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Dancer and choreographer, Alvin Ailey

Timeline: Modern Times (1972 - Present)
Early Days & Slavery Halle Berry at the 2002 Academy Awards
Building Democracy
Civil Rights Era
Modern Times

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Act is passed, prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of, among other things, race, and laying the groundwork for affirmative action.

Barbara Jordan (D-Texas) becomes the first African American woman from a Southern state to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She will serve three terms in Congress.

NPR Learn More: International Women's Day
From The Tavis Smiley Show
Hank Aaron becomes the all-time leading hitter of home runs. Another African American baseball great, outfielder Reggie Jackson, sets records in several World Series in the 70s.

NPR Learn More: Interview with Hank Aaron
From Weekend Edition
The Jeffersons, one of the first sitcoms about an African American family, premiers on television. It will run for 10 years and will become one of television's longest running and most watched sitcoms.

Alex Haley receives a special Pulitzer Prize for his novel Roots. The next year, made into a mini-series, Roots will be one of the most popular shows in the history of television.

NPR Learn More: Roots 25th Anniversary
From The Tavis Smiley Show
Andrew Young becomes the first African American person to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

NPR Learn More: Interview with Andrew Young
From Talk of the Nation
In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the Supreme Court rules against universities using fixed racial quotas in making admissions decisions, a challenge to affirmative action.

The song "Rapper's Delight," by the Sugar Hill Gang, helps bring rap to national prominence.

NPR Learn More: Rapper's Delight
From Morning Edition
Nineteen-year-old artist Jean-Michel Basquiat wins critical and art-community acclaim for a collection of his paintings shown in a Manhattan exhibition of underground artists.

Singer Michael Jackson's album Thriller becomes one of the best-selling albums of all time.

Alice Walker's novel The Color Purple wins the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Astronaut Guion "Guy" S. Bluford, Jr., becomes the first African American in space, flying aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

Vanessa Williams becomes the first African American Miss America.

PBS Learn More: Breaking the Color Line at the Pageant
From American Experience: Miss America

Harold Washington is elected the first African American mayor of Chicago.

NPR Learn More: Legacy of Harold Washington
From All Things Considered
Jesse Jackson is the first African American man to make a serious bid for the U.S. presidency, vying for the Democratic Party nomination. He will try again in 1988 but lose to Michael Dukakis.

NPR Learn More: Interview with Jesse Jackson
From The Tavis Smiley Show

PBS Learn More: Jesse Jackson: The Decision to Run for President
From Frontline

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