Civil Rights Movement


Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, KS

May 17, 1954

Oliver Brown went against the Board of Education of Topeka, KS in the early 1950s over the matter of segregated schools. On May 17, 1954 the unanimous (9-0) decision of the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

December 1, 1955

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political and social campaign against racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama. It started with the famous event of Rosa Parks being arrested on December 1, 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a white person. It ended on December 20, 1956 when segregated bus laws were deemed unconstitutional after the Supreme Court case of Browder v. Gayle.

The Establishment of the SCLC

January 10, 1957

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is an African American civil rights organization. The first president of the SCLC was the famous African American civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was formed after the Montgomery Bus Boycott victory as an organization to coordinate and support nonviolent direction action to existing challenges at hand.

Central High School in Little Rock, AR

September 4, 1957

The Little Rock Nine were a group of African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School. With the threat of protests to keep from letting the students physically enter the school, Governor Orval Faubus deployed the Arkansas National Guard to support the segregationists on September 4, 1957. This was brought by the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Supreme Court trial outcome.

Civil Rights Act of 1957

September 9, 1957

The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was the first voting bill passed since the Civil War Reconstruction. It ensured that all Americans could exercise their right to vote. This Act was passed by President Eisenhower on September 9, 1957.

Sit Ins

February 1, 1960

A group of black students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College bought their school supplies at an store and then went to the same store’s lunch counter but they were denied service. Sit ins are colored persons who go and sit in places such as restaurants that don’t serve colored people and basically just take up space so the business loses money on other possible sales that could have been taking place.

The Establishment of the SNCC

April 1960

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed in the early 1960s and started from a series of student meetings led by Ella Baker at Shaw University. The SNCC played many roles in the sit ins, freedom rides, and marches during the Civil Rights Movement.

The Freedom Rides

May 4, 1961

Freedom rides were a new tactic in 1961 created by CORE aimed at desegregating public transportation throughout the south. The first freedom ride on May 4, 1961 consisted of seven blacks and six whites that left Washington D.C. on two public buses that were going into the deep south. Riders were beaten, the buses were attacked by mobs of people, and also bombed by molotov cocktails.

Federal Transportation Commission desegregates Interstate Transportation

September 23, 1961

Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy directed the Interstate Commerce Commission to desegregate interstate travel. He issued new rules ending discrimination in interstate travel.

Ole Miss Is Forced To Admit James Meredith

October 1, 1962

James Meredith enrolled to the University of Mississippi twice but was denied both times. After the help of the US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy consulting with Governor Barnett. Meredith had to be let in by law and became the first African American student to attend the University of Mississippi in October of 1962

Demonstrations in Birmingham, AL

April 1963

The SCLC organized a strategic movement to bring attention the the unequal treatment of African Americans in Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham was selected because it was considered one of the most racial segregated cities in the United States. The protesters used nonviolent tactics such as boycotts. Eugene Bull Connor ordered the usage of fire hoses and police dogs on the protesters who were not breaking the law in any way. In the end Connor lost his job, Jim Crow laws were eliminated, and public places were now more open to blacks.

The Assassination of Medgar Evers

June 12, 1963

Medgar Wiley Evers was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. Evers was shot in his own driveway by Byron De La Beckwith and died 50 minutes later at a local hospital.

The March On Washington

August 28, 1963

More than 200,000 Americans gathered in Washington, D.C. on August 28 of 1963 and the rally became known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Civil rights groups rallied to shed light on political and social challenges that African Americans faced in 1963 America.

Ratification of the 24th Amendment

January 24, 1964

The 24th Amendment prohibits both Congress and the states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections. It gave people the unconditional right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Freedom Summer

June 1964

The Freedom Summer was a campaign launched in June of 1964. The main goal of this campaign was to register as many black voters as possible throughout the state of Mississippi. It also set up many freedom schools, freedom houses, and community centers to help the local black population.

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

June 21, 1964

The murders of black Mississippian James Chaney, white New Yorker Andrew Goodman, and white New Yorker Michael Schwerner were committed in Nashoba County, Mississippi. The three men had been working on give the right to blacks to register to vote and they were in Nashoba County to investigate the burning of a black church. They were arrested and then released into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan who beat and murdered the three men.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

July 2, 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended the unequal application of voter registration. It also ended racial segregation in schools and workplaces that served the general public.

