Time Line

April 15, 1997|By Paul McCardell


Oct. 30: Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey signs Jackie Robinson, infielder with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro leagues, to a minor-league contract.


April 18: Robinson makes his minor-league debut for the Montreal Royals, the International League affiliate of the Dodgers.


The NAACP says 1946 was "one of the grimmest years" in African-American history, with "blowtorch killing and eye-gouging of Negro veterans freshly returned from a war to end torture and racial extermination."

April 15: Jackie Robinson debuts with the Dodgers, becoming the first African-American to play for a major-league club.

July 5: Larry Doby makes his major-league debut with the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first African-American to play in the American League.

Sept. 12: Robinson wins 1947 Rookie of the Year Award.

October 29: The President's Committee on Civil Rights issues a study, "To Secure These Rights," that condemms racial discrimination and prejudice in the United States.


June 25: World heavyweight champion Joe Louis retires from boxing.

July 26: President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, which calls for equality of treatment and opportunity for all Americans in the armed forces.


June 3: Wesley A. Brown (right) is the first African-American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.

July 12: Robinson makes his All-Star Game debut for the National League.

September: Robinson becomes the National League batting champion (.342 average).

Nov. 19: Robinson is named MVP.


September: Althea Gibson, 22, becomes the first African-American to be accepted for competition in the National Tennis Championships.

May: Boston Celtics pick Charles "Chuck" Coooper, making him the first African-American drafted by a National Basketball Association team. The first African-American actually to play in an NBA game is Earl Lloyd of the Washington Capitols, later this year against the Rochester Royals.


June: Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American to play at Wimbledon.


The Tuskegee Institute reports that this is the first year with no lynchings. It had been tracking lynchings for 71 years.


May 17: The United States Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., rules unanimously that racial segregation of public schools is unconstitutional.

Sept. 7-8: Massive school desegregation begins in Baltimore and Washington, as a result of the Supreme Court decision.

September: Willie Mays of the New York Giants is the National League's batting champion (.345 average) and later is named MVP.


Dec. 1: Rosa Parks refuses to surrender her seat when ordered by a bus driver in Montgomery, Ala. This sparks a citywide bus boycott that would last a year and lead to the emergence of Martin Luther King Jr. as a national civil rights leader.


Dec. 13: Dodgers trade Jackie Robinson to rival Giants.


Jan. 5: Robinson announces his retirement.

Feb. 14: Martin Luther King, Bayard Rustin and black ministers form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to link diverse nonviolent protest groups that support civil rights.

Aug. 29: Congress passes the Voting Rights Bill of 1957, the first major civil rights legislation in more than 75 years.

Sept. 24-25: President Dwight D. Eisenhower orders federal troops into Little Rock, Ark., after Gov. Orval Faubus tries to block a federal court order to desegregate a Little Rock school.


Jan. 22: Robinson is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, his first year of eligibility.


Aug. 28: More than 250,000 people participate in the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial. Martin Luther King delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech.


Jan. 23: The 24th Amendment forbids the use of the poll tax to prevent voting.

June 19: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passes, banning discrimination in public accommodations, education and employment.


Jan. 2: The SCLC launches a voter drive in Selma, Ala., which escalates into a nationwide movement.

Aug. 6: President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Aug. 11-21: The Watts riots in Los Angeles result in 34 deaths and more than 3,500 arrests.


April: Emmett Ashford becomes the first African-American umpire in the major leagues.

October: The Black Panther Party is founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, Calif.

Nov. 8: Frank Robinson of the Orioles, after winning the American League Triple Crown, r is named Most Valuable Player.


May 1-Oct. 1: The "long, hot summer" is the worst racial disturbance in American history. The most serious outbreaks occur in Newark, N.J., Detroit, New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago and Cambridge, Md.

June 27: Thurgood Marshall (right), who was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Johnson, is confirmed by the Senate. He is the first African-American to sit on the bench.


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