Timeline of the African American Civil Rights Movement
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- See also Encyclopedia Britannica's Guide to Black History for an international view.
This is a timeline of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
(Information in this section primarily taken from Slavery in Colonial United States.)
- unknown - The colony of Saint Augustine in Florida became the first permanent European settlement in America, and included an unknown number of African slaves.
- unknown - The first record of African slavery in English Colonial America.
- unknown - John Casor, a black man, became the first legally-recognized slave-for-life in the Virginia colony.
- unknown - Virginia law defined that children of enslaved mothers followed the status of their mothers and were considered slaves, regardless of their father's status.
- unknown - Both free and enslaved African Americans fought in Bacon's Rebellion along with English colonists.
1700 - 1799
- unknown - The Virginia Slave codes defined as slaves all those servants brought into the colony who were not Christian in their original countries, as well as those Indians sold to colonists by other Indians.
- April 6 - The New York Slave Revolt of 1712, one of the first of many such rebellions (see the article).
- September 9 - In the Stono Rebellion, South Carolina slaves gathered at the Stono River to plan an armed march for freedom.
- unknown - Jupiter Hammon has a poem printed, becoming the first published African-American poet.
- March 5 - Crispus Attucks is killed by British soldiers in the Boston Massacre, a precursor to the American Revolution.
- unknown - Phyllis Wheatley has her book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral published.
- - The first black Baptist congregations were organized in the South: Silver Bluff Baptist Church, SC and First African Baptist Church near Petersburg, VA.
- April 14 - The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully held in Bondage holds four meetings. Re-formed in 1784 as the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, Benjamin Franklin would later be its president.
1776-1783 American Revolution
- Thousands of enslaved African Americans in the South escaped to British or Loyalist lines, as they were promised freedom if they fought with the British. In South Carolina, 25,000 enslaved African Americans, one-quarter of those held, escaped to the British. After the war, many African Americans left with the British for England; others went with other Loyalists to Canada and settled in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Still others went to Jamaica and the West Indies.
- Many free blacks in the North fought with the colonists for the rebellion.
- July 8 - The Constitution of Vermont (a sovereign nation at the time) abolishes slavery, the first future state to do so (Pennsylvania was the first then-U.S.-state to do so, in 1780).
- July 13 - The Northwest Ordinance bans the expansion of slavery into U.S. territories north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River.
1790-1810 Manumission of slaves
- - Following the Revolution, in the Upper South numerous slaveholders freed their slaves; the percentage of free blacks rose dramatically from less than one to 10 percent. By 1810, 75 percent of all blacks in Delaware were free, and 7.2 percent of blacks in Virginia were free.
- February - Major Andrew Ellicott hires Benjamin Banneker to assist in a survey of the boundaries of the 100-square-mile federal district that would later become the District of Columbia.
- March 14 - Eli Whitney is granted a patent on the cotton gin. This enabled the widespread cultivation and processing of short-staple cotton, dramatically increasing the need for enslaved labor, and leading to development of King Cotton in the Deep South. It led to the forced migration of one million slaves to the area in the antebellum period, mostly by internal slave trade.
- July - Two independent black churches opened in Philadelphia, PA: the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, with Absalom Jones, and the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, with Richard Allen, the first church of what would become a new black denomination in 1816.
1800 – 1859
- unknown - first Black Codes enacted.
- August 30 - Gabriel Prosser's attempt to lead a slave rebellion in Richmond, Virginia was suppressed.
- unknown - Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves
- January 1 - The importation of slaves into the United States is banned; this is also the earliest day under the United States Constitution that an amendment could be made restricting slavery.
- unknown - The first separate black denomination of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) is founded by Richard Allen, who was elected its first bishop.
- unknown - The American Colonization Society is begun by Robert Finley, to send free African Americans to what is to become Liberia in Africa.
- March 6 - The Missouri Compromise allowed for the entry as states of Maine and Missouri, and decided which future states slavery would be allowed in.
- unknown - The British West Africa Squadron's slave trade suppression activities were assisted by forces from the United States Navy, starting in 1820 with the USS Cyane. With the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, the relationship was formalised and they jointly ran the Africa Squadron.
- unknown - African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church officially formed.
- September - David Walker begins publication of the abolitionist pamphlet Walker's Appeal.
- unknown - William Lloyd Garrison begins publication of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator.
- August - Nat Turner leads the most successful slave rebellion in U.S. history. The rebellion is suppressed, but only after many deaths.
- unknown - The American Anti-Slavery Society. an abolitionist society, is founded by William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur Tappan. Frederick Douglass becomes a key leader of the society.
- unknown - The Liberty Party broke away from the American Anti-Slavery Society due to grievances with William Lloyd Garrison's leadership.
- unknown - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842), that states did not have to offer aid in the hunting or recapture of slaves, greatly weakening the fugitive slave law of 1793.
- June 1 - Isabella Baumfree, a former slave, changes her name to Sojourner Truth and begins to preach for the abolition of slavery.
- August - Henry Highland Garnet delivers his famous speech Call to Rebellion.
- unknown - Frederick Douglass begins publication of the abolitionist newspaper the North Star.
- unknown - Joseph Jenkins Roberts of Virginia becomes the first president of Liberia.
- unknown - Roberts v. Boston seeks to end racial discrimination in Boston public schools.
- unknown - Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery to Philadelphia, and begins helping other slaves to escape via the Underground Railroad.
- September 18 - As part of the Compromise of 1850, Congress passes the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 which requires any federal official to arrest anyone suspected of being a runaway slave.
- December - Clotel; or, The President's Daughter is the first novel published by an African-American.
