Overview and Timelines

The history of the United States is often taught from the perspective of the dominant culture (that is, from a colonizer’s perspective), without acknowledgement of the racist policies and actions of the U.S. government. These policies include the genocide of Native Americans and the continued breaking of numerous treaties with Native American nations; internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent during World War II; constitutional encoding of enslavement of Africans and others until the passage of the 13th Amendment; the post 13th Amendment imposition of Jim Crow and Sundown laws; and racial profiling of Latinx and African Americans and other people of color that continue today.

Acknowledging racism is a critical component for understanding racial inequities and structural racism. This section provides timelines acknowledging key events in our nation’s history. Understanding how communities of color fare in exi [...]

History of Racism in the United States

Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America
Jeffery Robinson, et al.
The Who We Are Project
Lessons & Resources from Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching
Teaching for Change
History and Social Justice: Inspired by James W. Loewen
The Missing History of Asian America
Helen Zia and Arun Venugopal with Kai Wright
The United States of Anxiety, WNYC Studios
America’s Only Successful Coup d’Etat Overthrew a Biracial Government in 1898
Aaron Randle
HISTORY.com / The History Channel
We Are Not Done With Abolition
Eric Foner
The NY Times; Portside
How Textbooks Taught White Supremacy
Liz Mineo
The Harvard Gazette
“I Don’t Like China or Chinese People Because They Started This Quarantine”: The History of Anti-Chinese Racism and Disease in the United States
Wayne Au
Rethinking Schools
Make Reconstruction History Visible
Zinn Education Project, Teaching for Change
Reconstruction in America: Racial Violence After the Civil War, 1865–1876
Jennifer Taylor, et al.
Equal Justice Initiative
History is a Weapon
History is a Weapon
Lynching In America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror
Equal Justice Initiative
Race: The Power of an Illusion
Racism, History and Lies
Max Dashu
Suppressed Histories Archives
Sundown Towns in the United States
James W. Loewen, Matt Cheney, and Phil Huckelberry
Teaching People’s History
Zinn Education Project, Teaching for Change
Voices of the People’s History of the United States
Voices of a People’s History
Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy

History of Specific Issues or Locations

Un(re)solved: A Story of Civil Rights-Era Cold Cases and Families Still Searching for Justice
James Edwards, et al.
How a History of Stolen Land Shapes Us Today: Our February Spotlight on Land, Wealth, and Ownership
Olayinka Credle, et al.
Common Future; Medium.com
Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative: Investigative Report
Bryan Newland et al.
Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior
Confederate Statues Were Never Really About Preserving History
Ryan Best
What the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Destroyed
Y. Parshina-Kottas, A. Singhvi, A.D.S. Burch, et al.
The NY Times
How Would You Map the Monuments of St. Louis?
Monument Lab
How Textbooks Taught White Supremacy
Liz Mineo
Harvard Gazette
Oakland’s History of Resistance to Racism
City of Oakland
How the Myth of a Liberal North Erases a Long History of White Violence
Christy Clark-Pujara and Anna-Lisa Cox
This Former Sundown County Expelled 1,100 Black Residents in a Racial Cleansing
The Washington Post
Environmental Justice Milestones and Accomplishments:1964-2014
Robert D. Bullard, C. Johnson, D. King, & A. Torres
Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University
Historical Shift from Explicit to Implicit Policies Affecting Housing Segregation in Eastern Massachusetts
The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston
History of Migration, Citizenship and Belonging
Reimagine Belonging
How Black Land Became White Sand: The Racial Erosion of the US Coasts
Brentin Mock
Over 35 Years of Effort Addressing the Use of American Indian Related Sports Team Mascots
American Indian Sports Team Mascots
Stifled Generosity: How Philanthropy Has Fueled the Accumulation and Privatization of Wealth
Justice Funders
The Great Land Robbery
Vann R. Newkirk II
The Atlantic
The Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project
University of Washington


