Ahmaud Arbery had been jogging near his home on the outskirts of Brunswick, Georgia when he was shot and killed after being pursued by two white men with guns, according to the authorities. Arbery was 25 at the time of his death.
The men, Travis McMichael, 34, and his father, Gregory McMichael, 64, were charged on Thursday with murder and aggravated assault, two days after a graphic video of the shooting of Arbery became public and more than two months after the killing itself.
The case generated a wave of outrage and raised concerns about persistent racial inequalities in the justice system.
"For the safety of this community and for the respect of Ahmaud Arbery's memory, we demand that the least we can ask at this moment is that these men be arrested," Lawyer Lee Merritt said before the arrests were made.
Merritt also said the US Justice Department should investigate Arbery's death as a hate crime.
According to an incident report filed by Glynn County police, Arbery was shot after two men spotted him running in their neighbourhood on a Sunday afternoon.
They armed themselves with guns before getting in a truck to pursue him.
Georgia state authorities stepped up their role in the case within hours of the video's release.
"I do believe that Ahmaud was just out for his daily jog," Wanda Cooper Jones, Ahmaud Arbery's mother, said. "I have believed that since day one. He's been doing this for years."
Arbery would have turned 26 on Friday. The hashtag #IRunWithMaud was trending across social media, as supporters went on runs and walks to commemorate the date of his killing.
"I saw my son come in the world, Cooper Jones said. "And seeing him leave the world, is not something I want to see ever."