- unknown - John Mercer Langston is one of the first African Americans elected to public office when elected as a town clerk in Ohio
- May 21 - The Sacking of Lawrence, Kansas in Bleeding Kansas.
- May 25 - John Brown, whom Abraham Lincoln called a "misguided fanatic", retaliates for Lawrence's sacking in the Pottawatomie Massacre.
- unknown - Wilberforce University was founded by collaboration between Methodist Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal representatives.
- March 6 - In Dred Scott v. Sandford, the Supreme Court upholds slavery. This decision is regarded as a key cause of the American Civil War.
- unknown - Harriet E. Wilson writes the autobiographical novel Our Nig.
- unknown - in Ableman v. Booth the Supreme Court of the United States held that state courts cannot issue rulings that contradict the decisions of federal courts, thus upholding the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
1860 – 1874
- April 12 - The American Civil War begins (secessions began in December, 1860), and lasts until April 9, 1865. Tens of thousands of enslaved African Americans of all ages escaped to Union lines for freedom. Contraband camps were set up in some areas, where blacks started learning to read and write. Others traveled with the Union Army. By the end of the war, more than 180,000 African Americans, mostly from the South, fought with the Union Army and Navy as members of the US Colored Troops and sailors.
- May 2 - The first North American military unit with African-American officers was the 1st Louisiana Native Guard of the Confederate Army (disbanded in February 1862).
- August 6 - The first of the Confiscation Acts authorized the confiscation of any Confederate property, including all slaves who fought or worked for the Confederate military. The second act in mid-1862 extended this.
- March 13 - Act Prohibiting the Return of Slaves
- September 22 - Announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, after the Battle of Antietam, to go into effect January 1, 1863.
- January 1 - The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect.
- January 31 - U.S. Army commissions the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, a combat unit made up of escaped slaves.
- May 22 - U.S. Army recruits United States Colored Troops. (The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment would be featured in the critically acclaimed late 20th c. movie Glory.
- July - Irish ethnic protests against the draft in New York City turned into riots against blacks - the so-called Draft Riots.
- April 12 - The Battle of Fort Pillow, which resulted in controversy about whether a massacre of surrendered African-American troops was conducted or condoned.
- March 3 - Congress passes the bill that forms the Freedman's Bureau.
- December 18 - The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishes slavery in the U.S.
- unknown - Shaw Institute was founded in Raleigh, NC, as the first historically black college (HBCU) in the South.
- unknown - Atlanta College founded.
- unknown - Every southern state passed Black Codes that restricted the Freedmen, who were emancipated but not yet full citizens.
- April 9 - Civil Rights Act of 1866 passed by Congress over Johnson's presidential veto. All persons born in the United States are now citizens.
- unknown - Ku Klux Klan is formed in Pulaski, Tennessee, made up of white Confederate veterans; it became a paramilitary insurgent group to enforce white supremacy.
- July - New Orleans white Citizens riot against blacks.
- September 21 - The U.S. Army regiment of Buffalo Soldiers (African Americans) formed.
- unknown - The Second Freedmen's Bureau Act would have provided longer enforcement of rights for freedmen, but it is vetoed by President Andrew Johnson.
- March 2 - Howard University founded in Washington, D.C.
- April 1 - Hampton Institute, an HBCU, founded in Hampton, Virginia.
- July 9 - The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution's Section 1 requires due process and equal protection.
- unknown - Through 1877, whites attacked black and white Republicans to suppress voting. Every election cycle was accompanied by violence, increasing in the 1870s.
- unknown - Elizabeth Keckly publishes Behind the Scenes (or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House).
- February 3 - The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right of male citizens of the United States to vote regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude.
- February 25 - Hiram Rhodes Revels becomes the first black member of the Senate (see African Americans in the United States Congress).
- unknown - Christian Methodist Episcopal Church founded.
- October 10 - Octavius Catto, a civil rights activist, was murdered during harassment of blacks on Election Day in Philadelphia.
- unknown - US Civil Rights Act of 1871 passed, also known as the Klan Act.
- December 11 - P.B.S. Pinchback is sworn in as the first black member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Disputed gubernatorial election in Louisiana caused political violence for more than two years. Both Republican and Democratic governors held inaugurations and certified local officials.
- April 14 - In the Slaughterhouse Cases the Supreme Court votes 5-4 for a narrow reading of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court also discusses dual citizenship: State Citizens and U.S. Citizens.
- Easter, the Colfax Massacre - More than 100 blacks in Red River area of Louisiana were killed when attacked by white militia after defending Republicans in local office - continuing controversy from gubernatorial election.
- Coushatta Massacre - Republican officeholders were run out of town and murdered by white militia before leaving the state - four of six were relatives of a Louisiana state Senator, a northerner who had settled in the South, married into a local family and established a plantation. Five to twenty black witnesses were also killed.
- Founding of paramilitary groups that acted as the "military arm of the Democratic Party": the White League in Louisiana and the Red Shirts in Mississippi, and North and South Carolina. They terrorized blacks and Republicans, turning them out of office, killing some, disrupting rallies, and suppressing voting.
- September - In New Orleans, continuing political violence erupted related to the still-contested gubernatorial election of 1872. Thousands of the White League armed militia marched into New Orleans, then the seat of government, where they outnumbered the integrated city police and black state militia forces. They defeated Republican forces and demanded that Gov. Kellogg leave office. The Democratic candidate McEnery was installed and White Leaguers occupied the capitol, state house and arsenal. This was called the "Battle of Liberty Place". The White League and McEnery withdrew after three days in advance of federal troops arriving to reinforce the Republican state government.
