Civil Rights Timeline

  • Dred Scott v. Sanford

    Dred Scott v. Sanford
    Dred Scott was an enslaved man who sued for his and his family's freedom. Scott sued after his slaveholder had taken him from a slave state to a free state, and he was therefore free. The court ruled that the Constitution was not mean to include black people, so the rights of citizenship did not apply.
  • 13th Amendment

    13th Amendment
    This amendment abolished slavery and forced servitude (except as punishment). The amendment was passed by congress in January, but not ratified by the required number of states until December.
  • 14th amendment

    14th amendment
    The 14th amendment was one of the Reconstruction amendments, and it stated that people born or naturalized in the United States were citizens, including black people and freed slaves.
  • 15th amendment

    15th amendment
    This amendment granted the right to vote to freed slaves and black people in America. It's important to note that many could still not vote due to persistent racism and racist laws/ endeavors.
  • Plessy v. Ferguson

    Plessy v. Ferguson
    This supreme court case established the phrase "separate but equal" and upheld that racial discrimination in schools was constitutional as long as the facilities in use were equal.
  • 19th Amendment

    19th Amendment
    The 19th amendment gave women the right to vote. It was put into place on August 18th, 1920. The 100th year anniversary was last year!
  • White Primaries

    White Primaries
    White primaries were elections held in southern states in which only white people were permitted to vote. Allwright, a supreme court case in 1944, outlawed these.
  • Brown v. Board of Education

    Brown v. Board of Education
    This supreme court case overturned the decision in Plessy v. Ferguson that racial discrimination in schools was constitutional. Brown declared the opposite, and all schools had to integrate. In many places, this was like pulling teeth. The National Guard had to be deployed to force schools to integrate.
  • Affirmative Action

    Affirmative Action
    Affirmative action is when employers or admission counselors favor minorities that had previously (and still are) discriminated against. These policies are made to increase opportunities for minorities in the job market and in education.
  • Poll Taxes

    Poll Taxes
    A fixed tax on any person attempting to vote. The 24th amendment banned these. They largely restricted freed slaves from voting in elections.
  • 24th Amendment

    24th Amendment
    The 24th amendment banned poll taxes. Poll taxes restricted people who could not pay them from voting. Poll taxes had a huge effect on the ability of freed slaves to vote in elections. This amendment addressed federal elections.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    Civil Rights Act of 1964
    This act outlaws discrimination based on race, religion, sex or national origin. This includes the hiring, promoting and firing process. I took 70 days to pass this act. In those days, 275 witnesses testified, and a little under 6000 pages of testimony were seen.
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965

    Voting Rights Act of 1965
    This amendment, signed by President Johnson, banned discriminatory practices that a multitude of southern states had enacted after the Civil War. Examples of these practices are literacy tests. Without passing, one could not vote.
  • Reed v. Reed

    Reed v. Reed
    Sally Reed and her husband were in a disagreement about who would receive the estate of their deceased son. The law designated that males must be preferred over females. This supreme court case declared that this was unconstitutional and that differential treatment was not upheld.
  • Equal Rights Amendment

    Equal Rights Amendment
    The Equal Rights Amendment guaranteed equal protection under law for all people regardless of sex. This was to end legal differences between the sexes in divorces, property matters and employment.
  • Regents of the University of California v. Bakke

    Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
    This case upheld affirmative action, but stated that racial quotas in school admissions are unconstitutional. Basically, schools should use affirmative action to admit more minorities, but that they can't place a number on it.
  • Bowers v. Hardwick

    Bowers v. Hardwick
    After being caught having sex with another man, Hardwick was charged under the Georgia sodomy law. Hardwick challenged the constitutionality of this law. The court decided that there was no protection of the right to sodomy in the constitution, so states could outlaw sodomy.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    This act prohibits discrimination based on disability. This includes in employment, public accommodations and transportation. This also requires federal agencies to make communication (electronic communication, too) accessible.
  • Lawrence v. Texas

    Lawrence v. Texas
    While looking after a weapons disturbance, police found Lawrence engaging in a consensual sex act with another man. They were arrested under Texas law. This law was challenged and found to be unconstitutional under the Due Process clause of the fourteenth amendment.
  • Obergefell v. Hodges

    Obergefell v. Hodges
    Gay couples in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan challenged the constitutionally of their refusal to recognize same sex marriages. The trial courts all declared that, yes, their rights were being violated. The sixth circuit of appeals said that states had the right to not recognize gay marriage. The supreme court held that states ban on same sex marriage violated the Fourteenth amendment, and that the right to marriage is a liberty that is guaranteed under the constitution.