50 Events That Shaped African American History

An Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic

by Jamie J. Wilson, Editor


Despite centuries of oppression and a systematic denial of opportunity, African Americans have made countless invaluable contributions to the advancement of society in the United States.

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September 2019


Pages 850
Volumes 2
Size 7x10
Topics Race and Ethnicity/African American Studies
  American History/Race and Ethnicity
  • Forthcoming!




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This two-volume work celebrates 50 notable achievements of African Americans, highlighting black contributions to U.S. history and examining the ways black accomplishments shaped American culture.

This two-volume encyclopedia offers a unique look at the African American experience, from the arrival of the first 20 Africans at Jamestown through the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement and the Ferguson Protests. It illustrates subjects such as the Jim Crow period, the Brown v. Board of Education case that overturned segregation, Jackie Robinson's landmark integration of major league baseball, the challenging of stereotypes with the release of The Cosby Show, and the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. Drawing from events spanning almost 400 years of U.S. history, the work documents the African American experience in America and showcases black people's impact on every aspect of American life.

Presented chronologically, the selected events each include at least one primary source to provide the reader with a first-person perspective. Primary sources range from excerpts from speeches given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass, and Malcolm X to programs from the March on Washington; a newspaper article about the release of the Emancipation Proclamation, and a series of Tweets from the first Black Lives Matter protest. Taken as a whole, the events demonstrate the ways in which America has struggled with the social construct of race and the aftermath of slavery. Most important, the remarkable stories collected here bear witness to the strength of a group of people who chose to survive and found ways to work collectively to force America to live up to the promise of its founding.


  • Chronicles almost 400 years of African American history beginning with the arrival of 20 Africans into Jamestown, VA, and ending with the 2014 Ferguson Protests
  • Provides readers with an understanding of key events that represent the African American experience
  • Brings the featured events to life using first-person accounts, essays, primary sources, photographs, and timelines
  • Demonstrates the broad influence and impact of African Americans on history, the arts, laws, sports, literature, film, television, and social movements
Author Info

Jamie J. Wilson is associate professor of modern United States and African American history at Salem State University, Salem, MA. His work has appeared in The History Teacher, International Social Science Review, African Americans in New York Life and History, Western Journal of Black Studies, and Journal of African American History. He is also the author of Civil Rights Movement in Greenwood's Landmarks of the American Mosaic series as well as Building a Healthy Black Harlem: Health Politics in Harlem, New York, from the Jazz Age to the Great Depression. Wilson holds a doctorate from New York University.

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