Civil Rights Movement


Truman signs Executive Order 9981

July 26, 1948

It states that, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin."

Brown vs Board of Education

May 17, 1954

The Supreme Court rules on the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans., unanimously agreeing that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. The ruling paves the way for large-scale desegregation. The decision overturns the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that sanctioned "separate but equal" segregation of the races, It is a victory for NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall.

Emmett Till Murder

August 1955

Two white males brutally beat Emmett Till and after shot him in the back of his head. They disposed of his body in a river with a cotton gin tied around his neck.

Rosa Parks

Dec 1, 1955

Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white male in Montgomery, AL. Starts a bus boycott from the African Americans.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference

January 1957

The SCLC is created and MLK jr. is the first president.

LIttle Rock 9

September 1957

Nine black students are blocked from entering the school on the orders of Governor Orval Faubus. President Eisenhower sends federal troops and the National Guard to intervene on behalf of the students, who become known as the "Little Rock Nine."

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

April 1960

In Raleigh, NC at Shaw University is founded giving young blacks a place in the movement. Grows into a more radical organization under Stokely Carmichael.

Freedom Riders

May 4, 1961

Student Volunteers take buses throughout the south to test out the new bus laws.

James Meredith

October 1, 1962

James Meredith becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Violence and riots surrounding the incident cause President Kennedy to send 5,000 federal troops.

Riots in Birmingham

May 1963

During civil rights protests in Birmingham, Ala., Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene "Bull" Connor uses fire hoses and police dogs on black demonstrators. These images of brutality, which are televised and published widely, are instrumental in gaining sympathy for the civil rights movement around the world.

March on Washington

August 28, 1963

Over 200,000 gathered in Washington D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial to hear the "I Have A Dream" speech by MLK jr.

Birmingham Bombings

September 15, 1963

Four young girls in Birmingham, AL were at Sunday School in a Baptist church when a bomb went off and killed them of. This lead to more riots which killed two black youths.

24th Amendment

January 23, 1964

The 24th Amendment abolishes the poll tax, which originally had been instituted in 11 southern states after Reconstruction to make it difficult for poor blacks to vote.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

July 2, 1964

President signs the Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin. The law also provides the federal government with the powers to enforce desegregation.

Malcolm X Murdered

February 21, 1965

In Harlem, NY while making a speech was murdered. Founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity

Civil Rights Act of 1965

August 10, 1965

Congress passes the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for Southern blacks to register to vote. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and other such requirements that were used to restrict black voting are made illegal.

Black Panthers


The militant Black Panthers are founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, Ca

MLK jr Murdered

April 4, 1968

Martin Luther King, at age 39, is shot as he stands on the balcony outside his hotel room. Escaped convict and committed racist James Earl Ray is convicted of the crime. takes place in Memphis.

Civil Rights Act of 1968

April 11, 1968

President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.