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Clarence Thomas being sworn in as Supreme Court Justice.







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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1984
The Cosby Show, starring African American comedian Bill Cosby, premieres on television. It will become one of the most popular sit-coms in history. It also departs from what had been the usual negative stereotyping of African Americans on TV by showing an upper-middle-class, professional, well-educated family.

NPR Learn More: Interview with Bill Cosby
From Morning Edition
1400
The Philadelphia State Police bomb a house in Philadelphia occupied by an African American activist organization, MOVE. The bombing kills 11 occupants of the house and triggers a fire that destroys a neighborhood and leaves over 300 people homeless.

1400
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday is made into a national holiday.

NPR Learn More: King Legacy
From The Tavis Smiley Show
1400
Spike Lee's film She's Gotta Have It wins him the best new director award at the ultra-prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

NPR Learn More: Interview with Spike Lee
From Weekend Edition
1400
Ronald McNair, a mission specialist with NASA, dies on board the space shuttle Challenger, which explodes 73 seconds after liftoff.

1400
Reginald Lewis becomes the first African American to own a business with sales over $1 billion, by taking over Beatrice International Food Company.

1400
Earvin "Magic" Johnson is named the National Basketball Association's Most Valuable Player. He retires from the L.A. Lakers when he learns that he has contracted the HIV virus.

NPR Learn More: Bebe Moore Campbell on Magic Johnson
From Morning Edition
1400
Pope John Paul II appoints Eugene A. Marino, S.S.J. as archbishop of Atlanta. Archbishop Marino becomes the first African American Catholic archbishop in the United States.

1400
General Colin L. Powell is the first African American to be named chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. military.

NPR Learn More: Powell's Track Record
From Weekend All Things Considered

PBS Learn More: Colin Powell
From the Online NewsHour

1989
Oprah Winfrey, the first African American woman to host a nationally syndicated (and wildly popular) talk show, founds Harpo Productions to produce her own movies and TV shows. In 2000, Forbes magazine will estimate Winfrey's earnings at $150 million.

NPR Learn More: Review of O
From Weekend Edition
1400
Ron Brown becomes the first African American person to head a major national political party, as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. President Bill Clinton will later make him Secretary of Commerce. Brown will be killed in a plane crash in 1996.

NPR Learn More: Ron Brown Profile
From All Things Considered

PBS Learn More: Remembering Ron Brown
From the Online NewsHour

1400
David Dinkins becomes the first African American mayor of New York City, and Douglas Wilder becomes the first African American state governor since Reconstruction by being elected in Virginia.

1400
Sculptor Martin Puryear is the sole artist from the United States chosen for the Sao Paulo Bienal in Brazil and is awarded the exhibition's grand prize.

1400
August Wilson wins a Pulitzer Prize for his play The Piano Lesson. He won his first Pulitzer in 1987 for Fences.

NPR Learn More: August Wilson's "Jitney"
From Weekend Edition
1400
The U.S. Census reveals an increase in the African American population to 12 percent of the total U.S. population, with over 50 percent of all African Americans still residing in southern states.



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