Journeys through the Black Atlantic:

Exploring the political aspirations and achievements of Black Atlantic people and cultures

The Black Atlantic is a network of cultures spanning Africa, North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe forged, in the first instance, by the transatlantic slave trade. This timeline records some of the political, intellectual, aesthetic and activist work done in this transnational cultural formation since 1945.

2008

04

Nov

Barack Obama

On Tuesday, November 4th, 2008, Barack Obama was elected as the first Black President of the United States…

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2005

10

Oct

Paris Riots

The Paris Riots occurred after an incident where three North African teens were electrocuted after being chased by police officers in Clichy-sous-Bois…

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29

Aug

Hurricane Katrina

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and Southern Mississippi, leaving thousands of people homeless as almost a million homes were…

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2003

12

Apr

“Nations enshrine mediocrity as their modus operandi, and create the fertile ground for the rise of tyrants and other base elements of the society, by silently assenting to the dismantling of systems of excellence because they do not immediately benefit one specific ethnic, racial, political, or special-interest group. That, in my humble opinion, is precisely where Nigeria finds itself today!"

- Chinua Achebe, There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra -
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2001

11

Sep

9/11

9/11 heavily affected the 2000s in North America and the Muslim world. Changes in immigration and travel security meant that more and more people…

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1994

07

Apr

Rwandan Genocide

After the assassination of President Habyarimana on April 6, 1994, Hutu forces began murdering Tutsi and moderate Hutu military and political leaders…

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1992

29

Apr

LA Riots

On March 3, 1991, Rodney King’s beating at the hands of LAPD Police Officers was captured on film and shared globally. The beating took place after a high speed chase…

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1990

01

Feb

Nelson Mandela Freed

After being imprisoned for 27 years, Nelson Mandela and F.W. De Klerk reached an agreement in late 1989 to legalize the previously banned…

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1989

04

Jul

Public Enemy Releases “Fight the Power”

The 1980s recognized a global emergence of a new generation of Black youth who interpreted the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s…

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01

Jan

Looking For Langston

Isaac Julien’s drama-documentary that led to his popularity and combined archival footage of Harlem…

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1988

01

Aug

Unrest in LA

Over the course of August 1988, “Operation Hammer” resulted in in dozens of families being left homeless after more than 80 officers raided apartment buildings in South LA. This event solidified…

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1985

16

Dec

the color purple

The Colour Purple

The Colour Purple, directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the Pulitzer Prize Winning novel by Alice Walker, is released to box office success…

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1981

10

Apr

Brixton Riots

The Brixton Riots were a series of violent confrontations between police and protestors as a result of increased police presence in the community that was already tense due to being disproportionately…

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1978

22

Apr

bob marley

Bob Marley’s “One Love” Benefit Concert

After Jamaica declared independence from Britain, Jamaica experienced a civil war between the Jamaican Labour Party and the People’s National Party as both fought for control over Jamaica. At the same time…

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1977

11

Aug

Police Murder Steve Biko

South Africa’s apartheid government began to see Biko as a threat, placing him under a banning order in 1973. He was arrested in 1977 and beaten to death by state security officers…

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18

Feb

Fela Kuti Releases “Zombie”

Inspired by The Black Panther party while travelling in the United States in 1969, Fela Kuti released the album Zombie that attacked the corrupt Nigerian…

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1974

12

Sep

The Zaire ’74 Music Festival

Originally conceived as a promotional event for the championship match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. After Foreman was injured…

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1970

15

Aug

FBI’s Most Wanted: Angela Davis

Angela Davis was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for her involvement in purchasing weapons for fellow Black Panther activists…

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1969

09

Sep

Machine gun
Tearing my body all apart

Machine gun
Tearing my body all apart

Evil man make me kill ya
Evil man make you kill me
Evil man make me kill you
Even though we're only families apart

Well I pick up my axe and fight lik a bomber
(you know what I mean)
Hey and your bullets keep knocking me down

Hey I pick up my axe and fight like a bomber now
Yeah but you still blast me down to the ground

The same way you shoot me down baby
You'll be going just the same
Three times the pain
And your own self to blame
Hey machine gun

Oooooooooo

I ain't afraid of your mess no more, babe
I ain't afraid no more
After a while your your cheap talk don't evern cause me pain
So let your bullets fly like rain

'cause I know all the time you're wrong baby
And you'll be goin' just the same
Yeah machine gun
Tearing my family apart
Yeah yeah alright
Tearing my family apart

Don't you shoot him down
He's about to leave here
Don't you shoot him down
He's got to stay here
He ain't going nowhere
He's been shot down to the ground
Oh where he can't survive no no

Yeah that's what we don't wanna hear any more, alright
No bullets
At least here, huh huh
No guns, no bombs
Huh huh
No nothin', just let's all live and live
You know instead of killin'

- Jimi Hendrix -
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1968

30

Mar

1968 University Protests

In Spring 1968, protests began to erupt at Columbia University in New York in retaliation of the university and institutions’ general support of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War and…

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1965

30

Mar

The Black Arts Movement

In 1965, Amiri Baraka founds the Black Arts Repertory Theatre School in Harlem and sparked the Black Arts Movement in Harlem. Throughout his life, Baraka collaborated with artists across the Black Atlantic to bring Black artists together….

