THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA
the ten most important moments
The march on Washington, D.C.
- August 28, 1963
- 200,000 people
- Martin Luther King, jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech
- Artists such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez participated and performed
Central High School
- September 1957
- Formerly all-white Central High School learns that integration is easier said than done.
- Nine black students are blocked from entering the school on the orders of Governor Orval Faubus.
- President Eisenhower sends federal troops and the National Guard to intervene on behalf of the students, who would become the "Little Rock Nine".
Montgomery Bus Boycott
- December 1, 1955
- Montgomery, Alabama
- NAACP member, Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the "colored section" of a bus to a white passenger, defying the southern custom of the time. In response to her arrest, the Montgomery black community launches a bus boycott, which will last for more than a year, until the buses are desegregated December 21, 1956.
- As newly elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., is of utmost importance in leading the boycott.
The Murder of Medgar Evers
- June 12, 1963
- Mississippi's NAACP field secretary
- 37-years old
- Murdered outside of his home
- Byron De La Beckwith is tried twice in 1964 for Evers murder, both trials resulting in hung juries. Thirty years later, he's finally convicted.
Brown v. Board of Education
- May 17, 1954
- Supreme Court rules on the landmark case, unanimously agreeing that segregation in public schools in unconstitutional.
- Ruling paves way for large-scale desegregation
- Overturns the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that sanctioned "separate but equal" segregation of the races, ruling that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
- Victory for NAACP attorney Thurgood (pictured above, center), who will later return to the Supreme Court as the nation's first black justice.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
- July 2, 1964
- President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction
- Prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin
- Also provides the federal government with the powers to enforce desegregation
March to Montgomery
- Blacks begin a march to Montgomery in support of voting rights but are stopped at the Pettus Bridge by a police blockade.
- 50 marchers are hospitalized after police use tear gas, whips, and clubs against them. The incident is dubbed "Bloody Sunday" by the media
- Considered the catalyst for pushing through the voting rights act five months later
Creation of the SNCC
- April 1960
- The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
- Founded at Shaw University
- Provided young blacks with a place in the civil rights movement
- Later grows into a more radical organization, particularly under the leadership of Stokely Carmichael (1966-1967)
Sweat v. Painter
- Supreme Court case that successfully challenged the "separate but equal" doctrine of racial segregation established by the 1896 case Plessy v. Ferguson
- James Meredith becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi
- Violence and riots surrounding the incident cause President Kennedy to send 5,000 federal troops