Posted on : Sunday October 24, 2010

Compiled by Bill Simpson, CEO, Open Door Baltimore

In race relations, the old adage is true: “You don’t know where you are going unless you know where you came from.” The African-American experience in American and in Maryland, in particular, offers deeper understanding into the size of the task. Consider the following:

1560’s: First African slaves brought to Spanish Florida

1607: First African slaves brought to English Virginia (Jamestown); 11,863,000 slaves brought to U.S. between 16th and 19th centuries

1663: Maryland General Assembly passes law that all imported blacks be given the status of slaves

1664: Maryland General Assembly passes law prohibiting marriage between white women and black men: (This law was not repealed until 1967)

1693: Boston theologian Cotton Mather publishes Rules for the Society of the Negroes declaring that “Negroes were enslaved because they had sinned against God”

1787: Sharp Street United Methodist Church becomes Baltimore’s first black congregation

1793: Cotton Gin invented by Eli Whitney making slaves more valuable to plantation owners (In 1810, the U.S. cotton crop was worth $12,495,000 and a field slave was worth $900; By 1860, the U.S. cotton crop was worth $248,757,000 and a field slave was worth $1,800)

1817: Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey is born a slave in Tuckahoe, Maryland (Talbot County). In 1825, he was sent to Baltimore to live with master’s relative, and in 1838, escapes and changes name to Frederick Douglas

1847: Virginia Criminal Code is modified to include “Any white person who shall assemble with slaves, or free negroes for the purpose of instructing them to read or write shall be punished by confinement in jail and by fine.”

1857: In Dred Scott vs. Sandford, the Supreme Court rules that no slave or descendant of slaves could be a U.S. citizen, or had ever been a U.S. citizen

1860: On the eve of the Civil War, of the 4.5 million blacks in America, 88% were slaves (3,953,696)

1866: 14th Amendment approved by Congress guaranteeing due process and equal protection under the law

1867: Ku Klux Klan formed in Memphis, Tennessee

1868: The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Baltimore, resolves: “This Convention will adopt, at an early day, measures to organize bodies of converted freedmen, and aid them in settling as missionary churches in Africa.”

1875: Congress passes the Civil Rights Act
of 1875 guaranteeing equal rights in public accommodations and jury duty

1877: Radical Reconstruction ends as part of an 1876 Presidential election deal. In exchange for the electoral votes of South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida, Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes (48% of the popular vote) “steals” the election from Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden (51% of the popular vote) by promising to end Reconstruction, ending federal protection of black civil rights in the South

1881: Segregation in public transportation becomes law in Tennessee (1st state); Becomes law in Maryland in 1904

1882: Lynching begins in South (49 confirmed in 1882); Over 86 years, 4,743 blacks were lynched, mostly in the Deep South, an average of 55 per year

1883: Supreme Court invalidates the Civil Rights Act of 1875, ushering in the era of “Jim Crow” laws and local codes

1886: American Federation of Labor (AFL) forms as a segregated organization

1890: The “Mississippi Plan” imposes literacy and “understanding” tests to disenfranchise black voters

1895: National Baptist Convention is formed from several Baptist organizations making it the largest black religious denomination in the U.S.

1896: In Plessy vs. Ferguson, Supreme Court rules that “separate but equal” facilities are constitutional, giving legal sanction to Jim Crow segregation laws and codes

1901: Booker T. Washington becomes first Black American to dine at the White House (with President Theodore Roosevelt)

1903: W.E.B. DuBois publishes The Souls of Black Folk in which he denounces Booker T. Washington’s “gradualism” in favor of “agitation” on behalf of black civil rights

1908: Thurgood Marshall is born in Baltimore on July 2

1909: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) formed

1910: Baltimore City Council approves first city ordinance designating the boundaries of black and white neighborhoods

1913: Woodrow Wilson Administration orders segregation of the government workplace, restrooms, and lunch rooms

1919: “Red Summer” occurs as 26 race riots take place between April and October
1922: Federal anti-lynching bill in U.S. Senate killed by a filibuster, and 51 blacks lynched in 1922

1939: The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Oklahoma City, resolves “That we record our gratitude that for the year 1938 the number of lynchings decreased and that only six lives were sacrificed to mob violence.”

1954: In Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Supreme Court rules that segregated schools are unconstitutional, overturning Plessy vs. Ferguson

1955: 14-year-old Emmitt Till from Chicago, Illinois, while visiting relatives near Money, Mississippi, is murdered for speaking to a 21-year-old white woman in public

1955: On December 1, Rosa Parks refuses to move to the “colored” section on the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama

1956: On November 13, the Montgomery Boycott ends when the Supreme Court rules that the Montgomery law was unconstitutional

1957: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and 60 other African-American pastors form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to coordinate and support nonviolent direct action against discrimination and segregation

On the first day of school, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas admits nine black students in compliance with the 1954 Supreme Court ruling; for the first time since Reconstruction, federal troops are used (ordered by President Dwight Eisenhower) to uphold the civil rights of blacks in the South

1959: The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, resolves: “We recommend that the Executive Committee consider a meeting of representative leaders from the Southern Baptist Convention with leaders of the two National Conventions of Negro Baptists to discuss mutual problems.”

1961: In May, black and white civil rights activists (Freedom Riders) board two buses in Washington D.C. bound for New Orleans to test enforcement of a recent Supreme Court ruling outlawing segregation at bus terminals

1962: In September, James Meredith becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi (On the eve of Meredith’s enrollment, President John Kennedy becomes the first American President to describe racism as a “moral” problem)

1963: On Good Friday, April 12, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested for protesting segregation in Birmingham, Alabama (While jailed, King pens his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in response to white clergy who asked him to call off the protests)

On June 11, President Kennedy submits civil rights legislation to Congress

On June 11, Governor George Wallace declares “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” while standing at the “school house door” at the University of Alabama

On June 12, the Field Secretary for the NAACP, Medgar Evans, is murdered in his driveway while his wife and children watch

On August 28, over 250,000 people march on Washington to pressure Congress to pass President Kennedy’s legislation

On September 15, a bomb kills four young black girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama during Sunday School

1965: Malcolm X makes most famous statement: “We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”

1968: On April 4, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis and riots break out in Baltimore, Cambridge, Md., Washington D.C. and nearly every major U.S. city with a significant black population

1976: Baltimore television station WJZ becomes home to the first African-American woman co-anchor and reporter in the nation – Oprah Winfrey

1995: The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Atlanta, resolves “That we apologize to all African-Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and, we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously (Psalm 19:13) or unconsciously (Leviticus 4:27).

2007: The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in San Antonio, resolves “That the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in San Antonio, Texas, June 12-13, 2007, wholly lament and repudiate the Dred Scott Decision and fully embrace the Lord’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

2008: Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is elected the nation’s first African-American President

With gratitude to Bill Simpson, CEO, Open Door Baltimore, who compiled this data for BCM/D’s “A New Day in Race Relations” Retreat on  March 1, 2010.