African Americans and indeed America has been shaped by historical events which have defined and altered the character of American society. From the onset, the Union established in 1787, was flawed, incomplete, and imperfect.  African Americans and their freedom struggle would play a critical and pivotal role in perfecting the Union. Brought to the United States as slaves, African Americans refused to be defined as slaves and refused to accept their condition. Instead, they struggled to redefine themselves in human terms and in the process they redefined America.

This essay below chronicles the ten most significant historical events which shaped the lives of African Americans and their self-identity.  The historical events listed below were principally selected because of the role they played in contributing to and advancing the collective vocation of African Americans- attaining their freedom and defining their humanity. History, to be sure, does not unfold in a liner fashion. Therefore, there are events of monumental importance which have a connection with and made possible the ten historical events listed below. Milestones in African American History, a companion text to this essay, provide a more panoramic view of the events around the ones listed below and shows their connectivity.

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