1875 – 1899
- March 1 - Civil Rights Act of 1875 signed.
- unknown - The Mississippi Plan to intimidate Blacks and suppress black voter registration and voting.
- July 8 - The Hamburg Massacre occurs when local people riot against African Americans who were trying to celebrate the Fourth of July.
- varied - White Democrats regained power in many southern state legislatures and passed the first Jim Crow laws.
- unknown - With the Compromise of 1877, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes withdrew federal troops from the South in exchange for being elected President of the United States, causing the collapse of the last three remaining Republican state governments. The compromise formally ended the Reconstruction era of the United States.
- spring - Thousands of African Americans refused to live under segregation in the South and migrated to Kansas. They became known as Exodusters.
- unknown - In Strauder v. West Virginia, the Supreme Court rules that African Americans could not be excluded from juries.
- During the 1880s, African Americans in the South reached a peak of numbers in being elected and holding local offices, even while white Democrats were working to assert control at state level.
- April 11 - Spelman Seminary founded as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary.
- July 4 - Booker T. Washington opens the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (HBCU) in Tuskegee, Alabama.
- A biracial populist coalition achieved power in Virginia (briefly). The legislature founded the first public college for African Americans, Virginia State University (as it is now known), as well as the first mental hospital for African Americans, both near Petersburg, Virginia. The hospital was established in December 1869, at Howard's Grove Hospital, a former Confederate unit, but was moved to a new campus in 1882.
- unknown - In Civil Rights Cases, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Act of 1875 as unconstitutional.
- unknown - Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published, featuring the admirable African-American character Jim.
- unknown - Judy W. Reed, of Washington, DC, and Sarah E. Goode, of Chicago, were the first African-American women inventors to receive patents. Signed with an "X", Reed's patent no. 305,474, granted September 23, 1884, is for a dough kneader and roller. Goode's patent for a cabinet bed, patent no. 322,177, was issued on July 14, 1885. Goode, the owner of a Chicago furniture store, invented a folding bed that could be formed into a desk when not in use.
- unknown - Ida B. Wells sued the Chesapeake, Ohio & South Western Railroad Company for its use of segregated "Jim Crow" cars.
- Norris Wright Cuney, becomes the chairman of the Texas Republican Party, the most powerful role held by any African American in the South during the 19th century.
- October 3 - The State Normal School for Colored Students, which would become Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, is founded.
- Mississippi, with a white Democrat-dominated legislature, passed a new constitution that effectively disfranchised most blacks through voter registration and electoral requirements, e.g., poll taxes, residency and literacy tests. This shut them out of the political process, including service on juries and in local offices.
- By 1900 two-thirds of the farmers in the bottomlands of the Mississippi Delta were African Americans who cleared and bought land after the Civil War.
- unknown - Ida B. Wells published her pamphlet Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.
- September 18 - Booker T. Washington delivered his Atlanta Compromise address at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia.
- unknown - * W. E. B. Du Bois is the first African-American to be awarded a Ph.D by Harvard University.
- May 18 - In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court upheld de jure racial segregation of "separate but equal" facilities. (see Jim Crow laws for historical discussion).
- unknown - The National Association of Colored Women is formed by the merger of smaller groups.
- unknown - As one of the earliest Black Hebrew Israelites in the United States, William Saunders Crowdy re-establishes the Church of God and Saints of Christ.
- unknown - George Washington Carver is invited by Booker T. Washington to head the Agricultural Department at what would become Tuskegee University. His work would revolutionize farming - he found about 300 uses for peanuts.
- unknown - Louisiana enacted the first state-wide grandfather clause that provided exemption forilliterate whites to voter registration literacy test requirements.
- unknown - In Williams v. Mississippi the Supreme Court upheld the voter registration and election provisions of Mississippi's constitution because they applied to all citizens. Effectively, however, they disenfranchised blacks and poor whites. The result was that other southern states copied these provisions in their new constitutions and amendments through 1908, disfranchising most African Americans and tens of thousands of poor whites until the 1960s.
1900 – 1924
- Since the Civil War, 30,000 African-American teachers had been trained and put to work in the South. The majority of blacks had become literate.
- unknown - Booker T. Washington's autobiography Up From Slavery is published.
- unknown - Benjamin Tillman, Senator of South Carolina, commented on Theodore Roosevelt's dining with Booker T. Washington: “The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that nigger will necessitate our killing a thousand niggers in the South before they learn their place again.”
- September - W. E. B. Du Bois's article The Talented Tenth published.
- unknown - W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal work The Souls of Black Folk is published.
- May 15 - Sigma Pi Phi, the first African-American Greek-letter organization, was founded by African-American men as a professional organization, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- unknown - Orlando, Florida hires its first black postman.
- July 11 - First meeting of the Niagara Movement, an interracial group to work for civil rights.
- unknown - The Brownsville Affair, which eventually involves President Roosevelt.
- December 4 - African-American men founded Alpha Phi Alpha at Cornell University, the first intercollegiate fraternity for African-American men.
- unknown - National Primitive Baptist Convention of the U.S.A. formed.
- December 26 - Jack Johnson won the World Heavyweight Title.
- Alpha Kappa Alpha - At Howard University, African-American college women founded the first college sorority for African-American women.
- February 12 - Planned first meeting of group which would become the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an interracial group devoted to civil rights. The meeting actually occurs on May 31, but February 12 is normally cited as the NAACP's founding date.
- May 31 - The National Negro Committee meets and is formed; it will be the precursor to the NAACP.
- May 30 - The National Negro Committee chooses "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People" as its organization name.
- September 29 - Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes formed; the next year it will merge with other groups to form the National Urban League.
