Black History Month 2023

1980 1981-1989 1990

39 Jimmy Carter | 40 Ronald Reagan | 41 George H. W. Bush

Black Power Affirmative Action Mass Incarceration

Affirmative Action

United States - Government programs began to open resources and areas, to Black Americans, in limited areas of society.


April 29, 1981
.22 caliber killer Caught

Buffalo, New York - James Gerard Christopher (aka The Midtown Slasher) murdered up to thirteen (13) Black American men. Christopher was an Army enlistee. He was indicted (charges filed) for the murder of 3 Black American men.

Christopher was implicated in the murder of 8 Black American men. An additional nine (9) Black American men survived with injuries.

Christopher only targeted Black American men. He claimed to have murdered five (5) more Black American men (for a total of 13). Christopher died in Attica Prison, New York, at age 37, March 1st, 1993.


July 1, 1982
'The Message' Released

Englewood, New Jersey - Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five released the rap song, The Message. It was made as a result of the 1980 New York Transit Strike.


October 14, 1982
President Reagan Declared 'War on Drugs'

Washington, D. C. - President Ronald Reagan declared the 'War on Drugs' at the Justice Department. This was the second time the United States government made drugs a policy focus. The first time was by President Richard Nixon, in 1971.

Reagan made his 'drugs' speech years before the crack cocaine hysteria of the 1980s. It came before the mass incarceration law that Reagan signed, in 1984. By the time crack cocaine appeared, all the pieces were in place to wage a legal, civil war against Black Americans. Over the next 20 years, prison rates of young, Black American men exploded.


January 7, 1983
AIDS Disease Blamed on Black Women

Washington, D. C. - The Center for Disease Control (CDC) made its first attempt to blame AIDS on Black American women. After this report, race was counted as a factor in AIDS.

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) was the AIDS report from the CDC. It made a link betwen Black American and hispanic women and AIDS. Never again, was AIDS questioned as a disease. It made Black American women the face of it.


Mass Incarceration

United States - Whites began the process of putting Black Americans, mostly young men, in jail in massive waves of arrests. The pretense was that there was a crime problem and a drug problem. This combined with the supposed HIV/AIDS scare, which was targeted at Black American women.


September 30, 1984
The Cosby Show Premiered

New York, New York - The Cosby Show first aired on NBC, at 8:00 p.m. EST. It showed the middle-class aspirations of Black Americans.

The format of the show was a situation comedy (or sitcom). It was an immediate hit. While NBC lagged behind ABC and NBC in viewers, The Cosby Show was a ratings powerhouse.

Dr. William H. Cosby, who created and starred in the show, wanted to present Black Americans in a good light. Black Americans were presented as well-adjusted and well-off.

Cosby's portrayal of Black Americans was mere fantasy, or wish-fulfillment. Whites used this image to justify the end of affirmative action. A TV show gave whites the excuse to deny Black Americans were suffering under their oppression.

The show ended the day after the Rodney King riots began.


October 12, 1984
Mass Incarceration Began

Washington, D. C. - The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 was signed into law. It took immediate effect. This was the first Federal law that began the era of Mass Incarceration. It targeted Black American men and boys, for jail and prison.

This act enabled the notorious mandatory minimum sentences. It eliminated Federal parole. Civil forfeiture powers were expanded.

The second act was the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. It created the 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Black Americans were charged with crack. Whites were charged with powder cocaine. Black Americans suffered 100 times longer time in jail and prison compared to whites, for the same act.

The third act was the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. It restored the death penalty to Federal sentences, which focused on Black American men.

The final act of Federal law, was the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994). It expanded the Federal Death Penalty. Higher education for inmates was eliminated. The three-strikes provision was added to court sentences.


December 22, 1984
Bernhard Goetz Shot Four (4) Black American Youths

New York, New York - Bernhard Goetz shot four (4) Black Americans, on a subway car. The four (4) victims were Barry Allen, Troy Canty, James Ramseur, and Darrell Cabey.

Four (4) youths rode on a subway train, in Manhattan. Three (3) were 19 years of age. One (1) was 18 years of age. They planned to steal quarters from coin-operated video game machines.

At the 14th Street station, Goetz boarded the train. He took a seat next to the youths. There were fifteen (15) to twenty (20) other people in the subway car.

Cabey told Goetz to give him five (5) dollars. Goetz asked him to repeat what he said. Cabey said it again. Goetz stood. He pulled a revolver from his jacket. Goetz held the gun with both hands, and took a shooting stance. He then shot all four (4) victims.

