Civil Rights Timeline
  Austin Lornson  

An era of determination and bravery

This timeline of majorly significant events begins in 1954 in the city of Topeka, Kansas.

                                        1954 Brown Vs. Board of Education

a. The Brown Vs. Board of Education was a collection of court cases regarding segregation in schools from a variety of states. These cases were alike because in the duration of these cases, a crucial point was made: segregation in schools is unconstitutional.

b. Those involved in this court case were representatives of different states in order to get a fair judgement on the case, the Supreme Court, and parents of children who had strongly disagreed with school segregation.

c. This event was significant because with the effort put forth by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), the Supreme Court system, and many citizen's with their expression of anger towards the segregation of African American children in schools, the ban of segregation in schools was possible.

In the years 1954 through 1956, a sequence of historical events took place in Montgomery, Alabama.

                                    The Boycott of Segregated Bus Systems

a. In the South where segregation was more prominent than in the North, segregation in public areas had been legal. This included segregation in public transportation; the only way that African Americans were allowed to ride the bus was if they had sat in the very back. This treatment was justified by the "Separate but equal" doctrine. This was created after the 14th Amendment had passed, requiring equal protection under the law. Because of the unacceptable segregation, busses were boycotted to protest the demeaning treatment.

b. Rosa Parks was an important figure that had sparked the bus boycott in Alabama. In the video above, Martin Luther King Jr. had described the pride that Parks conveyed in her daring refusal to move to the back of the bus when asked by a white man. She was jailed, fined $10 and $4 for court related fees.

c. After Rosa Parks's arrest, an announcement by black ministers stating that the boycott was to take place, and a front-page newspaper article from the Montgomery Advertiser that had described the upcoming events, over 40,000 African Americans had boycotted bus use. After a long struggle, bus integration had become effective as of December 21st, 1956.   

Rosa Parks 1913-2005

                                    Integration Moves Throughout the South:

                                              Little Rock, Arkansas, 1957.

Shortly after laws were passed for integration within public transportation, the integration of Central High School in Little Rock had followed.

a. Nine African American students (Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas,and Carlotta Walls) were granted the right to pursue their education at Little Rock High School in the fall of 1957. At this time, all public schools were required to integrate in a timely fashion, which had outraged white students and parents. They had been harassed tremendously, but had remained consistent in their attempts to block out their negative  Slowly but surely after the inspirational nine students had made their way into Little Rock High School, integration in schools became more common.

b. The Little Rock Nine, the parents of these students, Martin Luther King Jr. (who had attended one of the Little Rock Nine's graduation), and Daisy Gaston Bates who had recruited these high schoolers).

Little Rock Nine

c. Integration in high schools had been one of the most controversial aspects of the Civil Rights era, and that is why the Little Rock Nine student group has such significance to it.

                                                     Greensboro, 1960.

                                                     The first lunch sit-in

a. Sit-in protests had begun as a new form of protest on February 1st of 1960. Four college students had sat down at a "whites-only" counter at Woolworth's store politely, and they were refused service. When they had remained in their same spot, they were harassed verbally by locals, sometimes ending with physical attacks from the angry customers. The protesters were not allowed to fight back or say a word in order to keep the focus on the injustice of society's ways and not the violence.

b. Ezell A. Blair, Jr., Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond were the names of the four sit-in protesters.

c. The significance of this event is prevalent in the peaceful strategies used to make a point or obtain their desires in society. The four college students had done nothing but ask for service like everybody else. The refusal of service and mistreatment aimed at the students by customers proved that many aspects of life were not "equal" at that time.

                                                     Peaceful Rebellion:

                                                   Albany, Georgia 1961.  

African American women in a white-only waiting area.

a. Black students and civil rights activists had sat in the white section of a bus stop, and along with others who had participated in segregation protesting, arrests in the dozens were made.

b. Those involved include members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and brave African American protesters.

c. Proceeding with the nonviolent protesting despite the dangers and risk of being jailed shows the stoicism of these representatives and determined African American citizens. Without their courageousness and disregard for consequences, The Civil Rights Movement would not result in success.

                                               Integration in Mississippi:

                                                Oxford, Mississippi-1962.

a. A man looking for further education had attempted to enroll into the University of Mississippi, which was an all white college at the time. Catastrophe had taken place on the Ole Miss campus; riots had broken out which had later required the assistance of thousands of  men in the National Guard. Sadly, this event ended in violence, arrests, wounded students, and two left students had been killed. Regardless of the outrage and tragedy caused by his decision to enroll, he had became the first African American student to attend The University of Mississippi.

b. James Meredith was the man who tried to enroll at the University of Mississippi.

c. This event is significant because it shows the extent of how horrific things got when someone wanted to change the ways of society. How a desire to get a secondary education in a white school was not acceptable, and how violence was used often, but could very well be avoided.