- unknown - The NAACP begins publishing The Crisis.
- unknown - The Moorish Science Temple of America, a religious organization, is founded by Noble Drew Ali (Timothy Drew).
- Newly elected president Woodrow Wilson ordered physical re-segregation of Federal workplaces and employment after nearly 50 years of integrated facilities.
- February 8 - The Birth of a Nation is released to movie theaters. The NAACP protested in cities across the country, convincing some not to show the film.
- June 21 - In Guinn v. United States, the Supreme Court rules against grandfather clauses used to deny Blacks the vote.
- September 9 - Professor Carter Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in Chicago, Illinois.
- unknown - A schism from the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. forms the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc..
- January - Professor Carter Woodson and The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History begins publishing the Journal of Negro History, the first academic journal devoted to the study of African-American history.
- March 23 - Marcus Garvey arrives in the U.S. (see Garveyism).
- unknown - Los Angeles, California hires country's first black female police officer.
- unknown - Great Migration begins and lasts until 1940. Approximately one and a half million African-Americans move from the Southern United States to the North and Midwest. More than five million migrated in the Second Great Migration from 1940-1970, which included more destinations in California and the West.
- May-June - East St. Louis Riot
- unknown - Orlando's first black doctor open practice
- summer - Red Summer of 1919 riots: Chicago, Washington, DC; Knoxville, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Indiana, etc.
- September 28 - Omaha Race Riot of 1919, Nebraska.
- October 1-5 - Elaine Race Riot, Phillips County, Arkansas. Numerous blacks were convicted by an all-white jury or pleaded guilty. In Moore v. Dempsey (1923), the Supreme Court overturned six convictions for denial of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.
- February 13 - Negro National League (1920–1931) established.
- unknown - Fritz Pollard and Bobby Marshall are the first two African-American players in the National Football League (NFL). Pollard goes on to become the first African-American coach in the NFL.
- May 23 - Shuffle Along was the first major African American hit musical on Broadway.
- May 31 - Tulsa Race Riot, Oklahoma
- unknown - Bessie Coleman became the first African American to earn a pilot's license.
- January 1 – 7 Rosewood massacre: Six African Americans and two whites die in a week of violence when white woman in Rosewood, Florida claims she was beaten and raped by a black man.
- February 19 - In Moore v. Dempsey, the Supreme Court holds that mob-dominated trials violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- unknown - Jean Toomer's novel Cane is published.
- unknown - Spelman Seminary becomes Spelman College.
1925 – 1949
- spring - American Negro Labor Congress founded.
- August 8 - 35,000 Ku Klux Klan members march in Washington, D.C. (see List of protest marches on Washington, D.C.).
- unknown - Countee Cullen publishes his first collection of poems in Color.
- unknown - Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters organized.
- unknown - The Harlem Renaissance was named after the anthology The New Negro, edited by Alain Locke (also known as the New Negro Movement).
- unknown - The Harlem Globetrotters founded.
- unknown - Historian Carter G. Woodson proposes Negro History Week.
- unknown - Claude McKay's Home to Harlem wins the Harmon Gold Award for Literature.
- unknown - The League of United Latin American Citizens, the first organization to fight for the civil rights of Hispanic Americans, is founded in Corpus Christi, Texas.
- unknown - John Hope becomes president of Atlanta University. Graduate classes are offered in liberal arts subjects, making Atlanta University the first predominately black university to offer graduate education.
- unknown - The League of Struggle for Negro Rights was founded in New York City.
- unknown - Jessie Daniel Ames formed the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching. She got 40,000 white women to sign a pledge against lynching and for change in the South.
- March 25 - Scottsboro Boys arrested. All are later freed, pardoned or paroled. The film Heaven's Fall was made about the incident.
- unknown - Walter Francis White becomes the executive secretary of the NAACP.
- unknown - The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male begins.
- unknown - Wallace D. Fard, leader of the Nation of Islam, mysteriously disappears. He is succeeded by Elijah Muhammad.
- June 18 - In Murray v. Pearson, Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston of the NAACP successfully argued the landmark case in Maryland to open admissions to the University of Maryland School of Law on the basis of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.
- unknown - Zora Neale Hurston, authors the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God
- unknown - Southern Negro Youth Congress founded.
- Easter Sunday - Marian Anderson performs on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. at the instigation of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt after the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall and the District of Columbia Board of Education declined a request to use the auditorium of a white public high school.
- unknown - Billie Holiday first performs Strange Fruit in New York City. The song, a protest against lynching written by Abel Meeropol under the pen name Lewis Allan, became a signature song for Holiday.
- The Little League is formed, becoming the nation's first non-segregated youth sport.
- August 21 - Five African-American men recruited and trained by African-American attorney Samuel Wilbert Tucker conducted a sit-in at the then-segregated Alexandria, VA library and were arrested after being refused library cards.
1940s to 1970
- Second Great Migration - In multiple acts of resistance, more than 5 million African Americans left the violence and segregation of the South for jobs, education, and the chance to vote in northern, midwestern and California cities.
- February 12 - In Chambers v. Florida, the Supreme Court frees three Black men who were coerced into confessing to a murder.
- October 25 - Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. promoted to be the first African-American general in the U.S. Army.
- unknown - Richard Wright authors Native Son
- unknown - NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is formed.
- January 25 - A. Philip Randolph proposes a March on Washington, effectively beginning the March on Washington Movement.
- early 1941 - U.S. Army forms African-American air combat units, the Tuskegee Airmen.
- June 25 - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issues Executive Order 8802, the "Fair Employment Act", to require equal treatment and training of all employees by defense contractors.
