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A History of Black Achievement in America

This original, nine-part series documents Black Achievement in American history, its defining role in the growth of the country, and its influence on current events. Presented by James Avery, the series highlights the many contributions of Black Americans that have influenced our culture, enriched our society with their achievements, and shaped the history of the United States. It's one of the least known stories in American history. It is the story of black achievement and accomplishment. Against all odds, American blacks have built their own institutions: families, schools, churches and businesses. Against all odds, American blacks have created great art and science.... Fought heroically in every American war. Against all odds, black men and women have worked endlessly to secure their own freedom and equality. The untold Story of blacks in America is a 350-year saga of incredible achievements. This is that story.
  • Title ID 10-BLA
  • History, American History, Social Studies, Minority Achievement
  • 9 Programs
  • 25 Supplemental Files
  • 10th Grade through Post Secondary
  • Published by Ambrose Video Publishing Inc./Centre Communications
Included Programs
Supplemental Files
Related Titles

Included Programs

Settling the New World and the Founding of the United StatesRunning time is 30 minutes

American Colonial History includes the stories of The study of Black Achievement or African American Achievement, Black Heroes or African American Heroes.

Chapter List
1619-1621 Blacks Arrive at Jamestown
Anthony Johnson, who had arrived at Jamestown, one of the English Colonies in Virginia, became a free Black.
1705 The Virginia General Assembly Passes the Slave Codes
Blacks were brought from Africa through the slave trade and put into slavery in America with the slave codes.
1762 Entrepreneur Samuel Fraunces Opens New York City's Most cherished Revolutionary War Site: The F
A Black entrepreneur, Samuel Fraunces, founded the Fraunces Tavern, a New York City Historical Site.
1770 Crispus Attucks and the Black Patriots
Crispus Attucks was a Black patriot who was the first to die in the Revolutionary War's Boston Massacre.

Emergence of the Black HeroRunning time is 28 minutes

Black Achievement or African American Achievement, and Black Heroes or African American Heroes, are showcased in the first 75 years of the Founding of the United States of America

Chapter List
1772 - Chicago is Settled by Jean DuSable
Chicago was founded by Jean DuSable, black entrepreneur and pioneer.
1776 - Lemuel Haynes Helps Lay the Foundation for Abolition
Lemuel Haynes, Black patriot, poet and minute man would lay the foundation for the Black call for abolition.
1791 - The First Black Man of Science, Benjamin Banneker, Surveys Washington, D.C.
Benjamin Banneker, was a Black scientist who helped design Washington D.C.
1821 - African Grove Theatre Founded in New York
James Hewlett, William Brown, Ian Aldridge were Black Actors who founded the African Grove Theater in New York City
1822 - Denmark Vesey and the Slave Revolts
Slavery produced the slave revolts led by Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner.
1823 - Legendary Mountain Man James Beckwourth Enters the Rockies
James Beckwourth was a mountain man, a Black mountain man, who opened up part of the Oregon Trail.
1849 - Harriet Tubman Uses Underground Railroad to Become Free
Harriet Tubman used the Underground Railroad to fight slavery.

The Fight for FreedomRunning time is 27 minutes

Black Achievement or African American Achievement, and Black Heroes or African American Heroes are depicted against the backdrop of the American Civil War.

Chapter List
1851 - Sojourner Truth Delivers Famous "Ain't I a Woman?" Speech
Sojourner Truth was an abolitionist who fought for women's rights and against slavery.
1854 - First Black University Founded: Lincoln University
Lincoln University was a Black institution that graduated Black leaders such as Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes
1855 - Frederick Douglass Publishes My Bondage and My Freedom
Frederick Douglass was a black author whose anti slavery book, My Bondage and My Freedom, was a call for abolition.
1857 - Dred Scott Decision Helps Trigger the Civil War
Dred Scott a Missouri slave sued to win his freedom an the Supreme Court's decision that he was not free but property started the Civil War.
1863 - Lincoln Signs Emancipation Proclamation
After the Union won the battle of Antietam, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the South.
1863 - Black Regiment Storms Fort Wagner in the Civil War
During the Civil War at the Battle of Fort Wagner, Sergeant William Carney became the first Black soldier to win the Medal Of Honor, and Black soldiers served so honorably that after the war two Black Cavalry regiments were formed.
1865 - 1869-- 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments Establish Civil Rights for All
After the Civil War the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution guaranteed civil rights to all blacks, including the right to vote.

Blacks Enter the Gilded AgeRunning time is 28 minutes

Achievement or African American Achievement, and Black Heroes or African American Heroes are shown in America's Gilded Age.