                                             Jackson Mississippi, 1963.

Medgar Evers (1925-1963)

a. Medgar Evers, a Civil Rights activist and field secretary of the NAACP was shot and killed in his driveway by Byron De La Beckwith on June 12th of 1963. He had been a lead role racial equality, desegregation, and voting-rights efforts, which had made him a target for anybody that did not agree with the concept of racial equality. His murder took place hours before JFK's speech that described his support for Civil Rights.

b. Medgar Evers, the members of the NAACP, and Evers's assassin were involved in his journey through the Civil Rights Movement and his tragic death.

c. Evers's murder had made an immediate impact on America. He was given military honors and was awarded the 1963 Spingarn Medal. Justice was finally served in 1989 after in 1963 Medgar Evers's killer was free to go after two trials. An all white trial ended with half voting guilty, the other half saying he was innocent.

                                    Tragedy in Birmingham, Alabama. (1963)

a. A campaign to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama ends in the bombing of a church, injuring 22 and killing four young girls (Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair). The innocence of these girls and the reason behind being killed disgusted the country, including Martin Luther King Jr., saying it was "one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity."

b. Those responsible for the bombing and murders of the four girls include four members of the Ku Klux Klan.

c. The lives of innocent people were taken that day needlessly, and had made people stop to think about the extent of the south's extreme racism, and pushed further in its ultimate goal to gain freedom from the mistreatment and segregation.  

                                  Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech

a. This is Martin Luther King's most famous speech; given to nearly 250,000 people in Washington D.C., it was one of the most moving speeches in American History.

b. Martin Luther King's speech was also attended by 60,000 white people as well, the Civil Rights Movement was supported by many all over the country.

c. This speech successfully conveys the message that we are all created equal, and that we have to begin acting that way and carry that mentality into the future.  

                                            1964 Philadelphia, Mississippi.

a. Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney who had been Civil Rights activists were killed by Ku Klux Klan members. This caused an immense amount of outrage, one of the reasons being that Schwerner and Goodman were white members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). They had rode together into the south with other Civil RIghts activists who were African American to protest when their busses were fire bombed or attacked by KKK members.

b. The Freedom Riders were involved in the journey to Mississippi and Alabama.

c. The risk associated with protesting and traveling by bus in the deep south interracially was great, but they had believed that without people who will stand up for their deserved rights as an American citizen, nothing would move forward.

            1964 Desegregation Campaign; Collusion of City Police and KKK Exposed

a. In St. Augustine, Florida, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) had begun a campaign to end discrimination. During this time, sit-ins were becoming common, more violence arose, and more arrests were made.

b. Martin Luther King who had visited St. Augustine to speak at a Baptist church about the bright future regarding discrimination elimination, members of the NAACP and SCLC, Florida police, and the KKK were involved in this series of events, leading to restoration of an interracial committee to improve communication in the city. Lyndon Johnson (president) had signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shortly after.

c. The significance of this event is the success created by patience, peaceful protesting, refrain from violent retaliation, and sheer determination. Every Civil Rights activist played a part in the movement that would change America completely.

                          1965 March for voting rights in Montgomery, Alabama.

a. Also known as "Bloody Sunday", Civil Rights Activists had begun a five day journey from Selma to Montgomery to obtain their rights. Once the marchers had gotten to through Selma to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state troopers had blocked off the walk way, and were told to scatter, or they will be beaten. When they did not, tear gas had been relinquished upon the marchers, and they were beaten by the state troopers. One man had attempted to protect his mother from being beaten and in doing so, he had been injured severely. He had died a week later in the Selma hospital.

b. All of the Civil Rights Activists involved showed great bravery, and refused to back down.

c. This event, despite the violent outcome, proved the point that the activists were willing to go to tremendous lengths to get what they want; all of the actions that were carried out were all done in a fashion that required no violence on their part, and they were proud of that fact. With this perseverance and optimism, their goal was to be met eventually.

Violence during the march to Birmingham.

                           Martin Luther King Jr. Killed April 4th, 1968.

a. Martin Luther King Jr.; Civil Rights Activist, founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and a Baptist minister was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee. News had quickly spread world wide, and African Americans were especially distraught.

b. James Earl Ray was Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassin.

c. The death of Martin Luther King triggered hundreds of riots across the country, and justice was eventually served to King's killer. Eventually, President Johnson had passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and King was almost immediately after his death given a holiday for his extensive efforts to make America an equal place for everybody.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
Map of The 13 Important Civil Rights Events.

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