African-American History Quiz

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Question 1
Which of the following documents included the “Three-Fifths Compromise,” which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of taxation and representation?

A
13th Amendment
B
US Constitution
C
Bill of Rights
D
Missouri Compromise
Question 1 Explanation: 
Representatives from northern states wanted slaves to be counted fully for determining taxes paid by the states to the federal government. Southern delegates wanted slaves to be counted fully for determining the number of seats that the state would have in congress. The Three-Fifths Compromise gained support from both factions.
Question 2
Which African-American man led a bloody rebellion in response to slavery in Virginia in 1831?

A
Daniel Shay
B
John Brown
C
Nat Turner
D
Nathaniel Bacon
Question 2 Explanation: 
Turner was born into slavery in 1800 on a Virginian plantation. While enslaved, he learned to read and write; eventually becoming a religious leader. In 1831, he led an armed uprising that killed approximately 60 people. As a result, Turner and many of his followers were executed.
Question 3
Which of the following included a new Fugitive Slave Law that required federal marshals to actively look for and arrest escaped slaves?

A
US Constitution
B
Missouri Compromise
C
13th Amendment
D
Compromise of 1850
Question 3 Explanation: 
A Fugitive Slave Law had been in established since 1793; however, it lacked strong enforcement powers. The Compromise of 1850 included a new provision that empowered federal marshals to appoint deputies to detain and return escaped slaves.
Question 4
Which woman was an escaped slave who worked as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, and served as an armed scout and spy for the US Army during the Civil War?

A
Harriet Tubman
B
Belle Boyd
C
Harriet Beecher Stowe
D
Sojourner Truth
Question 4 Explanation: 
Born into slavery in Maryland, Tubman escaped in 1849. She later returned to help relatives and dozens of other slaves reach freedom. During the Civil War, she served as a scout for the Union army and helped liberate more than 750 people from slavery.
Question 5
Which African-American woman, after escaping slavery, became an advocate for women’s rights and gave the “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech?

A
Susan B. Anthony
B
Harriet Tubman
C
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
D
Sojourner Truth
Question 5 Explanation: 
Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in New York. She escaped with her daughter in 1826, and became a well-known anti-slavery speaker. "Ain't I a Woman?" is the name given to a famous speech she delivered in 1851 at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio. During the Civil War, Truth helped in recruiting black soldiers for the Union army.
Question 6
Which of the following Supreme Court decisions ruled that African Americans were not citizens and that the federal government could not regulate slavery in the territories?

A
Marbury v. Madison
B
Plessy v. Ferguson
C
Dred Scott v. Sandford
D
Loving v. Virginia
Question 6 Explanation: 
With the help of abolitionists, Dred Scott, a slave, sued his owner John A. Sandford. Scott claimed that after being taken into a free state, he could sue for his freedom. The US Supreme Court ruled 7–2 in 1856 that Scott could not sue because slaves were not citizens and therefore lacked the rights that are granted through citizenship.
Question 7
Which of the following documents abolished slavery throughout the entire United States?

A
13th Amendment
B
Emancipation Proclamation
C
Missouri Compromise
D
19th Amendment
Question 7 Explanation: 
The Emancipation Proclamation redefined the federal legal status of slaves only in designated Confederate areas. The 13th Amendment completely abolished slavery throughout the entire country in 1865.
Question 8
Which man escaped slavery and became a national leader in the abolitionist movement, and was the first African American to run for vice-president?

A
Booker T. Washington
B
William Lloyd Garrison
C
George Washington Carver
D
Frederick Douglass
Question 8 Explanation: 
Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland. He escaped slavery in 1838 and became a preacher and an abolitionist. His oratorical and literary brilliance helped him to become a natural leader during the abolition movement. After the Civil War, Douglass worked for equality for African Americans and women. In 1872 the Equal Rights Party named him as their vice-presidential candidate.
Question 9
Which man strove to improve educational opportunities for African Americans and founded the Tuskegee Institute?