Chapter List
1875 - Robert Smalls, Former Slave, Elected to House
Robert Smalls, a Black Congressman, and Hiram Revels, a Black U.S. senator, used the Reconstruction Acts to gain political power.
1878 - The Black Cowboy and George McJunkin
After emancipation black men such as Nat Love and Bass Reeves went west where they became cowboys and lawmen, and later, Black cowboy, George McJunkin discovered the Folsom point.
1881 - Booker T. Washington Opens Tuskegee Institute
Booker T. Washington, who founded Tuskegee Institute and wrote Up From Slavery, would promote using education and labor skills to further social moderation, while W.E.B. Dubois would fight for immediate social and political equality.
1884 - T. Thomas Fortune Prophesies the Long and Bitter Struggle for Equality
T. Thomas Fortune, Black newspaper man who founded The New York Globe and coined the term Afro-American, fights for Civil Rights.
1887 - Granville T. Woods, Called the "Black Edison," Patents the Induction Telegraph System
Black inventor Granville T. Woods invents the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph.
1893 - Ida B. Wells-Barnett Crusades Against Black Lynching in America
Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the first of the Black women Civil Rights activists, crusaded against Black lynching,.
1896 - Plessy v. Ferguson Case Upholds Segregation
In Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court, upholds segregation and Jim Crow laws setting back civil rights.

The Foundation for EqualityRunning time is 28 minutes

The Progressive Era and the Roaring Twenties were periods of great success for Black Achievement or African American Achievement, and Black Heroes or African American Heroes.

Chapter List
1904 - Scott Joplin and Ma Rainey Initiate the Merger of Two Cultures
Composer Scott Joplin and singer Ma Rainey lead the way in jazz and blues for black composers and black singers.
1909 - Matthew Henson Discovers the North Pole
Black explorer Matthew Henson and Robert Peary become the first to reach the North Pole.
1909 - W.E.B. Du Bois Founds the NAACP
W.E.B. Du Bois founds the NAACP to fight Jim Crow laws and segregation and to promote Civil Rights.
1924 - George Washington Carver, Renaissance Man
George Washington Carver - Black scientist, inventor and naturalist - sets the stage for other black scientists.
1925 - Alain Locke Leads Harlem Renaissance
Black author Alain Locke leads the Harlem Renaissance in New York City.
1926 - Satchel Paige Stars in the National Negro Baseball League
Black Baseball player, Satchel Paige, stars in the National Negro Baseball League as its star Black pitcher.

Depression and WarRunning time is 27 minutes

During the Depression and World War Two, there were still Black Achievements or African American Achievements, as well as Black Heroes or African American Heroes.

Chapter List
1935 - Mary McLeod Bethune: American Woman of the 20th Century
Mary McLeod Bethune, a member of FDR's Black Cabinet, founded Bethune Cookman College and the National Council of Negro Women, which allied with the NAACP to promote Civil Rights.
1936-38 - Jesse Owens And Joe Louis debunk Hitler's Claim of Aryan superiority
Black track star Jesse Owens and black boxer Joe Louis set the stage for other black athletes, such as Jackie Robinson, and other blacks to succeed in all walks of life.
1939 - Hattie McDaniel Wins the Oscar
Oscar winner, Hattie McDaniel, for Gone with the Wind, leads the way for Black actors to be recognized, and later setting the stage for Blaxploitation films and the emergence of black superstars.
1940 - First Black General, Benjamin O. Davis Sr., is Stepping Stone to Desegregation of U.S. Army
From the 19th century's Buffalo Soldiers to WWII' Tuskegee Airmen, blacks served the U.S. in time of war, but it would be the first Black General Benjamin O. Davis who would lead the army to desegregation and the later recognition of leaders like Colin Powell.
1943 - Duke Ellington's Band Performs "Black, Brown and Beige" at Carnegie Hall
Jazz pianist Duke Ellington, set the stage for other Jazz greats, like Louis Armstrong, to succeed, and eventually set the stage for the independent black record company Motown Records.

Civil RightsRunning time is 28 minutes

The Civil Rights Era was a great period of Black Achievement or African American Achievement, and Black Heroes or African American Heroes.

