Black American History from 1900 to 1940 in The United States of America
Updated Tuesday, July 12, 2005
At the beginning of the 20th Century two black American leaders were on a collision
course as they strive to create equality in a land governed by hypocrisy, bigotry, and
self-interests. Booker T. Washington promoted education, and was tolerant of segregation.
W. E. B. Du Bois was more stringent and demanded full equality without compromise.
Booker T. Washington
The Founder of Tuskegee Institute
placed education as the most effective tool in black economic development. His political
positions allowed for the separation of the races in difference to opportunities for
economic progress. He was certainly among the first black leaders that proposed and
promoted black business, or blacks doing business with blacks. Today, black Americans
continue to do business with those that do no business with them.
The First Decade of the 20th Century
The United States, at the turn of the
century, was greatly divided along racial and ethnic lines. What is not truly
appreciated is that the development of this nation took hands of many colors to
The last African-American congressman for 28
years leaves Congress. George H. White gave up his
seat on March 4. No African-American would serve in Congress for the next 28 years.
President McKinley assassinated. President McKinley died of an assassin's bullet
on September 14, a week after being shot in Buffalo, New York. Vice President
Roosevelt succeeded him as president.
Washington dines at the White House. On October 16, after an afternoon meeting at
the White House with Booker T.
Washington, President Theodore Roosevelt
Washington to remain and eat dinner with him, making Washington the first black American
to dine at the White House with the president. A furor arose over the social implications
of Roosevelt's casual act.
Lynching. One hundred and five black
(105) Americans are known to have been lynched in
(85) black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1902.
The Souls of Black Folk. W. E. B. Du Bois's celebrated book, The Souls
of Black Folk, was published on April 27. In it, Du Bois rejected the gradualism of
Booker T. Washington, calling for agitation on behalf of African-American rights.
Lynching. Eighty-four black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1903.
Lynching. Seventy-six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1904.
The Niagara Movement. On July 11-13, African-American intellectuals and
activists, led by W. E. B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter, began the Niagara Movement.
Lynching. Fifty-seven black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1905.
Soldiers riot. In Brownsville, Texas on August 13, black troops rioted against
segregation. On November 6, President Theodore Roosevelt discharged three companies of
black soldiers involved in the riot.
A race riot. On September 22-24, in a race riot in Atlanta, ten blacks and two
whites were killed.
Lynching. Sixty-two black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1906.
Thurgood Marshall born. Born in Baltimore on July 2, Thurgood Marshall, was the
attorney for the NAACP in the famous case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), in
which the Supreme Court found segregated schools to be inherently unequal. He later became
the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court.
A race riot. Many were killed and wounded in a race riot on August 14-19, in
Abraham Lincoln's home town of Springfield, Illinois.
Taft elected president. On November 3, William Howard Taft (Republican) was
Lynching. Eighty-nine black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1908.
The NAACP is formed. On February 12 -- the centennial of the birth of Lincoln --
a national appeal led to the establishment of the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People, an organization formed to promote use of the courts to restore the
legal rights of black Americans.
The North Pole is reached. On April 6, Admiral Peary and African-American Matthew
Henson, accompanied by four Eskimos, became the first men known to have reached the North
Lynching. Sixty-nine black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1909.
Census of 1910.
U.S. population: 93,402,151
Black population: 9,827,763 (10.7%)
Crisis debuts. The first issue of Crisis, a publication sponsored
by the NAACP and edited by W. E.B. Du Bois, appeared on November 1.
Segregated neighborhoods. On December 19, the City Council of Baltimore approved
the first city ordinance designating the boundaries of black and white neighborhoods. This
ordinance was followed by similar ones in Dallas, Texas, Greensboro, North Carolina,
Louisville, Kentucky, Norfolk, Virginia, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Richmond, Virginia,
Roanoke, Virginia, and St. Louis, Missouri. The Supreme Court declared the Louisville
ordinance to be unconstitutional in 1917.
Lynching. Sixty-seven black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1910.
It was open season on black men in the early years of the 20th Century and from all
indications that remains the same as we enter the 21st Century. Still black men
and women are being shot down by police officers that the court system fails to
convict for the murders they commit. For those hard to convince please visit VICTIMS
and tell me things have
WARNING FOLKS THESE LINKS
ARE ATTACHED TO THE UGLINESS OF RACISM. DON'T LOOK AT THEM IF YOU DON'T WANT TO LOOK DEATH
AND RACISM IN THE FACE.
