Each February, Black History Month is dedicated to celebrating the achievements, and reflecting on the experiences, of African Americans. What began as a week in 1926 has blossomed into 28 days of remembrance and lessons on the contributions of Black Americans.
Many Black Americans come from a lineage of captured and enslaved people who were forcibly brought to the U.S. to build the culture and infrastructure of a place in which they never asked to live. Forced immigration and centuries of cultural genocide have driven Black Americans to literally and figuratively rebuild a culture from the ground up. In the face of historical oppression and inequality—slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the police violence that spawned the #BlackLivesMatter movement—African Americans have continuously fought for their rights and spawned countless milestones, achievements, and freedoms. While being forced to exist largely on the fringes of society, Black Americans nevertheless have made many significant contributions to the arts, education, politics, technology, and numerous other fields.
Many well-known moments and figures appear below: The 1930s saw history from Olympic track and field star Jesse Owens and the eventual breakout moment of author and activist Zora Neale Hurston; in the ‘50s, the first Civil Rights Act since 1875 was signed into law; five decades later, American elected the first Black president.
But in the theme of education—part of the function of this month for much of the country—you’ll learn of other less-discussed moments and faces in Black history: The 1940s’ desegregation of the armed forces, the first Black Miss America in the ‘80s, or the 1995 Million Man March in Washington D.C. to name a few examples.
Click through Stacker’s 100-year list to learn more about just some of the significant achievements and moments in African American history from 1919 to 2019.
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