Civil Rights Map

Brown vs. Board of Education

1954 Brown vs. Board of Education.  Linda Brown had to travel through a dangerous switch yard to get to the all black school which was miles from her home.  The school close to her home was an all white school but she was not allowed to attend because of the separate but equal law established by Plessy vs. Ferguson.  The case went to the Supreme Court and Plessy vs. Ferguson was declared unconstitutional.  As a result schools across the south became desegregated.

Campaign to Desegregate Cities

The Baptist Church Bombing on 16th Street was 'an act of white supremacist terrorism' which involved four Ku Klux Klan members and four young girls on September 15, 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. The KKK placed at least fifteen dynamite sticks to a timing device which was then placed underneath the church front steps and led to the deaths of all four girls and injuries to 22 others. The Birmingham Campaign was a nonviolent direct movement organized by the SCLC early 1963 which brought about widely publicized confrontations between young blacks and white authorities. The confrontations of the campaign eventually led the municipal government to change discriminatory laws of the city.

1957 Integration of Central High School

The 1957 Integration of Central High School involved nine African American high school students, otherwise known as the "Little Rock Nine," who wanted to go to the Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas but were prevented from doing so due to Governor Faubus. Faubus mobilized the Arkansas National Guard against the Little Rock Nine, which gained attention from the entire nation and in particular, from President Eisenhower who then attempted to negotiate with the governor several times. After a few failed attempts Eisenhower removed the guard from the governor's control and sent 1,000 troops from the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division to supervise the integration. At the time Arkansas was among the more progressive Southern states in regard to racial issues and Faubus’ defiance was the first major test of Brown v. Board of Education and the biggest challenge of the federal government’s authority over the states.

1968 Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.

On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead while standing on the balcony of his room at the Loraine Motel in Memphis. The news of the assassination prompted racial outbreaks and violence across the nation which resulted in over forty deaths and extensive property damage in a hundred different cities. A forty year old fugitive by the name of James Earl Grey was later found to be King's assassin and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Amid the intense national mourning, President Johnson urged Americans to "reject the blind violence" and then called on Congress to speedily pass the Civil Rights Legislation. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. lead the president to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which he called a fitting legacy to King's work.

1962 Integration of the University of Mississippi

James Meredith, an African American, was admitted into the University of Mississippi, otherwise known as "Ole Miss" but was later revoked when they found out his race. On September 30, 1962 locals, students, and segregationists began to protest Meredith's enrollment, but the crowd became violent by nightfall. The following day it was found that two were dead and hundreds injured. The federal court ordered Ole Miss to admit Meredith, but when he went to register was blocked by Mississippi Governor Barnett. After the governor was found guilty of civil contempt, Meredith was escorted onto the campus by U.S. Marshals and was the first African American to attend an all white college. The University of Mississippi was "the most hallowed symbol of white prestige" and Meredith's admittance was a huge step towards Civil Rights in Mississippi.

1963 Murder of NAACP leader Medgar Evers

African American Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers was shot to death outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi by Byron De La Beckwith, a white supremacist on June 12, 1963. Evers was the first NAACP Field Secretary in Mississippi and after his murder, JFK and many other leaders publicly condemned the killing. Beckwith's first trial ended in a deadlock with an all white jury and started numerous pretests. During the second trial the all white jury failed to come to a decision and Beckwith, Evers' murderer, was set free despite the mounting evidence against him. After three decades, in 1993, Beckwith was again convicted for the murder of Medgar Evers, but with a racially mixed jury (eight blacks and four whites) where he was sentenced to life in prison. Although this event in history may not have had immediate effects towards the Civil Rights Movement, when Mississippi changed its jury system to include other races, it made a huge difference.

1964 Murder of Three Civil Rights Workers

On June 24, 1964 Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner were murdered in Nashoba County near Philadelphia, Mississippi. During Freedom Summer the three helped register black voters and were off to investigate the burning of a black church when they were arrested by the police on trumped-up charges. A few hours after, once it was dark, they all were released but into the hands of the KKK who beat and murdered all three of them. The FBI arrested eighteen men but state prosecutors refused to try the case until the federal government stepped in. In 1967, seven of the men were convicted with conspiracy charges and three to ten year sentences but none received more than six. Another eight were acquitted by all white juries and three ended in mistrials. One of the mistrials included Edgar Ray Killen who was believed to be the ringleader but no one could bear to convict the preacher. The deaths of Schwerner and Goodman, white Northerners and CORE members,  sparked national outrage and started the federal governments investigation of the KKK in Mississippi.

1954-1956 Boycott of Segregated Bus System

During the boycott of the segregated bus system, between 1954 and 1956 almost all African Americans refused to ride the buses to protest against their segregated seating. During the boycott on December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks was asked to give up her spot for a white person but refused which lead to her being arrested. Black leaders urged black people to boycott the bus system led by Martin Luther King Jr. that lasted for 381 days which made the bus system to lose thousands of dollars daily. The bus boycott was important because it caused the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that Montgomery could no longer have a segregated public transportation system due to its violation of the Constitution.

1965:March for Voting Rights to Montgomery

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) made Selma, Alabama its focus in early 1965 for registering black voters in the south. In March of the same year, protesters attempting to march from Selma to the state capital were met with violence from local and state authorities. The world then watched as the protesters, under the protection of federalized National Guard troops, made it to the capital after three days of walking around the clock. The march and King's participation in it helped to raise awareness of the difficulty black voters faced in the south and also the need for a Voting Rights Act, which was passed later that year.

1961 Black Students & Civil Rights Workers Sit in White Section of Bus Station

During May 1961, thirteen African Americans and Civil Rights Activists launched a series of bus trips through the south known as Freedom Rides to protest segregation in interstate bus terminals. Recruited by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Freedom Riders tried to only use what was labeled as "Whites Only." Although the group encountered much violence, they were also able to draw national attention for their cause. In September of the same year the Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulation prohibiting segregation in train and bus stations nationwide.

1960 First Lunch Counter Sit-in

On February 1, 1960 four African American college students went to Woolworth's and sat down at the lunch counter. When they politely asked for service, they were refused and were asked to leave but they would not. Their simple passive resistance and peaceful sit-down helped spark a movement led by youth which challenged racial equality in the south.

1963 March on Washington; "I Have a Dream" Speech by Martin Luther King Jr.

More than 200,000 Americans gathered in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963 for the March on Washington for freedom and jobs. The rally was designed to put an emphasis on the political and social challenges African Americans still faced nationwide. The march and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech showcased the growing civil rights struggle and called for racial equality and justice.

Comment Stream