Civil Rights Era Timeline

1948- Executive Order 9981, made by Truman, desegregates the military.

1954- Brown v. Board dictates that "seperate but equal" is not equal, and isn't working.

Brown v Board, though not the first case to fight racial segregation in schools, was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. The case Brown v Board was actually five different court cases that were all after the same thing; the desegregation of public schools in America.

Linda Brown in her new desegregated classroom

Oliver Brown's young daughter Linda walked a mile to school each day, even though there was an all-white school seven blocks from their home. Brown tried to enroll Linda in the all-white school and was not admitted. Brown and thirteen other parents eventually brought the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled that schools must be desegregated. This was a huge step towards desegregation in the south.

Aug 1955- Emmet Till, age fourteen, is lynched for whistling at a white woman. The murderers are tried by an all white jury. It becomes a driving factor of the Civil Rights Movement.

Dec 1955- Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus. Martin Luther King Jr. helps to lead the Montgomery bus boycott, which is successful.

Jan-Feb 1957- Martin Luther King Jr. becomes the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC). The SCLC takes a big part in organizing the Civil RIghts Movement, and in making it nonviolent.

Sep 1957- Nine black students are blocked from entering the previously all white Little Rock, Arkansas school on orders from Governor Orval Faubus. President Eisenhower sends National Guard and Federal troops to help the black students.

Black students getting out of a US army car at Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Feb 1960- Four black students sit at a segregated lunch counter at a Woolworth's in Greensborough, NC. They are not served, but they are allowed to stay. This begins many similar sit-ins throughout the south. Six months later, the same students are served at Woolworth's.

The Feb. 1 sit-in by four college freshmen at Woolworth's was just the beginning of a popular trend among young black students. The premise of a sit-in was that the students would sit down and ask to be served at various soda shops and restaurant counters; if served, they would move on; if refused service, they would stay put until the store closed. If arrested, a new group of students would take their place.

The students were determined to sit-in peacefully. They wore their Sunday best and, for the most part, kept to themselves. Sit-ins continued mildly until Feb. 27, when a group of white students attacked the black students who were sitting-in. The black students were arrested for "disorderly conduct," and another group of students took their place as planned. On May 10, six Nashville lunch counters served blacks for the very first time. This was a milestone in Civil Rights history.

1961- South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana still don't have any integrated public schools.

May 1961- Freedom Riders ride on buses and trains to test out new laws prohibiting segregation. Many are attacked by angry mobs.

1962- James Meredith is the first black person to enroll at the University of Mississippi. President Kennedy sends 5,000 federal troups to calm the violence and riots caused.

April 1963- Martin Luther King Jr. is sent to jail after anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He writes "Letters From Birmingham Jail." In it he argues that people have a moral obigation to disobey unjust laws.

click to read the "Letters From Birmingham Jail" in its entirety.

Aug 1963- 200,000 people go to D.C. for the famous March on Washington. Martin Luther King Jr. give the "I Have A Dream" speech. This becomes one of the most memorable moments of the Civil Rights Era.

The March on Washington on August 28, 1963 was the largest deomnstration ever to occour in Washington, D.C. The protesters were marching for an effective civil rights legislation, the end of segregation in public schools, protection for demonstrators against violence from police, a law against racial discrimination in hiring, a $2.00 an hour minimum wage, and self government for D.C., which had a very high black population. The march mainly represented six different orginizations, some of which were Martin Luther King Jr. and the SCLC, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people (NAACP). About a quarter million people showed up, almost a fourth of whom were white. They marched from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. Speakers included Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish religious leaders, and one female named Josephine Baker, who introduced manny women "Fighters for Freedom," including Rosa Parks. Martin Luther King Jr. also spoke, and his speech is still one of the most famous in history.

Thousands of protestors gather for the March on Washington

Sep 15, 1963- A bomb explodes at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, a place where Civil Rights meetings are often  held. Four young girls are killed.

1963- President Kennedy gives a speech warning that he will interfere if there is any more violence. He is assasinated two months later.

1964- The 24th Amendment bans poll tax, which eleven states had been using to make it harder for poor blacks to vote.

July 2, 1964- President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It forbids discrimination of all kinds. It also gives the Federal Government the power to enforce desegregation.

Feb 21, 1965- Malcolm X, a black nationalist, is shot to death in Harlem, NY.

March 7, 1965- Blacks in Selma, Alabama march for their voting rights, but are stopped by the police. Fifty are hospitalized because of whips, tear gas, and clubs used on them. The march, nicknamed "Bloody Sunday," is thought to be the driving force between the later-published Voting Act of 1965.

Aug 10, 1965- The Voting Rights Act is published, eradicating literacy tests at the polls and poll taxes, which makes voting much easier for blacks.

Sept 24, 1965- Executive Order 11246 is issued by President Johnson; the Act forbids discrimination in the workplace and demands that employers "take positive steps" in hiring minorities and women.

1967- Thurgood Marshall becomes the first black man appointed to the Supreme Court.

June 12, 1967- The Supreme Court case Loving v Virginia rules that the prohibition of interracial marraige is unconstitutional.

April 4, 1968- At the age of 39, Martin Luther King Jr. is assasinated by James Earl Ray.

Nov 4, 2008- Barack Hussein Obama is elected the first ever black President of the United States of America.


by Emma and Kathryn