Civil Rights Timeline

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Plessy v. Ferguson

1896

New Orleans, LA
Segregation in Trains
Homer Plessy, Ferguson
Plessy appealed to the US Supreme Court claiming his conviction and the Louisiana railroad laws were unconstitutional because they violated the 13th and 14th amendments.
Supreme Court rejected the appeal and said that you could segregate people as long as you provided separate but equal accommodations.

Brown v Board of Education

1954

Topeka, Kansas
Nullifying the Separate but Equal Principle
Linda Brown, Board of Education of Topeka Kansas
African American children being denied admission to segregated all-white public schools.
The Court ruled unanimously to overrule the separate but equal principle and African American children could attend any public school and integration of all public schools was to start to happen.

Arrest of Rosa Parks

1955

Montgomery, Alabama
Segregation on buses
Rosa Parks
Rosa refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white person and was arrested.
Spurred a citywide boycott.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

1955

Montgomery, Alabama
To have no African Americans ride a city bus as a boycott to Rosa Parks arrest.
Montgomery, Alabama’s black population
NAACP and the local churches circulated a call to action “if Negros did not ride the buses, they (the buses) could not operate” they asked for every Negro to stay off the buses on Monday in protest of the arrest and trial.
The city of Montgomery lifted the law requiring segregation on public buses. Rosa Parks went on to be a famous Civil Rights Activist.

Freedom Rides

1961

Interstate buses in the South
Protests to end bus segregation ends in violence
Jim Zwerg
Freedom rides were protest of bus segregation where black and white bus riders traded spots and refused to move – blacks sat in the front of the bus and whites sat in the back of the bus. At a bus terminal in May of 1961 along the route a mob attacked Jim Zwerg’s group when they tried to use “whites only” facilities sending them to the hospital.
These rides and other forms of protest opened the doors to change in government and society.

Civil Rights March on Washington

1963

Washington, D.C.
Demonstration with the goal of all people having the same rights
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Big-Six civil-right leaders were speakers
Over 250,000 gathered at the Capital on Aug. 28, 1963, one-quarter being white. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave what would become a very famous speech that included speaking of an America where his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” And ended with “Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty we are free at last.”
The March on Washington united many groups that all called for passage of civil rights laws. President Kennedy promised his support.

Civil Right Act of 1964

1964

Washington, D.C.
Segregation and equality
US Congress
The new law banned segregation in public places, such as hotels and theaters. It also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to prevent job discrimination.
Segregation officially became illegal throughout the United States.

Freedom Summer

1964

Mississippi
Helping blacks get registered to vote.
SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and Northern college students
The college student worked along with SNCC in a voter-registration drive for Southern Blacks. They endured much mistreatment while performing their work. Some were even killed.
Despite the troubles they helped add many African Americans to the voter-registration roles.

Voting Rights Act

1965

Washington, D.C.
Voting Rights strengthened
Congress
The law banned literacy tests and other laws that kept people from registering to vote. It also sent federal officials to register voters.
Within months the number of black registered voters in Dallas County rose from 383 to about 8000.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination

1968

Balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN
Massive Revolts and riots across the U.S.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., James Earl Ray.
At 6:01 pm April 4th, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was preparing to go to a dinner and stepped out on his balcony and was shot in the cheek. He died later at the hospital. James Earl Ray was arrested and charged for the murder.
MLK made a huge impact on Civil Rights and his death hit many people very hard. His speeches and visions continued to form additional civil rights.