A
Booker T. Washington
B
George Washington Carver
C
W.E.B. Du Bois
D
Marcus Garvey
Question 9 Explanation: 
Washington was born into slavery in Virginia in 1856. After emancipation, he attended college at Wayland Seminary and in 1881 he was named as the first leader of the new Tuskegee Institute, a historically black college in Alabama. Washington called for black progress through education and entrepreneurship, rather than directly challenging the segregation and disenfranchisement of blacks in the South. From 1890 to 1915, Washington was a prominent leader in the African-American community.
Question 10
Which African-American journalist published an exposé titled “Southern Horror,” which documented lynchings in the late 1800s?

A
Ida B. Wells
B
Maya Angelou
C
Billie Holiday
D
Josephine Baker
Question 10 Explanation: 
Ida B. Wells was an African-American journalist in Tennessee. She wrote an exposé about lynchings in the South after several of her friends were murdered by a white mob. She published “Southern Horror” in 1892, and was forced to flee Memphis because of severe negative public reaction to the article.
Question 11
Which of the following Supreme Court decisions ruled that “separate but equal” public facilities were constitutional?

A
Plessy v. Ferguson
B
Dred Scott v. Sandford
C
Brown v. Board of Education
D
Loving v. Virginia
Question 11 Explanation: 
Homer Plessy, a man with biracial ancestry, refused to give up his seat in a white-only railway car in New Orleans. He was arrested, and his case went to the US Supreme Court in 1896. In a 7–1 ruling, the court upheld established racial segregation laws regarding public facilities stating that its legality stemmed from the idea of "separate but equal."
Question 12
Which person was a botanist who taught poor farmers about alternative crops to cotton, which included peanuts and sweet potatoes?

A
Jackie Robinson
B
Booker T. Washington
C
George Washington Carver
D
W.E.B. Du Bois
Question 12 Explanation: 
Carver was born into slavery in 1864. In 1891, he was the first black student to attend the Iowa State Agricultural College. In 1896, Carver was appointed to lead the agriculture department at the Tuskegee Institute. He taught other farmers new farming techniques and urged them to grow alternative crops as a source of food, and as a means to improve their quality of life.
Question 13
Which African-American composer, known as the “King of Ragtime Writers,” produced hits including “The Entertainer” and “Maple Leaf Rag,” and also taught future ragtime composers?

A
Scott Joplin
B
Blind Willie McTell
C
W.C. Handy
D
Jelly Roll Morton
Question 13 Explanation: 
Born in Texas, Joplin eventually moved to Missouri, where he found fame as a ragtime composer during the late 1890s and early 1900s. He was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
Question 14
Which author and activist wrote The Souls of Black Folk, and was a leader in the Pan-African movement?

A
Thurgood Marshall
B
Malcolm X
C
W.E.B. Du Bois
D
Medgar Evers
Question 14 Explanation: 
Du Bois was born in Massachusetts in 1868. He was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University. After graduating from Harvard, he taught history, sociology, and economics at Atlanta University. In 1900, Du Bois attended the First Pan-African Conference. Pan-Africanism is a worldwide movement that aims to create bonds of solidarity between all people of African descent. In 1903, he published The Souls of Black Folk, a seminal work in African-American literature. In 1909, he co-founded the NAACP.
Question 15
Which organization was founded in 1909 to promote racial equality, and eliminate racial hatred?

A
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
B
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
C
The Congress for Racial Equality (CORE)
D
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Question 15 Explanation: 
The NAACP is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. In its early years, it fought in court to overturn Jim Crow statutes that legalized racial segregation. Its members also lobbied for federal legislation to end lynchings. It currently has about 300,000 members nationwide.
Question 16
Which famous musician, known as the “Father of the Blues,” composed “Beale Street Blues?”

A
Blind Willie McTell
B
Scott Joplin
C
Duke Ellington
D
W.C. Handy
Question 16 Explanation: 
Born in Alabama in 1873, Handy became a musician and a composer. His influence helped spread the genre he helped develop, blues, from a regional musical style with a limited audience to a national force in American music.
Question 17
Which writer and shipping entrepreneur advocated for the return of African Americans to Africa?

A
Booker T. Washington
B
Huey Newton
C
Marcus Garvey
D
Medgar Evers
Question 17 Explanation: 
Born in Jamaica in 1887, Garvey became a journalist and entrepreneur. He created the Black Star Line, a shipping line, in 1919, which eventually collapsed in 1923. Garvey was convicted of mail fraud, imprisoned, and eventually pardoned by President Coolidge. Garvey encouraged development in Liberia until his death in 1940.
Question 18
Which woman was a dancer, singer, and actress who became an international star and worked as an honorable correspondent for France during World War II?

