National Civil Rights Events

  • Executive Order 9981

    Harry Truman signs an executive order mandating equality and fair treatment for all members of the armed forces.
  • Malcolm X

    Malcolm X becomes a leader for the Nation of Islam. He would advocate the use of any means necessary to procure equal rights for black citizens. In 1965, following a trip to the middle east, Malcolm departed with the NOI and began to advocate cooperation between the races. This sparked anger in the NOI, who made several attempts on his life. They assassinated him in February of 1965.
  • Brown v. Board

    Brown v. Board rules school segregation unconstitutional, overturning the 1896 case Plessy v. Ferguson.
  • Emmett Till

    Fourteen year old, Emmett Till, is brutally murdered in Mississippi after allegedly whistling at a white woman.
  • Rosa Parks

    Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man, beginning the Montgomery bus boycott.
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference

    The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is founded by Martin Luther King, Charles K. Steele, and Fred L. Shuttlesworth. The organization was a key leadership group during the Civil Right Movement and advocated for a non-violence approach to fighting injustice.
  • Civil Rights Act 1957

    The Civil Rights Act of 1957 is enacted. Its primary goal was to protect black citizens from disenfranchisement. It created a Civil Rights Commission to investigate voting problems and gave the Justice Department jurisdiction to counter irregularities in federal elections.
  • Central High School

    After Arkansas's governor deployed the national guard to prevent nine black students from attending Central High School in Little Rock, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to escort the students into the school. This was the first military action taken by the U.S. government on behalf of civil rights since Reconstruction.
  • Sit-in in Greensboro

    Black students in North Carolina hold a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. They are refused service but allowed to remain sitting at the counter. This was the beginning of a movement that spread across much of the South, protesting the denial of equal accommodations.
  • SNCC

    The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee is founded at Shaw University. The group would be a leading power for civil rights, leading sit-ins and demonstrations across the South and providing finding for civil rights workers.
  • Freedom Riders

    Student volunteers begin taking bus and train rides, testing new laws that prohibited segregation in interstate travel facilities. The Freedom Riders faced a good deal of retaliation and violence.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1960

    The Civil Rights Act of 1960 was enacted, giving the Justice Department powers to inspect local voter registration polls and to apply penalties to any who obstructed another person's ability to vote.
  • The University of Mississippi

    James Meredith is the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. His enrollment enraged Mississippi racists and incited riots. The military was sent to the college to contain the riots and to ensure federal policies were followed.
  • Birmingham Jail

    Martin Luther King Jr. is jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He writes is famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail," which advocated the refusal to follow immoral laws.
  • March on Washington

    Around 200,000 people joined together at the Mall in Washington D.C., where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
  • Sixteenth Street Baptist Church

    Four young girls are murdered when a bomb explodes at their church. The church had been used for Civil Rights meetings. Riots erupted throughout Birmingham, inciting more violence and death.
  • 24th Amendment

    The 24th Amendment to the Constitution eliminated poll taxes for voting purposes.
  • Freedom Summer

    Civil Rights Workers from SNCC, CORE, and the NAACP descended on Mississippi to register black voters. Three workers, two white and one black, were arrested on speeding charges and later released into the hands of the KKK. They were murdered and their bodies were dumped into a dam. Because of a state cover-up, no one was ever charged with murder. This was just one example of the violence in the area during Freedom Summer, which successfully registered thousands of Mississippians to vote.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is enacted, extending the ban on segregation and racial inequality to places of employment and of public accommodation. The law sparked more sit-ins and demonstrations by black citizens, wanting the law to be followed by the establishments in the South.
  • Nobel Peace Prize

    Martin Luther King Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violence teachings and work in the Civil Rights Movement. He donated his winnings to the movement.
  • Bloody Sunday

    Police violence erupts against marchers in Alabama. This moment is thought to be the catalyst that pushed through the Voting Rights Act.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1965

    The Voting Rights Act of 1965 ended discriminatory practices at polling locations, such as literacy tests, and required that polling locations offer services in a variety of languages. It also stipulated that states with a history of discriminatory voting practices would need to seek permission before altering voting regulations. This section of the Act was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.
  • Affirmative Action

    President Lyndon Johnson signs Executive Order 11246, which requires government contractors to take affirmative action toward prospective minority employees in all aspects of hiring and employment.
  • Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

    Swann v. Board upheld bussing as a legitimate means for achieving desegregation.
  • Loving v. Virginia

    Supreme Court rules that states have no right to outlaw interracial marriages. Sixteen states had laws prohibiting the practice at the time of the law's passage.
  • Thurgood Marshall

    Thurgood Marshall becomes the first black American to be appointed to the Supreme Court.
  • Martin Luther King Assassinated

    Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorainne Motel in Memphis, Tn. James Early Ray was convicted of the crime.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1968

    This act prohibited discriminatory practices in the housing market.