1770
Escaped slave Crispus Attucks dies in the Boston Massacre. He is one of the first men to be killed in the cause of American independence.

1773
Phillis Wheatley gains notoriety in Europe and America for her "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral."

1777
Vermont becomes the first state to abolish slavery.

1799
Richard Allen becomes the first ordained black minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

1839
Slaves revolt on the Spanish slave ship Amistad. They are arrested in the Long Island Sound, but the United States Supreme Court later rules that they are free.

1847
Frederick Douglass begins publication of the North Star, an antislavery newspaper.

1853
William Wells Brown publishes the first novel by a black American, "Clotel."

1855
John Mercer Langston is elected clerk of Brownhelm Township in Ohio. He is the first black to win an elective political office in the United States.

1862
Future U.S. Congressman Robert Smalls leads the capture of a Confederate armed frigate in Charleston harbor.

1866
The U.S. Army forms black cavalry and infantry regiments. Serving in the West from 1867 to 1896, they are nicknamed "buffalo soldiers."

1867
Howard University, a predominantly black university, is founded in Washington, D.C.

1870
Joseph Hayne Rainey is the first black elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

1870
Hiram R. Revels of Mississippi becomes the first black person elected to the Senate.

1896
Mary Church Terrell becomes the first president of the National Association of Colored Women, working for educational and social reform and an end to racial discrimination.

1901
Booker T. Washington dines with President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House. The dinner meeting is criticized by many whites.

1903
W.E.B. Du Bois publishes "The Souls of Black Folk."

1909
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is formed.

1922
Aviator Bessie Coleman stages the first public flight by an African-American woman.

1928
Claude McKay publishes "Home to Harlem," the first fictional work by an African-American to reach the best-seller lists.

1930
Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr., becomes the first black colonel in the U.S. Army. He later oversees race relations and the morale of black soldiers in World War II and becomes the first black general in 1940.

1936
Track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens wins four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. His victories derail Adolf Hitler's desire to demonstrate Aryan supremacy.

1939
Singer Marian Anderson performs at the Lincoln Memorial before an audience of 75,000 after the Daughters of the American Revolution refuse to allow her to sing at Constitution Hall.

1941
The all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Corps, later known as the Tuskegee Airmen, is formed.

1947
Jackie Robinson joins the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black baseball player in the major leagues.

1950
Ralph Bunche is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as United Nations mediator in the Arab-Israeli dispute in Palestine.

1950
Gwendolyn Brooks is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for "Annie Allen," becoming the first African-American writer to win the award.

1954
The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that racial segregation in public schools violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

1955
Rosa Parks, secretary of the Montgomery, Ala., chapter of the NAACP, sparks the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56 by refusing to surrender her seat when ordered by a local bus driver.

1957
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is established by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

1957
President Dwight D. Eisenhower orders federal troops into Little Rock, Ark., after unsuccessfully trying to persuade Governor Orval Faubus to give up efforts to block desegregation at Central High.

1959
"Raisin in the Sun," by Lorraine Hansberry, becomes the first drama by a black woman to be produced on Broadway.

1963
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., writes "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

1963
The Civil Rights Movement reaches its climax with a march on Washington, D.C. Passage of the Civil Rights Act is demanded.

1964
President Lyndon Baines Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law, giving federal law enforcement agencies the power to prevent racial discrimination in employment, voting, and the use of public facilities.

1964
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., is awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in Oslo, Norway.

1966
Bill Russell becomes the first black coach of a major professional sports team in the United States.

1968
Shirley Chisholm becomes the first black American woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress.

1974
Baseball player Hank Aaron hits his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth's record.

1975
Tennis player Arthur Ashe wins the singles title at Wimbledon, becoming the first black winner of a major men's singles championship.

1977
Alex Haley's "Roots: The Saga of an American Family" becomes one of the most popular shows in the history of American television.

1989
Colin Powell is confirmed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him the first black officer to hold the highest military post in the United States.

1992
Mae Jemison becomes the first African-American woman astronaut, orbiting Earth in the space shuttle Endeavor.

1992
Carol Moseley-Braun becomes the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

1993
Poet Rita Dove is chosen as poet laureate of the United States.

2001
Colin L. Powell is sworn in as Secretary of State.

2005
Condoleezza Rice is sworn in as the first black woman Secretary of State.