- Six non-violence activists in the Fellowship of Reconciliation — Bernice Fisher, James Russell Robinson, George Houser, James Farmer, Jr., Joe Guinn and Homer Jack — found the Committee on Racial Equality, which becomes Congress of Racial Equality.
- unknown - Doctor Charles R. Drew's achievements were recognized when he became the first African-American surgeon to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery.
- unknown - Lena Horne stars in the all African-American film Stormy Weather
- April 3 - In Smith vs. Allwright, the Supreme Court ruled the whites-only Democratic Party primary in Texas was unconstitutional.
- April 25 - United Negro College Fund was incorporated.
- July 17 - Port Chicago disaster, which led to the Port Chicago mutiny.
- November 7 - Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was elected to U.S. House of Representatives from Harlem, New York.
- unknown - Miami, Florida hires its first black police officers.
- August - Ebony (magazine)'s first issue.
- unknown - Freeman Field Mutiny, where Black officers attempt to desegregate an all-white officers club.
- June 3 - In Morgan v. Virginia, the US Supreme Court invalidates provisions of the Virginia Code which require the separation of white and colored passengers where applied to interstate bus transport. The state law is unconstitutional insofar as it is burdening interstate commerce - an area of federal jurisdiction.
- unknown - In Florida, Daytona Beach, DeLand, Sanford, Fort Myers, Tampa, and Gainesville all have black police officers. So does Little Rock, Arkansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio in Texas; Richmond, Virginia; Chattanooga and Knoxville in Tennessee
- unknown - Renowned actor/singer Paul Robeson founds the American Crusade Against Lynching
- April 9 - The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sends 16 men on the Journey of Reconciliation.
- April 15 - Jackie Robinson plays his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black baseball player in professional baseball in 60 years.
- unknown - John Hope Franklin authors the non-fiction book From Slavery to Freedom
- January 12 - In Sipuel v. Board of Regents of Univ. of Okla., the Supreme Court rules that the State of Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma Law School could not deny admission based on race ("color").
- May 3 - In Shelley v. Kraemer, the Supreme Court rules that the government could not enforce racially restrictive covenants, and asserts that they were in conflict with the nation's public policy.
- July 12 - Hubert Humphrey makes a controversial speech in favor of American civil rights at the Democratic National Convention
- July 26 - President Harry S. Truman issues Executive Order 9981 ordering the end of segregation in the Armed Forces.
- unknown - Atlanta hires its first black police officers.
1950 – 1959
- For more detail during this period, see Freedom Riders website chronology
- June 5 - In McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents the Supreme Court rules that a public institution of higher learning could not provide different treatment to a student solely because of his race.
- June 5 - In Sweatt v. Painter the Supreme Court rules that a separate-but-equal Texas law school was actually unequal, partly in that it deprived black students from the collegiality of future white lawyers.
- June 5 - In Henderson v. United States the Supreme Court abiolished segregation in railroad dining cars.
- The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is created in Washington, DC to promote the enactment and enforcement of effective civil rights legislation and policy.
- unknown - Orlando, Florida hires its first black police officers.
- unknown - Dr. Ralph Bunche wins the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize.
- unknown - Chuck Cooper, Nathaniel Clifton and Earl Lloyd broke the barriers into the NBA.
- April 23 - High school students in Farmville, Virginia go on strike: the case Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County is heard by the Supreme Court in 1954 as part of Brown v. Board of Education.
- July 26 - The United States Army high command announces it will desegregate the Army.
- December 24 - Home of NAACP activists Harry and Harriette Moore in Mims, Florida is bombed by KKK group; both die of injuries.
- January 28 - Briggs v. Elliott: after a District Court orders separate but equal school facilities in South Carolina, the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case as part of Brown v. Board of Education.
- April 1 - Chancellor Collins J. Seitz finds for the black plaintiffs (Gebhart v. Belton, Belton v. Bulah) and orders the integration of Hockessin elementary and Claymont High School in Delaware based on assessment of "separate but equal" public school facilities required by the Delaware constitution.
- September 4 - Eleven black students attend the first day of school at Claymont High School, Delaware, becoming the first black students in the 17 segregated states to integrate a white public school. The day occurred without incident or notice by the community.
- September 5 - The Delaware State Attorney General informs Claymont Superintendent Stahl that the black students will have to go home because the case is being appealed. Stahl, the School Board and the faculty refuse and the students remain. The two Delaware cases are argued before the Warren US Supreme Court by Redding, Greenberg and Marshall and are used as an example of how integration can be achieved peacefully. It was a primary influence in the Brown v. Board case. The students become active in sports, music and theater. The first two black students graduated in June 1954 just one month after the Brown v. Board case.
- unknown - Ralph Ellison authors the novel Invisible Man which wins the National Book Award. The 1991 TV-movie Separate But Equal re-enated the case.
- August 13 - Executive Order 10479 signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower establishes the anti-discrimination Committee on Government Contracts.
- September 1 - In the landmark case Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company, WAC Sarah Keys, represented by civil rights lawyer Dovey Roundtree, becomes the first black to challenge "separate but equal" in bus segregation before the Interstate Commerce Commission.
- unknown - James Baldwin's semi-autobiographical novel Go Tell It on the Mountain published.
- May 3 - In Hernandez v. Texas, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Mexican Americans and all other racial groups in the United States are entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
- May 17 - The Supreme Court rules against the "separate but equal" doctrine in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans. and in Bolling v. Sharpe, thus overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.
- July 11 - The first White Citizens' Council meeting takes place, in Mississippi.
- November - Charles Diggs,Jr. of Detroit, Michigan is elected to Congress, the first African American elected from Michigan.
