Civil Rights Timeline: Jan. 15, 1929 – Dec. 21, 19
56Jan. 15, 1929 – Dr. King is born – Born on Jan. 15, 1929, in
Atlanta, Ga., he was the
second of three children of the Rev. Michael (later Martin) and
Sept. 1, 1954 – Dr. King becomes pastor – In 1954, King accepted his
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala. He and his wife,
Coretta Scott King, whom he had met and married (June 1953) while at
Dec. 1, 1955 – Rosa Parks defies city segregation – Often called
“the mother of the civil
rights movement,” Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, b. Tuskegee, Ala., Feb.
1913, sparked the 381-day Montgomery bus boycott that led to a 1956
Supreme Court order outlawing discriminatory practices on Montgomery
buses. In December 1955, returning home from her assistant tailor job
Montgomery, Parks refused a bus driver’s order to surrender her seat
white man. She was jailed and fined $14.
Dec. 5, 1955 – Montgomery bus boycott- Although precipitated by the
arrest of Rosa
Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56 was actually a
response to decades of intimidation, harassment and discrimination
Alabama’s African American population. By 1955, judicial decisions
still the principal means of struggle for civil rights, even though
marches and boycotts sometimes punctuated the litigation. The boycott,
which lasted for more than a year, was almost 100 percent effective.
Dec. 21, 1956 – Bus segregation declared illegal – The boycott’s
desegregating public facilities in the South and also in obtaining
legislation from Congress.
Civil Rights Timeline
Sept. 24, 1957 – May 2, 1963
Sept. 24, 1957 – School integration – In September 1957 the state
attention when Gov. Orval E. Faubus (in office 1955-67) tried to
the integration of Little Rock Central High School. President Dwight
Eisenhower quickly intervened, in part by sending federal troops to
Rock, and several black students were enrolled at Central High School.
Aug. 19, 1958 – Student sit-ins – In spite of the events in Little
Rock or Montgomery, or
Supreme Court decisions, segregation still pervaded American society
1960. While protests and boycotts achieved moderate successes in
desegregating aspects of education and transportation, other
as restaurants, theaters, libraries, amusement parks and churches
barred or limited access to African Americans, or maintained separate,
invariably inferior, facilities for black patrons. Nowhere was the
contradiction of accepting money with one hand while withholding
with the other so glaring as the lunch counters of five-and-ten cent
and department stores.
This situation coincided with a growing dissatisfaction among the
black population. Although many of them enjoyed political, education
economic rights undreamed of by their elders, the remaining barriers
seemed as high as ever. Often violence, threats and political
such as token integration maintained the status quo. This exhibit
restored dime store lunch counter, populated with student protesters,
includes audio visual segments of the events.
May 3, 1961 – “Freedom Riders” – The Congress of Racial Equality
Sept. 30, 1962 – University Riot – During the 1960s, Mississippi was
a center of the Civil
Rights movement. Despite the 1954 Supreme Court decision making
segregated schools illegal, the state did not quickly institute
integration. In 1962 a black student, James Meredith, attempted to
the University of Mississippi law school. His admission was blocked,
during the subsequent violence, federal troops were sent to restore
a 15 hour riot. Violent incidents against blacks took place as the
for integration continued.
May 2, 1963 – Youth Marches – Youth Marches occur at City Hall.
Civil Rights Timeline
Aug. 28, 1963 – May 7, 1965
Aug. 28, 1963 – King delivers his “I have a dream” speech – King
organized the massive
March on Washington (Aug. 28, 1963) where, in his brilliant “I Have
Dream” speech, he “subpoenaed the conscience of the nation before
judgment seat of morality.”
Jan. 23, 1964 – 24th Amendment ratified – The 24th Amendment to the U.
Constitution, proposed by Congress on Aug. 27, 1962, and ratified
23, 1964, bans the use of poll taxes in federal elections (a device
by some states to circumvent the 15th Amendment’s guarantee of equal
voting rights). Intended to alleviate the burdens of black and poor
it states that in any presidential or congressional election, no
citizen can be
denied, by the state or federal government, the right to vote because
failure to pay either a poll tax or any other tax.
Jul. 2, 1964 – Civil Rights Act – Congress enacted new legislation in
an attempt to
overcome local and state obstruction to the exercise of citizenship
blacks. These efforts culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
prohibited discrimination in employment and established the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission. This major piece of legislation
banned discrimination in public accommodations connected with
commerce, including restaurants, hotels, and theaters.
Dec. 10, 1964 – Nobel Peace Prize – In January 1964, Time magazine
chose King Man
of the Year, the first black American so honored. Later that year
became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mar. 7, 1965 – Montgomery March – After supporting desegregation
efforts in Saint
Augustine, Fla., in 1964, King concentrated his efforts on the voter-
registration drive in Selma, Ala., leading a harrowing march from
Montgomery in March 1965. Soon after, a tour of the northern cities
him to assail the conditions of economic as well as social
This marked a shift in SCLC strategy, one intended to “bring the
the mainstream of American life as quickly as possible.”
Civil Rights Timeline
Aug. 6, 1965 – Jun. 12, 1966
Aug. 6, 1965 – Voting Rights Act – The Voting Rights Act authorized
the U.S. attorney
general to send federal examiners to register black voters under
circumstances. It also suspended all literacy tests in states in
which less than
50% of the voting-age population had been registered or had voted in
1964 election. The law had an immediate impact. By the end of 1965
quarter of a million new black voters had been registered, one third
federal examiners. The Voting Rights Act was readopted and
in 1970, 1975, and 1982.
Aug. 11, 1965 – Rioting in Watts – As desegregation progressed in the
began to shift northward. Targets in the North, however, were more
elusive. Segregation in the northern cities did not rest on laws so
on attitudes, customs, and economic relationships. These were more
difficult to confront with the tactics of nonviolent protest.
resentment grew in the black ghettos. In 1965 the Watts area of Los
Angeles erupted into a riot that lasted for several days and left 34
three successive summers, outbursts of rebellion occurred in cities
Jan. 7, 1966 – “Open City” – King announces the “Open City” campaign
to fight problems
in the North.
June 6, 1966 – Meredith Shot – James Meredith is shot shortly after
he begins a voting
June 12, 1966 – Chicago Riot – Rioting breaks out in Chicago.
Civil Rights Timeline
Jun. 23, 1967- Apr. 9, 1968
Jun. 23, 1967 – Detroit Riot – The most massive was the Detroit riot
of 1967, which
lasted nearly a week, claimed 40 lives, and destroyed property worth
million. The passions and upheavals of the 1960s gave way to at least
appearance of calm in the 1970s and ’80s. Protests became less
and widespread as blacks and whites alike took stock of the gains of
the most tumultuous periods in U.S. history.
Mar. 2 1968, – Separate and Unequal – A report is released that the
Nation is divided into
groups of Blacks and whites.
Apr. 4, 1968 – Dr. King is assassinated – On Apr. 4, 1968, King was
felled by an
assassin’s bullet. The violent death of this man of peace brought
immediate reaction of rioting in black ghettos around the country.
one man, James Earl Ray, was convicted of King’s murder, the question
whether he was the paid agent of conspirators has not been
resolved. It is clear only that the United States was deprived of a
symbol of moral and social progress. King’s birthday was declared a
holiday in 1983.
Apr. 8, 1968 – City Hall March – Coretta King leads a march of 42,000
to city hall to
mourn her husbands death.
Apr. 9, 1968 – Dr. King is buried – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is
buried at south View
Cemetery. A crowd of 50,000 to 100,000 is present as they mourn the
death of a towering symbol of moral and social progress for Black