Civil Rights Timeline

This is a timeline of key events that have special significance and influence in the Civil Rights movement in the United States and it demonstrates how these movements are interrelated.


Jackie Robinson Integrates Baseball

April 15, 1947

Jackie Robinson broke down the color barrier in American baseball by being the first African-American player to play with an all-white team.

Integration of the Military

July 26, 1948

By issuing Executive Order 9981, President Harry S. Truman officially desegregated the military so that blacks and whites could fight side by side for their country.

Oliver Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

May 17, 1954

The Supreme Court ruling in favor of Oliver Brown in the Brown vs. Board of Education case desegregated the schools of America, allowing for African-Americans to go to school and get equal education with whites.

Emmett Till Murdered

August 28, 1955

Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, was brutally beaten to death and murdered because of being "rude" to a white women, but his unfortunate death became the catalyst for the emerging civil rights movement.

Rosa Parks/Montgomery Bus Boycott

December 1, 1955 - December 20, 1956

After Rosa Parks arrest for not moving into her "section" of the public bus, an entire movement was fired to boycott buses until they were desegregated in Montgomery, Alabama which lasted for over a year until it was successful.

Integration of Central High School, Little Rock, Alabama

September 4, 1957 - September 23, 1957

The integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, showed the country that the military was willing to interfere in order for the ruling in the Oliver Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas case to succeed and showed how segregation was quickly falling down in the heart of the United States.

Sit-In: Greensboro, North Carolina

February 1, 1960

The sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina desegregated many public facilities, set the stage for the civil rights movement, and set the creation of the SNCC in motion.

Creation of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

April 15, 1960

The SNCC is one of the most outspoken groups in the civil rights movement, seeing as it contributed ideas such as sit-ins and freedom rides and it was composed of students fighting for equal rights, and ultimately was one of the greatest forces of change in the civil rights movement.

Freedom Riders

May 4, 1961 - May 20, 1961

The Freedom Rides proved that nonviolent methods could be used nonviolent war, and gave those who were on it more fire to oppose those of violent nature and escalated the level of nonviolent war used to win the battle of the civil rights movement.

Civil Rights Act

July 2, 1962

The Civil Rights Act, pushed for by John F. Kennedy and passed by Lyndon Johnson, allowed for the official desegregation of private and public places, and let African-Americans use any public facility they wanted to.

Children's March

May 2, 1963 - May 5, 1963

Also known as the Children's Crusade, the Children's March was a protest of schoolchildren who skipped their classes to protest which ultimately lead to desegregated downtowns and other public areas.

Jimmy Lee Jackson Killed

February 18, 1965 - February 26, 1965

Jimmy Lee Jackson's death was a key motivator for the Selma-Montgomery March and lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

March from Selma to Montgomery

March 7, 1965 - March 25, 1965

In order for the races to have equal voting rights, many leaders in the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King Jr., marched from Montgomery to Selma which prompted President Lyndon Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act.

Voting Rights Act

August 6, 1965

The issue of voting rights was brought to the attention of the President and Congress because of terrorism and violence, but was focused upon giving African-Americans an equal vote in their government without being subjected to unfair laws or rulings.