Events and People that Changed the Game

10: Ten Iconic Black Faces

Barack Obama- broke the presidential race barrier, and now leads the U.S. as the highest-ranking African American official.

Martin Luther King Jr.- led the Civil Rights Movement and spent his life fighting racism and segregation.

Booker T. Washington- established the idea that equality, though considered a right in the eyes of God, was only privilege in the eyes of whites; believed that fighting discrimination head on would call for unnecessary suffering; work, make a name for yourself, and level up to the white man, then demand equality.

Frederick Douglass -amazed the nation with his self-obtained intelligence; proved that extensive education was attainable for all African-Americans.

Malcolm X- taught the nation that freedom, justice, and equality were all birthrights that were worth fighting for, even if it meant resorting to violence.

Maya Angelou- revolutionized the perspective of African-American life through Word and Dance.

Langston Hughes- used literature as his weapon against racism and reinforced the causes of the Harlem Renaissance.

Harriet Tubman- fought slavery head on by escaping bondage and assisting many others who hoped to do the same.

Sojourner Truth- infused her faith in the Word of God with her faith in the words of justice; used this combination to fight against segregation and to support Women’s Suffrage.

Dred Scott- used reason to lawfully fight slavery; failed in his initial attempt to gain freedom, but inspired more anti-slavery movement in the north.

9: Little Rock Nine
Little Rock Nine was the name of a brave group of African American students who sparked what was known as the Little Rock Crisis. In 1957, these students were one day prohibited from entering a racially segregated school that they had all enrolled in already. They were forced by armed soldiers to leave, and were mockingly escorted away from the building by mobs that supported the rejection. They, like many other African American students, were denied the right of education. However, thanks to intrepidness and persistence, these nine students commenced the beginning of what would destroy segregation is schools nationwide.
8: Eight Members of the NAACP’s Brown v. Board of Education Legal Team
Brown v. Board of Education was a notable legal case in the United States Supreme Court that dealt with the conflict between African Americans and segregated education. The verdict rendered the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, the ruling in 1896 that permitted segregation, obsolete. Segregation was considered a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and was eventually ruled unconstitutional. As a result, the schism between black and white schools was finally sewn into non-existence.
7: Seven Million Slaves Imported to the New World
The struggle for equality begins here. Just like it is now, work in the 16th Century was important. North American and European workers needed inexpensive methods for getting this work done. However, large amounts of work demanded large amounts of laborers, which was unfortunate for the millions of slaves that were hauled across the Atlantic. What the slave masters did not count on was the fact that the newly shackled slaves they had just collected were still human beings, reasonable people with the ability to question and resist. Well, here they are in the 21st Century not as Black Americans, but simply as people, still questioning.
6: Six Big Founders of the Civil Rights Organizations
The Civil Rights Movement, consisted of members that all worked together for the same team. The big players on that team included Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), John Lewis of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), A. Philip Randolph of the labor movement, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, and Whitney Young of the National Urban League (NUL). Though they did not form their own organizations, many other recognizable faces from the Civil Rights Movement stood face to face with discrimination, and fought it on the front lines.
5: Five Major Eras of Black History
Slavery and the Civil War Era (Circa 1619-1865)- Beginning in the 16th Century, the Slave Trade and its Atlantic relationships lied between Europe, North and South America, and Africa. Slaves were primarily taken from the Western and Central parts of the African continent. It was not until about 2 centuries later that the Emancipation Proclamation put a constitutional end to this abomination.

Reconstruction Era (Circa 1865-1896)- At this time, slavery was abolished in the south, and America was pretty much a slave-free country. Black men and women could now roam the streets, free from physical bondage. To the whites, however, physical restraint wasn’t the only way to constrict a human being. This era was filled with laws that excluded blacks wherever and whenever possible. Being forced to labor all day on a plantation is one thing, but being denied basic societal rights could be just as bad.

Jim Crow Era (Circa 1896-1954)- Perhaps a bit contradictory, the Jim Crow Laws claimed to provide equality to blacks, but at the same time, separated them from white society. The landmark legal case that governed this era was Plessy v. Ferguson, a case based off a man’s unwillingness to move from a “Whites Only” railroad car of a Louisiana train. The case was rejected because the railroad conductors claim they did not discriminate for personal reasons. They were just following public policy.

Civil Rights Era (Circa 1954-1968)- This era was born when Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education. Other founding events include the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 and Rosa Parks’s refusal to give her seat on a bus in 1955. A young pastor, Martin Luther King, Jr., led the Civil Rights Movement until his assassination in 1968.

Post-Civil Rights Era (Circa 1968-Present)- African Americans have made great strides since the times of slavery and segregation. Though they’ve cleared hurdle after hurdle, many African Americans should and still continue to believe that success is not limited.

4: The Greensboro Four/The Sit-ins Movement
From getting accepted into schools to fighting for equality within them, the activism never ends. Four Black students from North Carolina A&T State University sparked an entire “sit-in movement” by refusing to leave the whites-only lunch counter of a Woolworth store in Greensboro, North Carolina, on February 1, 1960. A seemingly simple task, getting lunch put these four students in the same position as the Little Rock Nine. Equality had to arrive some time, and this is one of the many groups of people that understood this best.
3: Three Landmark Civil Rights Acts of Legislation
Civil Rights Act (1866) “all persons shall have the same rights…to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws…”

Civil Rights Act (1964)- rendered racial discrimination in public places illegal; required employers to provide equal employment opportunities.

Voting Rights Act (1965)- The law that fulfilled the intentions of the 15th Amendment, and established the rule that no one could be denied the right to vote based on race.

2: Two Olympic Sprinters at the 1968 Olympics
Barriers in Activism and political leadership weren’t the only kinds that were broken. On October 16, 1968, two African- American sprinters dropped the jaws of spectators around the world. Gold medalist Tommie Smith, and bronze medalist John Carlos climbed with pride to their spots on the podium. As the Star Spangled Banner played, both athletes raised their black-gloved fists in the air as a symbol of “Black Power”.
1: One book for the 21st Century: Black Faces in White Places is released in 2010!
And it happens! The book inspired by centuries of struggle and eventual triumph is released to the public. Like the audiences of earlier eras, it is time for this generation to enlighten itself with the history of the past and the visions of the future.
Eight Members of the NAACP’s Brown v. Board of Education Legal Team