The most helpful conversations about race happen when people have knowledge of the racialized history of the United States. Racialized historical data provides a framework that helps make sense out of what confronts us today. This timeline is a tool to further that understanding and is far from exhaustive.

This historical timeline of race relations begins with the doctrine of discovery and focuses on the immigration and naturalization trends that created and preserved a mostly white nation. It culminates in the criminalization of people of color after the emancipation of the African slave.