Events in the American Black experience that include people, places, items, and timelines.

Shaw vs Reno Ruled on in Supreme Court

*On this date in1993, the United States Supreme Court ruled on Shaw v Reno. The Supreme Court's position in this case was a troubled compromise on the issue of race and political redistricting.

1st American book of poetry by a Black woman published

Book Cover (copy)

*On this date in 1773, the first book of poetry written by a Black woman was published in America.

Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley was published. When her owner the Wheatley’s saw her writing on a wall with chalk. Rather than punish her, the Wheatley’s encouraged her to learn. Their daughter tutored her in reading and writing. Wheatley also studied English literature, Latin, and the Bible, but what she did best was to write poetry.

Fort Mose founded

Historic Marker

*The founding of Fort Mose occurred on this date in 1738. Fort Mose is the site of the first free African settlement in the United States.

It is also one of the original sites on the southern route of the Underground Railroad. Colonial Spanish Florida’s Governor Manuel Montiano established the Fort. Fort Mose gave sanctuary to Africans challenging enslavement in the English Colony of Carolina. Approximately 100 Africans lived at Fort Mose, forming more than 20 households.

Bance Island Opens for slave trade

*Bance Island, Sierra Leone from 1670 is celebrated on this date. This was a major launching point of the Middle Passage to America first settled by English slave traders about 1670.

Trayvon Martin murder verdict handed down

*On this date in 2013 a Sanford, Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin. This was a case that sparked a national debate on race and guns.

Childrens Crusade begins in Alabama

*The Children's Crusade of the American Civil Rights Movement's began on this date in 1963. This was a march by hundreds of school students in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 2, May 3, May 4, and May 5, 1963, during the Movement's Birmingham Campaign.

The first American Memorial Day is Commemorated

*On this date in 1865, former Black slaves started Memorial Day in America.

This occurred in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. Together with teachers and missionaries, Black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony that year which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers.

Church bomb victems awarded Congressional Gold Medal

*On this date in 2013, President Barack Obama signed legislation to award Congress’ highest civilian honor to four girls killed in an Alabama church bombing during the civil rights movement. He called it a tragic loss that ‘‘helped to trigger triumph and a more just and equal and fair America.’’

The Order of The Eastern Star begins

*On this date in 1874, the Order of the Eastern Star was created. This is the oldest sorority-based Black women’s organization in America.

Queen Esther Chapter No. 1, Order of the Eastern Star, was established at 708 O St. NW, Washington, DC in the home of Mrs. Georgiana Thomas. And so it was one hundred years after the founding of the first Black Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, Queen Esther Chapter No. 1, Order of the Eastern Star, was officially instituted. The first Worthy Matron was Sister Martha Welch and the first Worthy Patron was Brother Thornton A. Jackson.

High School holds their first integrated prom

Youth enjoying a Masquerade Theme

*On this date in 2013, Georgia’s Wilcox County High School held their first integrated prom, open to students of all races.

This was almost 60 years after the Supreme Court ruled that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” and as a result, the practice of segregation by a public school was unconstitutional. Never-the-less until 2013, Wilcox County High School held two proms: one for White students and one for Black students. It left many with questions about the legality of the segregation.