Activist Ida B. Wells begins her anti-lynching campaign with the publication of Southern Horrors: Lynch Law and in All Its Phases and a speech in New York City’s Lyric Hall (Photo Credit: Public Domain)

Operatic soprano Sissieretta Jones becomes the first African American to perform at Carnegie Hall.


Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performs the first successful operation on a human heart in his Chicago hospital. The patient, a victim of a chest stab wound, survives and lives for twenty years after the operation. (Photo Credit: Public Domain)

Paul Laurence Dunbar’s first collection of poetry, Oak and Ivy, is published.

Henry O. Tanner completes “The Banjo Lesson,” which would lead to international acclaim for his paintings. (Photo Credit: Public Domain)


The Church of God in Christ is founded in Memphis by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason.


W.E.B. Du Bois becomes the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University. (Photo Credit: AFRO Archives)

Booker T. Washington delivers his famous Atlanta Compromise address at the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition. He says the Negro problem would be solved by a policy of gradualism and accommodation. (Photo Credit: Booker T. Washington Papers, Library of Congress)

South Carolina revises its state constitution to disfranchise African Americans by requiring poll taxes, property qualifications, educational tests and proof of residency for two years.

Frederick Douglass, leading abolitionist and civil rights advocate, dies at age 78 in Washington, D.C. (Photo Credit: Library of Congress)

Ida B. wells Barnett publishes the first statistics on lynching in her pamphlet, The Red Record.


The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that Southern segregation laws and practices, commonly known as Jim Crow, do not conflict with the 13th and 14th Amendments. The Court defends its ruling by articulating the separate but equal doctrine. (Photo Credit: Public Domain)

The National Association of Colored Women is formed in Washington, D.C. Mary Church Terrell is chosen as its first president. (Photo Credit: Library of Congress)

George Washington Carver is appointed director of agricultural research at the Tuskegee Institute. His work advances peanut, sweet potato, and soybean farming. (Photo Credit: Library of Congress)

John Shippen became the first Black professional golfer when he participates in a tournament in England.


The National Negro Business League is founded in Boston by Booker T. Washington to promote business enterprise. (Photo Credit: Afro Archives)


When Bert Williams and George Walker record their music for the Victor Talking Machine Company, they become the first African American recording artists.

One month after becoming President, Theodore Roosevelt holds an afternoon meeting at the White House with Booker T. Washington. At the end of the meeting the President informally invites Washington to remain for dinner, making the Tuskegee educator the first Black American to dine at the White House with a sitting president.

George H. White from North Carolina ends his second term in the U.S. Congress. The next African American to serve in Congress will not be elected until 1928. (Photo Credit: Public Domain)

Joe Gans becomes the world’s first African American lightweight champion.


Jockey Jimmy Winkfield wins the Kentucky Derby in an era when African American jockeys dominate the sport. (Photo Credit: Public Domain)


W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folks is published. In it Du Bois rejects the gradualism of Booker T. Washington, calling for agitation on behalf of African American rights. (Photo Credit: University of Chicago Library)

Maggie Lena Walker founds St. Luke’s Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: National Park Service)

Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen is born in Baltimore.

Meta Vaux Warrick exhibits her sculpture “The Wretched,” depicting seven types of anguish, at the Paris Salon. (Photo Credit: Public Domain)


Educator Mary McLeod Bethune founds a college in Daytona Beach, Florida that today is known as Bethune-Cookman University. (Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory)

Sigma Pi Phi (the Boule) is founded in Philadelphia by four wealthy African American college graduates.

Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller, who trains at the Royal Psychiatric Hospital at the University of Munich with Dr. Alois Alzheimer, becomes a widely published pioneer in Alzheimer’s disease research. Fuller also becomes the nation’s first Black psychiatrist. (Photo Credit: Public Domain)

The first African-American Olympic medal winner, George C. Poage, places third in the 400-meter hurdles in St. Louis. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the La Crosse Public Library Archives)

Charles W. Follis formally signs on with the Shelby Athletic Association and becomes the first African-American professional football player. (Photo Credit: Shelby Museum)


The Niagara Movement is created by African American intellectuals and activists, led by W.E.B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter. The meeting protests the systematic denial of Civil and human rights. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Alonzo Herndon founds the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, the largest African-American-owned business in the nation. (Photo Credit: Public Domain)

The Black-owned Pekin Theater opens in Chicago.


Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar dies in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Library of Congress)

In Brownsville, Texas, approximately a dozen Black troops riot against segregation and in the process kill a local citizen. When the identity of the killer cannot be determined, President Theodore Roosevelt dishonorably discharges three companies of Black soldiers. The episode would become known as the Brownsville Affray.