500 Years of the Racial Wealth Gap: A Timeline
Megan McGlinchey and Alyssa Smaldino
Living Cities
Organizing for Racial Justice: A Timeline
Alyssa Smaldino and Hafizah Omar
Living Cities
16 Key Events In The History Of Anti-Black Racism In The UK
Michelle Martin
150 Years and Counting: The Struggle to Secure the Promise of the 15th Amendment
The Fight for Voting Rights
National Museum of African American History & Culture, Smithsonian
Black Activism on Campus
Stefan M. Bradley
The NY Times
Civil Rights and Human Rights Timeline
William Winter Institute
Gallery of Timelines
Global Action Project, Project South, and Research Action Design
History of Racism and Immigration Time Line: Key Events in the Struggle for Racial Equality
Race: The Power of an Illusion - Race Timeline
Structural Racism Timeline
ERASE Racism
Timeline of Selected Events in the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi
Timeline of 100 Years of Racist Housing Policy that Created a Separate and Unequal America
Neal Gorenflo
Timeline of Race, Racism, Resistance and Philanthropy 1992-2014
Larry Raphael Salomon, J. Quiroz, M. Potapchuk, & L. Villarosa
Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity
Timeline: From Brown v. Board to Segregation Now
Nikole Hannah-Jones, A. Zamora, & C. Thompson
U.S. Immigration Timeline
U.S. Policy on Immigration and Naturalization
The Flow of History
A Different Asian American Timeline
A History of Racial Injustice
Equal Justice Initiative

“My ancestors had to prepare themselves, over and over again, for moving toward a freedom that was nowhere in sight. We prepare for life as it unfolds, not our ideal image of it. That is, literally, the only path forward.”

~ Rev. angel Kyodo williams


Colonialism: Then and Now – Terry Anderson, Renewing Indigenous Economies Project

Also in this section:
  • Diaspora and Colonization

  • Global History of Racism

  • Laws and Policies

  • Resistance and Movements



Anti-Racism is defined as the work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach, and set up in opposition to individual racist behaviors and impacts.

SOURCE:  Race Forward, “Race Reporting Guide” (2015).

Related Resources:  Theory (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Anti-Racism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Critical Race Theory

The Critical Race Theory movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies take up, but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, and even feelings and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step by step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and principles of constitutional law.

SOURCE:  Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, NYU Press, 2001 (2nd ed. 2012, 3rd ed. 2017).

Related Resources:  Theory (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Critical Race Theory”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts


  1. Decolonization may be defined as the active resistance against colonial powers, and a shifting of power towards political, economic, educational, cultural, psychic independence and power that originate from a colonized nation’s own indigenous culture. This process occurs politically and also applies to personal and societal psychic, cultural, political, agricultural, and educational deconstruction of colonial oppression.

  2. Per Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang: “Decolonization doesn’t have a synonym”; it is not a substitute for ‘human rights’ or ‘social justice’, though undoubtedly, they are connected in various ways. Decolonization demands an Indigenous framework and a centering of Indigenous land, Indigenous sovereignty, and Indigenous ways of thinking.


1. The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), “Glossary.”

2. Eric Ritskes, “What Is Decolonization and Why Does It Matter?

Related Resources:  Decolonization Theory and Practice

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts


Indigenous populations are composed of the existing descendants of the peoples who inhabited the present territory of a country wholly or partially at the time when persons of a different culture or ethnic origin arrived there from other parts of the world, overcame them and, by conquest, settlement, or other means, reduced them to a non-dominant or colonial condition; who today live more in conformity with their particular social, economic, and cultural customs and traditions than with the institutions of the country of which they now form part, under a State structure which incorporates mainly national, social, and cultural characteristics of other segments of the population which are predominant.

(Examples: Maori in territory now defined as New Zealand; Mexicans in territory now defined as Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma; Native American tribes in territory now defined as the United States.)

SOURCE:  United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2010, page 9), originally presented in the preliminary report of the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights, José Martínez Cobo (1972, page 10).

