The 1970's: A Selective Timeline


Among over 3,000 senior officers at the top of 50 U.S. corporate firms, only 3 are African-Americans.

Tony Morrison's first novel, The Bluest Eye, is published.

Jimi Hendrix dies of a drug overdose.


Pittsburgh Mayor Flaherty announces a $60 million capital improvement plan.

Shaft, a movie about a Harlem private eye, grosses $6 million and creates a new genre of African-American targeted films, whose emphasis on sex and violence caused them to be know as 'blaxploitation flicks'. The genre makes a comeback in 1997 with Quentin Tarentino's film Jackie Brown.


More than 8000 African-Americans attend the first National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana. Their platform demands proportional Congressional representation, increased spending to combat crime and drug traffic, and a guaranteed family income of $6500 for a family of four.

Pittsburgh Mayor Flaherty unveils a new city transit plan which will spend $82 million on expanding the trolley service and upgrading rail lines to the city's suburbs.

Sanford and Son, starring comedian Redd Foxx, makes its debut and becomes the second highest rated show on television.


The treaty ending the Vietnam War is signed in Paris. A decade of conflict has resulted in 47,382 American casualties of which 6,000 or 15% were African-American troops.

Maynard Jackson is elected Mayor of Atlanta, becoming the first African-American to be elected mayor of a major Southern city.


Richard Nixon resigns from the office of the Presidency after admitting responsibility for the Watergate scandal. The complex web of events which comprise the scandal center on the burglary of the office of the Democratic National Committee in June of 1972 and include extortion, wire tapping, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and illegal use of taxpayers' money. Nixon's transgressions are blamed for instilling a permanent cynicism in the American people for politicians, particularly the President. In 1999 people compare President Clinton's actions in the Lewinsky scandal to Nixon's in Watergate.


The thirty-five foot, paved brick shoreline promenade of Baltimore's Inner Harbor is completed. Previous to this, the harbor was a shipyard for work boats and lined with old wooden docks.

James and Laughlin Steel Corporation lays off 1200 Pittsburgh workers, bringing the total number of unemployed workers there to 2,600.

Arthur Ashe becomes the first African-American to win the singles title at the  Wimbledon tennis championship.


The Maryland Science Center at the Inner Harbor is completed and opens to the public.

for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf is produced on Broadway to critical and popular acclaim.


U.S. Steel lays off 4500 Pittsburgh employees.

More black men will die this year from homicide than died in the Vietnam War.

The television mini-series Roots, portraying transportation of slaves from Africa and generations of forced servitude by American blacks, is seen by more than 130 million viewers- more than half the U.S. population.


A referendum majority of 54% approves construction of Harborplace along the Inner Harbor.  Opposition comes from the black community who express great concern that the stores will not have anything to offer African-American consumers. Twenty years later members of the Fells Point community protest further commercial development of Inner Harbor East.

A National Urban League poll reveals that 77% of African-Americans surveyed feel employment and economic development are their principal concerns.


The Small Business Administration publishes a study revealing that one out of every five recipients of federal aid for minority-owned businesses is in fact a front for a white-owned business.

Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" is among the year's best-selling records.