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Civil Rights Timeline

By TD1226
  • Brown v. Board of Education

    Brown v. Board of Education
    This was a Supreme Court ruling on May 17, 1954. The Supreme Court ruled that the segregation of public schools is unconstitutional. The NAACP was led by the attorney Thurgood Marshall. This overruled the Plessy v. Ferguson trial of 1896. This was the ruled “separate but equal segregation of races”. This ruling was the first major step in educational equality for all races in America. Thurgood Marshall later became the first black Supreme Court justice.
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    Civil Rights in America

  • Emmett Till Murder

    Emmett Till Murder
    Emmett Till was a 14 year old who visited family in Mississippi when he is kidnapped, brutally beaten, shot, and dumped in a river for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Two white men, J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, are arrested for the murder and acquitted by an all-white jury. They later boast about committing the murder in a Look magazine interview. The case becomes a major motivator in the civil rights movement. This event caused uproar with many in the black community.
  • Rosa Parks

    Rosa Parks
    Rosa Parks, a NAACP member refused to give up her seat in the colored section of the bus to a white person. She was arrested for refusing the requests of the white passenger. A bus boycott was then put in place by the black community. This boycott lasted for over a year, until the busses desegregated in 1956. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader in the boycott on the busses in Montgomery, Alabama. The boycott was one of the most iconic events in the civil rights movement for African Americans.
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference

    Southern Christian Leadership Conference
    The SCLC is made in January 1957. Martin Luther King, Charles K. Steele, and Fred L. Shuttlesworth establish the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King is made the first president. The SCLC becomes a major force in organizing the civil rights movement and bases its principles on nonviolence and civil disobedience. According to King, it is essential that the civil rights movement not sink to the level of the racists and hatemongers who oppose them.
  • "Little Rock Nine"

    "Little Rock Nine"
    In September of 1957, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas attempted to “integrate” their school with African Americans. Nine black students are blocked from entering the school on the orders of Governor Orval Faubus. President Eisenhower sent federal troops and the National Guard to intervene for the students, who become known as the "Little Rock Nine." These students became national icons and figurative leaders for blacks around the country.
  • Woolworth's sit-in

    Woolworth's sit-in
    February 1, 1960, four black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College begin a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter. Although they are refused service, they are allowed to stay at the counter. The event triggers many similar nonviolent protests throughout the South. Six months later the original four protesters are served lunch at the same Woolworth's counter.
  • Martin Luther King arrested

    Martin Luther King arrested
    April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King is arrested in anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He wrote a letter called “A Letter from Birmingham Jail” arguing that people have the moral duty to disobey unjust laws. During civil rights protests in Birmingham, Ala., Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene "Bull" Connor uses fire hoses and police dogs on black demonstrators.
  • Bombing at Sixteenth Baptist Church

    Bombing at Sixteenth Baptist Church
    September 15, 1963, four young girls (Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins) attending Sunday school are killed when a bomb explodes at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a popular location for civil rights meetings. Riots erupt in Birmingham, leading to the deaths of two more black youths. These attack seemed to be the peak of the civil rights commotion in the southern states.
  • Three civil rights workers found dead

    Three civil rights workers found dead
    August 4, 1964 in Mississippi, the bodies of three civil-rights workers—two white, one black—are found in an earthen dam, six weeks into a federal investigation backed by President Johnson. James E. Chaney, 21; Andrew Goodman, 21; and Michael Schwerner, 24, had been working to register black voters in Mississippi, and, on June 21, had gone to investigate the burning of a black church.
  • Malcolm X killed

    Malcolm X killed
    On February 21, 1965 in Harlem, New York, Malcolm X, a black-nationalist and founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, is shot to death. He then formed a rival organization of his own, the Muslim Mosque, Inc. In 1964, after a pilgrimage to Mecca, he announced his conversion to orthodox Sunni Islam and his new belief that there could be brotherhood between black and white. His assassins were vaguely identified as Black Muslims, but this remains a matter of controversy.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Killed

    Martin Luther King Jr. Killed
    On April 4th, 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. Ray's conviction was subsequently upheld, but he eventually received support from members of King's family, who believed King to have been the victim of a conspiracy. Ray died in prison in 1998.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1968

    Civil Rights Act of 1968
    On April 11, 1968, President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing. The act specifically prohibited discrimination in voting, education, and the use of public facilities. For the first time since the Supreme Court ruled on segregation in public schools in 1954, the federal government had a means of enforcing desegregation; Title VI of the act barred the use of federal funds for segregated programs and schools.