Timeline

1861-1865

Civil War

1865

Reconstruction efforts to assimilate slaves into society start in the United States of America.

The U.S. House of Representatives passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery in the Union.

Former confederate states enact Black Codes which forbids African Americans from testifying against whites, serve on juries, bear arms, hold large meeting, it also allows for public schools and other public services to be segregated.

1866

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 declares that all citizens have equal rights to enforce contracts, to sue, to give evidence, to purchase, sell or lease property.

1867

The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Nashville, Tennessee to terrorize African Americans in the south.

1868

The Fourteenth Amendment is ratified by the states. It declares that all persons born in U.S. soil are citizens.

1870

The Fifteenth Amendment is ratified by the states. It forbids any state to deprive a citizen of his vote because of race or color.

The first African American elected to US Senate, Hiram R. Revels, takes his seat.

Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina takes his set in the US House of Representatives, he is the first African American to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

1875

The Civil Rights Act of 1875 is passed by Congress. It states that no citizen can be denied equal use of public facilities on the basis of color.

1881

Brooker T. Washington founds the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama, a vocational institute for training African Americans.

1883

The Supreme Court declares the Civil Right Act of 1875 unconstitutional because it goes against individual business rights to choose their own clientele.

1895

Brooker T. Washington calls for blacks gaining economic prosperity instead of calling for equality. His address became known as the Atlanta Compromise.

1896

The Supreme Court rules on the separate but equal doctrine in Plessy v Ferguson case constitutional. The separate but equal doctrine is also known as the Jim Crow Law. States could offer separate facilities for white and black patrons and as long equal accommodation is provided there is no infringement of civil rights. The law was overturned in 1954.

1909

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded to provide legal assistance for African Americans accused of crimes, grant scholarships and advocate for civil rights. W.E.B Du Bois was one of the founders.

1925

Phillip Randolph founds the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters which organized labor strikes and demonstrations for black railroad workers seeking better work conditions and compensation.

1931

Nine young African Americans are charged in raping a white woman. “The Scottboro Boys” are found guilty but the conviction was overturned in 1935.

1948

In Sipeul v Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma, the Supreme Court rules that no state can discriminate against a law school applicant on the basis of race.

President Truman calls for the end of segregation in schools and employment discrimination.

1954

The Supreme Court rules in the Brown v Board of Education that “separate but equal” facilities are inherently unequal therefore ruling segregation unconstitutional. The decision overturns the Jim Crow doctrine, Plessy v.Ferguson which legitimized segregation. These cases were put forward by the NAACP.

Brown v Board of Education combined five cases: Briggs v Elliot (filed in South Carolina), Davis v County School Board of Prince County (filed in Virginia), Gebhart v. Belton (filed in Delaware), Bolling v. Sharpe (filed in Washington, DC) and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

1955

Emmett Till, a 14 year old African American is murdered by Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam. The all-white jury finds the defendants not guilty of murder. Rallies are held in Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Detroit and New York.

Rosa Parks a former NAACP Montgomery secretary is arrested when she refuses to give up her seat in a segregated bus. She is fined $14.

Reverent Martin Luther King Jr. heads the Montgomery bus boycott as they reject demands of desegregating their buses.

1956

Southern states issue the Southern Manifesto or Declaration of Principles to disavow the Brown decision, they want to delay the end of Jim Crow.

The homes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Edgar Daniel Nixon, NAACP Montgomery chapter president, are bombed.

White students riot at University of Alabama against the admission of first black student Autherin J. Lucy.

Martin Luther King and 89 African American protesters are arrested for violating a law prohibiting boycotts. The Montgomery boycott becomes major news nationwide and King, a national figure. The Supreme Court rules against the Montgomery bus segregation laws. The boycott lasts 381 days.

A new bus boycott in Tallahassee, Florida begins and lasts until 1958.

1957

Nine African American students volunteered to enroll at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Riots broke out and Eisenhower ordered troops from the Army’s 101 Airborne Division to escort the students.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is founded under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr.

Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1957. It establishes a Civil Acts division at the Justice Department and a National Commission on Civil Rights.

1958

Little Rock public schools remain closed through the year and school board resigns.

Ten thousand students hold a Youth march for public school integration in Washington, DC.

1959

Sit-ins, a peaceful new tactic to protest segregation, are sponsored by Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

1960

John F. Kennedy is elected president of the U.S.

Sit-ins spread to 11 cities in five southern states. Four African American students stage a sit-in at Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina to protest “white only” serving policy.

