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Last Updated: Wednesday November 05 2008 08:28 GMT

In pics: Why is a black president a big deal?

Barack Obama (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Barack Obama's made history as America's first black president, but why's it such a big deal he's got the top job?

A white landowner overseeing black cotton pickers at work in Texas in the 1800s

In the 17th and 18th centuries hundreds of thousands of Africans were sold into slavery in America and made to work on cotton and tobacco plantations.

In August 1963, 250,000 people gathered in Washington DC to demand jobs and freedom for millions of black Americans

In 1865 slavery was abolished, but black people still didn't have equal rights and had to go to separate schools, churches, and even had to play on different footie teams.

Rosa Parks

In 1955, this woman, Rosa Parks, sparked protests by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man - which was against the law at the time.

Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King

The protests were led by this man, Martin Luther King, who said he had a dream that one day black and white people in America would be able to come together as equals.

People holding an American flag  (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

In 1964 the country made a huge leap forward with the introduction of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which made it illegal to treat people differently because of their race.

Barack Obama (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

But until now, the top job has always gone to a white man, so it's a huge deal for America, and the rest of the world, that Barack Obama has become president.