Black History and Women Timeline 1920-1929

Black History and Women Timeline 1920-1929

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The Harlem Renaissance: also called the New Negro Movement, a blossoming of arts, culture, and social action in the African American community all through the 1920s


  • 19th Amendment to the US Constitution became law, but practically this did not give the vote to Southern African American women, who, like African American men, were largely prevented by other legal and extra-legal measures from exercising the vote
  • Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds recorded the first blues record, which sold more than 75,000 copies in its first month
  • National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes shortens its name to National Urban League
  • Katy Ferguson Home founded, named for 19th century African American educator
  • Universal African Black Cross Nurses founded, for public education, by the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) led by Marcus Garvey
  • Zeta Phi Beta Sorority founded at Howard University, Washington, DC
  • Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander received a Ph.D, the first African American woman to do so. Eva B. Dykes (Radcliffe) and Georgiana R. Simpson (University of Chicago) follow.
  • (October 12) Alice Childress born (writer)


  • Bessie Coleman became the first African American woman to earn a pilot's license
  • Alice Paul reversed an invitation to Mary Burnett Talbert of the NAACP to speak to the National Woman's Party, asserting that the NAACP supported racial equality and did not address gender equality
  • (September 14) Constance Baker Motley born (lawyer, activist)


  • Lucy Diggs Stowe became Howard University's Dean of Women
  • Anti-lynching bill passes United States House, fails in the United States Senate
  • United Negro Improvement Association appointed Henrietta Vinton Davis as Fourth Assistant President, responding to criticism by women members of gender discrimination
  • (August 14) Rebecca Cole died (second African American woman to graduate from medical school, worked with Elizabeth Blackwell in New York)


  • Bessie Smith recorded "Down Hearted Blues, signing a contract with Columbia to make "race records," and helping rescue Columbia from imminent failure
  • Gertrude "Ma" Rainey recorded her first record
  • (September) Cotton Club opened in Harlem - women entertainers were subjected to the "paper bag" test: only those whose skin color was lighter than a brown paper bag were hired
  • (October 15) Mary Burnett Talbert died (activist: anti-lynching, civil rights; nurse; NAACP director, president of the National Association of Colored Women 1916-1921)
  • (November 9) Alice Coachman born (first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal ((London, high jump)), National Track and Field Hall of Fame)
  • (November 9) Dorothy Dandridge born (actress, singer, dancer)


  • Mary Montgomery Booze became the first African American woman elected to the Republican National Committee
  • Elizabeth Ross Hayes became the first African American woman board member of the YWCA
  • (March 13) Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin died (journalist, activist, lecturer)
  • (March 27) Sarah Vaughan born (singer)
  • (May 31) Patricia Roberts Harris born (lawyer, politician, diplomat)
  • (August 29) Dinah Washington (Ruth Lee Jones) born (singer)
  • (October 27) Ruby Dee born (actress, playwright, activist)
  • (November 30) Shirley Chisholm born (social worker, politician; first African American woman to serve in the US Congress)
  • (December 7) Willie B. Barrow born (minister, civil rights activist)
  • 1924-1928 Mary McLeod Bethune served as president of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs (NACWC)


  • Founding of the Hesperus Club of Harlem, the first women's auxiliary of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
  • Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong recorded "St. Louis Blues"
  • Josephine Baker performed in Paris at "La Revue Negro"
  • (June 4) Mary Murray Washington died (educator, founder of the Tuskegee Woman's Club, wife of Booker T. Washington)


  • First Negro History Week promoted by Carter G. Woodson
  • YWCA adopted an interracial charter
  • African American women were beaten in Birmingham, Alabama, for attempting to register to vote
  • Publication of Hallie Brown's Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction, profiles of notable African American women
  • Violette N. Anderson became the first African American woman attorney to present a case before the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Bessie Coleman died (pilot)


  • Minnie Buckingham was appointed to fill her husband's remaining term in the West Virginia state legislature
  • Selena Sloan Butler founded the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers, focusing on segregated "colored" schools in the South (merged with PTA in 1970)
  • Mary White Ovington published Portraits in Color, biographies of African American leaders
  • Funeral for actress Florence Mills drew more than 150,000 in Harlem
  • Nella Larsen's novel, Quicksand, published
  • Josephine Baker played in La Sirene des tropiques
  • Tuskegee established a women's track team
  • Coretta Scott King born (activist, singer)
  • (February 10) Leontyne Price born (singer)
  • (April 25) Althea Gibson born (tennis athlete, first African American to play in American Lawn Tennis Association championship, first African American to win at Wimbledon)


  • Publication of An Autumn Love Cycle by Georgia Douglas Johnson
  • (April 4) Maya Angelou born


  • Regina Anderson helped found Harlem's Negro Experimental Theater
  • Augusta Savage won Rosenwald grant for Gamin' and used the funds to study in Europe
  • Bessie Smith recorded "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out"
  • (May 16) Betty Carter born (jazz singer)
  • (October) stock market crash, a sign of the oncoming Great Depression, where African Americans, including women, were usually the "last hired, first fired"
  • (1929-1934) Maggie Lena Walker chaired Consolidated Bank and Trust, which she created by merging several Richmond, Virginia, banks

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