A timeline of events that Led to the 2020 ‘fed up’-rising



Without the proper context, it is impossible to understand the mushroom cloud of uprisings that are exploding across the country in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others.

To contextualize the anger, frustration and desperation that forced protesters to recreate the lawlessness and chaos that black people experience on a daily basis, The Root has created a timeline of some of the events that led up to black people across the country collectively saying:

“Aight, den.”

  • August 1619: The White Lion, a 160-ton Dutch privateer ship flying a British flag landed at Comfort Point in Virginia loaded with “20. and odd negroes” to be exchanged for food and the “best and easiest rates…”
  • 1636: Boston creates the “Night Watch” which would become the first police force in America.
  • June 1640: Virginia’s General Court created what many are calling the nation’s first slave when the court condemned John Punch, an African, to a life sentence of servitude because he was black. Punch, one of the original White Lion Africans, had run away from his master along with an indentured Dutch servant and an indentured English servant. When they were found and brought back to their master, a judge ordered the three absconders to be whipped 30 times apiece. The Dutchman and the Englishmen were sentenced to a one-year extension on their indentured servitude contract. But John Punch received a different sentence:

…and that the third being a negro named John Punch shall serve his said master or his assigns for the time of his natural Life here or elsewhere.

  • 1669: Virginia’s legislature passes “an act about the casuall killing of slaves.” According to the new law, masters who kill their slaves in the act of punishing them are held not to be responsible of murder.
  • 1704: South Carolina creates the first modern-day, public police force. Called “slave patrols,” these publicly-funded organizations served three functions: 1) to chase down, apprehend, and return runaway slaves to their owners; (2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts; and, (3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who violated rules.
  • Sept. 9, 1739: “Jemmy” a literate, enslaved Kongolese warrior in South Carolina organizes an uprising against whites that results in 25 colonists and 35 to 50 Africans being killed. The Stono Rebellion was the largest revolt in the British Mainland colonies.

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