Civil Rights Timeline - AP Government and Politics

  • Dred Scott v Sandford

    Dred Scott v Sandford
    Harriet and Dred Scott file for their freedom after their old master, John Emerson, after his death. Emerson's widow refuses to grant it to them. The two, believing that this is unconstitutional since they had resided in free territory during the transfer, take their case to court. US. Supreme court decides that any slave that resides in free territory is still not free, African Americans can never be citizens of the United States, and the Missouri Compromise was deemed unconstitutional.
  • 13th Amendment

    13th Amendment
    The 13th amendment was added to the constitution at the conclusion of the Civil War, and it outlawed slavery in the United States. This was highly significant in the case of civil rights, as it prevented the direct ownership of people and the restriction of their rights under the constitution, though they still were not citizens
  • 14th Amendment

    14th Amendment
    One of the three Reconstruction-era amendments to the constitution, the 14th Amendment was passed in the 1860s. It states that anyone who is a citizen of the United States is entitled to equal protection under the law, along with providing that citizenship to anyone who was born or naturalized into the united states - even if they were a former slave. This amendment's civil rights significance came in with the way that it undid the Dred Scott decision.
  • 15th Amendment

    15th Amendment
    The 15th amendment was the last of the three Reconstruction-era amendments. It provided the right to vote to any American citizen of age, and stated that the right to vote couldn't be taken away on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
  • Plessy v Ferguson

    Plessy v Ferguson
    Plessy v Ferguson was a case that decided that racially-based segregation was constitutional and did not, in fact, violate the 14th amendment because as long as the segregated items remained "equal", there wouldn't be any "inequality under the law" as defined by the 14th. This led to the continuation of Jim Crow laws and the complete segregation of areas, making it even harder for POC to be treated equally under the law (especially in the south).
  • Nineteenth Amendment

    Nineteenth Amendment
    The 19th amendment was the amendment that stopped the denial of voting on the basis of sex in any state. This was highly significant as it both gave women the right to vote, allowing the population to become more equal in their representation for federal offices.
  • Brown v Board of Education

    Brown v Board of Education
    This court case was significant because it undid the segregation that was allowed under Plessy v. Ferguson. It was deemed that the separate facilities weren't truly "equal" and therefore the treatment of POC under this ruling was a violation of the 14th amendment.
  • White Primaries

    White Primaries
    These were primary elections typically held in the southern united states where only white voters could participate. They were another obstacle presented to POC voters that would cause them difficulty in casting their vote for president. Not only were they not allowed to participate, but since the white voters were the only ones casting votes, it was likely that the candidates selected for the true elections would have policies that would benefit the white voters much more than the POC voters.
  • Affirmative Action

    Affirmative Action
    Affirmative action was created to be a way to level the playing field between minorities and majorities, first created by Kennedy in an executive order. It prohibited the bias of government workers in the hiring process and to make sure that "affirmative action" was taken to prevent workplace discrimination. This was significant because it allowed for people of those minorities to be actually considered in the hiring process and move up in the corporate world instead of being denied
  • Poll Taxes

    Poll Taxes
    The poll tax was an obstacle that was primarily used to keep POC from voting by requiring everyone who was going to the polls to pay a certain fee in order to cast their ballot (usually relatively high).
  • 24th Amendment

    24th Amendment
    The 24th amendment was designed to prevent poll taxes from being imposed before citizens could participate in federal elections. This pertained heavily to the civil rights of the citizens of the United States, as it was common for poll taxes to be placed as a way to prevent minorities and poorer communities from voting in federal elections, meaning that those that got elected were not elected fairly and the Constitution was being violated. The 24th amendment was a great equalizer.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    Civil Rights Act of 1964
    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is considered to be one of the crowning achievements of the civil rights movement in the United States. The act ended segregation in public space, and also banned employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, or country of origin. The significance of this was that minorities were now required by the federal government to be treated equal and fairly, making large advancements in civil liberties.
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965

    Voting Rights Act of 1965
    This act was created to overcome the various barriers that the states had created to overcome the "challenges" that the 15th amendment had presented in keeping minorities (specifically POC) from voting. These were things like Jim Crow laws, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses, that would primarily prevent POC and poorer communities from voting in federal elections, since voting technically "wasn't barred on the basis of race". The act was highly significant, since it dismantled this system.
  • Bowers v Hardwick

    Bowers v Hardwick
    Bowers v Hardwick was a case dealing with sodomy and the protection of homosexual activity under the Constitution. It was a court decision considered significant by the LGBT+ community because it basically allowed for active discrimination against their relationships and laws that would prevent those relationships from continuing naturally.
  • Reed v Reed

    Reed v Reed
    Under Idaho law at the time of this case, the "administrators of estates" were preferred to be male over females when they were otherwise equal. This was challenged by Sally Reed, who - along with her ex-husband - wanted to be named co-administrator of her son's estate and was not given this, in favor of her ex being the single administrator. The courts ruled that this was completely unconstitutional under the 14th amendment and that there cannot be mandatory preferences within the law
  • Equal Rights Amendment

    Equal Rights Amendment
    The Equal rights amendment was a proposed amendment to the constitution drafted by congress with the purpose of providing legal equality to all sexes, and would prevent discrimination on the basis of sex everywhere, not just in the voting booth (what the 19th covers). The significance of the amendment was that it did not get ratified, since there were not enough state legislatures that wanted to ratify it by the end of the voting period.
  • Regents of the University of Califorinia v Bakke

    Regents of the University of Califorinia v Bakke
    This supreme court case was significant because of the way that it helped to reduce racial tensions that arose pose affirmative-action. Bakke wanted to be let into medical school and was rejected, even though he had higher scores than all of the minority students that there were "reserved slots" for. He claimed racial discrimination, and the court found in favor of him, but stipulated that race as a factor in college admissions was allowed, just as long as it wasn't the sole deciding factor.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act

    Americans with Disabilities Act
    The Americans with Disabilities Act (or ADA) gets its significance from being the first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities. The ADA required that those with disabilities be treated equally within the hiring process, and that accommodations be made in public spaces to accommodate those with disabilities - such as wheelchair ramps.
  • Lawrence v Texas

    Lawrence v Texas
    This case became historical because the courts decided to undo what they had said in Bowers several years earlier: providing that homosexual activity was protected under the United States Constitution, and specifically the Due Process clause of the 14th amendment.
  • Obergefell v Hodges

    Obergefell v Hodges
    This was the determining factor in deciding that the Constitution (14th amendment) protects the rights of same-sex couples who want to get married. This was historic in the case of US civil rights because it was one of the final goals of LGBT+ americans to finally be treated equally amongst their straight peers