Chapter List
1950 - Ralph Bunche Wins the Nobel Peace Prize
Ralph Bunche, after winning the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his United Nations work, lent his name and prestige to the fight for Civil Rights for American Blacks.
1950 - Gwendolyn Brooks Becomes the First Black Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize
Gwendolyn Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winning author, inspired the idea of 'Black is beautiful.'
1954 - Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Supreme Court overturned Plessey v. Ferguson, ending 60 years of 'separate but equal' segregation and instituting a civil Rights breakthrough of integration.
1955 - Rosa Parks Refuses to Give Up Her Seat to a White Passenger on a Montgomery Bus
Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus and set the stage for the end of segregation and the beginning of full Civil Rights for Blacks.
1956 - Althea Gibson, First Black Woman To Win a Tennis Grand Slam Event
Althea Gibson, a Black athlete in tennis, opened the door for Black women athletes in American sports.
1959 - Lorraine Hansberry's Play A Raisin in the Sun is Produced
Lorraine Hansberry, who wrote A Raisin in the Sun, starring Sidney Poitier, was a woman author and American playwright who opened the door for other Black playwrights on Broadway.
1963 - Martin Luther King Jr. Delivers His I have a Dream Speech
Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech would be the culmination of non-violent protests and Freedom Rides to end segregation and bring on Black Civil Rights.

A New AgeRunning time is 27 minutes

There has been much Black Achievement or African American Achievement, and many Black Heroes or African American Heroes in America's Information Age.

Chapter List
1967 - Muhammad Ali Refuses Induction into the U.S. Army on Religious Grounds
Black boxer Cassius Clay, who changed his name to Muhammad Ali, would lead the fight for Black power and Civil Rights.
1967 - Thurgood Marshall, First Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Lincoln University graduate and Black lawyer Thurgood Marshall, who led the team fighting for Civil Rights in Brown v. Board of Education, is appointed as the first Black justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.
1977 - Alex Haley's Roots: The Saga of An American Family Appears on TV
Black actors, authors and executives breakthrough the color barrier and create integration with Alex Haley's Roots, Black Entertainment Television (BET) owner Robert L. Johnson, and TV talk show star, Oprah Winfrey.
2001 - Colin Powell Appointed Secretary of State
Black General, Colin Powell, would become the first Black Secretary of State, followed in 2005 by Condoleeza Rice.
2004 - Neil deGrasse Tyson Becomes Astrophysics' Superstar
Black scientist and physics' superstar, Neil deGrasse Tyson, stars in PBS series, Origins.

The Barack Obama EraRunning time is 28 minutes

In the first two decades of the 21st Century a new Black identity was taking shape based not on slavery or the struggle for equal rights but on excellence, on African Americans’ growing role in American politics, on new forms of literature and on a rising Black entrepreneurial class that has found a home in Silicon Valley.

Chapter List
2008 - Barack Obama Wins Presidency
Program Nine opens with Barack Obama’s historic rise to the American presidency.
2012 - Natasha Trethewey and the New Wave of Black Literature
This program looks at new forms of Black literature reflecting a different Black-American identity taking shape in the 21st century.
2012 - Tristan Walker Opens Silicon Valley's Door To Blacks
Black tech entrepreneur Tristan Walker paves the way for tech savvy Blacks in Silicon Valley.
2016 - Lonnie Bunch Opens National Museum of African American History and Culture
Lonnie Bunch opened the doors of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a collection of nearly 37,000 objects to tell the story of Arican Americans.
2017 - Hidden Figures Highlights Black Women's Mathematical Genius
The program ends with two stories recounting the enormous achievements and contributions Blacks have made to the nation.

Supplemental Files

MARC Records for BLA
MARC records for the series A History of Black Achievement in America
Historical Speech - Aint I a Woman
Historical Speech - Martin Luther King Jr.s
Teacher Guide - Black Achievement
Historical Document - Trumans Executive Order Desegregating the Armed Forces
Historical Document - Virginia Slave Code 1705
Historical Document - Voting Rights Act of 1965
Historical Document - Supreme Courts Brown v. Board of Education
Historical Document - Supreme Courts Plessy v. Ferguson Decision
Historical Document - The Bill of Rights
Historical Document - Civil Rights Act of 1964
Historical Document - Missouri Compromise
Historical Document - Supreme Courts Dred Scott Decision
Black History Achievement Timeline
Blackline Master Quizzes
Historical Document - 13th, 14th And 15th Amendments
Transcription for Settling the New World and the Founding of the United States
Transcription for Emergence of the Black Hero
Transcription for The Fight for Freedom
Transcription for Blacks Enter the Gilded Age
Transcription for The Foundation for Equality
Transcription for Depression and War
Transcription for Civil Rights
Transcription for A New Age
Transcription for The Barack Obama Era


"A History of Black Achievement in America is an outstanding eight-part series that brings much-needed balance, highlighting the exemplary contribution of African Americans to the U.S. society and culture...with excellent narration by actor James Avery (the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). Filling important historical gaps, the programs… are organized in independent segments, making them ideal for classroom use. Highly recommended. Editor's Choice." - 4 STARS
Video Librarian

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