Civil Rights Timeline


Brown v. The Board of Ed.

October 1, 1951

Oliver Brown and 13 other parents wanted to enroll their children in a white school but were turned down because they were black. They went to the NAACP and the Supreme Court. The Court decided, in Brown's favor, that it was unfair to separate schools based on race.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

December 5, 1955

A few days after Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man on a bus, the Boycott began. African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama refused to ride city buses in a protest against segregated seating.

The Establishment of the SCLC

January 10, 1957

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was a civil rights group that focused on three major points. They thought that civil rights were essential to democracy, segregation must end, and black people should reject segregation nonviolently.

The Civil Rights Act of 1957

September 9, 1957

This law, signed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, focused on voting rights. It gave equal voting rights to everyone and made it illegal to deny someone the right to vote for any reason.

Central High School in Little Rock, AR

September 23, 1957

At Central High school, nine African American students were denied entry to the school. They went to court about it and it ended in favor of them. They were escorted into the school by police but violence still broke out. They eventually were allowed inside.

The Sit-Ins

February 1, 1960

The first of the sit-ins was held in Greensboro. At the sit-ins, African Americans would sit at a lunch counter reserved for whites in order to nonviolently protest segregation. As time went on, the popularity of sit-ins grew and they began to get violent against blacks.

The Establishment of SNCC

April 1960

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was a civil rights organization that organized sit-ins to try to end segregation. They also coordinated marches, including a march on Washington DC.

The Freedom Rides

May 4, 1961

Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who would ride interstate buses into the deeply segregated south. They wanted to test the results of the Boynton v. Virginia Court Ruling which outlawed segregation on buses. They were often beaten and killed.

The Federal Transportation Commission Desegregates Interstate Transportation

November 1, 1961

The Federal Transportation Commission wanted to protect the freedom riders, who were peacefully protesting against the segregation on buses, but were being attacked. They were able to convince the court to desegregate the buses, though some states did not follow these rules very well.

Ole Miss is Forced to Admit James Meredith

September 20, 1962

In 1961, Meredith applied to Ole Miss, but was rejected because of his race. One year later, after the court forced Ole Miss to accept him, he became the first African American accepted to this school.

Demonstrations in Birmingham, AL

April 7, 1963

In order to get more attention, Martin Luther King Jr. and the SCLC arranged sit-ins, boycotts, and mass meetings to try to end segregation. They chose Birmingham because it was the most segregated city in the country. They were attacked by police dogs and sprayed with fire hoses during a peaceful protest.

The Assassination of Medgar Evers

June 12, 1963

After serving in World War II, Evers returned to the United States to become a civil rights leader. He encouraged them to register to vote and recruited them into the movement. Because of his support of blacks, he was killed at his home in Jackson, Mississippi.

The March on Washington

August 28, 1963

In this march, more than 200,000 Americans protested in Washington DC. They were demanding jobs and freedoms, but they also wanted to show the country the struggles, both political and social, of African Americans.

Ratification of the 24th Amendment

January 23, 1964

The 24th Amendment was created for the main purpose of ending poll taxes in elections for federal officials. Before this Amendment, voting stations would put a tax on the poll to discourage African Americans, who were typically poor, from voting.

Freedom Summer

June 14, 1964

During the summer of 1964, the civil rights organizations held a voter registration drive in hopes of increasing the African American voting registration in Mississippi. But the protesters were attacked by the KKK, the police, and various other white mobs.

The Murders of Michael Schwerner, James Cheyney, and Andrew Goodman

June 21, 1964

James Cheyney, a black from Mississippi, worked with Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, two whites from New York, in an attempt to register black voters in Mississippi. They were imprisoned for a short time, released to the KKK, beaten, and eventually killed because of their civil rights ideas.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

July 2, 1964

In this Act, created by Lyndon B. Johnson, segregation was to be outlawed in business. This meant that businesses were no longer permitted to discriminate when choosing employees and it also ended segregation in public places. Many just ignored the law though.

Fannie Lou Hamer's Speech of the MDFP

August 22, 1964

In August, 1962, Hamer learned for the first time that African Americans had the right to vote. She then tried to register to vote in Mississippi, but was rejected because of her race. In her speech, she told her story in an attempt to help the black voters who had also been rejected.

The Assassination of Malcolm X

February 21, 1965

Malcolm X, a black Nationalist leader, was in the middle of giving a speech when he was shot to death. The people who shot him to death were Muslims, a group which Nationalists did not get along well with during the civil rights movement.

The March on Selma, AL

March, 1965

In this march, Martin Luther King led thousands of nonviolent protesters from Selma to the capitol of Alabama, Montgomery. They marched to demand voting and other civil rights. Unfortunately, many were killed or beaten during the march.

The Voting Rights Act

August 6, 1965

The Voting Rights Act, introduced by Lyndon B. Johnson, abolished literacy tests and poll taxes that were used to eliminate black voters. It gave the federal government the right to take over voter registration if necessary as well. It was a huge victory for African Americans.

Race Riots in Watts, Los Angeles, CA

August 11, 1965

In Watts, a police officer pulled over and arrested Marquette Frye, accusing her of driving drunk. When her mother came, a struggle broke out between the police officer and the family. It led to riots against police brutality for 6 days, as well as 34 deaths and 1,000 wounded.

The Attempted Murder of James Meredith

June 6, 1966

Meredith applied for the University of Mississippi and was accepted until they learned that he was black and kicked him out. He initiated a law suit against them and was eventually accepted, which was very upsetting to most whites. He was shot by a sniper and hospitalized, but not killed.

Stokely Carmichael's Black Powder Speech

July 28, 1966

In this speech, Carmichael, a civil rights activist and chairman of the SNCC, he declared that they should no longer send white organizers into black committees. He emphasized race pride and did not support integration with the whites.

Formation of the Black Panthers

October 15, 1966

Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale were the creators of the Black Panther Party. The party agreed on issues like unemployment, housing, and police brutality, but disagreed on how to solve them. They worked in a Socialist way, very together, to address issues.

Race Riots in Newark, NJ and Detroit, MI

July 12, 1967

NJ: These riots started with the arrest of a taxi driver, John Smith, who was accused of driving around a double parked police car. It emphasized police brutality and left 26 dead.
MI: These riots started after police entered and after-hours drinking club in a black neighborhood to have it shut down. Again, it addressed police brutality and 43 were killed.

The Formation of the Kerner Commission

July 28, 1967

This group was created by Lyndon B. Johnson to examine the causes of urban race riots which seemed to be occurring all around the country. They wanted to know why the riots happened and how they could be stopped in the future.

Thurgood Marshall Appointed First Black Supreme Court Justice

August 30, 1967

First, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the US Court of Appeals in 1961, but he was rejected by most people. Then, in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court and he was confirmed, making him the first black in the Supreme Court. He challenged discrimination during his 24 years in the Court.

Passage of the Fair Housing Act

April, 1968

This Act prohibited discrimination with sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race or any other characteristic. It was the final great achievement of the civil rights era.

Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

April 4, 1968

Martin Luther King Jr. was a very strong civil rights leader during the movement. He organized marches and protests which made a lto of whites hate him. On April 4, 1968, King was shot while leading a peaceful protest in Memphis, TN.