A
Ella Fitzgerald
B
Aretha Franklin
C
Billie Holiday
D
Josephine Baker
Question 18 Explanation: 
Born in Missouri in 1906, Baker began performing in France in 1925. She became a French citizen and resisted the German occupation during World War II, making notable contributions to the Allied effort. She also contributed to the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s.
Question 19
Which writer and poet, well-known for his poem, A Dream Deferred, played a key role in the Harlem Renaissance?

A
Martin Luther King Jr.
B
Emmett Till
C
Paul Dunbar
D
Langston Hughes
Question 19 Explanation: 
Born in Missouri in 1902, Hughes was a poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was an early leader in the new literary art form called jazz poetry, and he wrote dozens of books and plays. He was also the most prominent leader of the Harlem Renaissance — a literary, artistic, and intellectual movement that kindled a new black cultural identity. The movement took place in Harlem, New York, between the end of World War I and the mid-1930s.
Question 20
Which African-American man won four gold medals at the 1936 summer Olympics?

A
Jesse Owens
B
Jackie Robinson
C
Hank Aaron
D
Satchel Paige
Question 20 Explanation: 
Born in Alabama in 1913, Owens attended and graduated from Ohio State University. In the 1936 summer Olympics, Owens won gold in the 100 meter sprint, 200 meter sprint, 4 × 100 meter relay, and the long jump.
Question 21
Which African-American woman, whose works include, It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got that Swing), won 13 Grammy awards as a jazz vocalist?

A
Aretha Franklin
B
Ella Fitzgerald
C
Billie Holiday
D
Josephine Baker
Question 21 Explanation: 
Fitzgerald was born in Virginia in 1917, and she began singing in New York during the 1930s. She won more than a dozen Grammy awards and continued to perform until 1993.
Question 22
Who was the first African American to play Major League Baseball and thereby end racial segregation in the professional league?

A
Hank Aaron
B
Jesse Owens
C
Jackie Robinson
D
Satchel Paige
Question 22 Explanation: 
Born in Georgia in 1919, Robinson broke the color barrier by signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
Question 23
Which of the following Supreme Court decisions overturned the “separate but equal” precedent for public schools?

A
Loving v. Virginia
B
Dred Scott v. Sandford
C
Plessy v. Ferguson
D
Brown v. Board of Education
Question 23 Explanation: 
Oliver L. Brown sued the Board of Education of Topeka so that his daughter could attend a nearby white school instead of traveling to a more distant segregated black school. The case went to the Supreme Court in 1954. The Court unanimously overturned the “separate but equal” precedent established in Plessy v. Ferguson.
Question 24
Which African American refused to give up a seat in the colored section to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, which sparked a boycott and a continued effort to achieve desegregation?

A
Martin Luther King Jr.
B
Maya Angelou
C
Ida B. Wells
D
Rosa Parks
Question 24 Explanation: 
Parks became an advocate for equal rights during the 1940s. In 1955, she refused to give up her bus seat to a white person. As a result, she was arrested, and her act of defiance sparked a boycott that eventually forced the city of Montgomery to end segregation in public transportation.
Question 25
For what accomplishment are the Greensboro Four known?

A
They launched a sit-in as a means of attaining racial integration.
B
They were jailed for registering blacks to vote in the South.
C
They were a best-selling musical group in the 1960's.
D
They were lynched because they refused to give up their seats on a bus.
Question 25 Explanation: 
Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr., and David Richmond sat down at the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s in Greensboro on February 1, 1960. The counter was “whites only,” but the four refused to leave. The protest grew each day and the movement soon spread to other Southern cities. Segregation in public accommodations was eventually ended by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Question 26
Which African-American civil rights leader was assassinated in Mississippi in 1963 because of his attempts to eliminate segregation and register black voters?

A
Emmett Till
B
Bayard Rustin
C
Medgar Evers
D
Malcolm X
Question 26 Explanation: 
Evers was born in Mississippi in 1925 and went on to serve in the US Army during World War II. He participated in the Civil Rights Movement and was assassinated in 1963. Three trials were required to convict his killer.
Question 27
Which African-American civil rights leader advocated nonviolence and wrote Letter from Birmingham Jail?

