Allen Primack APGOPO Civil Rights-African Americans Timeline Project


Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)


Supreme Court case that decided US Congress did not have the power to prohibit slavery in federal territories and slaves, as private property, could not be taken away without due process - basically slaves would remain slaves in non-slave states and slaves could not sue because they were not citizens

Link TO:: FOURTEENTH Amendment,

This Supreme Court decision attempted to settle the legal status of slaves in free territories to avert a civil war, but it provoked one instead. Dred Scott, who was born a slave in Missouri, traveled with his master to the free territory of Illinois. As a result, Scott later sued his master for freedom, which the lower courts usually granted. However, when the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, it ruled that Scott would remain a slave because as such he was not a citizen and could not legally sue in the federal courts. Moreover, in the words of Chief Justice Roger Taney, black people free or slave could never become U. S. citizens and they “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The dissenting justices pointed out that in some states people of color were already considered citizens when the Constitution was ratified. In 1868, the FOURTEENTH Amendment overturned the Dred Scott decision by granting citizenship to all those born in the United States, regardless of color.

Thirteenth Amendment


The constitutional amendment that ratified after the Civil War that forbade slavery and involuntary servitude.

Fourteenth Amendment


A constitutional amendment giving full rights of citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States, except for American Indians.

Citizenship Clause: 14th amendment; all native-born & naturalized people of the u.s. are citizens and guaranteed constitutional protections; applied to states
Equal Protection Clause: 14th amendment clause that prohibits states from denying equal protection under the law, and has been used to combat discrimination

Fifteenth Amendment


The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Implementation of literacy tests, poll taxes, whites only primaries (Voting restrictions imposed by states despite fifteenth amendment)

1880 - 1965

Disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era was based on a series of laws, new constitutions, and practices that were deliberately used to prevent black citizens from registering to vote and voting. These measures were enacted by former Confederate states at the turn of the 20th century in the United States. Their actions defied the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1870, which was intended to protect the suffrage of freedmen after the American Civil War.

Link to Fifteenth Amendment::

The 15th Amendment prohibited explicit disenfranchisement on the basis of race or prior enslavement. So Southern states devised an array of alternative techniques designed to disenfranchise blacks and, to a lesser extent, poor whites. There were three broad, overlapping phases of the disenfranchisement process. From 1868-1888, the principal techniques of disenfranchisement were illegal, based on violence and massive fraud in the vote counting process. Starting in 1877, when Georgia passed the cumulative poll tax, states implemented statutory methods of disenfranchisement. From 1888-1908, states entrenched these legal techniques in their constitutions.

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)


a 1896 Supreme Court decision which legalized state ordered segregation so long as the facilities for blacks and whites were equal

Link to Fourteenth Amendment::
In the aftermath of Reconstruction, which ended in 1877, the Southern State governments again became—as they remained in the North—“white man's governments.” The new State legislatures enacted Jim Crow laws to legally segregate the races and impose second-class citizenship upon African Americans. Enforced by criminal penalties, these laws created separate schools, parks, waiting rooms, and other segregated public accommodations. In its ruling in the Civil Rights Cases of 1883, the Court made clear that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment provided no guarantee against private segregation. It would now be asked to rule on what protection the 14th Amendment offered in matters of public segregation.

Sweatt v. Painter


U of Texas established a law school for black students. Sweatt complained this not equal with regular U Texas law school. Supreme Court agreed and deemed it unequal/unconstitutional.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)


1954 - The Supreme Court overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, declared that racially segregated facilities are inherently unequal and ordered all public schools desegregated.

Link to Fourteenth Amendment and Plessy v. Ferguson::

In 1954, sixty years after Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education That “separate but equal” was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court cited a series of tests performed by two psychologists, Kenneth and Mamie Clark, demonstrating that segregation had a negative effect on the psyche of black children, instilling in them a sense of inferiority: “To separate [children] from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” Plessy was officially overturned, as separate accommodations were judges to be “inherently unequal.” Writing for the unanimous Court, Justice Earl Warren stated, “Segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprives children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities, even though the physical facilities and other ‘tangible’ factors may be equal. The ‘separate but equal’ doctrine adopted in Plessy v. Ferguson Has no place in the field of public education.”

Link to Sweatt v. Painter::
Sweatt v. Painter led to the end of segregation at the university and paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education four years later, yet these days, it's seldom spoken of, eclipsed by Brown and other events that followed.

Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US (1964)


(1964) Congress has the right to prohibit racial discrimination in places of public accommodation through the Commerce Clause because the interstate because the interstate movement of people is "commerce." Even if the public accommodation is of a purely "local" character, Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce extends to local incidents thereof which might have a substantial and harmful effect on the commerce.

Link to the Civil Rights Act::
Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade racial discrimination by places of public accommodation if their operations affect commerce. The Heart of Atlanta Motel in Atlanta, Georgia, refused to accept Black Americans and was charged with violating Title II.

