Top 10 Most Important Events

Civil Rights Era

1. Brown vs. Board of Education

Topeka, Kansas, May 1954. The court ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unequal and therefore unconstitutional. This ruling overturned the declaration in the Plessy v. Ferguson and created an outrage from all conservatives and southern whites in general.

2. Formation of Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Formed by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957. Blacks decided to take the civil rights movement into their own hands, however, they believed racial equality should be achieved through non-violent protests.

3. Interstate Highway Act

Eisenhower's largest public works act, passed in 1956. It was a plan to build forty-two thousand miles of modern highways, costing $26 billion dollars. This act created thousands of new jobs as well as accelerated the migration of american people from cities to the suburbs.

4. Rosa Parks Arrest

December, 1955. Rosa Parks took a seat in the "whites only" section of a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested for violating the city's Jim Crow Laws.

5. Montgomery Bus Boycott

Following Rosa Parks' arrest, African Americans banded together in a year long boycott of the city's bus system, and chose to walk everywhere instead. The Montgomery Bus Boycott sent a message throughout the south that blacks would no longer stand for public segregation and racial injustice.

6. Sputnik

On October 4, 1957, the world's first space satellite was launched. The soviet union beat the United States in the space race, which caused Americans to be even more invested in space discovery.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was developed by President Eisenhower following the launch of Soviet Sputnik. In 1958, NASA and the United States successfully launched their first space satellite

8. Election of John F. Kennedy

JFK was elected president in 1960 over republican candidate Nixon. Kennedy was an extremely influential man during this time period, and his election was very important.

9. Nixon/Kennedy Debates

For the first time, television had a large impact on the presidential election. While many saw former vice president Nixon as more experienced, democratic candidate JFK was able to hold his own in the four debates that took place. Americans across the nation watched, and many found Kennedy more appealing, although no one "won" the debates.

10. Eisenhower Doctrine

In response to the continual fear of communism, President Dwight D. Eisenhower passed the Eisenhower Doctrine on January 5, 1957. This stated that the United States would fight to protect any nations that were attacked by communists.