CIVIL RIGHTS TIMELINE

BY: VARUN KANDOTH

Events

Plessy v. Ferguson (Separate but equal)

1896

This was a U.S. Supreme Court landmark case, which approved of racial segregation, "separate but equal" doctrine in all public facilities. This began during an incident that occurred in 1892 in which an African-American named Homer Plessy he broke the law in Louisiana by refusing to sit in a Jim Crow car. The Supreme Court ruled in the favor of the state. The Plessy V. Ferguson case formally established, on legal grounds, the policy of racial segregation in the United States.

Brown v. The Board of Education

May, 1954

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that segregation "separate but equal" public schools for blacks and whites were unconstitutional. The decision by the Court paves the way for desegregation nationwide. The 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling is overturned and the "separate but equal" segregation of races and educational facilities are not equal to all. It is a victory for Thurgood Marshall, an attorney for the NAACP is victorious. He becomes the first black Supreme Court justice in the nation.

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

December 1, 1955

Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man in Montgomery causing an uproar. After her arrest, a bus boycott is started by its black community, which lasts until the buses are desegregated exactly one year later. Leading the boycott is Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., a newly elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association.

Little Rock Nine

September, 1957

The Little Rock Nine were black students who wanted to attend Little Rock's segregated Central High School in September of 1957. Although the integration laws had passed, Governor Orval Faubus prevented the nine students from going into the high school. With the assistance of President Eisenhower, Federal troops, and the National Guard, the "Little Rock Nine" were allowed to enter the school building.

Lunch Counter Sit In

February 1, 1960

At the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, four African-American students begin a sit-in at a counter in segregated Woolworths. They are allowed to stay at the counter but are refused to be served. This incident in the South spurs many other nonviolent protests. At the same Woolworth's counter six months later, the same four protesters are served lunch. Throughout the Deep South, student sit-ins would be helpful in the desegregation of all public properties.

Ruby Bridges

September, 1960

Six year old African-American Ruby Bridges became the first student to successfully integrate a Southern white elementary school. As a result of violent mobs, young Ruby was accompanied to class by U.S. Marshalls and her mother.

Freedom Riders

May, 1961

In May of 1961, the Freedom Riders were on a mission to defy the Jim Crows laws in the South. The police refused to assist them when they encountered violence. The Riders consisted of students who volunteered by taking bus trips to try out the new desegregation laws on bus and railway transportation. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), sponsored the program consisting of white and black volunteers.

James Meredith

October 1, 1962

James Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi becoming its first black student. As a result, President Kennedy intervened and sent 5,000 federal troops to assist in the mass rioting on the campus.

Martin Luther King, Jr is arrested

April, 1963

While protesting anti-segregation in Birmingham, Alabama in April of 1963, MartinLuther King, Jr.,a civil rights leader, is jailed and arrested. While in jail, he argues that all people have a moral obligation to disobey laws that are unfair. This is titled his seminal "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" Speech

August 28, 1963

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivers his famous " I Have a Dream Speech" in Washington, D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial. In attendance are approximately 200,000 people who have joined the March with KIng to listen to this historic speech.

Birmingham Church Bombing

September 15, 1963

Attending Sunday school at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, four young black girls are killed as a bomb explodes. Previously, many civil rights meetings had taken place in this church. As the result of rioting, two more black youths lost their lives.

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24th Amendment

January, 1964

The 24th Amendment was passed by Congress allowing blacks to register to vote in the South. All previous requirements such as literacy tests and poll tests were deemed illegal. Previously, this restricted blacks from voting and was changed under the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Civil RIghts Act

July, 1964

The Civil Rights Act is signed into law by President Johnson. Since Reconstruction, it is considered the most important civil rights legislation ever enacted. Discrimination of any kind based on color, religion, race, or national origin are strictly prohibited. Additionally, the federal government has full power to make sure desegregation is enforced.

Mississippi Burning

August, 1964

James E. Chaney, 21: Andrew Goodman, 21, and Michael Schwermer, 21, all civil-rights volunteers, were found deceased in Mississippi in a grave. Two of the men were white and the other was black. President Johnson ordered a federal investigation into their deaths. While registering black voters in Mississippi on June 21, they began checking on a black church that had suspiciously burned to the ground. On speeding charges, they were arrested and jailed for a few hours. Unfortunately, they were turned over to the Klu Klux Klan who killed them and disposed of their bodies.

Bloody Sunday

March, 1965

In March of 1965 in Montgomery, Alabama blacks begin a march referred to as "Bloody Sunday." Those marching are in support of their right to vote but are stopped by police who have set up a blockade. Using tear gas, clubs, and whips against the marchers, as many as fifty are hospitalized. Five months later, the Voting Rights Act passes, and this march is the reason for it being so important.

Voting Rights Act

August 6, 1965

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 eliminated the poll tax. Originally, the poll tax was put into motion Reconstruction in eleven southern states. This made it almost impossible for blacks who were poor to vote.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Assassinated

April, 1968

At the young age of thirty-nine years old, Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights leader, is assassinated. He is shot while waiting outside his hotel balcony. James Earl Ray, a convicted criminal, escaped convict, and known racist is accused and convicted of this heinous crime.