Civil Rights Movement


Desegregation of the Military

July 26, 1948

Pres. Truman signs Executive Order 9981
States that there should be equal opportunities and and treatment for everyone in the armed services, no matter their race, color, religion, or national origin.

Brown v Board of Education

May 17, 1954

Supreme court case that unanimously agreed that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.
Allows for large-scale desegregation
Overturns the "separate but equal" ruling in the Plessy v Ferguson case

Murder of Emmett Till

August 1955

Two white males beat Till and shot him in the back of his head afterwards. They disposed his body in a river with a cotton gin weighing him down.

Montgomery Bus Boycotts

December 1955

Started with Rosa Parks who refused to get out of her seat for a white male. Took place in Montgomery, AL.
Rosa Parks' action led many others to boycott buses so African Americans would not have to suffer segregation on buses.

Little Rock Nine Crisis

September 1957

Nine black students are blocked from entering a desegregated all-white school. Attack on the students were led by Gov Orval Faubus.
Pres Eisenhower sent federal troops to intervene and escort the students around the campus and protect them from crazy parents.

Student Lunch Counter Sit-Ins (Greensboro)

February 1, 1960

Four African American college students conducted non-violent sit-ins at a segregated counter in a restaurant after they were refused service.
Prompted other students to join in and get the segregation at the counter repealed.

Formation of SNCC

April 1960

SNCC = Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
Began with the peaceful sit-ins of the 50's. Under Stokely Carmichael it took a "non-Nonviolent" stance.
Carmichael spoke of Black Power, a catch-all phrase calling for blacks to carry out their political and economic power.
Many blacks interpreted "Black Power" as a separatist movement. Emphasized uniqueness such as "Afro" hair, clothes, names for children, and African studies in colleges.

Freedom Rides

May 4, 1961

Freedom riders (usually young white northerners) rode buses through the South to draw attention to segregation. Some Southerners became violent against the buses

James Meredith & Univ of Mississippi

October 1, 1962

Meredith becomes the first black student enrolled in the Uni of Mississippi, but white students block him from classes.
Violence and riots from this cause Pres Kennedy to send in federal troops so Meredith could go to class.

Crisis/Violence in Birmingham

May 1963 - September 15, 1963

Civil rights protesters were hosed down and attacked by police dogs who were purposely turned against them. Images of this were published/televised and was instrumental for gaining support for Civil Rights around the world.
Four young black girls at Sunday school were killed by a bomb that went off in/near the church. Led to more riots.

Murder of Medgar Evers

June 12, 1963

Black civil rights worker who was shot and killed in front of his house by a white supremacist right after JFK's speech on supporting civil rights.

March on Washington

August 28, 1963

Led my MLK, over 200,000 gathered in Washington D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial where MLK gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.

President Kennedy Assassination

November 22, 1963

Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald.

Freedom Summer

June 1964

Campaign started to try to register as many black voters as possible. Primarily Northern whites came down during the Freedom Summer to help register.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

July 2, 1964

Pres signs Civil Right Act that prohibits discriminations of all kinds and provides federal government with the power to enforce desegregation.

Malcolm X, Black Nationalism, & Assassination

1965 - February 21, 1965

Malcolm X - against non-violent protesting. Was influenced by black militants in the Nation of Islam. Founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
Black Nationalism - advocated economic self-sufficiency, racial pride for African Americans, and black separatism.
Assassination - Malcolm was killed by Nation of Islam gunmen.

"Bloody Sunday" & Selma to Montgomery Marches


Martin Luther King, Jr. set up a voter registration drive in Selma, Alabama. Wanted march from Selma to Montgomery.
State police used tear gas, and whips. Two people died in the chaos. This is when the Voting Rights Act gained steam and passed.

Voting Rights Act of 1965

August 10, 1965

Made it easier for Southern Blacks to vote. The tricky ways of the South to discourage blacks (literacy tests, poll taxes, etc.) were made illegal through this too.

Watts Riots

August 11, 1965 - August 17, 1965

Took place in Los Angeles. Resulted in 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries, 3,438 arrests, and over $40 million in property damage.
Was not a racial riot per-say, but a class riot. Took place in the ghetto.

Black Panthers formation & Rallies


Founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, CA.
Went around armed with powerful weapons.
Believed in Black Power and Black Nationalism.

MLK Assassination

April 4, 1968

MLK (age 39) was shot as he stood in the balcony outside his hotel room. Takes place in Memphis.
Escaped convict and committed racist is convicted of the crime, his name was Hanes Earl Ray.

Poor People's March on Washington

June 1968

Participants set up a 3000-person tent city on the Washington Mall, where they stayed for six weeks.
Tried to gain economic justice for poor people in the US.

Robert Kennedy Assassination

June 6, 1968

Robert was running for the Democratic nominee to become President. Was shot and killed in Los Angeles after winning the California vote.