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American history

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Title: American history  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: African-American history, African American–Jewish relations, African-American Civil Rights Movement (1865–95), African-American culture, African-American studies
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

American history

Politically and economically, blacks have made substantial strides in the post–civil rights era. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, who ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, brought unprecedented support and leverage to blacks in politics.


On January 19, 1970, G. Harrold Carswell's nomination to the Supreme Court was rejected. On May 27, 1970, the film Watermelon Man is released, directed by Melvin Van Peebles and starring Godfrey Cambridge. The first blaxploitation films were released.

On April 20, 1971, the Operation PUSH.

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first major-party African-American candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. In 1976, Black History Month was founded by Professor Carter Woodson's Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. The novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley was also published in 1976.

President Jimmy Carter appointed Andrew Young to serve as Ambassador to the United Nations in 1977, the first African-American to serve in the position. Regents of the University of California v. Bakke bars racial quota systems in college admissions in 1978, but affirms the constitutionality of affirmative action programs giving equal access to minorities.


In 1982, Michael Jackson released Thriller, which became the best-selling album of all time. In 1983, Guion Bluford became the first African-American to go into space. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill in 1983 to create a federal holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King.

Alice Walker received the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Color Purple in 1983. The Cosby Show begins in 1984, and is regarded as one of the defining television shows of the decade. Established by legislation in 1983, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first celebrated as a national holiday on January 20, 1986.

Ron Brown was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1989, becoming the first African American to lead a major United States political party. Colin Powell became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989.


A crowd at the Million Man March, Washington DC, May 1995.

Douglas Wilder became the first elected African-American governor in 1990, in Richmond, Virginia. Four white police officers were videotaped beating African-American Rodney King in Los Angeles, on March 3, 1991. Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1991.

The 1992 Los Angeles riots erupt after officers accused of beating Rodney King are acquitted. In 1992 Mae Carol Jemison became the first African-American woman to travel in space when she goes into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Carol Moseley Braun became the first African-American woman to be elected to the United States Senate on November 3, 1992.

Director Spike Lee's film Malcolm X was released in 1992. [1] Cornel West's text Race Matters was published in 1994.

The Million Man March was held on October 16, 1995, in Washington, D.C., co-initiated by Louis Farrakhan and James Bevel. The Million Woman March was held on October 25, 1997, in Philadelphia.


Colin Powell becomes Secretary of State on January 20, 2001. Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger upheld the University of Michigan Law School's admission policy on June 23, 2003. However, in the simultaneously heard Gratz v. Bollinger the university is required to change a policy.

The Millions More Movement held a march in Washington D.C on October 15, 2005. Rosa Parks died at the age of 92 on October 25, 2005, She was famous for starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. Her body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. before her funeral.

On June 28, 2007,Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 decided along with Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education prohibits assigning students to public schools solely for the purpose of achieving racial integration and declines to recognize racial balancing as a compelling state interest.

On June 3, 2008, Barack Obama receives enough delegates by the end of state primaries to be the presumptive Democratic Party of the United States nominee.[1] On August 28, 2008, at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, in a stadium filled with supporters, Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Barack Obama was elected 44th President of the United States of America on November 4, 2008, opening his victory speech with, "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."[2]

On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, the first African-American to become president. Former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele becomes Chairman of the Republican National Committee on January 30, 2009.

The U.S. Postal Service issues a commemorative six-stamp set portraying twelve civil rights pioneers in 2010. Barack Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 9, 2009.

On July 19, 2010, Shirley Sherrod first is pressured to resign from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and immediately thereafter receives its apology after she is inaccurately accused of being racist towards white Americans.

Political representation

In 1989, Douglas Wilder became the first African-American elected governor in U.S. history. In 1992 Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois became the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate. There were 8,936 black officeholders in the United States in 2000, showing a net increase of 7,467 since 1970. In 2001 there were 484 black mayors.

The 38 African-American members of Congress form the Congressional Black Caucus, which serves as a political bloc for issues relating to African Americans. The appointment of blacks to high federal offices—including General Colin Powell, Chairman of the U.S. Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1989–1993, United States Secretary of State, 2001–2005; Condoleezza Rice, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, 2001–2004, Secretary of State in, 2005–2009; Ron Brown, United States Secretary of Commerce, 1993–1996, Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, 2009–present; and Supreme Court justices Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas—also demonstrates the increasing visibility of blacks in the political arena.

In 2009 Michael S. Steele was elected the first African-American chairman of the national Republican Party.[3]

2008 Presidential election of Barack Obama

In 2008 presidential elections, Illinois senator Barack Obama became the first black presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, making him the first African-American presidential candidate from a major political party. He was elected as the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008, and inaugurated on January 20, 2009.

At least 95 percent of African-American voters voted for Obama. Obama won big among young, minority voters, picking up a number of new states in the Democratic electoral column.[4][5] Obama became the first Democrat since Jimmy Carter to win a popular-vote majority. He also received overwhelming support from whites, a majority of Asians, Americans of Hispanic origin, [6] Obama lost the overall white vote, although he won a larger proportion of white votes than any previous nonincumbent Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter.[7]

Economic situation

It is not at all clear that the African-American population as a whole has made economic progress over the last several decades. Nearly 25% of black Americans now live below the poverty line, approximately the same percentage as in 1968. The child poverty rate has actually increased and the unemployment is disproportionately high in comparison to other ethnic groups.[8] These facts are masked in the public opinion by the sometimes spectacular achievements of successful individuals.

Economic progress for blacks' reaching the extremes of wealth has been slow. According to Forbes richest lists, Oprah Winfrey was the richest African American of the 20th century and has been the world's only black billionaire in 2004, 2005, and 2006.[9] Not only was Winfrey the world's only black billionaire but she has been the only black on the Forbes 400 list nearly every year since 1995. BET founder Bob Johnson briefly joined her on the list from 2001 to 2003 before his ex-wife acquired part of his fortune; although he returned to the list in 2006, he did not make it in 2007. With Winfrey the only African American wealthy enough to rank among America's 400 richest people,[10] blacks currently comprise 0.25% of America's economic elite and comprise 13% of the U.S. population.

Social issues

After the Civil Rights Movement gains of the 1950s-1970s, due to government neglect, unfavorable social policies, high poverty rates, changes implemented in the criminal justice system and laws, and a breakdown in traditional family units, African-American communities have been suffering from extremely high incarceration rates. African Americans have the highest imprisonment rate of any major ethnic group in the world. The southern states, which historically had been involved in slavery and post-Reconstruction oppression, now produce the highest rates of incarceration and death penalty application.[11][12]


  1. ^ CNN: Obama: I will be the Democratic nominee
  2. ^ Newsweek
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Exit polls: Obama wins big among young, minority voters". CNN. November 4, 2008. Retrieved June 22, 2010. 
  5. ^ Kuhn, David Paul (November 5, 2008). "Exit polls: How Obama won".  
  6. ^ Why Asian Americans Voted For Obama.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Tomgram: Michelle Alexander, The Age of Obama as a Racial Nightmare
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008", Pew Research Center
  12. ^ "One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections", Pew Research Center, released March 2, 2009
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