A
Rosa Parks
B
Malcom X
C
Martin Luther King Jr.
D
John Lewis
Question 27 Explanation: 
Born in Georgia in 1929, King studied theology at Boston University. He became a Baptist minister and then a leading figure in the Civil Rights Movement. King is best known for his role in advancing civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. He also opposed the Vietnam War. He was assassinated in Memphis in 1964.
Question 28
Which African-American civil rights leader advocated black self-defense and rejected racial integration?

A
Jesse Jackson
B
John Lewis
C
Malcolm X
D
Medgar Evers
Question 28 Explanation: 
Malcolm X was born in Nebraska in 1925 under the name Malcolm Little. He was sent to prison in 1946 and while imprisoned, he joined the Nation of Islam. He quickly rose to become one of the Nation of Islam's most influential leaders. He advocated for the separation of black and white Americans, and rejected the civil rights movement for its emphasis on integration. He later broke away from the Nation of Islam and was assassinated in 1965 by three members of the organization.
Question 29
Which civil rights leader was the Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and helped promote the idea of Black Power?

A
Louis Farrakhan
B
James Meredith
C
Malcom X
D
Stokely Carmichael
Question 29 Explanation: 
Carmichael became a civil rights activist in 1961 and participated in the Freedom Riders movement, in which activists challenged federal regulations. He became chairman of the SNCC in 1966, and advocated for black power as a means of advancing and establishing black socioeconomic independence. He traveled to Africa in 1969 where he advocated for reform until his death in 1998.
Question 30
Which of the following Supreme Court decisions ruled that laws prohibiting interracial marriages were unconstitutional?

A
Marbury v. Madison
B
Dred Scott v. Sandford
C
Loving v. Virginia
D
Plessy v. Ferguson
Question 30 Explanation: 
Mildred Loving, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, were married in Washington D.C. in 1958. In 1959, they were sentenced to one year in jail for violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. Their case went to the US Supreme Court in 1967. The court unanimously overturned their convictions, and declared the ban to be unconstitutional.
Question 31
Which African-American activist helped found the Black Panther Party?

A
Louis Farrakhan
B
Huey Newton
C
Toni Morrison
D
Jesse Jackson
Question 31 Explanation: 
Newton co-founded the Black Panther Party with Bobby Seale in 1966. The Black Panther Party was a revolutionary black nationalist and socialist organization. They called upon patrols of armed citizens to monitor the behavior of the police and to challenge police brutality. They also engaged in community social programs which focused on improving the lives of African American children. Newton was murdered in 1989.
Question 32
Who was the first African-American Justice of the Supreme Court?

A
Johnnie Cochran
B
Thurgood Marshall
C
Clarence Thomas
D
Colin Powell
Question 32 Explanation: 
Born in Maryland in 1908, Marshall went on to study law at Howard University. He was an attorney for the NAACP and later served as Solicitor General of the US under President Lyndon B. Johnson. He served on the Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991.
Question 33
Which African-American woman was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?

A
Zora Neale Hurston
B
Toni Morrison
C
Ida B. Wells
D
Maya Angelou
Question 33 Explanation: 
Born in Missouri in 1928, Angelou was an author, a poet, and a civil rights activist. In 1969 she published her first autobiography, I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which brought her international recognition and acclaim. She recited one of her poems at Bill Clinton's first inauguration and she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
Question 34
Which African-American woman, whose works include Beloved, won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize?

A
Toni Morrison
B
Maya Angelou
C
Ida B. Wells
D
Zora Neale Hurston
Question 34 Explanation: 
Morrison was born in 1931 in Ohio. She studied at Howard University and Columbia University. Her novel, Beloved, won her the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and in 1993, she won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Question 35
Which African-American leader was active in the Civil Rights Movement and later made two attempts to become president of the US in the 1980s?

A
Colin Powell
B
Tim Scott
C
Louis Farrakhan
D
Jesse Jackson
Question 35 Explanation: 
Born in South Carolina in 1941, Jackson eventually became a civil rights activist, a Baptist minister, and a politician. He unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1984 and 1988; he served as a shadow Senator for Washington D.C. from 1991 to 1997.
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