Civil Rights Timeline

  • Brown v Board of Education of Topeka Kansas

    The NAACP overturned Plessy v. Ferguson in federal court during its case that challenged the "separate but equal" concept. Thurgood Marshall was one of the main lawyers involved; the Supreme Court decided in favor of the Brown case, declaring that the segregation of schools was unconstitutional. The decision was written by Earl Warren, the newly appointed Chief Justice. Schools were then desegregated; Medgar Evers helped with the desegregation of the University of Mississippi.
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott

    Montgomery Bus Boycott
    Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus, even though it was the law for African Americans to give their seats to whites. After she was arrested, Martin Luther King, Jr. led a meeting of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). His speech called for nonviolent protest, which he was convinced would bring a change in society.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1957

    The first law regarding civil rights passed since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 gave the U.S. Attorney General more power to protect African American voting rights. It also established the United States Civil Rights Commission. Although the law was not enforced regularly, it was a significant step on the path to equality.
  • SNCC

    Created by Ella Baker, a long-time civil rights activist, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was an organization that fought for eternal equality among African Americans and whites. It consisted of students who would pass on their determination to end segregation to future generations.
  • Freedom Ride

    Freedom Ride
    CORE protested against the segregation of public transportation by breaking discrimination laws while riding public buses and using public restrooms. The protestors' goal was to ride from Washington D.C. to New Orleans, but on the way angry white mobs attacked them using violence. President Kennedy intervened after the attacks and the Federal Transportation Commission agreed to desegregate interstate transportation.
  • March on Washington

    The March on Washington brought together each of the major civil rights groups. There, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. It was a non-violent protest that led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • 24th Amendment

    It banned the poll tax, which had been used to keep African Americans from voting. It led to African American participation in politics and the percent of African Americans registering to vote.
  • Freedom Summer

    It was a campaign in the United States launched in June 1964 to attempt to register as many African American voters as possible in Mississippi, which had historically excluded most blacks from voting. The project also set up dozens of Freedom Schools, Freedom Houses, and community centers in small towns throughout Mississippi to aid the local black population. The project was organized by the Council of Federated Organizations.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 after a lengthy 80-day filibuster by the Senate. He felt that nothing could honor President Kennedy's death better than the passing of this act. It was a direct result of the March on Washington and desegregated the nation; it also outlawed discrimination in the workforce.
  • Voting Rights Act

    The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed in response to the disenfranchisement, or denial of voting rights, of African-Americans in the southern United States. It included provisions for federal oversight in areas of severe discrimination and cleared the way for many more citizens to exercise their right to vote.
  • Black Power

    Black Power
    Stokley Carmichael, a SNCC leader, first used this term to mean African Americans should use economic/political muscle to gain equality. The most well known african american radical was malcolm X who was a convert to the Nation of Islam, a religious sect headed by Muhammed which believed in separation of the races. After Carmichaels speech, a group of young militant african americans called Black Panthers who had armed controls of neighborhoods to protect the people from police abuse.
  • Kerner Commission

    The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders was also known as the Kerner Commission, as Otto Kerner, the governor of Illinois, was the chairman of the commission.This commission answered all of the questions set forth to it by the president and produced the “Report of The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders” in 1968. The commission found that the media failed to report adequately on the causes of and consequences of civil riots and race relations.