- Frankie Muse Freeman was the lead attorney for the landmark NAACP case Davis et al. v. the St. Louis Housing Authority, which ended legal racial discrimination in public housing with the city. Constance Baker Motley was also an attorney for NAACP: it was a rarity to have two women attorneys leading such a high-profile case.
- January 7 - Marian Anderson (of 1939 fame) became the first African American to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera.
- January 15 - President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10590, establishing the President's Committee on Government Policy to enforce a nondiscrimination policy in Federal employment.
- May 7 - NAACP activist Reverend George W. Lee is killed in Belzoni, Mississippi.
- May 31 - The Supreme Court rules in "Brown II" that desegregation must occur with "all deliberate speed".
- June 29 - The NAACP wins a Supreme Court decision, ordering the University of Alabama to admit Autherine Lucy.
- August 13 - Registration activist Lamar Smith is murdered in Brookhaven, Mississippi.
- August 28 - Teenager Emmett Till is killed for whistling at a white woman in Money, Mississippi.
- November 7 - Interstate Commerce Commission bans bus segregation in interstate travel in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company, extending the logic of Brown v. Board to the area of bus travel across state lines.
- December 1 - Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus, starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This occurred nine months after 15-year old high school student Claudette Colvin became the first to refuse to give up her seat. Colvin's was the legal case which eventually ended the practice in Montgomery.
- unknown - Roy Wilkins becomes the NAACP executive secretary.
- February 3 - Autherine Lucy is admitted to the University of Alabama. Whites riot, and she is suspended. Later, she is expelled for her part in further legal action against the university.
- February 24 - The policy of Massive Resistance is declared by U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr..
- February/March- The Southern Manifesto opposing integration of schools, was created and signed by members of the Congressional delegations of Southern states, including 19 Senators and 81 members of the House of Representatives, notably the entire delegations of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia. On March 12, it was released to the press.
- April 10 - singer Nat King Cole was assaulted during a segregated performance at Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama.
- May 26 - Circuit Judge Walter B. Jones issued an injunction prohibiting the NAACP from operating in Alabama.
- May 28 - The Tallahassee, Florida bus boycott begins.
- June 5 - the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) was founded at a mass meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.
- November 5 - Nat King Cole hosts the first show of The Nat King Cole Show. The show went off the air after only 13 months because no national sponsor could be found.
- November 13 - In Browder v. Gayle, the Supreme Court strikes down Alabama laws requiring segregation of buses. This ruling, together with the ICC's 1955 ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach banning Jim Crow in bus travel among the states, is a landmark in outlawing Jim Crow in bus travel.
- December 25 - The parsonage occupied by Birmingham, Alabama movement leader Fred Shuttlesworth was bombed. Shuttlesworth received only minor scrapes.
- December 26 - The ACMHR tested the Browder v. Gayle ruling by riding in the white sections of Birmingham, Alabama city busses. 22 demonstrators were arrested.
- unknown - Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission formed.
- unknown - Director J. Edgar Hoover orders the FBI to begin the COINTELPRO program to investigate and disrupt "dissident" groups within the United States.
- January - Southern Christian Leadership Conference formed. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is named chairman of the organization.
- May 17 - The Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, DC is the at that time largest non-violent demonstration for civil rights.
- September 4 - Orville Faubus, governor of Arkansas, calls out the National Guard to block integration of Little Rock Central High School.
- September - President Dwight Eisenhower federalized National Guard and also ordered US Army troops to ensure Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas is integrated. Federal and National Guard troops escort the Little Rock Nine.
- September 27 - Civil Rights Act of 1957 signed by President Eisenhower.
- June 29 - Bethel Baptist Church (Birmingham, Alabama) was bombed by Ku Klux Klan members.
- June 30 - In NAACP v. Alabama, the Supreme Court ruled that the NAACP was not required to release membership lists to continue operating in the state.
- August - Clara Luper and the NAACP Youth Council conduct the largest successful sit-in to this date, on drug store lunch-counters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This starts a successful six-year campaign by Luper and the Council to desegregate businesses and related institutions in Oklahoma City.
- September 12 - In Cooper v. Aaron the Supreme Court rules that the states were bound by the Court's decisions.
- unknown - Publication of Here I Stand, Paul Robeson's manifesto-autobiography.
- January 12 - Motown Records is founded by Berry Gordy.
- April 24 - Mack Charles Parker lynched three days before his trial.
- unknown - A Raisin in the Sun, a play by Lorraine Hansberry, debuts on Broadway. The 1961 film of it will star Sidney Poitier.
1960 – 1969
- For more detail during this period, see Freedom Riders website chronology
- February 1 - Four black students sit at the Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, sparking six months of the Greensboro Sit-Ins.
- February 13 - The Nashville, Tennessee Sit-in begins, although the Nashville students, trained by activist and nonviolent teacherJames Lawson, had been doing preliminary groundwork towards the action for two months. The sit in ends successfully in May.
- February 17 - Alabama grand jury indicts Martin Luther King (MLK) for tax evasion.
- February 20 - Virginia Union University students stage sit-in at Woolworth's lunch counter in Richmond.
- March 3 - Vanderbilt University expels James Lawson for sit-in participation.
- March 7 - Felton Turner of Houston beaten and hanged upside-down in a tree, initials KKK carved on his chest.
- March 19 - San Antonio, Texas becomes first city to integrate lunch counters.
- March 20 - Florida Governor Leroy Collins calls lunch counter segregation “unfair and morally wrong.”
- April 8 - Weak civil rights bill survives Senate filibuster.
- April 15-17 - The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is formed in Raleigh, North Carolina.