Hot Shoppers, Arlington, VA becomes the first national chain to desegregate.

Martin Luther King Jr. is arrested at a sit-in along with 80 other people. He is sent to a maximum security prison. Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General, appeals to the judge who releases him.

In Boynton v. Virginia the Supreme Court rules unconstitutional the segregation of bus terminals when it overturned a judgement convicting an African American from trespassing when he was in a restaurant in a bus terminal which was only for whites. It ruled that it violated the Interstate Commerce Act.

The Civil Rights Act of 1960 enforced the Civil Rights Act of 1957 by introducing penalties for obstructing the implementation of federal court orders. It also established federal inspection of voter registration polls.

1961

The Supreme Court ruling on the desegregation of bus terminals lead to a movement called Freedom Riders. African Americans and whites ride together in public transportation to challenge local laws.

The Albany Movement is created in Albany, Georgia.

1962

James H. Meredith secures admission at the University of Mississippi but is denied access. Federal marshals escort him to campus, student riots break and two people are killed.

1963

SCLC’s demonstrations in Birmingham lead to the arrest of Martin Luther King Jr. and other Birmingham leaders.  King is placed in solitary confinement.

The city of Birmingham reaches an agreement with the SCLC to stop demonstrations while the city starts desegregating.

Students James Hood and Vivian Malone are escorted by the Alabama National Guard into campus

More than 250,000 gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in the March on Washington, DC for Jobs and Freedom marking the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. White church leaders joined African American civil rights leaders. King delivers his historic speech “I Have a Dream”

Four African American girls are killed by a bomb at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

President Kennedy in a televised speech tells that segregation is morally wrong.

President Kennedy is assassinated. Lyndon B. Johnson, a southerner from Texas, becomes president.

1964

President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act outlaws discrimination in voting and public accommodations, it also requires fair employment practices. It creates the Equal Opportunity Commission to monitor discrimination in public and private sectors.

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) is organized. Mississippi Freedom Summer Project launches voter registration. Sixty eight delegates are selected to the Democratic National Convention.

Martin Luther King Jr. is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

President Johnson is re-elected and it is estimated that 85% to 97% of African Americans voted for him.

President Johnson issues an executive order banning discrimination in federal aid programs.

Race riots occur in Harlem and Brooklyn, New York.

1965

Martin Luther King Jr. organizes groups of African Americans to attempt to register as voters in Selma but instead they were arrested. Students march to the courthouse to protest their arrest.

Bloody Sunday: about 600 protesters march from Selma to Montgomery when state troopers attack them as they were crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Thousands of demonstrators led by King marched for five days to the Alabama State Capitol.

King leads Civil Rights demonstrations in Chicago.

President Jonson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 eliminating literacy test and other examinations.

Race riots occur Los Angeles Watt neighbourhood, the largest civil unrest the country has ever seen.

1966

NAACP disassociates itself from the Black Power doctrine.

King leads a march of 30,000 African Americans to Chicago City Hall.

The Black Panther Party is founded in Oakland, California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The party betrays the non violent philosophy of King.

Race riots occur in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee and Newark.

1967

President Johnson appoints a National Advisory Commission of Civil Disorders to find out the cause of the race riots.

Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American Supreme Court justice.

1968

Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in a march to secure better conditions for sanitation workers. James Earl Ray is arrested and convicted to 99 years in prison. It is estimated that 300,000 people accompanied his coffin. King is buried in South View Cemetery. Two years later his body is moved to Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which bars discrimination in housing.

Richard Nixon gets elected as the 37th U.S. president.

1969

In Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education the Supreme Court orders that the southern school districts must end segregation at once.

1970

Nixon signs a bill extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to 1975.

1972

First National Black Political Convention is attended by 3,000 delegates and 5,000 observers.

1981

The Labor Department reports that unemployment for African Americans is 14% while for whites 7.8%.

1986

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is officially observed for the first time.

1989

Ronald H. Brown is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Brown is the first African American to lead a major American political party.

General Collin Powell becomes the first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Douglas Wilder is elected governor of Virginia, the first African American elected governor.

1991

President Bush signs the Civil Rights Act of 1991. It overturns several Supreme Court decisions and makes it easier for employees to sue employers in cases of discrimination.

1992

Riots in Los Angeles last for three days after four white police officers were acquitted for using excessive force against Rodney G. King. Five people were killed and over 2,000 injured.

1993

Bill Clinton becomes the 42nd president of the United States.

2009

Barack Obama is elected the 44th president of the United States. He is the first African American to be elected president.