Related Resources:  Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity  (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Indigeneity”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Internalized Racism

Internalized racism is the situation that occurs in a racist system when a racial group oppressed by racism supports the supremacy and dominance of the dominating group by maintaining or participating in the set of attitudes, behaviors, social structures, and ideologies that undergird the dominating group’s power. It involves four essential and interconnected elements:

  1. Decision-making - Due to racism, people of color do not have the ultimate decision-making power over the decisions that control our lives and resources. As a result, on a personal level, we may think white people know more about what needs to be done for us than we do. On an interpersonal level, we may not support each other’s authority and power – especially if it is in opposition to the dominating racial group. Structurally, there is a system in place that rewards people of color who support white supremacy and power and coerces or punishes those who do not.

  2. Resources - Resources, broadly defined (e.g. money, time, etc), are unequally in the hands and under the control of white people. Internalized racism is the system in place that makes it difficult for people of color to get access to resources for our own communities and to control the resources of our community. We learn to believe that serving and using resources for ourselves and our particular community is not serving “everybody.”

  3. Standards - With internalized racism, the standards for what is appropriate or “normal” that people of color accept are white people’s or Eurocentric standards. We have difficulty naming, communicating and living up to our deepest standards and values, and holding ourselves and each other accountable to them.

  4. Naming the problem - There is a system in place that misnames the problem of racism as a problem of or caused by people of color and blames the disease – emotional, economic, political, etc. – on people of color. With internalized racism, people of color might, for example, believe we are more violent than white people and not consider state-sanctioned political violence or the hidden or privatized violence of white people and the systems they put in place and support.

SOURCE:  Donna Bivens, Internalized Racism: A Definition (Women’s Theological Center, 1995).

Related Resources:  Internalized Racism

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts


  1. Exposing [one’s] multiple identities can help clarify the ways in which a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression. For example, a Black woman in America does not experience gender inequalities in exactly the same way as a white woman, nor racial oppression identical to that experienced by a Black man. Each race and gender intersection produces a qualitatively distinct life.

  2. Per Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw: Intersectionality is simply a prism to see the interactive effects of various forms of discrimination and disempowerment. It looks at the way that racism, many times, interacts with patriarchy, heterosexism, classism, xenophobia — seeing that the overlapping vulnerabilities created by these systems actually create specific kinds of challenges. “Intersectionality 102,” then, is to say that these distinct problems create challenges for movements that are only organized around these problems as separate and individual. So when racial justice doesn’t have a critique of patriarchy and homophobia, the particular way that racism is experienced and exacerbated by heterosexism, classism etc., falls outside of our political organizing. It means that significant numbers of people in our communities aren’t being served by social justice frames because they don’t address the particular ways that they’re experiencing discrimination.


1. Intergroup Resources, “Intersectionality” (2012).

2. Otamere Guobadia, “Kimberlé Crenshaw and Lady Phyll Talk Intersectionality, Solidarity, and Self-Care” (2018).

Related Resources:  Intersectionality

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Racial Equity

  1. Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities, not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or that fail to eliminate them.

  2. “A mindset and method for solving problems that have endured for generations, seem intractable, harm people and communities of color most acutely, and ultimately affect people of all races. This will require seeing differently, thinking differently, and doing the work differently. Racial equity is about results that make a difference and last.”


  1. Center for Assessment and Policy Development.

  2. OpenSource Leadership Strategies.

Related Resources:  Racial Equity

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Racial Identity Development Theory

Racial Identity Development Theory discusses how people in various racial groups and with multiracial identities form their particular self-concept. It also describes some typical phases in remaking that identity based on learning and awareness of systems of privilege and structural racism, cultural, and historical meanings attached to racial categories, and factors operating in the larger socio-historical level (e.g. globalization, technology, immigration, and increasing multiracial population).

SOURCE:  New Perspectives on Racial Identity Development: Integrating Emerging Frameworks, edited by Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe and Bailey W. Jackson (NYU Press, 2012).

Related Resources:  Theory (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Racial Identity Development Theory”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Racial Justice

  1. The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial justice—or racial equity—goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures.

  2. Operationalizing racial justice means reimagining and co-creating a just and liberated world and includes:

  • understanding the history of racism and the system of white supremacy and addressing past harms,

  • working in right relationship and accountability in an ecosystem (an issue, sector, or community ecosystem) for collective change,

  • implementing interventions that use an intersectional analysis and that impact multiple systems,

  • centering Blackness and building community, cultural, economic, and political power of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC), and

  • applying the practice of love along with disruption and resistance to the status quo.


