Civil Rights Era

Ten Important Events

Executive Order 9981

On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman signed the Executive order 9981 which stated, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin."

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

May 17, 1954, as a result of the case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Supreme Court ruled segregation in public schools unconstitutional. The ruling was unanimous. The decision overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that sanctioned "separate but equal" segregation of races, ruling that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

Rosa Parks

In 1955, Rosa Parks, member of the NAACP, refused to give up her bus seat at the front of the section marked for colored people to a white man. To deny a white passenger was unheard of in the time. In response to the arrest, the black leaders in Montgomery launched a bus boycott, which was soon led by Martin Luther King Jr.


Establishment of Southern Christian Leadership Conference

In 1957, Martin Luther King Jr., Charles K. Steele, and Fred L. Shuttlesworth create the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King soon became the first president of this conference. The SCLC aimed to mobilize the vast power of the black churches on behalf of black rights.

Integration at Central High School

In September of 1957, all-white Central High School had nine black students blocked from entering the school. These were orders from Governor Orval Faubus. President Eisenhower sends federal troops and the National Guard to intervene on behalf of the students, who became known as the "Little Rock Nine."


Establishment of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

In April of 1960 of Raleigh, North Carolina, the SNCC was founded at Shaw University. This committee aimed to provide young blacks with a place in the civil rights movement. The SNCC later grows into a more radical organization. It was under control of Stokely Carmichael from 1966-1967.

MLK's Famous "I Have a Dream Speech"

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Junior delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to around 200,000 people. This was delivered in Washington D.C. during the "March on Washington" at the Lincoln Memorial. His speech was for racial equality.


Establishment of the 24th Amendment

On January 23, 1964, the 24th Amendment was passed which abolished poll tax. The poll tax had originally been instituted in the 11 southern states after Civil War Reconstruction to make it difficult for poor blacks to vote, so the 24th Amendment repealed that.

President Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act of 1964

This was the first set of Civil Rights put into an Act. This set of Civil Rights prohibited discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin. The law also provided the federal government with the powers to enforce desegregation. It was the nation's benchmark rights legislation. This Act also ended the application of "Jim Crow" laws, which the Court held that racial segregation used the "separate but equal," ruling it unconstitutional.

President Johnson Signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968

The second Civil Rights Act signed by Johnson four years later, these acts prohibited discrimination in the scale, rental, and financing of housing. This was also known as the Fair Housing Act. It was a follow up to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Act also protected people with disabilities and families with children.