Seven students at Cornell University form the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the first college fraternity for Black men.


Madam C.J. Walker of Denver develops and markets her hair straightening method and creates one of the most successful cosmetics firms in the nation.

Alain Leroy Locke is the first African-American Rhodes Scholar


Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first Black sorority, is founded on the campus of Howard University.

Developer Allen Allensworth files a plan for the all-black town of Allensworth in Tulare County, California, to allow Blacks to develop industry and a lifestyle on their own equal to that of local Whites.

Martha M. Franklin founds the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses to improve the status and working condition of Black nurses

John Baxter “Doc” Taylor, the record-setting quarter miler from the University of Pennsylvania, is the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal, the 4X400 meter medley in London (Photo Credit: Public Domain)


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is formed in New York City. (Photo Credit: NAACP)

Admiral Robert E. Peary and African American Matthew Henson, accompanied by four Eskimos, become the first men known to have reached the North Pole.

The Knights of Peter Claver, the first permanent national Black Catholic fraternal order, is founded in Mobile, Alabama.


An African-American graduate student in social work at Columbia University, George Edmund Hayes, and a White woman, Ruth Standish Baldwin, found the Committee on Urban Conditions to address the problems of African Americans in urban cities. It would evolve into The National Urban League. The League is organized to help African Americans secure employment and to adjust to urban life.

The first issue of Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP, is published. W.E.B. Du Bois is the first editor. The first issue opposes discrimination and segregation.

The City Council of Baltimore approves an ordinance segregating Black and White neighborhoods. This ordinance is followed by similar statutes in Dallas, Texas, Greensboro, North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, Norfolk, Virginia, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Richmond, Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia and St. Louis, Missouri.

Boxer Jack Johnson knocks out James Jeffries in Reno to win the world’s heavyweight championship. (Photo Credit: Library of Congress)


The first African-American fraternity to be chartered as a national organization, Kappa Alpha Psi, is founded at Indiana University.

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is founded at Howard University.

Samuel J. Battle becomes New York’s first African American police officer.

The Negro Society for Historical Research is founded by John Edward Bruce and Arthur Schomburg. (Photo Credit: New York Public Library)

Scott Joplin completes his folk opera “Treemonisha.”

Pitcher Andrew “Rube” Foster, later known as the “Father of Black Baseball,” forms the Chicago American Giants (Photo Credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)


The NAACP, the National Independent League, and the Colored National Democratic League support Woodrow Wilson for President. W.E.B. Du Bois’ endorsement of Wilson as a fair, decent and farsighted politician convinces many African Americans to vote for Wilson.

W.C. Handy publishes the “Memphis Blues” sheet music in Memphis. The song would eventually become wildly popular.

The Jubilee year, the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, is celebrated throughout the nation over the entire year.

Carter G. Woodson receives a Ph.D. from Harvard, the second African American to earn a doctorate in history.

James Weldon Johnson anonymously publishes The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, a psychological novel, and a seminal work in the “new Negro movement.”

Artist, and future AFRO editorial cartoonist Romare Bearden, is born in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Library of Congress)


Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is founded at Howard University.

The Woodrow Wilson administration initiates the racial segregation of work places, rest rooms and lunch rooms in all federal offices across the nation. He rejects a proposal for a National Race Commission to study the status of Blacks.

Bert Williams plays the lead role in “Darktown Jubilee,” making him the first African American actor to star in a motion picture.

Noble Drew Ali founds the Moorish Science Temple in Newark, New Jersey.


Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity is founded at Howard University.

Cleveland inventor Garrett Morgan patents a gas mask called the Safety Hood and Smoke Protector. (Photo Credit: Google Patents US1113675 A)

World War I begins in Europe.


The Great Migration of African Americans from the South to Northern cities begins.

The Oklahoma Grandfather Clause is overturned in Guinn v. United States.

Carter G. Woodson founds the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in Chicago.


Marcus Garvey founds the New York Division of the Universal Negro Improvement Association with sixteen members. At its height the organization claims nearly two million members.

Garrett Morgan uses his newly invented gas mask to rescue men trapped after an explosion in a tunnel 250 feet beneath Lake Erie. (Photo Credit: Public Domain)

The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) begins publishing the Journal of Negro History which becomes the first scholarly journal devoted to the study of African American history.


The United States enters World War I. Some 370,000 African-Americans join the armed forces with more than half serving in the French war zone. Over 1,000 Black officers command these troops. The French government awards the Croix de Guerre to 107 African American soldiers.

Nearly 10,000 African Americans and their supporters march down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue as part of a silent parade, a NAACP-organized protest against lynchings, race riots and the denial of rights. This is the first major civil rights demonstration in the 20th Century.