African-American History and Women Timeline (1930-1939)

Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

1930

• Black women called for white Southern women to oppose lynching; in response, Jessie Daniel Ames and others founded the Association for the Prevention of Lynching (1930-1942), with Ames as director.

• Annie Turnbo Melone (business executive and philanthropist) moved her business operations to Chicago.

Lorraine Hansberry was born (playwright, wrote Raisin in the Sun).

1931

• Nine African-American "Scottsboro Boys" (Alabama) were accused of raping two white women and convicted quickly. The trial focused national attention on the legal plight of African-Americans in the South.

• (February 18) Toni Morrison was born (writer; first African-American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature).

• (March 25) Ida B. Wells (Wells-Barnett) died (muckraking journalist, lecturer, activist, anti-lynching writer and activist).

• (August 16) A'Lelia Walker died (executive, arts patron, Harlem Renaissance figure).

1932

Augusta Savage began the largest art center in the US at the time, the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in New York.

1933

• Caterina Jarboro performed the title role in Verdi's "Aida" at the Chicago Civic Opera.

• (February 21) Nina Simone born (pianist, singer; "Priestess of Soul").

• (-1942) Civilian Conservation Corp employed more than 250,000 African-American women and men.

1934

• (February 18) Audre Lorde was born (poet, essayist, educator).

• (December 15) Maggie Lena Walker died (banker, executive).

1935

• The National Council of Negro Women was founded.

• (July 17) Diahann Carroll was born (actress, first African-American woman to star in a television series).

1936

• Mary McLeod Bethune was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the National Youth Administration as Director of Negro Affairs, the first major appointment of an African-American woman to a federal position.

Barbara Jordan was born (politician, first African-American woman from the South elected to Congress).

1937

Zora Neale Hurston published Their Eyes Were Watching God.

• (June 13) Eleanor Holmes Norton was born (though some sources give her date of birth as April 8, 1938).

1938

• (November 8) Crystal Bird Fauset was elected to the Pennsylvania House, becoming the first African-American woman state legislator.

1939

• (July 22) Jane Matilda Bolin was appointed justice of the Domestic Relations Court of New York, becoming the first African-American woman judge.

• Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar—about playing the role of a servant, she said, "It's better to get $7,000 a week for playing a servant than $7 a week for being one."

Marian Anderson, denied permission to sing at a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) hall, performed outdoors for 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial. Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest of their refusal.

Marian Wright Edelman was born (lawyer, educator, reformer).