Civil Rights Movement

Jacob Paulsen

Each of the events in the map helped the Civil Rights Movement exceed.

The 1963 March on Washington:

On August 28, 1963, more than 200,000 Americans gathered in Washington, D.C., for a political rally known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Martin Luther King, and other civil rights leaders were the key people involved. This event was important because More than 200,000 black and white Americans shared a joyous day of speeches, songs, and prayers led by a celebrated array of clergymen, civil rights leaders, politicians, and entertainers. This represented an affirmation of hope, of belief in the democratic process, and of faith in the capacity of blacks and whites to work together for racial equality.

Lunch Counter Sit-Ins

The Greensboro sit-ins were a series of nonviolent protests in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960 which led to the Woolworth department store chain removing its policy of racial segregation in the Southern United States. Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil were the four young black men who staged the first sit-in in Greensboro. They were all students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College.

Lunch Counter Sit-Ins became so popular that some 300 students had joined the protest at Woolworth’s, paralyzing the lunch counter and other local businesses. This is important because national media coverage of the sit-ins brought increasing attention to the struggle for civil rights for African Americans.

Murder of Martin Luther King

In early April 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. The accused assassin is James Earl Ray. This event was important because although blacks and whites alike mourned King’s passing, the killing in some ways served to widen the rift between black and white Americans, as many blacks saw King’s assassination as a rejection of their pursuit of equality through the nonviolent resistance he had championed. His murder, like the killing of Malcolm X in 1965, radicalized many moderate African-American activists, fueling the growth of the Black Power movement and the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Integration of Central High School

Nine black students enrolled at formerly all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in September 1957, testing a landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional. This angered many in the South, and Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas called in the state National Guard to bar the black students’ entry into the school. Later in the month, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to escort the “Little Rock Nine” into the school, and they started their first full day of classes on September 25. Minnijean Brown (1941-), Elizabeth Eckford (1941-), Ernest Green (1941-), Thelma Mothershed (1940-), Melba Patillo (1941-), Gloria Ray (1942-), Terrence Roberts (1941-), Jefferson Thomas (1942-2010) and Carlotta Walls (1942-) had been recruited by Daisy Gaston Bates (1914-99), president of the Arkansas NAACP to go to Central High School.

In September 1958, one year after Central High was integrated, Governor Faubus closed Little Rock’s high schools for the entire year, pending a public vote, to prevent African-American attendance. Little Rock citizens voted 19,470 to 7,561 against integration and the schools remained closed. This event was important because it was the first time African Americans were allowed into an all white high school.

Brown v. Board of Education

The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision overturned provisions of the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which had allowed for “separate but equal” public facilities, including public schools in the United States. Declaring that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” Key people in this decision were Thurgood Marshall (Head of NAACP), Earl Warren (Chief of Supreme Court). This court ruling made segregation illegal and was the first massive leap into finishing the civil rights movement.

Integration of Mississippi University

In late September 1962, after a legal battle, an African-American man named James Meredith attempted to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Chaos briefly broke out on the Ole Miss campus, with riots ending in two dead, hundreds wounded and many others arrested. This was important because it resulted in breaking segregation, and allowing an African American to receive a college education in the South.

Murder of Medgar Evers

Medgar Evers (1925-1963) was an African-American civil rights activist whose murder drew national attention. The national outrage over Evers’ murder increased support for legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

3 Dead Social Workers

Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney were three young civil rights workers working to register black voters in Mississippi, thus making them targets by the local Klan. The deaths of Schwerner and Goodman, white Northerners and members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), caused a national outrage.

Segregated Buses

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was when African Americans refused to ride city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest segregated seating. This took place from December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956, and is regarded as the first large-scale demonstration against segregation in the U.S.. Rosa Parks is a very famous protester for refusing to give her seat on the bus to a white man. These protests were important because on June 5, 1956, a Montgomery federal court ruled that any law requiring racially segregated seating on buses violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Birmingham riots

On September 15, a bomb exploded before Sunday morning services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama–a church with a predominantly black congregation that served as a meeting place for civil rights leaders. Four young girls were killed and many other people injured. These girls were 14-year-old Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson and 11-year-old Denise McNair. Ten-year-old Sarah Collins, who was also in the restroom at the time of the explosion, lost her right eye, and more than 20 other people were injured in the blast. Outrage over the incident and the violent clash between protesters and police that followed helped draw national attention to the struggle for civil rights for African Americans.

March to Montgomery

In early 1965, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) made Selma, Alabama, the focus of its efforts to register black voters in the South. That March, protesters attempting to march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery were met with violent resistance by state and local authorities. The historic march, and King’s participation in it, greatly helped raise awareness of the difficulty faced by black voters in the South, and the need for a Voting Rights Act, passed later that year.


Albany Protests

In November 1961, SNCC mobilized students to protest about the segregation and disenfranchisement experienced there. This protest did not receive support from local NAACP and other civil rights leaders as they saw SNCC as troublemakers. Martin Luther King came, but the protest was a failure. This is important because after this failure,  protests became less and less well supported. Albany was recognized as a major defeat by the civil rights movement.

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