976).