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Some Highlights in Virginia Racial History

Highlights of Virginia Racial History

1604. Jamestown founded, first permanent English settlement in North America.

1619. Africans first appear in Virginia, brought by English privateers who intercepted a Spanish slave ship.

1750. Enslaved West Africans cultivate most of Virginia’s tobacco cash crop.

1861. Virginia voters endorse Virginia’s secession from the United States of America to join the Confederate States of America at the beginning of the Civil War.

1861. West Virginia splits off from Virginia to remain with the United States.

1862 . The U.S. Congress annuls the fugitive slave laws, prohibits slavery in the U.S. territories, and authorizes President Abraham Lincoln to use freed slaves in the Union Army.

1863. President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation for the 3.5 million enslaved Africans in the South; they become legally free once they escape the area controlled by the Confederate Army.

1865. Richmond is burned by the retreating Confederate Army. President Abraham Lincoln walks the streets of Richmond, cheered by newly freed blacks.

1865. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Va. on April 9, effectively ending the Civil War.

1865. Congress ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, abolishing slavery.

1865-67. The period of Reconstruction follows immediately after the Civil War. During this time, efforts are made to rebuild the country, both economically and politically.

1868. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution passes, ensuring men equal rights under the law, regardless of race.

1870. The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution passes, granting African American men the right to vote.

1880-1930. About 70 black Virginians are lynched.

1883. Conservative white Democrats regain political power in Virginia, ending Reconstruction in the Commonwealth and implementing Jim Crow laws.

1896. In Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of racial segregation, as long as facilities for blacks are “separate but equal.”

1902. . Virginia revises its state constitution to disenfranchise blacks.

1924 . The Racial Integrity Act passes, requiring everyone to be classed at birth as either white or colored (meaning black, Native American, or anything other than white).

1928. After several horrific lynchings in the state, the Virginia General Assembly passes, and Gov. Harry F. Byrd Sr. signs, the nation’s toughest anti-lynching laws in the country.

1946. Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia strikes down segregation on interstate buses.

1954. The U.S. Supreme Court rules in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case that the concept of “separate but equal” contained in Plessy v. Ferguson is unconstitutional, and that public schools must be integrated. A lawsuit stemming from a student protest at the Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, Va., was one of five lawsuits incorporated into Brown v. Board of Education.

1956. U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd, Sr., D-Va, calls for “massive resistance,” a strategy designed to prevent integration of public schools in Virginia.

1958-59. Public schools in Charlottesville, along with those in other Virginia localities, close in September 1958 to prevent integration. After the closures are ruled unconstitutional, public schools in Charlottesville and other cities reopen in January 1959; however, Prince Edward County, which includes Farmville, instead shuts down its entire public school system until 1964 and opens private schools for white students, forcing Black students either to move elsewhere to continue their education or miss out on five years of education.

1961. Black and white civil rights activists conduct Freedom Rides, in Virginia and throughout the South, riding buses together to protest segregated bus terminals.

1961. In Loving v. Commonwealth of Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

1964. The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

1990. L. Douglas Wilder becomes the first African American elected governor of Virginia, or of any other state.

1990. Barack Obama wins Virginia, the first time in four decades that a Democrat has won the state, which has trended blue ever since.

2017. National Alt-Right figures hold May 13th torch rally at downtown statue of General Lee, sparking outcry.

2017. Ku Klux Klan holds 50-person rally beside downtown statue of General “Stonewall” Jackson; 1,000 counter-demonstrators protests; police arrest civil disobedience activists and tear gas crowd, sparking outrage, on July 8.

May 132017. Hundreds of white supremacists hold a nighttime torch rally on the Grounds of the University of Virginia on August 11.

2017. White supremacists hold a violent demonstration in Charlottesville on August 12, resulting in three deaths: Heather Heyer, a civil rights activist; Berke Bates, a Virginia State Police helicopter pilot; and H. J. Cullen, a state police officer.

2017. #SummerOfHate in Charlottesville, hundreds of assaults, death of Heather Heyer and two Virginia State Police.

DMU Timestamp: July 13, 2018 16:17

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