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Timeline of the civil rights movement

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a timeline of the American civil rights movement, a nonviolent freedom movement to gain legal equality and the enforcement of constitutional rights for African Americans. The goals of the movement included securing equal protection under the law, ending legally established racial discrimination, and gaining equal access to public facilities, education reform, fair housing, and the ability to vote.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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    2 369 301
    64 686
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    2 926 667
  • ✪ Civil Rights and the 1950s: Crash Course US History #39
  • ✪ Major events of the Civil Rights Movement
  • ✪ Civil Rights Movement Timeline
  • ✪ Civil Rights Movement Cartoon: Watch this Civil Rights Movement for Children Cartoon (Black History)
  • ✪ The 1960s in America: Crash Course US History #40


Episode 39: Consensus and Protest: Civil Rights LOCKED Hi, I’m John Green, this is Crash Course U.S. history and today we’re going to look at one of the most important periods of American social history, the 1950s. Why is it so important? Well, first because it saw the advent of the greatest invention in human history: Television. Mr. Green, Mr. Green! I like TV! By the way, you’re from the future. How does the X-Files end? Are there aliens or no aliens? No spoilers, Me From The Past, you’re going to have to go to college and watch the X-Files get terrible just like I did. No it’s mostly important because of the Civil Rights Movement We’re going to talk about some of the heroic figures like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, but much of the real story is about the thousands of people you’ve never heard of who fought to make America more inclusive. But before we look at the various changes that the Civil Rights Movement was pushing for, we should spend a little time looking at the society that they were trying to change. The 1950s has been called a period of consensus, and I suppose it was, at least for the white males who wrote about it and who all agreed that the 1950s were fantastic for white males. Consensus culture was caused first, by the Cold War – people were hesitant to criticize the United States for fear of being branded a communist, and, second, by affluence – increasing prosperity meant that more people didn’t have as much to be critical of. And this widespread affluence was something new in the United States. Between 1946 and 1960 Americans experienced a period of economic expansion that saw standards of living rise and gross national product more than double. And unlike many previous American economic expansions, much of the growing prosperity in the fifties was shared by ordinary working people who saw their wages rise. To quote our old friend Eric Foner, “By 1960, an estimated 60 percent of Americans enjoyed what the government defined as a middle-class standard of living.”[1] And this meant that increasing numbers of Americans had access things like television, and air conditioning, and dishwashers and air travel. That doesn’t really seem like a bonus. Anyway, despite the fact that they were being stuffed into tiny metal cylinders and hurdled through the air, most Americans were happy because they had, like, indoor plumbing and electricity. intro The 1950s was the era of suburbanization. The number of homes in the United States doubled during the decade, which had the pleasant side effect of creating lots of construction jobs. The classic example of suburbanization was Levittown in New York, where 10,000 almost identical homes were built and became home to 40,000 people almost overnight. And living further from the city meant that more Americans needed cars, which was good news for Detroit where cars were being churned out with the expectation that Americans would replace them every two years. By 1960, 80% of Americans owned at least one car and 14% had two or more. And car culture changed the way that Americans lived and shopped. I mean it gave us shopping malls, and drive thru restaurants, and the backseat makeout session. I mean, high school me didn’t get the backseat makeout session. But, other people did! I did get the Burger King drive thru though. And lots of it. Our whole picture of the American standard of living, with its abundance of consumer goods and plentiful services was established in the 1950s. And so, for so for many people this era was something of a “golden age” especially when we look back on it today with nostalgia. But there were critics, even at the time. So when we say the 1950s were an era of consensus, one of the things we’re saying is there wasn’t much room for debate about what it meant to be an American. Most people agreed on the American values: individualism, respect for private property, and belief in equal opportunity. The key problem was that we believed in equal opportunity, but didn’t actually provide it. But some people were concerned that the cookie cutter vision of the good life and the celebration of the middle class lifestyle was displacing other conceptions of citizenship. Like the sociologist C. Wright Mills described a combination of military, corporate, and political leaders as a power elite whose control over government and the economy was such as to make democracy an afterthought. In The Lonely Crowd sociologist David Riesman criticized Americans for being conformist and lacking the rich inner life necessary to be truly independent. And John Kenneth Galbraith questioned an Affluent Society that would pay for new cars and new missiles but not for new schools. And we can’t mention the 1950s without discussing teenagers since this was the decade that gave us Rock and Roll, and rock stars like Bill Haley and the Comets, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and Elvis Presley and his hips. Another gift of the 1950s was literature, much of which appeals especially to teenagers. Like, the Beats presented a rather drug-fueled and not always coherent criticism of the bourgeois 1950’s morals. They rejected materialism, and suburban ennui and things like regular jobs while celebrating impulsivity, and recklessness, experimentation and freedom. And also heroin. So you might have noticed something about all those critics of the 1950s that I just mentioned: they were all white dudes. Now, we’re gonna be talking about women in the 1950s and 1960s next week because their liberation movement began a bit later, but what most people call the Civil Rights Movement really did begin in the 1950s. While the 1950s were something of a golden age for many blue and white collar workers, it was hardly a period of expanding opportunities for African Americans. Rigid segregation was the rule throughout the country, especially in housing, but also in jobs and in employment. In the South, public accommodations were segregated by law, while in the north it was usually happening by custom or de facto segregation. To give just one example, the new suburban neighborhoods that sprang up in the 1950s were almost completely white and this remained true for decades. According Eric Foner, “As late as the 1990s, nearly 90 percent of suburban whites lived in communities with non-white populations less than 1 percent.” And it wasn’t just housing. In the 1950s half of black families lived in poverty. When they were able to get union jobs, black workers had less seniority than their white counterparts so their employment was less stable. And their educational opportunities were severely limited by sub-standard segregated schools. Now you might think the Civil Rights Movement began with Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott or else Brown v. Board of Education, but it really started during WW2 with efforts like those of A. Philip Randolph and the soldiers taking part in the Double-V crusade. But even before that, black Americans had been fighting for civil rights. It’s just that in the 1950s, they started to win. So, desegregating schools was a key goal of the Civil Rights movement. And it started in California in 1946. In the case of Mendez v. Westminster the California Supreme Court ruled that Orange County, of all places, had to desegregate their schools. They’d been discriminating against Latinos. And then, California’s governor, Earl Warren, signed an order that repealed all school segregation in the state. That same Earl Warren, by the way, was Chief Justice when the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education came before the Supreme Court in 1954. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall had been pursuing a legal strategy of trying to make states live up to the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson that required all public facilities to be separate but equal. They started by bringing lawsuits against professional schools like law schools, because it was really obvious that the three classrooms and no library that Texas set up for its African American law students were not equal to the actual University of Texas’s law school. But the Brown case was about public schools for children. It was actually a combination of 5 cases from 4 states, of which Brown happened to be alphabetically the first. The Board of Education in question incidentally was in Topeka Kansas, not one of the states of the old Confederacy, but nonetheless a city that did restricted schooling by race. Oh, it’s time for the Mystery Document? The rules here are simple. I read the Mystery Document. If I’m wrong, I get shocked. "Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system. [Footnote 10]"[2] Stan, the last two weeks you have given me two extraordinary gifts and I am thankful. It is Earl Warren from Brown v. Board of Education. Huzzah! Justice Warren is actually quoting from sociological research there that shows that segregation itself is psychologically damaging to black children because they recognize that being separated out is a badge of inferiority. Alright, let’s go to the Thought Bubble. The Brown decision was a watershed but it didn’t lead to massive immediate desegregation of the nation’s public schools. In fact, it spawned what came to be known as “Massive Resistance” in the South. The resistance got so massive, in fact, that a number of counties, rather than integrate their schools, closed them. Prince Edward County in Virginia, for instance, closed its schools in 1959 and didn’t re-open them again until 1964. Except they didn’t really close them because many states appropriated funds to pay for white students to attend “private” academies. Some states got so into the resistance that they began to fly the Confederate Battle flag over their state capitol buildings. Yes, I’m looking at you Alabama and South Carolina. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama and got arrested, kicking off the Montgomery Bus Boycott that lasted almost a year. A lot of people think that Parks was simply an average African American working woman who was tired and fed up with segregation, but the truth is more complicated. Parks had been active in politics since the 1930s and had protested the notorious Scottsboro Boys case. She had served as secretary for the NAACP and she had begun her quest to register to vote in Alabama in 1943. She failed a literacy test three times before becoming one of the very few black people registered to vote in the state. And in 1954 she attended a training session for political activists and met other civil rights radicals. So Rosa Parks was an active participant in the fight for black civil rights long before she sat on that bus. The Bus Boycott also thrust into prominence a young pastor from Atlanta, the 26 year old Martin Luther King Jr. He helped to organize the boycott from his Baptist church, which reminds us that black churches played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement. That boycott would go on to last for 381 days and in the end, the city of Montgomery relented. Thanks, Thought Bubble. So that was, of course, only the beginning for Martin Luther King, who achieved his greatest triumphs in the 1960s. After Montgomery, he was instrumental in forming the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a coalition of black civil rights and church leaders who pushed for integration. And they needed to fight hard, especially in the face of Massive Resistance and an Eisenhower administration that was lukewarm at best about civil rights. But I suppose Eisenhower did stick up for civil rights when forced to, as when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus used the National Guard to prevent the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School by 9 black students in 1957. Eisenhower was like, “You know, as the guy who invaded Normandy, I don’t think that’s the best use for the National Guard.” So, Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne Division (not the entirety of it, but some of it) to Little Rock, Arkansas, to walk kids to school. Which they did for a year. After that, Faubus closed the schools, but at least the federal government showed that it wouldn’t allow states to ignore court orders about the Constitution. In your face, John C. Calhoun. Despite the court decision and the dispatching of Federal troops, by the end of the 1950s fewer than two percent of black students attended integrated schools in the South. So, the modern movement for Civil Rights had begun, but it was clear that there was still a lot of work to do. But the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement shows us that the picture of consensus in the 1950s is not quite as clear-cut as its proponents would have us believe. Yes, there was widespread affluence, particularly among white people, and criticism of the government and America generally was stifled by the fear of appearing to sympathize with Communism. But there was also widespread systemic inequality and poverty in the decade that shows just how far away we were from living the ideal of equal opportunity. That we have made real progress, and we have, is a credit to the voices of protest. Next week we’ll see how women, Latinos, and gay people added their voices to the protests and look at what they were and were not able to change in the 1960s. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you then. Crash Course is made with the help of all of these nice people and it’s possible because of your support through Subbable is a voluntary subscription service that allows you to subscribe to Crash Course at the price of your choosing, including zero dollars a month. But hopefully more than that. There are also great perks you can get, like signed posters. So if you like and value Crash Course, help us keep it free for everyone for ever by subscribing now at Subbable. You can click on my face. Now, my face moved, but you can still click on it. Thanks again for watching Crash Course and as we say in my hometown, don’t forget to be awesome. ________________ [1] Foner Give me Liberty ebook version p. 992 [2]




  • May 3 – In Hernandez v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Mexican Americans and all other racial groups in the United States are entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • May 17 – In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans. and in Bolling v. Sharpe, the U.S. Supreme Court rules against the "separate but equal" doctrine, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson and saying that segregation of public schools is unconstitutional.
  • July 27 – The Charleston, Arkansas school board unanimously votes to end segregation in the school district. Ending segregation for first through twelfth grades, the Charleston school district was the first school district among the former Confederate States to desegregate. The schools opened for the new school year on August 23.
  • July 30 – At a special meeting in Jackson, Mississippi called by Governor Hugh White, T.R.M. Howard of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, along with nearly one hundred other black leaders, publicly refuse to support a segregationist plan to maintain "separate but equal" in exchange for a crash program to increase spending on black schools.
  • September 2 – In Montgomery, Alabama, 23 black children are prevented from attending all-white elementary schools, defying the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
  • September 7 – The District of Columbia ends segregated education; Baltimore, Maryland follows suit on September 8.
  • September 15 – Protests by white parents in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia force schools to postpone desegregation another year.
  • September 16 – Mississippi abolishes all public schools with an amendment to its State Constitution; private segregation academies are founded for white students.
  • September 30 – Integration of a high school in Milford, Delaware collapses when white students boycott classes.
  • October 4 – Student demonstrations take place against integration of Washington, DC public schools.
  • October 19 – Federal judge upholds an Oklahoma law requiring African-American candidates to be identified on voting ballots as "negro".
  • October 30 – Desegregation of U.S. Armed Forces said to be complete.
  • Frankie Muse Freeman is the lead attorney for the landmark NAACP case Davis et al. v. the St. Louis Housing Authority, which ended legal racial discrimination in the city's public housing. Constance Baker Motley was an attorney for NAACP: it was unusual to have two women attorneys leading such a high-profile case.


  • January 15 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10590, establishing the President's Committee on Government Policy to enforce a nondiscrimination policy in Federal employment.
  • January 20 – Demonstrators from CORE and Morgan State University stage a successful sit-in to desegregate Read's Drug Store in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • April 5 – Mississippi passes a law penalizing white students by jail and fines who attend school with blacks.
  • May 7 – NAACP and Regional Council of Negro Leadership activist Reverend George W. Lee is killed in Belzoni, Mississippi.
  • May 31 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in "Brown II" that desegregation must occur with "all deliberate speed".
  • June 8 – University of Oklahoma decides to allow black students.
  • June 23 – Virginia governor and Board of Education decide to continue segregated schools into 1956.
  • June 29 – The NAACP wins a U.S. Supreme Court suit which orders the University of Alabama to admit Autherine Lucy.
  • July 11 – Georgia Board of Education orders that any teacher supporting integration be fired.
  • July 14 – A Federal Appeals Court overturns segregation on Columbia, SC buses.
  • August 1 – Georgia Board of Education fires all black teachers who are members of the NAACP.
  • August 13 – Regional Council of Negro Leadership registration activist Lamar Smith is murdered in Brookhaven, Mississippi.
  • August 28 – Teenager Emmett Till is killed for whistling at a white woman in Money, Mississippi.
  • November 7 – The Interstate Commerce Commission bans bus segregation in interstate travel in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company. On the same day, the U.S. Supreme Court bans segregation on public parks and playgrounds. The governor of Georgia responds that his state would "get out of the park business" rather than allow playgrounds to be desegregated.
  • December 1 – Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus, starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This occurs nine months after 15-year-old high school student Claudette Colvin became the first to refuse to give up her seat. Colvin's was the legal case which eventually ended the practice in Montgomery.
  • Roy Wilkins becomes the NAACP executive secretary.


  • January 9 – Virginia voters and representatives decide to fund private schools with state money to maintain segregation.
  • January 16 – FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover writes a rare open letter of complaint directed to civil rights leader Dr. T.R.M. Howard after Howard charged in a speech that the "FBI can pick up pieces of a fallen airplane on the slopes of a Colorado mountain and find the man who caused the crash, but they can't find a white man when he kills a Negro in the South." [1]
  • January 24 – Governors of Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia agree to block integration of schools.
  • February 1 – Virginia legislature passes a resolution that the U.S. Supreme Court integration decision was an "illegal encroachment".
  • February 3 – Autherine Lucy is admitted to the University of Alabama. Whites riot for days, and she is suspended. Later, she is expelled for her part in filing legal action against the university.
  • February 24 – The policy of Massive Resistance is declared by U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. from Virginia.
  • February/March – The Southern Manifesto, opposing integration of schools, is drafted and signed by members of the Congressional delegations of Southern states, including 19 senators and 81 members of the House of Representatives, notably the entire delegations of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia. On March 12, it is released to the press.
  • February 13 – Wilmington, Delaware's school board decides to end segregation.
  • February 22 – Ninety black leaders in Montgomery, Alabama are arrested for leading a bus boycott.
  • February 29 – Mississippi legislature declares U.S. Supreme Court integration decision "invalid" in that state.
  • March 1 – Alabama legislature votes to ask for federal funds to deport blacks to northern states.
  • March 12 – U.S. Supreme Court orders the University of Florida to admit a black law school applicant "without delay".
  • March 22 – King sentenced to fine or jail for instigating Montgomery bus boycott, suspended pending appeal.
  • April 23 – U.S. Supreme Court strikes down segregation on buses nationwide.
  • May 26 – Circuit Judge Walter B. Jones issues an injunction prohibiting the NAACP from operating in Alabama.
  • May 28 – The Tallahassee, Florida bus boycott begins.
  • June 5 – The Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) is founded at a mass meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • September 2–11 – Teargas and National Guard used to quell segregationists rioting in Clinton, Tennessee; 12 black students enter high school under Guard protection. Smaller disturbances occur in Mansfield, Texas and Sturgis, Kentucky.
  • September 10 – Two black students are prevented by a mob from entering a junior college in Texarkana, Texas. Schools in Louisville, Kentucky are successfully desegregated.
  • September 12 – Four black children enter an elementary school in Clay, Kentucky under National Guard protection; white students boycott. The school board bars the four again on September 17.
  • October 15 – Integrated athletic or social events are banned in Louisiana.
  • November 13 – In Browder v. Gayle, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Alabama laws requiring segregation of buses. This ruling, together with the ICC's 1955 ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach banning "Jim Crow laws" in bus travel among the states, is a landmark in outlawing "Jim Crow" in bus travel.
  • December 20 – Federal marshals enforce the ruling to desegregate bus systems in Montgomery.
  • December 24 – Blacks in Tallahassee, Florida begin defying segregation on city buses.
  • December 25 – The parsonage in Birmingham, Alabama occupied by Fred Shuttlesworth, movement leader, is bombed. Shuttlesworth receives only minor injuries.
  • December 26 – The ACMHR tests the Browder v. Gayle ruling by riding in the white sections of Birmingham city buses. 22 demonstrators are arrested.
  • Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission formed.
  • Director J. Edgar Hoover orders the FBI to begin the COINTELPRO program to investigate and disrupt "dissident" groups within the United States.


  • February 8 – Georgia Senate votes to declare the 14th and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution null and void in that state.
  • February 14 – Southern Christian Leadership Conference is formed; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is named its chairman.
  • April 18 – Florida Senate votes to consider U.S. Supreme Court's desegregation decisions "null and void".
  • May 17 – The Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, DC is at the time the largest nonviolent demonstration for civil rights.
  • September 2 – Orval Faubus, governor of Arkansas, calls out the National Guard to block integration of Little Rock Central High School.
  • September 6 – Federal judge orders Nashville public schools to integrate immediately.
  • September 15 – New York Times reports that in three years since the decision, there has been minimal progress toward integration in four southern states, and no progress at all in seven.
  • September 24 – President Dwight Eisenhower federalizes the National Guard and also orders US Army troops to ensure Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas is integrated. Federal and National Guard troops escort the Little Rock Nine.
  • September 27 – Civil Rights Act of 1957 signed by President Eisenhower.
  • October 7 – The finance minister of Ghana is refused service at a Dover, Delaware restaurant. President Eisenhower hosts him at the White House to apologize October 10.
  • October 9 – Florida legislature votes to close any school if federal troops are sent to enforce integration.
  • October 31 – Officers of NAACP arrested in Little Rock for failing to comply with a new financial disclosure ordinance.
  • November 26 – Texas legislature votes to close any school where federal troops might be sent.


  • June 29 – Bethel Baptist Church (Birmingham, Alabama) is bombed by Ku Klux Klan members, killing four girls.[2]
  • June 30 – In NAACP v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the NAACP was not required to release membership lists to continue operating in the state.
  • July – NAACP Youth Council sponsored sit-ins at the lunch counter of a Dockum Drug Store in downtown Wichita, Kansas. After three weeks, the movement successfully gets the store to change its policy and soon afterward all Dockum stores in Kansas are desegregated.
  • August 19 – Clara Luper and the NAACP Youth Council conduct the largest successful sit-in to date, on drug store lunch-counters in Oklahoma City. This starts a successful six-year campaign by Luper and the Council to desegregate businesses and related institutions in Oklahoma City.
  • September 2 – Governor J. Lindsay Almond, Jr. of Virginia threatens to shut down any school if it is forced to integrate.
  • September 4 – Justice Department sues under Civil Rights Act to force Terrell County, Georgia to register blacks to vote.
  • September 8 – A Federal judge orders Louisiana State University to desegregate; sixty-nine African-Americans enroll successfully on September 12.
  • September 12 – In Cooper v. Aaron the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the states were bound by the Court's decisions. Governor Faubus responds by shutting down all four high schools in Little Rock, and Governor Almond shuts one in Front Royal, Virginia.
  • September 18 – Governor Lindsay closes two more schools in Charlottesville, Virginia, and six in Norfolk on September 27.
  • September 29 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that states may not use evasive measures to avoid desegregation.
  • October 8 – A Federal judge in Harrisonburg, VA rules that public money may not be used for segregated private schools.
  • October 20 – Thirteen blacks arrested for sitting in front of bus in Birmingham.
  • November 28 – Federal court throws out Louisiana law against integrated athletic events.
  • December 8 – Voter registration officials in Montgomery refuse to cooperate with US Civil Rights Commission investigation.


  • January 9 – One Federal judge throws out segregation on Atlanta, Georgia, buses, while another orders Montgomery registrars to comply with the Civil Rights Commission.
  • January 19 – Federal Appeals court overturns Virginia's closure of the schools in Norfolk; they reopen January 28 with 17 black students.
  • April 18 – King speaks for the integration of schools at a rally of 26,000 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.
  • November 20 – Alabama passes laws to limit black voter registration.





  • January 18–20 – Student protests over sit-in leaders’ expulsions at Baton Rouge’s Southern University, the nation’s largest black school, close it down.
  • February – Representatives of SNCC, CORE, and the NAACP form the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). A grant request to fund COFO voter registration activities is submitted to the Voter Education Project (VEP).
  • February 26 – Segregated transportation facilities, both interstate and intrastate, ruled unconstitutional by U.S. Supreme Court.
  • March – SNCC workers sit-in at US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy's office to protest jailings in Baton Rouge.
  • March 20 – FBI installs wiretaps on NAACP activist Stanley Levison’s office.
  • April 3 – Defense Department orders full racial integration of military reserve units, except the National Guard.
  • June – SNCC workers establish voter registration projects in rural southwest Georgia.
  • July 10 – August 28 SCLC renews protests in Albany; MLK in jail July 10–12 and July 27 – August 10.
  • August 31 – Fannie Lou Hamer attempts to register to vote in Indianola, Mississippi.
  • September 9 – Two black churches used by SNCC for voter registration meetings are burned in Sasser, Georgia.
  • September 20 – James Meredith is barred from becoming the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi.
  • September 30-October 1 – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black orders James Meredith admitted to Ole Miss.; he enrolls and a white riot ensues. French photographer Paul Guihard and Oxford resident Ray Gunter are killed.
  • October – Leflore County, Mississippi, supervisors cut off surplus food distribution in retaliation against voter drive.
  • October 23 – FBI begins Communist Infiltration (COMINFIL) investigation of SCLC.
  • November 20 – Attorney General Kennedy authorizes FBI wiretap on Stanley Levison’s home telephone.
  • November 20 – President Kennedy upholds 1960 presidential campaign promise to eliminate housing segregation by signing Executive Order 11063 banning segregation in Federally funded housing.



The Edmund Pettus Bridge on "Bloody Sunday" in 1965.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge on "Bloody Sunday" in 1965.


  • February 18 – After a peaceful protest march in Marion, Alabama, state troopers break it up and one shoots Jimmie Lee Jackson. Jackson dies on February 26. Though not prosecuted at the time, James Bonard Fowler is indicted for his murder in 2007.
  • February 21 – Malcolm X is assassinated in Manhattan, New York, probably by three members of the Nation of Islam.
  • March 7 – Bloody Sunday: Civil rights workers in Selma, Alabama, begin the Selma to Montgomery march but are attacked and stopped by a massive Alabama State trooper and police blockade as they cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge into the county. Many marchers are injured. This march, initiated and organized by James Bevel, becomes the visual symbol of the Selma Voting Rights Movement.
  • March 9 – Joined by clergy from all over the country who responded to his urgent appeals for reinforcements in Selma, King leads a second attempt to cross the Pettus Bridge. Although amassed law enforcement personnel are ordered to draw back when the protesters near the foot of the bridge on the other side, King responds by telling the marchers to turn around, and they return to Brown Chapel nearby. He thereby obeys a just-minted federal order prohibiting the group from walking the highway to Montgomery.[23]
  • March 15 – President Lyndon Johnson uses the phrase "We Shall Overcome" in a speech before Congress to urge passage of the voting rights bill.[24]
  • March 21 – Participants in the third and successful Selma to Montgomery march stepped off on a five-day 54-mile march to Montgomery, Alabama's capitol.
  • March 25 – After the successful completion of the Selma to Montgomery March, and after Dr. King has delivered his "How Long, Not Long" speech on the steps of the state capitol, a white volunteer, Viola Liuzzo, is shot and killed by KKK members in Alabama, one of whom was an FBI informant.
  • June 2 – Black deputy sheriff Oneal Moore is murdered in Varnado, Louisiana.
  • July 2 – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission begins operations.
  • August 6 – Voting Rights Act of 1965 is signed by President Johnson. It provides for federal oversight and enforcement of voter registration in states and individual voting districts with a history of discriminatory tests and underrepresented populations. It prohibits discriminatory practices preventing African Americans and other minorities from registering and voting, and electoral systems diluting their vote.[24][24]
  • August 11–15 – Following the accusations of mistreatment and police brutality by the Los Angeles Police Department towards the city's African-American community, Watts riots erupt in South Central Los Angeles which last over five days. Over 34 are killed, 1,032 injured, 3,438 arrested, and cost over $40 million in property damage.
  • September – Raylawni Branch and Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong become the first African-American students to attend the University of Southern Mississippi.
  • September 24 – President Johnson signs Executive Order 11246 requiring Equal Employment Opportunity by federal contractors.




After 1969

See also


  1. ^ David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito, Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009, pp.154-55.
  2. ^ Staff, From Times; Reports, Wire (April 28, 2005). "J.B. Stoner, 81; White Supremacist Bombed Black Church". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  3. ^ "The Virginia Center for Digital History". Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  4. ^ Clayborne Carson (1998). The autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Grand Central Publishing. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-446-52412-4.
  5. ^ a b c d The King Center, The Chronology of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "1961". Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved October 20, 2007.
  6. ^ Catsam, Derek Charles (2009). Freedom's Main Line: The Journey of Reconciliation and the Freedom Rides. Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 9780813138862.
  7. ^ Arsenault, Raymond (2006). Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. Oxford Univ. Press. p. 439. ISBN 0-19-513674-8.
  8. ^ a b c d Branch, Taylor (1988). Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. pp. 527–530. ISBN 978-0-671-68742-7.
  9. ^ Branch, pp.533–535
  10. ^ Branch, pp. 555–556
  11. ^ Branch, pp. 756–765
  12. ^ Branch, pp. 786–791
  13. ^ United States of America and Interstate Commerce Commission v. The City of Jackson, Mississippi, Allen Thompson, Douglas L. Lucky and Thomas B. Marshall, Commissioners of the City of Jackson, and W.D. Rayfield, Chief of Police of the City of Jackson, United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit, May 13, 1963.
  14. ^ "Northern City Site of Most Violent Negro Demonstrations", Rome News-Tribune (CWS), 30 May 1963.
  15. ^ "Tear Gas Used to Stall Florida Negroes, Drive Continues, Evening News (AP), 31 May 1963.
  16. ^ "Medgar Evers". Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  17. ^ The Dirksen Congressional Center, 2815 Broadway, Pekin, Illinois 61554. "Proposed Civil Rights Act". Archived from the original on August 23, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2014.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ "March on Washington". Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  19. ^ Cook, Karen (2008). Freedom Libraries in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project: A History.
  20. ^ a b "Civil Rights Act of". Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  21. ^ Loevy, Robert. "A Brief History of the Civil Rights Act of 1964". Retrieved December 31, 2007.
  22. ^ "Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech". Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  23. ^ Branch, Taylor (2006). At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68. Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, pp. 75-77.
  24. ^ a b c Gavin, Philip. "The History Place, Great Speeches Collection, Lyndon B. Johnson, "We Shall Overcome"". Retrieved December 31, 2007.
  25. ^ "James L. Bevel The Strategist of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement" by Randall Kryn, published in David Garrow's 1989 book We Shall Overcome, Volume II, Carlson Publishing Company
  26. ^ "Randy Kryn: Movement Revision Research Summary Regarding James Bevel - Chicago Freedom Movement". Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  27. ^ James Ralph, Northern Protest: Martin Luther King, Jr., Chicago, and the Civil Rights Movement (1993) Harvard University Press ISBN 0-674-62687-7
  28. ^ Patrick D. Jones (2009). The Selma of the North: Civil Rights Insurgency in Milwaukee. Harvard University Press. pp. 1–6, 169ff. ISBN 978-0-674-03135-7.
  29. ^ Rob Arthur (March 6, 2019). "EXCLUSIVE: Trump's Justice Department is investigating 60% fewer civil rights cases than Obama's". Vice News. Retrieved March 14, 2019.

Further reading

  • Richardson, Christopher M. and Ralph E. Luker, eds. (2014). Historical Dictionary of the Civil Rights Movement (2nd ed.). Rowman & Littlefield.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Finkelman, Paul. ed. Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present (5 vol. 2009).
  • Hornsby, Jr., Alton, ed. Chronology of African American History (2nd Ed. 1997) 720pp.
  • Hornsby, Jr., Alton, ed. Black America: A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia (2 vol 2011) excerpt
  • Lowery, Charles D. and John F. Marszalek Encyclopedia of African-American civil rights: from emancipation to the present (Greenwood, 1992).

External links

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