Twenty-Fourth Amendment


It outlawed taxing voters, i.e. poll taxes, at presidential or congressional elections, as an effort to remove barriers to Black voters.

Civil Rights Act of 1964


1964; banned discrimination in public accommodations, prohibited discrimination in any federally assisted program, outlawed discrimination in most employment; enlarged federal powers to protect voting rights and to speed school desegregation; this and the voting rights act helped to give African-Americans equality on paper, and more federally-protected power so that social equality was a more realistic goal.

Voting Rights Act of 1965


1965; invalidated the use of any test or device to deny the vote and authorized federal examiners to register voters in states that had disenfranchised blacks; as more blacks became politically active and elected black representatives, it brought jobs, contracts, and facilities and services for the black community, encouraging greater social equality and decreasing the wealth and education gap

Link to the Civil Rights Act::
Title I of the Civil Rights Act
Barred unequal application of voter registration requirements.
Title I did not eliminate literacy tests, which were one of the main methods used to exclude Black voters, other racial minorities, and poor Whites in the South, nor did it address economic retaliation, police repression, or physical violence against non white voters. While the Act did require that voting rules and procedures be applied equally to all races, it did not abolish the concept of voter "qualification", that is to say, it accepted the idea that citizens do not have an automatic right to vote but rather might have to meet some standard beyond citizenship.
It was the Voting Rights Act, enacted one year later in 1965, that directly addressed and eliminated most voting qualifications beyond citizenship.

Link to the Twenty-Fourth Amendment::
The Twenty-Fourth amendment forbids Congress and states from requiring poll taxes in order to vote in federal elections.Poll taxes were enacted in many southern states to keep Blacks from voting. At the time the amendment was ratified, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia still had poll taxes. In fact, Mississippi was the only state to reject the amendment. The 24th Amendment also gave Congress power to enforce it. A year and a half later on August 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act was enacted and banned poll taxes in all U.S. elections.

Connections Between UC Regents v. Bakke, Gratz v. Bollinger, and Grutter v. Bollinger

1978 - 2003

In the 1978 case, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that using racial quotas in college admission decisions violated the Equal Protection Clause. The Equal Protection Clause, included in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, affirms that "no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." While this landmark decision eliminated racial quotas, it did allow race to be considered as one of many admission factors for the purpose of achieving a diverse student body.

In 1995 and 1996, two lawsuits challenged the constitutionality of using race in the admission processes at the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School. In 1995, Jennifer Gratz was denied admission to the University of Michigan undergraduate program, and a year later Barbara Grutter was rejected from the University of Michigan Law School. Both plaintiffs argued that their academic credentials and extracurricular activities should have awarded them a spot at the University. They claimed they were subjected to a form of reverse discrimination due to the university's affirmative action policies. The University of Michigan argued that its admission criteria were constitutional, and that the policies fostered a racially and ethnically diverse student body.

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court Ruled in the Gratz v. Bollinger case that the point system used by the University of Michigan for undergraduate admissions was unconstitutional. The admissions policy was based on 150 points, and it awarded points based on items such as race (20 points), athletic ability (20 points), depth of essay (up to 3 points), leadership and service (up to 5 points) and personal achievement (up to 5 points). The point system, therefore, automatically awarded admission points to underrepresented minorities. In the majority decision, Chief Justice Rehnquist stated that the University of Michigan had violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by using an overly mechanized system as a way to include race in admission decisions.

The Grutter v. Bollinger case of was also decided in 2003. In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upheld the decision to allow colleges and universities to use race as a component in their admissions policies by ruling in favor of the University of Michigan’s law school admissions policy. Sandra Day O'Connor stated that the Constitution "does not prohibit the law school's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body."
The Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger rulings are regarded as the most important since the Bakke decision. Most colleges and universities had previously followed the guidelines set forth by Bakke, stating that diversity is an integral component to a successful institution. They treaded lightly, however, unsure of how far race could be used in the admissions process. The Supreme Court's decisions in the landmark University of Michigan cases clarified this gray area and provided definitive guidance for affirmative action policies. The 2003 rulings also abrogated the Hopwood v. Texas ruling, thus permitting colleges in Texas and other states under the Fifth Circuit jurisdiction to reinstate affirmative action policies.

UC Regents v. Bakke (1978)


1978, Race quotas are unconstitutional. Race cannot be the sole factor in accepting or denying entrance, but it can be a factor in the admissions process.

Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)


Upheld the affirmative action policy of the university of michigan law school. Upheld bakke ruling that race could be a consideration in admissions policy but that quotas are illegal.

Gratz v. Bollinger (2003)


Affirmative action case; a point system for admission in which points were given for race was ruled unconstitutional; too much like a quota system; upheld Bakke case