  1. Race Forward, “Race Reporting Guide” (2015).

  2. Maggie Potapchuk, “Operationalizing Racial Justice in Non-Profit Organizations” (MP Associates, 2020). This definition is based on and expanded from the one described in Rinku Sen and Lori Villarosa, “Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens: A Practical Guide” (Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, 2019).

Settler Colonialism

Settler colonialism refers to colonization in which colonizing powers create permanent or long-term settlement on land owned and/or occupied by other peoples, often by force. This contrasts with colonialism where colonizer’s focus only on extracting resources back to their countries of origin, for example. Settler Colonialism typically includes oppressive governance, dismantling of indigenous cultural forms, and enforcement of codes of superiority (such as white supremacy). Examples include white European occupations of land in what is now the United States, Spain’s settlements throughout Latin America, and the Apartheid government established by White Europeans in South Africa.

Per Dina Gillio-Whitaker, “Settler Colonialism may be said to be a structure, not an historic event, whose endgame is always the elimination of the Natives in order to acquire their land, which it does in countless seen and unseen ways. These techniques are woven throughout the US’s national discourse at all levels of society. Manifest Destiny—that is, the US’s divinely sanctioned inevitability—is like a computer program always operating unnoticeably in the background. In this program, genocide and land dispossession are continually both justified and denied.”

SOURCE:  Dina Gilio-Whitaker, “Settler Fragility: Why Settler Privilege Is So Hard to Talk About” (2018).

Related Resources:  Diaspora and Colonization (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Neo-Colonialism and Settler Colonialism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / History of Racism and Movements

Targeted Universalism

Targeted universalism means setting universal goals pursued by targeted processes to achieve those goals. Within a targeted universalism framework, universal goals are established for all groups concerned. The strategies developed to achieve those goals are targeted, based upon how different groups are situated within structures, culture, and across geographies to obtain the universal goal. Targeted universalism is goal oriented, and the processes are directed in service of the explicit, universal goal.

SOURCE:  Targeted Universalism: Policy & Practice – A Primer by john a. powell, Stephen Menendian, and Wendy Ake (Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, 2019).

Related Resources:  Theory (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Targeted Universalism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

White Privilege

1. Refers to the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white. Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.

2. Structural White Privilege: A system of white domination that creates and maintains belief systems that make current racial advantages and disadvantages seem normal. The system includes powerful incentives for maintaining white privilege and its consequences, and powerful negative consequences for trying to interrupt white privilege or reduce its consequences in meaningful ways. The system includes internal and external manifestations at the individual, interpersonal, cultural and institutional levels. 

The accumulated and interrelated advantages and disadvantages of white privilege that are reflected in racial/ethnic inequities in life-expectancy and other health outcomes, income and wealth, and other outcomes, in part through different access to opportunities and resources. These differences are maintained in part by denying that these advantages and disadvantages exist at the structural, institutional, cultural, interpersonal, and individual levels and by refusing to redress them or eliminate the systems, policies, practices, cultural norms, and other behaviors and assumptions that maintain them.

Interpersonal White Privilege: Behavior between people that consciously or unconsciously reflects white superiority or entitlement.

Cultural White Privilege: A set of dominant cultural assumptions about what is good, normal or appropriate that reflects Western European white world views and dismisses or demonizes other world views.

Institutional White Privilege: Policies, practices and behaviors of institutions—such as schools, banks, non-profits or the Supreme Court—that have the effect of maintaining or increasing accumulated advantages for those groups currently defined as white, and maintaining or increasing disadvantages for those racial or ethnic groups not defined as white. The ability of institutions to survive and thrive even when their policies, practices and behaviors maintain, expand or fail to redress accumulated disadvantages and/or inequitable outcomes for people of color.


  1. Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspon­dences Through Work in Women Studies” (1988).

  2. Transforming White Privilege: A 21st Century Leadership Capacity, CAPD, MP Associates, World Trust Educational Services (2012).

Related Resources:  System of White Supremacy and White Privilege

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts