Civil Rights Movement Timeline Term Paper

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Civil Rights Movement:


1890: The state of Mississippi adopts poll taxes and literacy tests to discourage black voters.

1895: Booker T. Washington delivers his Atlanta Exposition speech, which accepts segregation of the races.

1896: The Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson the separate but equal treatment of the races is constitutional.


1900-1915: Over one thousand blacks are lynched in the states of the former Confederacy.

1905: The Niagara Movement is founded by W.E.B. du Bois and other black leaders to urge more direct action to achieve black civil rights.


1910: National Urban League is founded to help the conditions of urban African Americans.


1925: Black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey is convicted of mail fraud.

1928: For the first time in the 20th century an African American is elected to Congress.


1931: Farrad Muhammad establishes in Detroit what will become the Black Muslim Movement.

1933: The NAACP files -and loses- its firs suit against segregation and discrimination in education.

1938: The Supreme Court orders the admission of a black applicant to the University of Missouri Law School

1941: A. Philip Randoph threatens a massive march on Washington unless the Roosevelt administration takes measures to ensure black employment in defense industries; Roosevelt agrees to establish Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC).

1942: The congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is organized in Chicago.

1943: Race riots in Detroit and Harlem cause black leaders to ask their followers to be less demanding in asserting their commitment to civil rights; A. Philip Randolph breaks ranks to call for civil disobedience against Jim Crow schools and railroads.

1946: The Supreme Court, in Morgan v. The Commonwealth of Virginia, rules that state laws requiring racial segregation on buses violates the Constitution when applied to interstate passengers.

1947: Jackie Robinson breaks the color line in major league baseball.

1947: To Secure These Rights, the report by the President’s Committee on Civil Rights, is released; the commission, appointed by President Harry S. Truman, recommends government action to secure civil rights for all Americans.

1948: President Harry S. Truman issues an executive order desegregating the armed services.


1950: The NAACP decides to make its legal strategy a full-scale attack on educational segregation.

1954: First White Citizens Council meeting is held in Mississippi.

1954: School year begins with the integration of 150 formerly segregated school districts in eight states; many other school districts remain segregated.

1955: The Interstate Commerce Commission bans racial segregation in all facilities and vehicles engaged in interstate transportation.

1955: Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person; the action triggers a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, let by Martin Luther King Jr.

1956: The home of Martin Luther King Jr. is bombed.

1956: The Montgomery bus boycott ends after the city receives U. S. Supreme Court order to desegregate city buses.

1957: Martin Luther King Jr. and a number of southern black clergymen create the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

1958: Ten thousand students hold a Youth March for Integrated Schools in Washington, D.C.

1959: Sit-in campaigns by college students desegregate eating facilities in St. Louis, Chicago, and Bloomington, Indiana; the Tennessee Christian Leadership Conference holds brief sit-ins in Nashville department stores.


1960: Twenty-five hundred students and community members in Nashville, Tennessee, stage a march on city hall—the first major demonstration of the civil rights movement—following the bombing of the home of a black lawyer.

1960: John F. Kennedy is elected president by a narrow margin.

1961: Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy hold a secret meeting at which King learns that the new president will not push hard for new civil rights legislation.

1962: Ku Klux Klan dynamite blasts destroy four black churches in Georgia towns.

1962: President Kennedy federalizes the National Guard and sends several hundred federal marshals to Mississippi to guarantee James Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi Law School over the opposition of Governor Ross Barnett and other whites; two people are killed in a campus riot.

1963: Black students Vivian Malone and James Hood enter the University of Alabama despite a demonstration of resistance by Governor George Wallace; in a nationally televised speech President John F. Kennedy calls segregation morally wrong.

1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated; Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson assumes the presidency.

1964: President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in most public accommodations, authorizes the federal government to withhold funds from programs practicing discrimination, and creates the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

1964: Martin Luther King Jr. is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

1965: Malcolm X is assassinated while addressing a rally of his followers in New York City; three black men are ultimately convicted of the murder.

1965: Rioting in the black ghetto of Watts in Los Angeles leads to 35 deaths, 900 injuries, and over 3,500 arrests.

1966: Martin Luther King Jr. moves to Chicago to begin his first civil rights campaign in a northern city.

1966: Martin Luther King Jr. leads an integrated march in Chicago and is wounded when whites throw bottles and bricks at demonstrators.

1966: The Black Panther Party (BPP) is founded in Oakland, California.

1966: James Meredith is shot by a sniper while on a one man “march against fear” in Mississippi.

1967: Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his first speech devoted entirely to the war in Vietnam, which he calls ‘one of history’s most cruel and senseless wars’; his position causes estrangement with President Johnson and is criticized by the NAACP.

1967: Rioting at all-black Jackson State College in Mississippi leads to one death and two serious injuries.

1967: Thurgood Marshall is the first black to be nominated to serve on the Supreme Court.

1967: Rioting in the black ghetto of Newark, New Jersey, leaves 23 dead and 725 injured; rioting in Detroit leaves 43 dead and 324 injured; President Johnson appoints Governor Otto Kerner of Illinios to head a commission to investigate recent urban riots.

1968: The Kerner Commission issues its report, warning that the nation is ‘moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”

1968: Martin Luther King Jr. travels to Memphis, Tennessee, to help settle a garbage worker strike.

1968: Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee, precipitating riots in more than one hundred cities.

1968: Congress passes civil rights legislation prohibiting racial discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.

1968: Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King Jr.’s successor as head of the SCLC, leads Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, D.C.

1969: The Supreme Court replaces its 1954 decision calling for “all deliberate speed” in school desegregation by unanimously ordering that all segregation in schools mush end “at once.”

Word Count: 1125

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