The youths had no weapons and were unarmed. They made no verbal threats. Goetz had the gun illegally. Before the shooting, Goetz had weapons and target training. Goetz made no attempt to get out of the area before the shooting.

Goetz shot in rapid fire, on a crowded subway train. Cabey was left paralyzed for life. The shooting created a panic on the train, as other riders ran and ducked for safety.

Once the car stopped, the conductor asked Goetz if he was a police worker. Goetz said no. The conductor asked for the gun. Goetz refused, jumped off the train to the tracks below, and ran.

Goetz fled New York City to dispose of the gun. He returned to get some things and fled again to New Hampshire. On December 31, Goetz turned himself into the police in Concord, New Hampshire.

On April 7, 1987, the trial began. On June 16, Goetz was found guilty, by a mostly white jury. The white judge gave Goetz a six (6) months, in prison. On appeal, the setence was changed to one (1) year. Goetz only served eight (8) months.

The four (4) Black American victims sued the white shooter, Goetz, in civil court. The judgments went over $50 million. Years later, Goetz was asked about it. He said, as far as he knew, he paid not one penny.


May 13, 1985
MOVE Bombed By Police

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The Philadelphia Police Department used a bomb, in an airstrike, that killed 11 people. It was dropped on the roof of a home. The neighborhood was densely packed. The Philadelphia Fire Department let the fire burn out of control.

MOVE was the Christian Movement For Life. It was a back-to-nature group of Black Americans, led by John Africa. From 1981, MOVE members lived in a row home, at 6221 Osage Avenue, in Philadelphia.

For years, neighbors complained about MOVE members. The complaints were about trash around the house and confrontations with neighbors. MOVE used a bullhorn to make announcements, of political messages, in the neighborhood.

Mayor Wilson Goode and police commissioner Gregore J. Sambor evacuated the neighborhood before their planned attack on the MOVE house. They promised that everyone could return after twenty-four (24) hours.

Monday, May 13, 1985, five hundred (500) police workers arrived at the MOVE house. The police were there to arrest MOVE members and clear the house.

There were thirteen (13) people inside the MOVE house. They were eight (8) adults and five (5) children. The police ordered everyone to leave. MOVE members did not respond.

The police fired tear gas bombs into the house. The MOVE members fired at the bomb throwers. Police fired ten thousand (10,000) rounds at the house.

The police barrage stopped. The MOVE members stayed inside. Next, Commissioner Sambor ordered the house be bombed, from the air.

At 5:27 p.m., Frank Powell was head of the Philadelphia police bomb disposal squad. Powell lit a 45 second fuse to C-4 (an explosive used in the Vietnam War). From a helicopter, Powell dropped the bomb, on the still occupied MOVE house.

The bomb exploded on the roof and started a fire. Mayor Goode ordered that the fire should not be put out until the bunker burned. That was one and a half (1 1/2) hours after the fire started.

As a result, eleven (11) people died. Six (6) adults and five (5) children were killed. The children ranged from seven (7) to fourteen (14) years of age. Ramona Africa was one of the survivors. She said the police shot at them as they tried to escape the fire.

Ramona Africa was charged and convicted of riot and conspiracy, as a survivor of MOVE. No city employees, politicians, or officials were criminally charged for the attack.


November 17, 1985
First Use of 'Crack' in Media

New York, New York - 'Crack' first appeared in newspaper print, in the New York Times. This was the beginning of the 'crack cocaine' hysteria, that lasted for decades.


December 16, 1985
The Color Purple Premiered

New York, New York - The Color Purple was shown for the first time in New York, New York. It was a work of fiction, based on a story by Alice Walker. Steven Spielberg directed the movie.

The movie starred Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg. From its release, the movie has been controversial and heavily criticized by Black Americans.

Some of the complaints, of the movie, were its racist stereotypes of Black American men as violent toward women. The Black American rapist stereotype was created by white males during Reconstruction to lynch (murder) and castrate Black American men.

Another complaint was that this fictional movie, which made Black American men as violent, was directed by a white male, Spielberg. Further, Spielberg already faced charges of racism from Asians. This was from his 1984 Indiana Jones movie.

There was the issue of sexual perversion in the movie. It showed Black American women as sexually deviant. Despite the story being about Black Americans, all the producers were white or homosexual.

The movie went into wide release, February 7, 1986. This was during Black History Month and after the first observance of Martin Luther King Day, as a Federal holiday.


