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Civil Rights Timeline

  • 13th Amendment

    13th Amendment
    The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. This freed African-American slaves, and was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War.
  • 14th Amendment

    14th Amendment
    The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. The amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War.
  • 15th Amendment

    15th Amendment
    The Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude". It was ratified on February 3, 1870, as the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments. It took many, many years to actually uphold this Amendment.
  • Plessy vs. Ferguson

    Plessy vs. Ferguson
    Plessy v. Ferguson is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of "separate but equal". "Separate but equal" remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its repudiation in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education.
  • Jim Crow Laws (1876-1965)

    Jim Crow Laws (1876-1965)
    Jim Crow laws were racial segregation laws enacted between 1876 and 1965 in the United States at the state and local level. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy, with, starting in 1890, a "separate but equal" status for African Americans. The separation in practice led to conditions for African Americans that were inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of life long disadvantages.
  • 19th Amendment

    19th Amendment
    The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. The amendment was the culmination of the women's suffrage movement in the United States, which fought at both state and national levels to achieve the vote.
  • Literacy Tests (1890s-1960s)

    Literacy Tests (1890s-1960s)
    Southern state legislatures employed literacy tests as part of the voter registration process starting in the late 19th century. Literacy tests, along with poll taxes and extra-legal intimidation, were used to deny suffrage to African-Americans. The first formal voter literacy tests were introduced in 1890. At first, whites were exempted from the literacy test if they could meet alternate requirements (the grandfather clause) that, in practice, excluded blacks.
  • Korematsu vs. United States

    Korematsu vs. United States
    Korematsu v. United States was a landmark United States Supreme Court case concerning the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066, which ordered Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II, regardless of citizenship.The opinion held that the need to protect against espionage outweighed Fred Korematsu's individual rights, and the rights of Americans of Japanese descent.
  • Sweatt vs. Painter

    Sweatt vs. Painter
    Sweatt v. Painter was a U.S. Supreme Court case that successfully challenged the "separate but equal" doctrine of racial segregation established by the 1896 case Plessy v. Ferguson. The case was influential in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education four years later.
  • Equal Rights Act (1923-1979)

    Equal Rights Act (1923-1979)
    The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for women. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. In 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time. In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress and went to the state legislatures for ratification.
  • Brown vs. Board of Education

    Brown vs. Board of Education
    Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which allowed state-sponsored segregation, insofar as it applied to public education.
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott

    Montgomery Bus Boycott
    The Montgomery Bus Boycott, an event in the U.S. civil rights movement, was a political and social protest campaign against the policy of racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama. The campaign lasted from December 1, 1955—when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white person—to December 20, 1956, when Browder v. Gayle took effect, and led to a United States Supreme Court decision that found segregated buses unconstitutional.
  • Browder vs. Gayle

    Browder vs. Gayle
    Browder v. Gayle was a case heard before a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on Montgomery and Alabama state bus segregation laws. The district court's ruled on June 13, 1956, that bus segregation was unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment protections for equal treatment.
  • Ruby Bridges' First Day of School

    Ruby Bridges' First Day of School
    Ruby Bridges was the first African American to enter an integrated school. She needed to be protected by U.S. Marshals every day, because of how dangerous it was for her to go.
  • 24th Amendment

    24th Amendment
    The Twenty-fourth Amendment (Amendment XXIV) of the United States Constitution prohibits both Congress and the states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of tax.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    Civil Rights Act of 1964
    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as "public accommodations").
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965

    Voting Rights Act of 1965
    The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act allowed for a mass enfranchisement of racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South.
  • Harper vs. Virginia State Board of Elections

    Harper vs. Virginia State Board of Elections
    Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections was a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that Virginia's poll tax was unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibited poll taxes in federal elections; five states continued to require poll taxes for voters in state elections. By this ruling, the Supreme Court banned the use of poll taxes in state elections.
  • Loving vs. Virginia

    Loving vs. Virginia
    The Court declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, as a violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. The case was brought by Mildred Loving, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other. The decision was followed by an increase in interracial marriages in the U.S.,
  • Affirmative Action

    Affirmative Action
    The concept of affirmative action was introduced in the early 1960s in the United States, as a way to combat racial discrimination in the hiring process and, in 1967, the concept was expanded to include sex. Affirmative action was first created from Executive Order 10925, which was signed by President John F. Kennedy on 6 March 1961 and required that government employers "not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin".
  • Robert Kennedy Speech upon Death of MLK

    Robert Kennedy Speech upon Death of MLK
    Robert F. Kennedy's speech on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. was given on April 4, 1968, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kennedy, the United States senator from New York, was campaigning to earn the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination when he learned that King had been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Earlier that day Kennedy had spoken at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend and at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
  • Reed vs. Reed

    Reed vs. Reed
    Reed v. Reed was an Equal Protection case in the United States in which the Supreme Court ruled that the administrators of estates cannot be named in a way that discriminates between sexes.
  • Regents of the University of California vs. Bakke

    Regents of the University of California vs. Bakke
    Regents of the University of California v. Bakke was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. It upheld affirmative action, allowing race to be one of several factors in college admission policy. However, the court ruled that specific quotas, such as the 16 out of 100 seats set aside for minority students by the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, were impermissible.
  • Bowers vs. Hardwick

    Bowers vs. Hardwick
    Case which upheld the Georgia anti-homosexual sex law. Seventeen years after Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court directly overruled its decision in Lawrence v. Texas, and held that anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional. In overruling Bowers v. Hardwick, the Court stated that "Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today."
  • Americans with Disablities Act of 1990

    Americans with Disablities Act of 1990
    The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. In addition, unlike the Civil Rights Act, the ADA also requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility.
  • Lawerence vs. Texas

    Lawerence vs. Texas
    Lawrence v. Texas is a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Cour. The Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas and, by extension, invalidated sodomy laws in thirteen other states, making same-sex sexual activity legal in every U.S. state and territory. The Court overturned its previous ruling on the same issue in the 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick, where it upheld a challenged Georgia statute and did not find a constitutional protection of sex.
  • Fisher vs. Texas

    Fisher vs. Texas
    The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals failed to apply strict scrutiny in its decision affirming the admissions policy. The decision is vacated, and the case remanded for further consideration.
  • Baskin vs. Bogan

    Baskin vs. Bogan
    Baskin v. Bogan, the lead Indiana case challenging that state's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, was filed in federal district court on March 12, 2014, naming several government officials as defendants. Chief Judge Richard L. Young found for the plaintiffs on June 25. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the district court ruling in a unanimous decision on September 4.