With segregated neighborhoods becoming the "law of the land" the divisions
between races were assured. But the law also showed the hatred held in the hearts of the
privileged over those they felt beneath them. A sad commentary but the evidence is as
prominent as the nose on your face. There were, and are, benefits associated
with segregation. During the years of segregation black businesses, and
professionals prospered because segregation also segregated the black American
Booker T. Washington
dined at the White House at the invitation
of President Roosevelt and had more faith in the hearts of white Americans. However his
critics did not share his belief and called for equal rights without delay or condition.
The following decade was saturated with more innocent blood.
The National Urban League
begins. In October, the National Urban League was organized to help African-Americans
secure equal employment. Professor Kelly Miller was a founding member.
Lynching. Sixty black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1911.
Wilson elected president. Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) was elected president on
Lynching. Sixty-one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1912.
Jubilee year. The fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation was
celebrated throughout the year.
Harriet Tubman dies. Harriet Tubman -- former slave, abolitionist, and freedom
fighter -- died on March 10.
Federal segregation. On April 11, the Wilson administration began government-wide
segregation of work places, rest rooms and lunch rooms.
Lynching. Fifty-one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1913.
Lynching. Fifty-one black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1914.
World War I. World War I began in Europe.
Booker T. Washington dies. Renowned African-American spokesman Booker T.
Washington died on November 14.
Lynching. Fifty-six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1915.
Lynching. Fifty black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1916.
World War I. America entered World War I on April 6. 370,000 African-Americans
were in military service -- more than half in the French war zone.
A race riot. One of the bloodiest race riots in the nation's history took place
in East St. Louis, Illinois, on July 1-3. A Congressional committee reported that 40 to
200 people were killed, hundreds more injured, and 6,000 driven from their homes.
NAACP protest. Thousands of
African-Americans marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue on July 28, protesting lynching,
race riots, and the denial of rights.
A race riot. On August 23, a riot erupted in Houston between black soldiers and
white citizens; 2 blacks and 11 whites were killed. 18 black soldiers were hanged for
participation in the riot.
The Supreme Court acts. On November 5, the Supreme Court struck down the
Louisville, Kentucky ordinance mandating segregated neighborhoods.
Lynching. Thirty-six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1917.
A race riot. On July 25-28, a race riot occurred in Chester, Pennsylvania. 3
blacks and 2 whites were killed.
A race riot. On July 26-29, a race riot occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 3
blacks and 1 white were killed.
World War I ends. The Armistice took effect on November 11, ending World War I.
The northern migration of African-Americans began in earnest during the war. By 1930 there
were 1,035,000 more black Americans in the North, and 1,143,000 fewer black Americans in
the South than in 1910.
Lynching. Sixty black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1918.
"Red Summer." This was the year of the "Red Summer," with 26
race riots between the months of April and October. These included disturbances in the
May 10 Charleston, South Carolina.
July 13 Gregg and Longview counties, Texas.
July 19-23 Washington, D. C.
July 27 Chicago.
October 1-3 Elaine and Phillips counties, Alabama.
Lynching. Seventy-six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1919.
Census of 1920.
U.S. population: 105,710,620
Black population: 10,463,131 (9.9%)
The Harlem Renaissance. The decade of the Twenties witnessed the Harlem
Renaissance, a remarkable period of creativity for black writers, poets, and artists,
including these authors:
Claude McKay, Harlem Shadows, 1922
Jean Toomer, Cane, 1923
Alaine Locke, The New Negro, 1925
Countee Cullen, Color, 1925
The rise of Marcus Garvey. On August 1, Marcus Garvey's Universal Improvement
Association held its national convention in Harlem, the traditionally black neighborhood
in New York City. Garvey's African nationalist movement was the first black American mass
movement, and at its height it claimed hundreds of thousands of supporters.
Harding elected president. On November 3, Warren G. Harding (Republican) was
Lynching. Fifty-three black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1920.
