Black History Month 2023

1866 1867-1876 1877

16 Abraham Lincoln | 17 Andrew Johnson | 18 Ulysses S. Grant

Black Codes Reconstruction Redemption


United States - As whites tried to oppress black Americans after the Slavery War, laws and policies were created to open society to the newly freed.


March 2, 1867 (1)
First Reconstruction Act Passed

Washington, D. C. - Congress passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867. It divided the rebel states into 5 districts of military control.

The military controlled the law and the courts of the states that rebelled, until constitutions were written that followed United States law.

This was an attempt to protect the righs of Black Americans after the defeat of the Confederate slave state. The Act passed over the veto of President Andrew Johnson.


March 2, 1867 (2)
Howard University Founded

Washington D. C. - A gathering of white church members met to create a school for missionaries in the South and Africa. It began as a Seminary.

Later, Major General Oliver Otis Howard was brought into the plan. Howard was known as a christian fundamentalist and was head of the Freedmen's Bureau.

On March 2, 1867, a Charter was approved by Congress. It was signed into law by President Andrew Johnson. This Act created Howard University.

On May 1, 1867, Howard University opened its doors to students. The first students were all white women. Two were daughters of the founders.

The initial reason for the school was to train Black American preachers. However, all were allowed to attend. Over 100,000 freed Black Americans were served by the school.

Howard University is still in operation, as of 2021.


September 28, 1868
Opelousas Massacre

Opelousas, Louisiana - Whites rampaged through the area and killed 150 people because Black Americans voted. A white supremacist group, called Knights of the White Camelia began the violence.


October 25, 1868
St. Bernard Parish Massacre

St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana - Whites went on a multi-day killing spree of Black Americans. It began due to white fear that Black American voters chose candidates that did not support white supremacy. Whites killed dozens of Black Americans. There were possibly more than 100 killed.


February 3, 1870
15th Amendment Ratified

Washington, D. C. - The Fifteenth Amendment was added to the United States Constitution. It had the intent to protect voting rights for Black Americans. It was not effective until the Voting Rights Act of 1964, almost 100 years later.

The full text...

Fifteenth Amendment

Section 1

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude–

Section 2

The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


May 31, 1870
First Enforcement Act

Washington, D. C. - The Civil Rights Act of 1870 was the first of the enforcement acts passed. It was to protect the rights of those formerly enslaved, to vote.

This was the first law that enforced the Fifteenth Amendment. It was an attempt to stop the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the Knights of the Camellia, and other white supremacist groups that attacked Black Americans.


June 23, 1870
Justice Department Signed Into Law

Washington, D. C. - President Ulysses Grant signed the Act to Establish the Department of Justice. It was formed to enforce the laws of the post-Slavery War era. These included the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. It was also a way to stop the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).


February 28, 1871
Second Enforcement Act

Washington, D. C. - This Act amended the Civil Rights Act of 1870. It made it a crime to stop Black Americans from being registered to vote. It put National elections under the control of the Federal government. Voters for elected officials for Federal(not State) office were protected under Federal law.

This was the Second Enforcement Act of the Fifteenth Amendment.


April 20, 1871
Third Enforcement Act

Washington, D. C. - The Civil Rights Act of 1871, was the third (and final) enforcement act of the Reconstruction Era. It was to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment.

This act was meant to stop the Ku Klux Klan, White League, and other white supremacists. They attacked duly elected officers of the United States. This act made it a crime that included fines, jail time, and possible civil action.

None of the enforcement acts were ever used to protect Black Americans, despite their intent. The United States Supreme Court stopped any chance of that in the case of United States v. Cruikshank.


April 13, 1873
The Colfax Massacre

Colfax, Louisiana - Whites killed 150 Black Americans at random because Republicans won control of the state government in the 1872 elections.


December 7, 1874
Vicksburg Massacre

Vicksburg, Mississippi - Whites killed dozens (possibly hundreds) of Black Americans to remove a Black American man as sheriff, Peter Crosby.

No white was prosecuted, investigated, nor punished.


December 19, 1875
Carter G. Woodson Born

New Canton, Virginia - Carter G. Woodson was born to Anne Eliza (Riddle) and James Henry Woodson. Both his parents were born into slavery. Woodson was an American historian, author, and journalist.

Woodson founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He was one of the first scholars to study the history of the African diaspora. His work in American history showed Black Americans as more than subjects of white supremacy.

In 1926, Woodson created Negro History Week. It preceded Black History Month.


July 4-9, 1876
Massacre at Hamburg

Hamburg, South Carolina - Whites killed six Black American men over a dispute from an Independence Day (4th of July) parade.