January 20, 1986
First Martin Luther King Day Observed

Washington, D. C. - The first legal observance of Martin Luther King Day was in the United States. This was the first (1st) and only Federal holiday for a Black American.

On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed, into law, to make it a Federal holiday. States were not required to observe the holiday. At first, many states refused to accept it. This included many southern states.

By 2000, all states recognized the Federal holiday, but called it by other names. Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Virginia called it Stonewall Jackson Day. These states chose to honor a Confederate General who fought the United States, to uphold slavery.


January 25, 1986
'The Vanishing Family: Crisis in Black America' First Aired on Television

New York, New York - CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) showed 'Crisis in Black America' on national television. Black people were shown as loose, broken, and hopeless. It showed Black American men as poor fathers.

The stories were from Newark, New Jersey. The problems of this city were used by CBS to present all Black Americans in the same way. Bill Moyers, a white man, was the narrator.

The mothers and fathers were never shown talking to each together. Moyers only spoke to the women, or the men, but not at the same time. No Black American families were shown talking to one another. It implied Black Americans were alienated from one another.

Moyers spoke to a Black American father, who said he gave no support to his six (6) children. This one statement sparked outrage among whites. Thus began the 'Deadbeat Dad' myth in the United States.

CBS aired this five (5) days after the first Martin Luther King Day in the United States.


October 24, 1986
Soul Man Movie Released

The movie, Soul Man, was released in the United States. It was the story of a white man who used affirmative action to attend law school. This was the excuse to appear in blackface, in the movie.

The white man wanted to go to Harvard Law School. His father refused to pay for it. To get law school paid, he chose to use affirmative action. Since he was white, he had to pretend to be Black, to get the benefits.

The movie was criticized for its racist stereotypes of Black Americans, created by whites. It mocked affirmative action as the premise for the movie. The movie was almost forgotten after the 1980s.


October 27, 1986
Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986

Washington, D. C. - President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. This began the 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

This was the second of three Mass Incarceration Acts of the 1980s and 1990s. In 1984, the first brought mandatory-minimum sentences. 1994, the third and last brought 3 strikes.

By 2002, it was clear the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was almost entirely meant for Black Americans. 85% of inmates, in prison on the 100:1 sentencing, were Black Americans.


April 19, 1989
Central Park Five (5)

New York, New York - White police workers and prosecutors falsely tried and convicted five (5) male teenagers of rape. Four (4) were Black Americans. One (1) was Latino. They were charged with the rape of a white woman, in Central Park. She survived.

Four of the youths served 6-7 years in jail. One was tried as an adult, at sixteen (16) years of age. He was in jail for thirteen (13) years.

In 2002, a man was found to be the rapist. The case against the youths was vacated (erased) by the New York courts. None of the white police, prosecutors, nor judge were punished for their actions against the teenagers.

The five sued the City of New York. In 2014, the courts gave them a $41 million total judgment. In 2016, The State of New York settled on a $3.9 million total.


May 19, 1989
'Do the Right Thing' First Screening

Cannes, France - The movie 'Do The Right Thing' premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The movie showed the reasons race riots began in the United States, in the 1960s.


July 4, 1989
'Fight the Power' Released

New York, New York - 'Fight the Power' was released by Public Enemy, on the Motown Records label. It was created for the movie 'Do the Right Thing' by Spike Lee.


October 23, 1989
Charles Stuart Framed Black Man

Boston, Massachusetts - Charles Stuart killed his wife and blamed a Black American man for it. Stuart, and his wife Carol, were white. After a pregnancy class, he claimed he drove through Roxbury, a Black American area of Boston.

At a stoplight, he said a Black American man forced his way in the car. Stuart said the man told them to drive to Mission Hill. It was nearby. There, Stuart said the man robbed them. Stuart said this man shot him in the stomach and his wife in the head.

Carol died hours after the shooting. The baby was born premature. His name was Christopher. He died seventeen (17) days later. Stuart was in the hospital for weeks after the shooting.

The story made national headlines. Boston police workers used stop-and-frisk on many innocent Black American men, on the word of Stuart. William Bennett, a Black American man, was jailed by the Boston Police, in the search for the killer.

On December 28, 1989, Stuart said Bennett shot him and his wife. On January 3, 1990, Matthew, the brother of Charles, told the police it was all a lie. Matthew said it was an insurance scam. He had met Charles that night. There, he told Matthew he killed his wife.

On January 4, 1990, Charles Stuart jumped off the Tobin Bridge in Chelsea, Massachusetts. His body was found the next day.