Supreme Court ruled that racial serration of schools violated the 14th amendment for equal protection of the laws of the U.S. Constitution to any person within its jurisdiction
She was riding a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama when the driver told her to give up her seat for a white man. Parks refused and was arrested for violating the city’s racial segregation ordinances. Parks, a 42 year old seamstress and was also the secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. Four days after Parks’ arrest, an activist organization called the Montgomery Improvement Association led by a pastor named Martin Luther King, Jr. started a boycott of the city’s bus company. Since African Americans made up some 70 percent of the bus company’s riders at the time its impact was immediate. The boycott stretched on for more than a year and the bus company fell into bankruptcy.
A 14 year old boy from Chicago named Emmett Till arrived in Money, Mississippi to visit family. While he was in a grocery store he allegedly whistled and made a flirtatious remark to the white woman behind the counter. This violated the strict racial codes of the Jim Crow South. Just three days later two white guys, one being the woman’s husband, and the other his half brother kidnapped Till from his great uncle’s house in the middle of the night. They then beat him and shot him to death and threw his body in the Tallahatchie River. The two men confessed to kidnapping Till but were Never brought to justice. Till’s mother held an open casket funeral for her son in Chicago in hopes to bring public attention to the brutal murder. In which it did, thousands of people mourning his death attended and Jet magazine published a photo of his body. Everyone from everywhere were outraged over the crime and the verdict helped fuel the start of the civil rights movement.
November 13, 1956, in Browder v. Gayle, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision declaring the bus company’s segregation seating policy unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. King, called off the boycott on December 20, and Rosa Parks became known as the “mother of the civil rights movement” would be one of the first to ride the newly desegregated buses.
Four students from the Agricultural and Technical College in North Carolina sat down for lunch in a local branch of Woolworth’s and ordered coffee. They were refused service due to their whites only policy, the students stayed there until the store closed, they then returned the next day with other students. After a lot of protesting, their actions made an immediate impact forcing Woolworth’s and other establishments to change their segregation policies.
He urged followers to defend themselves against white aggression “by any means necessary.” He made a pilgrimage to Mecca that same year and underwent a second conversion, this time to Sunni Islam. Calling himself el–Hajj Malik el–Shabazz, he renounced NOI’s philosophy of separatism and advocated a more inclusive approach to the struggle for black rights. On February 21, 1965, during a speaking engagement in Harlem, three members of the NOI rushed the stage and shot Malcolm some 15 times at close range. After Malcolm’s death, his bestselling book The Autobiography of Malcolm X popularized his ideas, particularly among black youth, and laid the foundation for the Black Power movement of the late 1960s and 1970s.
In February a Alabama state trooper shot a young African American demonstrator in nearby Marion and the SCLC announced a massive protest march from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery. 600 marchers got as far as the Edmund Pettis Bridge outside Selma when they were attacked by state troopers wielding whips nightsticks and tear gas. The brutal scene was captured on television enraging many Americans and drawing civil rights and religious leaders of all faiths to Selma in protest. King himself led another attempt on March 9 but turned the marchers around when state troopers again blocked the road. That night a group of segregationists fatally beat a protester, the young white minister James Reeb. On March 21, after a U.S. district court ordered Alabama to permit the Selma–Montgomery march, some 2,000 marchers set out on the three day journey, this time protected by U.S. Army troops and Alabama National Guard forces under federal control. “No tide of racism can stop us,” King proclaimed from the steps of the state capitol building addressing 50,000 supporters both black and white.
Black Power was a form of both self definition and self defense for African Americans; it called on them to stop looking to the institutions of white America which were believed to be inherently racist and act for themselves, by themselves, to seize the gains they desired, including better jobs, housing and education. Also in 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, college students in Oakland, California, founded the Black Panther Party. While its original mission was to protect blacks from white brutality by sending patrol groups into black neighborhoods, the Panthers soon developed into a Marxist group that promoted Black Power by urging African Americans to arm themselves and demand full employment, decent housing and control over their own communities. Clashes ensued between the Panthers and police in California, New York and Chicago, and in 1967 Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter after killing a police officer. His trial brought national attention to the organization, which at its peak in the late 1960s boasted some 2,000 members.
The world was stunned and saddened by the news that the civil rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot and killed on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had gone to support a sanitation workers’ strike. King’s death opened a huge rift between white and black Americans, as many blacks saw the killing as a rejection of their vigorous pursuit of equality through the nonviolent resistance he had championed. In more than 100 cities, several days of riots, burning and looting followed his death. The accused killer, a white man named James Earl Ray, was captured and tried immediately; he entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 99 years in prison; no testimony was heard.
He is the first African American to hold that office. The product of an interracial marriage—his father grew up in a small village in Kenya, his mother in Kansas—Obama grew up in Hawaii but discovered his civic calling in Chicago, where he worked for several years as a community organizer on the city’s largely black South Side. After studying at Harvard Law School and practicing constitutional law in Chicago, he began his political career in 1996 in the Illinois State Senate and in 2004 announced his candidacy for a newly vacant seat in the U.S. Senate. He delivered a rousing keynote speech at that year’s Democratic National Convention, attracting national attention with his eloquent call for national unity and cooperation across party lines.Obama’s appearances in both the primaries and the general election drew impressive crowds, and his message of hope and change—embodied by the slogan “Yes We Can”—inspired thousands of new voters, many young and black, to cast their vote for the first time in the historic election.