Civil Rights in the United States

Civil Rights Events

1857 Dred Scott Case


Dred Scott

1857 The Supreme Court rules in the Dred Scott case that slaves do not become free when taken into a free state, that Congress cannot bar slavery from a territory and that blacks cannot become citizens.

1863 Emancipation Procolamation


1863 President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation freeing "all slaves in areas still in rebellion."

1865 Civil War Ends


Ku Klux Klan


Plessy vs. Ferguson



1896 The Supreme Court approves the "separate but equal" segregation doctrine.

Ku Klux Klan Demonstrates Publicly


1925 In its first national demonstration the Ku Klux Klan marches on Washington, D.C.

Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, KS


Rosa Parks


Rosa Parks Bus

Rosa Parks is jailed for refusing to move to the back of a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. A boycott follows, and the bus segregation ordinance is declared unconstitutional.The Federal Interstate Commerce Commission bans segregation on interstate trains and buses.

Little Rock Nine


1957 Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus uses the National Guard to block nine black students from attending Little Rock High School. Following a court order, President Eisenhower sends in federal troops to allow the black students to enter the school.

Integration in the Department of Defense


The Department of Defense orders complete integration of military reserve units, excluding the National Guard.

James Meredith attends the University of Mississippi



President Kennedy sends federal troops to the University of Mississippi to end riots so that James Meredith, the school's first black student, can attend.

Supreme Court rules in Transportation Facilities


The Supreme Court rules that segregation is unconstitutional in all transportation facilities.

"I Have A Dream" speech


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech to hundreds of thousands at the March on Washington, D.C.

Bombing in Birmingham, AL


A church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, leaves four young black girls dead.

Medgar Evans


Civil rights leader Medgar Evers is killed by a sniper's bullet.

Civil Right's Act


Congress passes the Civil Rights Act, declaring discrimination based on race illegal.

What Was Going On at the Time

Jim Crow Laws

1870 - 1920

World War I

July 28, 1914 - November 11, 1918

World War II

1939 - 1945

Vietnam War

1959 - 1975

JFK Jr.'s Presidency

January 20, 1961 - November 22, 1963

Amendments to the US Constitution

13th Amendment is Ratified


14th Amendment


1868 The 14th Amendment, which requires equal protection under the law to all persons, is ratified.

14th Amendment

15th Amendment


1870 The 15th Amendment, which bans racial discrimination in voting, is ratified.

15th Amendment

24th Amendment


The 24th Amendment abolishes the poll tax, which originally had been established in the South after Reconstruction to make it difficult for poor blacks to vote.