Charles White an African American artist , born in 1918, executed many
artistic works that symbolize the strength of sinew and character of people of color,
including this powerful image of orator, abolitionist, and
W. E. B. Du Bois
became the first black to be awarded a doctoral degree from Harvard University
in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Du Bois came to prominence as an advocate of racial equality.
He argued against famed black educator Booker T. Washingtons theory that blacks
should accept their inferior social status and work to improve their lives through
Many college-educated blacks
disagreed with Washington's philosophy and pursued equality through political and social
protest. Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, William Monroe Trotter, and W.E.B. Du Bois
were among those who established such all-black groups as the African American Council,
the Niagara Movement, and in 1910, the interracial National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). They demanded their civil rights and worked against
the Jim Crow system of segregation through the courts and, where possible, through
Henson was one of the six members of Robert
Pearys famous expedition to the North Pole in 1909. Henson was the first to reach
what was thought to be the North Pole as he was often in front of the party breaking
trail, and Peary was back at the base camp ill. Even so Peary got the fame for the
accomplishment that was not his.
Madam C. J. Walker
one of the first black millionaires.
was born in 1884 in Metropolis, Illinois.
The grandson of a slave, he was the fifth of 13 children. Before becoming a film producer,
he worked various trades, including a coal miner, stockyards man and a Pullman porter
before becoming a homesteader in Gregory, South Dakota. After living in Chicago in the
early 1900's, Micheaux believed the only independent future for the Black man lay on the
Western Frontier. Inspired by the teachings of Booker T. Washington and the pioneer
philosophy of Horace Greeley, Micheaux believed that there was no future without the
access to and ownership of land. He was a determined entrepreneur who literally "went
West" with only a few possessions to make his fortune. He was the only Black person
to obtain a claim in Gregory County on the Rosebud Indian Reservation where he acquired
more than 500 acres of land. Working his land alone, he built a modest 14 by 16 foot claim
house and small barn on a hillside. This ambitious man was known to the residents of
Gregory as a hard worker and a powerful salesman.
In 1908, at the age of 24, he began writing novels. His first book was The Conquest,
which was based upon his life experiences in the area as a homesteader and also made
reference to real people he knew. His writings also share a wealth of local history,
including the establishment of the South Dakota towns of Gregory, Winner and Dallas and
the arrival of the railroad. Micheaux changed the names of the South Dakota Communities,
but local residents were able to follow the references. He sold his first novels
door-to-door himself since he was unable to get any bookstores to carry them and
eventually sold about 2,500 books.
Johnson, seen here in Moby Dick,
and his brother George formed The Lincoln Motion Picture Company, on May 24, 1916, it was
the first movie company organized by Black filmmakers. The Johnson's approached Micheaux
and, wanting to purchase the film rights for his popular novel, The Homesteader,
they set up a meeting. En-route to his engagement with the Johnsons, Micheaux toured the
South. Despising the films which portrayed Black people in a negative and stereotypical
light, he decided that his books would make better movies. When the Johnson Brothers
refused his offer to direct his adaptation, he decided to produce the film himself. The
resourceful Micheaux wanted creative control over his works. Although he didn't have any
experience, he was anxious to direct. His first film, The Homesteader, was
released in 1919 and was financed by fellow farmers, Black and White, in the North Dakota
area where he lived. As a good salesman, Micheaux knew he had to go on the road to promote
his picture. From then on, he traveled all over the country, going from town to town,
theater to theater, screening and pre-selling his films to black movie houses that
numbered in the hundreds across the country. Between 1919 and 1940 Micheaux produced about
35 feature films
paved the way for today's black actors as did many others from the early years of black
(1898-1976), like many black Americans, found greater freedom in England and Europe where
talent was not measured by color.
Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Joplin both demonstrated
that blacks possessed talents for the arts as well as the plow.
Born in 1891 in Chicago to a Danish mother and a West Indian father,
keenly sensed the difficulty of being a
child of two worlds, especially after the death of her father and her mother's marriage to
a Dane. Educated at Fisk University in Nashville, the University of Copenhagen, the
Lincoln Hospital Training Program in New York, and the New York Public Library Training
School, Larsen worked as a nurse and as a children's librarian but also wrote articles and
novels including Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929). She received the Harmon Foundation
Bronze Award in 1929.