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21

Feb

Assassination of Malcolm X

Malcolm X, a leader and minister in the Nation of Islam in Harlem was assassinated on February 21, 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights. Often contrasted with…

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1964

02

Jul

Civil Rights Act

President Johnson pushes the Civil Rights Act through Congress that prohibited discrimination in public places, gave the Justice Department permission to sue states that discriminated against women and minorities and promised equal opportunities…

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1963

21

Dec

Sam Cooke Records “A Change is Gonna Come”

Inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and after his tourmates were arrested for trying to book a ‘whites only’ hotel, Cooke recorded and released the song which became a massive success in the Black community…

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28

Aug

March on Washington

200,000 people congregated in Washington DC for the peaceful march advocating for civil and economic rights and freedoms of African-Americans where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his legendary “I Have a Dream Speech”.

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1961

15

Mar

Ray Charles Refuses to Play for Segregated Audience

When it was announced that Bell Auditorium in Augusta, Georgia, would be segregating Ray Charles’s show, Charles immediately cancelled his appearance. This came after a refusal to include Augusta in his tour for “What’d I Say”…

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1960

23

Sep

Kwame Nkrumah Addresses the United Nations

Nkrumah’s address called for an end to white supremacy and discussed Africa’s role in the world and the future role of the world in Africa…

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21

Mar

Sharpeville Massacre

The Sharpeville massacre occurred after a day of demonstrations against pass laws when South African police opened fire on a crowd, killing 69 and injuring 180. It triggered mass underground resistance and international solidarity…

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01

Feb

Greensboro Sit Ins

The Greensboro sit-ins were a series of nonviolent protests led by university students that occurred between February and July 1960 to challenge the segregation of local department stores with segregated lunch counters…

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01

Jan

The Year of Africa

Referred to as the Year of Africa due to a number of events, mainly the independence of 17 African nations and Africa’s emergence as a major force in the United Nations.

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1959

17

May

Murder of Kelso Cochrane

Kelso Cochrane, a young Black man, was stabbed to death in Golborne Road by white youth who were never apprehended. His murder sparked a new era of community race relations in Britain thanks to the lack of…

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1958

29

Aug

Notting Hill Race Riots

Between August 29 and September 5, 1958, there were a series of racially motivated race riots in Notting Hill between ‘Teddy Boys’ and Caribbean Immigrants. Some of these riots included…

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1957

06

Mar

Ghana Obtains Independence

Kwame Nkrumah, a renowned pan-Africanist, leads Ghana to independence as Britain’s first African colony to obtain majority-rule independence. Ghana stood, as Nkrumah stated, as proof that “Africans conduct their own affairs…

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1955

28

Aug

“Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees"

- Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit -
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1950

30

Mar

Apartheid in South Africa

The South African government refuses to place South-West Africa under UN Trusteeship and passes multiple acts which officially divide South Africans into ‘White’, ‘Coloured’, ‘Asian’ or ‘Native’, formalizing apartheid…

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1948

10

Dec

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights became the foundation for human and civil rights movement after WWII. For the Black Atlantic, the Declaration emphasized the recognition of fundamental rights and freedoms by their colonial leaders…

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21

Jun

The Empire Windrush

The Empire Windrush’s docking at Port of Tilbury in 1948 marked the starting point of West Indian migration to Britain as a result of the British Nationalist Act of 1948 that granted citizenship to citizens of the…

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11

Jun

“What then did you expect when you unbound the gag that muted those black mouths? That they would chant your praises? Did you think that when those heads that our fathers had forcibly bowed down to the ground were raised again, you would find adoration in their eyes?”

- Jean-Paul Sartre -
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1945

15

Oct

The Fifth Pan-African Congress Demands the End of Colonialism

After an 18 year hiatus, the Pan-African Congress reconvened for the fifth time after WWII in 1945 in Manchester, England. This Congress was…

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1941

14

Aug

The Atlantic Charter

Developed between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, the Atlantic Charter was widely acclaimed due to…

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