- April 19 - Z. Alexander Looby's home is bombed, with no injuries. Looby, a Nashville civil rights lawyer, was active in the cities ongoing sit-in movement.
- May - Nashville sit-ins end successfully.
- May 6 - Civil Rights Act of 1960 signed by President Dwight Eisenhower.
- May 28 - All-white Alabama jury acquits MLK.
- June 24 - MLK meets Senator John F. Kennedy (JFK).
- June 28 - Bayard Rustin resigns from SCLC after condemnation by Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr..
- July 11 - To Kill a Mockingbird published.
- July 31 - Elijah Muhammad calls for an all-black state. Membership in Nation of Islam estimated at 100,000.
- August - Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker replaces Ella Baker as SCLC’s Executive Director.
- October 19 - MLK and fifty others arrested at sit-in at Atlanta’s Rich’s Department Store.
- October 26 - MLK’s earlier probation revoked; he was transferred to Reidsville State Prison.
- October 28 - After intervention from Robert F. Kennedy (RFK), King is free on bond.
- November 8 - John F. Kennedy defeats Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election.
- December 5 - In Boynton v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court holds that racial segregation in bus terminals is illegal because such segregation violates the Interstate Commerce Act. This ruling, in combination with the ICC's 1955 decision in Keys v. Carolina Coach, effectively outlaws segregation on interstate buses and at the terminals servicing such buses.
- January 11 - Rioting over court-ordered admission of first two African Americans (Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter-Gault) at the University of Georgia leads to their suspension, but they are ordered reinstated.
- January 31 - Member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and nine students arrested in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
- March 6 - President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order 10925, which establishes a Presidential committee that later becomes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- May 4 - The first group of Freedom Riders, with the intent of integrating interstate buses, leaves Washington, D.C. by Greyhound bus. The group, organized by the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE), leaves shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court has outlawed segregation in interstate transportation terminals.
- May 14 - The Freedom Riders' bus is attacked and burned outside of Anniston, Alabama. A mob beats the Freedom Riders upon their arrival in Birmingham, Alabama. The Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, and spend forty to sixty days in Parchman Penitentiary.
- May 17 - Nashville students, coordinated by Diane Nash and James Bevel, take up the Freedom Ride, signaling the increased involvement of SNCC.
- May 20 - Freedom Riders are assaulted in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Greyhound Bus Station.
- May 21 - MLK, the Freedom Riders, and congregation of 1,500 at Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s First Baptist Church in Montgomery are besieged by mob of segregationists; Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sends federal marshals to protect them.
- May 29 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, citing the 1955 landmark ICC ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company and the Supreme Court's 1960 decision in Boynton v. Virginia, petitions the ICC to enforce desegregation in interstate travel.
- June-August - U.S. Dept. of Justice initiates talks with civil rights groups and foundations on beginning Voter Education Project.
- July - SCLC begins citizenship classes; Andrew J. Young hired to direct the program. Bob Moses begins voter registration in McComb, Mississippi.
- September - James Forman becomes SNCC’s Executive Secretary.
- September 23 - Interstate Commerce Commission, at Robert F. Kennedy’s insistence, issues new rules ending discrimination in interstate travel, effective November 1, 1961, six years after the ICC's own ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company.
- September 25 - Voter registration activist Herbert Lee killed in McComb, Mississippi.
- November 1 - All interstate buses required to display a certificate that reads: “Seating aboard this vehicle is without regard to race, color, creed, or national origin, by order of the Interstate Commerce Commission.”
- November 1 - SNCC workers Charles Sherrod and Cordell Reagon and nine Chatmon Youth Council members test new ICC rules at Trailways bus station in Albany, Georgia.
- November 17 - SNCC workers help encourage and coordinate black activism in Albany, Georgia, culminating in the founding of the Albany Movement as a formal coalition.
- November 22 - Three high school students from Chatmon’s Youth Council arrested after using “positive actions” by walking into white sections of the Albany bus station.
- November 22 - Albany State College students Bertha Gober and Blanton Hall arrested after entering the white waiting room of the Albany Trailways station.
- December 10 - Freedom Riders from Atlanta, SNCC leader Charles Jones, and Albany State student Bertha Gober are arrested at Albany Union Railway Terminal, sparking mass demonstrations, with hundreds of protesters arrested over the next five days.
- December 11-15 - Five hundred protesters arrested in Albany, Georgia.
- December 15 - Dr. King arrives in Albany, Georgia in response to a call from Dr. W. G. Anderson, the leader of the Albany Movement to desegregate public facilities.
- December 16 - Dr. King is arrested at an Albany, Georgia demonstration. He is charged with obstructing the sidewalk and parading without a permit.
- December 18 - Albany truce, including a 60-day postponement of King's trial; MLK leaves town.
- unknown - Whitney Young is appointed executive director of the National Urban League and begins expanding its size and mission.
- unknown - Black Like Me written by John Howard Griffin, a white southerner who deliberately tanned and dyed his skin to allow him to directly experience the life of the Negro in the Deep South, is published, displaying the brutality of Jim Crow segregation to a national audience.
- January 18-20 - Student protests over sit-in leaders’ expulsions at Baton Rouge’s Southern University, the nation’s largest black school, close it down.
- February - Representatives of SNCC, CORE, and the NAACP form the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). A grant request to fund COFO voter registration activities is submitted to the Voter Education Project (VEP).
- February 26 - Segregated transportation facilities, both interstate and intrastate, ruled unconstitutional by U.S. Supreme Court.
- March - SNCC workers sit-in at US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy's office to protest jailings in Baton Rouge.
- March 20 - FBI installs wiretaps on NAACP activist Stanley Levison’s office.
