Civil Rights Vocabulary

By: Destiny Haskins

Civil Rights

Civil rights are the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality.

Social movement

Social movement is a type of group action. They are large, sometimes informal, groupings of individuals or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues.

Civil disobedience

Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power.

De jure segregation

De jure segregation is separation enforced by law.


Desegregation is the process of ending the separation of two groups usually referring to races.


A boycott is a punitive ban that forbids relations with certain groups, cooperation with a policy, or the handling of goods.


A sit-in is a form of direct action that involves one or more people occupying an area for a protest, often to promote political, social, or economic change.

Nonviolent protest

Nonviolent protest is the practice of achieving goals such as social change through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, satyagraha, or other methods, without using violence.


The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization.


Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), interracial American organization established by James Farmer in 1942 to improve race relations and end discriminatory policies through direct-action projects.

Little Rock Nine

Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

Black Panthers

The Black Panthers practiced militant self-defense of minority communities against the U.S. government, and fought to establish revolutionary socialism through mass organizing and community based programs.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a 13-month mass protest that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional.

March on Washington

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the March on Washington, or The Great March on Washington, was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history and demanded civil and economic rights for African Americans.

Civil Right Acts

  • 1957-empowered federal prosecutors to obtain court injunctions against interference with the right to vote.
  • 1960-was a United States federal law that established federal inspection of local voter registration polls and introduced penalties for anyone who obstructed someone's attempt to register to vote.
  • 1964-which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement.

Voting Right Act of 1965

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination.

Watts Riot

The Watts Riot was when an African-American motorist was arrested for drunk driving. A minor roadside argument broke out, and then escalated into a fight.

24th Amendment

The 24 Amendment prohibited any poll tax in elections for federal officials.

Emmett Till

Emmett Till was an African-American teenager who was lynched in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was an African American civil rights activist, whom the United States Congress called "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement".

Dr. Martin Luther KIng Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

Malcolm X

Malcolm X was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist.

James Meredith

James Meredith is a Civil Rights Movement figure, writer, political adviser and Air Force veteran.

George Wallace

George Wallace was an American politician and the 45th Governor of Alabama.

Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Carmichael was a Trinidadian-American revolutionary active in the Civil Rights Movement, and later, the global Pan-African movement.

Earl Warren

Earl Warren was an American jurist and politician, who served as the 30th Governor of California and later the 14th Chief Justice of the United States.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States.