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 President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation freeing "all slaves in areas still in rebellion."
1896 The Supreme Court approves the "separate but equal" segregation doctrine.
1925 In its first national demonstration the Ku Klux Klan marches on Washington, D.C.
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.
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.
The Department of Defense orders complete integration of military reserve units, excluding the National Guard.
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.
The Supreme Court rules that segregation is unconstitutional in all transportation facilities.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech to hundreds of thousands at the March on Washington, D.C.
A church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, leaves four young black girls dead.
Civil rights leader Medgar Evers is killed by a sniper's bullet.
Congress passes the Civil Rights Act, declaring discrimination based on race illegal.
1868 The 14th Amendment, which requires equal protection under the law to all persons, is ratified.
1870 The 15th Amendment, which bans racial discrimination in voting, is ratified.
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.