Fannie Lou Hamer's Speech of the MDFP

August 22, 1964

Fannie Lou Hamer worked with organizations such as the SNCC and the MFDP. She was a notable civil rights activist. In August of 1964 Hamer gave her speech at the 1964 Democratic National Convention that she attended with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). Her speech was broadcast on most major networks which drew in tons of support for the MFDP from across the nation.

The Assassination of Malcolm X

February 21, 1965

Malcolm X was preparing to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom. His bodyguards responded to a disturbance in the crowd. Then a man stood up in the front row and show Malcolm X at point blank range with a sawed off shotgun which was followed by two others who proceeded to shoot him several other times with semi-automatic handguns.

The March on Selma, AL

March 7, 1965

About 600 marchers headed east out of Selma on US Route 80. Six blocks later at the Edmund Pettus Bridge local lawmen attacked the march with billy clubs and tear gas. The marchers were driven back into Selma. Two days later Martin Luther King Jr led a symbolic march to the bridge. The Federal District Court told the lawmen that they were not allowed to intervene by law. On March 21 3200 marchers set out from Selma to Montgomery, by March 25 the march was 25,000 strong.

The Attempted Murder of James Meredith

June 6, 1965

James H. Meredith was the first African American to attend the University of Mississippi. In an attempt to encourage voter registration, Meredith organized his “March Against Fear” and one day into the march a sniper shot Meredith putting him into the hospital. Other civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr and Stokely Carmichael came to replace him in the march.

Voting Rights Act

August 6, 1965

President Lyndon Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act in August of 1965. This act outlawed discriminatory voting practices adopted by many southern states following the Civil War. An example of a practice outlawed are the literacy tests that the southern states required for a person to vote.

Race Riots in Watts, Los Angeles, California

August 11, 1965 - August 17, 1965

The Watts Riots took place in Los Angeles, California. It was caused by racial segregation and police discrimination. After six days of rioting their were 34 people dead, 1,032 people injured, 3,438 people arrested, and over $40 million in property damage.

Formation of the Black Panthers

October 15, 1966

The Black Panther Party was an African-American revolutionary socialist organization that was created in 1966 and ended in 1982. It achieved national and international notoriety through its involvement in the Black Power movements and U.S. politics of the 1960s and 1970s. Their initial goal set forth a doctrine that called for the protection of black neighborhoods from police brutality.

Stokely Carmichael's Black Power Speech

October 29, 1966

Stokely Carmichael gave a speech at the campus of the UC Berkeley. His speech was part of an all day conference on black power organized by the Students for a Democratic Society. Carmichael was the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and later became the Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party. Stokely is considered one of the great activist leaders for blacks during the 1960s along with others such as Martin Luther King Jr.

Race Riots in Newark, NJ and Detroit, MI


The Race Riots of Newark, NJ and Detroit , MI were very violent riots caused by social unrest mostly. the riots in Newark were triggered by the arrest of John Smith who was a black taxi driver who allegedly drove around a double-parked police car. Riots broke out and six days later at least 23 people died, 725 people were injured, and another 1500 had been arrested in Newark alone. After the Detroit riots around 40 people were dead, 1189 people injured, and another 7000 arrested.

The Formation of the Kerner Commission

July 28, 1967

The Kerner Commission was created to investigate the causes of the 1967 race riots to provide options of avoiding them in the future. The commission was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 28, 1967 while rioting was still underway in some cities such as Detroit, Michigan.

Thurgood Marshall appointed first black Supreme Court Justice

October 2, 1967

Thurgood Marshall was the first African American to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. Marshall was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in October of 1967. He was nominated due to his great success in arguing before the Supreme Court in important cases such as Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, KS.

The Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

April 4, 1968

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was the arguably most important civil rights activist for the black during the 1950s and 1960s. He was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis by James Earl Ray who pleaded guilty and was sentenced 99 years in Tennessee state prison.

Passage of the Fair Housing Act

April 11, 1968

The Fair Housing Act came along in the Civil Rights Act of 1968 passed by President Lyndon Johnson. It has been attempted numerous times before 1968. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr is what compelled Johnson to pass it in somewhat of a fitting memorial to King’s life work. This act outlawed segregated towns and allowed for colored people and whites to live in the same developments.