1946: Saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker, though plagued by drug abuse, produces many of the finest recordings of his
career including "Now's the Time", "KoKo", "Yardbird Suite", and "Ornithology".
1948: Satchel Paige, legendary baseball pitcher of the Negro leagues, finally enters the majors after the "gentleman's
agreement" prohibiting the signing of black players is relaxed.
1950: After refusing to disavow his membership in the Communist Party, Paul Robeson--singer, actor, and activist--has
his passport withdrawn by the U.S. State Department.
1955: Rosa Parks, secretary of the Montgomery, Ala. chapter of the NAACP, refuses to surrender her seat when ordered
by a local bus driver, leading to the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56
1956: Clifford Brown, the most inluential trumpeter of his generation, dies at the age of 25 in a car accident.
Noted for his lyricism and grace of technique, Brownie is a principal figure in the hard-bop idiom.
1956: Arthur Mitchell, future director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, becomes the only black dancer in the New York City
Ballet. George Balanchine creates several roles especially for him.
1957: Fullback Jim Brown begins his professional football career with the Cleveland Browns. He leads the National Football
League in rushing for eight of his nine seasons.
1959: Singer Ray charles records "What'd I Say", which becomes his first million-seller, and exemplifies the emergence
of soul music, combining rhythm and blues with gospel.
1959: Motown Records is founded in Detroit, MIch., by Berry Gordy, Jr. The "Motown sound" dominates black popular
music through the 1960's and attracts a significant white audience as well.
1960: Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton found Stax Records of Memphis, Tenn, which comes to define the Southern soul music
sound, including such artists as Sam and Dave, Booker T. and the MGs, and Otis Redding.
1960: The sit-in movement is launched at Greensboro, N.C., when black college students insist on service at a local segregated
1961: Testing desegregation practices in the South, tghe Freedom Rides, sponsored by CORE, encounter overwhelming violence,particularly
in Alabama, leading to federal intervention.
1962: The New Yorker magazine publishes a long article by author James Baldwin on aspects of the civil-rights struggle.
The article becomes a best-seller in book form as The Fire Next Time.
1947: Jackie Robinson joins the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black baseball player in the major leagues.
1949: Not satisfied with Billboard magazine's label of "race records" for its black music chart, Jerry Wexler, a white
reporter at the magazine, introduces the designation "rhythm and blues".
1950: Gwendolyn Brooks is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for "Annie Allen", becoming the first African-American
writer to witn the award.
1954: On May 17 the U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that racial
segregation in public schools viloates the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
1955: Lynchings continue in the South with the brutal slayhing of a 14-year old Chicago youth, Emmett Till, in Money,
Mississippi. Jet magazine publishes a picture of the mutilated corpse.
1955: Opera diva Leontyne Price is triumphant in the title role of the National Broadcasting Company's Tosca,
making her the first black to sing opera on television.
1956: Tennis player Althea Gibson becomes the first African American to win a major title--the Wimbledon doubles--as well
as the French singles and doubles and Italian singles.
1957: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is established by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and others to coordinate
and assist local organizations working for the full equality of African-Americans.
1958: Mahalia Jackson, known as the "Queen of Gospel Song", joins Duke Ellington in his gospel interlude Black, Brown,
and Beige at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.
1959: Trumpeter Miles Davis records Kind of Blue, often considered his masterwork, with composer-arranger-pianist
Bill Evans and tenor saxophonist John Coltrane.
1959: Baseball player Ernie banks, regarded as one of the finest power hitters in the history of the game, is named the
National League's Most Valuable Player for a second consecutive season.
1960: Inspired by the sit-in movement, jazz drummer Max Roach composes and records the historic "Freedom Now Suite" with
lyricist Oscar Brown, Jr. and his wife, vocalist Abbey Lincoln.
1962: Basketball player Wilt Chamberlain becomes the first player to score more than 4,000 points in regular-season National
Basketball Association games.
1947: Historian John Hope Franklin gains inernational attention with the publication of "From Slavery to Freedom", an
enduring survey of African-American history.
1950: Ralph Bunche is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as United Nations mediator in the Arab-Israeli dispute
1952: Ralph Ellison publishes his masterpiece "Invisible Man", which receives the National Book Award in 1953.
1954: In the World Series against the Cleveland Indians, New York Giants outfielder Willie Mays makes "the catch".
The extraordinary over-the-shoulder catch remains one of the most talked-about plays in baseball history.
1955: Singer and guitarist Chuck Berry travels from St. Louis to Chicago, recording "Maybellene", an immediate sensation
among teenagers. The hit helps shape the evolution or rock and roll music.
1957: President Dwight D. Eisenhower orders federal troops into Little Rock, Ark., after unsuccessfully trying to persuade
Governor Orval Faubus to give up efforts to block desegregation at Central High.
1958: Sugar Ray Robinson, considered by many to be the greatest fighter in history, wins back the middleweight title
for the last time by defeating Carmen Basilio in a savage fight.
1958: The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater if formed. Composed primarily of African-Americans, the dance company
tours extensively both in the United States and abroad.
1959: Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, becomes the first drama by a black woman to be produced on Broadway.
The 1961 film version features Sidney Poitier and receives a special award at Cannes.
1959: Pioneer free jazz musician Ornette Coleman and his quartet play for the first time at New York's Five Spot Cafe.
The historic performance yields a highly polarized reaction from the audience.
1961: Whitney Young is appointed executive director of the National Urban League. He builds a reputation for his
behind-the-scenes work to bridge the gap between white political and business leaders and poor blacks.
1963: Medgar Evans, Mississipi field secretary for the NAACP, is shot and killed in an ambush in front of his home, followieng
a historic broadcast on the subject of civil rights by President John F. Kennedy