The Supreme Court rules that "separate but equal" facilities fall under consitutional guidelines. This ruling provides a legal basis for Jim Crow laws in the South and sets back African Americans civil rights for decades.
Brown v. Board of Education
The Supreme Court, led by newly appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren, rules that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" and overturns the Plessy decision. The South is ordered to desegrate public schools "at all deliberate speed". Although few districts comply, the ruling does give a legal basis for the civil rights movement.
Emmett Till is murdered in Money, Mississippi
An African American, 14-year old Chicago-native named Emmett Till is brutally murdered while visiting family in Mississippi for allegedly speaking inappropriately to a women. His battered body was shown in an open casket funeral and photographed by Jet Magazine, horrifying millions in the process. The men accused of the murder were found not guilty by an all white jury, but later admitted to the crime in an interview.
Rosa Parks is arrested for violated Montgomery's bus laws
NAACP secretary Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The arrest sets of a boycott, led by Martin Luther King Jr., of Montgomery's bus system by the African American community. The boycott lasts over a year before the bus laws are declared unconstitutional and Montgomery's bus system is desegregated.
Little Rock Nine successfully enter Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas
Nine African American students were blocked multiple times, once from the Arkansas National Guard and once by a white mob, from entering Central High School. This prompted President Dwight Eisenhower to deploy federal paratroopers to escort the students into school.
Sit-in Movement begins at Woolworth's Store
Four black college students in Greensboro, North Carolina sit-in at a whites-only lunch counter at Woolworth's. The sit-ins grow every day and eventually cause "kneel-ins" at churches, "read-ins" at libraries, and "wade-ins" at pools. After months of protests Woolworth's desegregates their lunch counters.
John F. Kennedy is elected President of the United States
John F. Kennedy is elected as the 35th President of the United States over Republican candidate Richard Nixon. As part of his campaign, he pledges to create and get civil rights legislation passed.
Freedom Riders' bus is bombed in Alabama
Groups of civil rights actvists nicknamed "Freedom Riders" travel throughout the South to enter segregated bus terminals. They are frequently met with violence and receive little or no protection from law enforcement. President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, brother of the President, order federal marshals to protect the riders.
James Meredith becomes the first black student at the University of Mississippi
After be blocked from entering the University of Mississippi, James Meredith is allowed into the school, with the protection of federal marshals ordered in by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Meredith would graduate and later survive being shot during a civil rights march.
Martin Luther King Jr. releases his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" after being arrested during the Birmingham Campaign
Birmingham, Alabama, widely considered the most segregated city in the country became the center of the civil rights movement in the spring of 1963. Civil rights protestors were met with violent police resisitance, ordered by Police Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor, in the form of fire hoses, electric cattle prods, and attack dogs. Hundreds of protestor are arrested, including Martin Luther King Jr., who write his passionate "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" while incarcerated.
Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington
In an effort to lobby for the passage of civil rights legislation over 250,000 civil rights activists attend a rally in Washington D.C.. During the rally, Martin Luther King Jr. steals the show and delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the LInoln Memorial.
Four girls are killed when the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is bombed in Birmingham, Alabama
A bomb explodes during Sunday service at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama killing four young girls. Bobby Frank Cherry, a Ku Klux Klan member, was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison, although he had accomplices.
John F. Kennedy assassinated
John F. Kennedy is assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald during a parade in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy had been unable to pass significant civil rights legislation, however his successor Lyndon Johnson would be successful in doing so.