- April 3 - Defense Department orders full racial integration of military reserve units, except the National Guard.
- April 9 - Corporal Roman Duckworth shot by a police officer in Taylorsville, Mississippi.
- June - Leroy Willis becomes first black graduate of the University of Virginia College of Arts and Sciences.
- June - SNCC workers establish voter registration projects in rural Southwest Georgia.
- July 10-August 28 SCLC renews protests in Albany; MLK in jail July 10-12 and July 27-August 10.
- August 31 - Fannie Lou Hamer attempts to register to vote in Indianola, Mississippi.
- September 9 - Two black churches used by SNCC for voter registration meetings are burned in Sasser, Georgia.
- September 20 - James Meredith is barred from becoming the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi.
- September 30-October 1 - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black orders James Meredith admitted to Ole Miss. Meredith enrolls; riot ensues. French photographer Paul Guihard and Oxford resident Ray Gunter are killed.
- October - Leflore County, Mississippi, supervisors cut off surplus food distribution in retaliation against voter drive.
- October 23 – Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) begins Communist Infiltration (COMINFIL) investigation of SCLC.
- October 14-28 – Cuban Missile Crisis.
- November 7-8 – Edward Brooke selected Massachusetts Attorney General, Leroy Johnson elected Georgia State Senator, Augustus Hawkins electedfirst black from California in Congress.
- November 20 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy authorizes FBI wiretap on Stanley Levison’s home telephone.
- November 20 - President John F. Kennedy upholds 1960 campaign promise to eliminate housing segregation by signing Executive Order 11063 banning segregation in Federally funded housing.
- January 18 - Incoming Alabama governor George Wallace calls for "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" in his inaugural address.
- April 3-May 10 - The Birmingham campaign, organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights challenges city leaders and business owners in Birmingham, Alabama with daily mass demonstrations.
- April - Mary Lucille Hamilton, Field Secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality, refuses to answer a judge in Gadsden, Alabama, until she is addressed by the honorific "Miss". It was the custom of the time to address white people by honorifics and people of color by their first names. Hamilton was jailed for contempt of court and refused to pay bail. The case Hamilton v. Alabama was filed by the NAACP It went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in 1964 that courts must address persons of color with the same courtesy extended to whites.
- April 7-Ministers John Thomas Porter, Nelson H. Smith and A. D. King lead a group of 2,000 marchers to protest the jailing of movement leaders in Birmingham.
- April 12- Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested in Birmingham for "parading without a permit".
- April 16 - King's Letter from Birmingham Jail is completed.
- April 23 - CORE activist William L. Moore is killed in Gadsden, Alabama.
- May 2-4 - Birmingham's juvenile court is inundated with African-American children and teenagers arrested after James Bevel launches his "D-Day" youth march, which spans three days to become the Children's Crusade.
- May 9-10 - After images of fire hoses and police dogs turned on protesters are shown on television, the Children's Crusade lays the groundwork for the terms of a negotiated truce on Thursday, May 9 - an end to mass demonstrations in return for rolling back oppressive segregation laws and practices. MLK and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth announce the terms of the settlement on Friday, May 10, only after MLK holds out to orchestrate the release of thousands of jailed demonstrators with bail money from Harry Belafonte and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
- May 13 - In United States of America and Interstate Commerce Commission v. the City of Jackson, Mississippi et al., the United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit rules the city's attempt to circumvent laws desegregating interstate transportation facilities by posting sidewalk signs outside Greyhound, Trailways and Illinois Central terminals reading "Waiting Room for White Only — By Order Police Department" and "Waiting Room for Colored Only — By Order Police Department" to be unlawful.
- June 9 - Fannie Lou Hamer is among several SNCC workers badly beaten by police in the Winona, Mississippi jail after their bus stops there.
- June 11 - "The Stand In The Schoolhouse Door": Alabama Governor George Wallace stands in front of a schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama in an attempt to stop desegregation by the enrollment of two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. Wallace only stands aside after being confronted by federal marshals, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, and the Alabama National Guard. Later in life he apologizes for his opposition to racial integration then.
- June 11 - President John F. Kennedy (JFK) makes his historic civil rights speech, promising a bill to Congress the next week. About civil rights for "Negroes", in his speech he asks for "the kind of equality of treatment which we would want for ourselves."
- June 12 - NAACP worker Medgar Evers is murdered in Jackson, Mississippi. (His killer was convicted in 1994.)
- Summer - 80,000 blacks quickly registered to vote in Mississippi by a test project to show their desire to participate
- June 19 - President Kennedy sends Congress (H. Doc. 124, 88th Cong., 1st session.) his proposed Civil Rights Act.
- August 28 - March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is held. Dr. Martin Luther King gives his I have a dream speech.
- September 10 - Birmingham, Alabama City Schools were integrated by National Guardsmen under orders from JFK.
- September 15 - 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama kills four young girls. That same day, in response to the killings, James Bevel and Diane Nash begin the Alabama Project, which will later grow into the Selma Voting Rights Movement.
- November 22 - President Kennedy is assassinated. The new President, Lyndon Johnson, decides that accomplishing JFK's legislative agenda is his best strategy, which he pursues with the results below in 1964-1965.
- unknown - Sidney Poitier wins the Academy Award for Best Actor.
- All year - The Alabama Voting Rights Project continues organizing as James Bevel, Diane Nash, and James Orange work without the support of SCLC, the group which Bevel represents as its Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education.
- January 23 - Twenty-fourth Amendment abolishes the poll tax for Federal elections.
- Summer - Mississippi Freedom Summer - voter registration in the state. Create the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to elect an alternative slate of delegates for the national convention, as blacks are still officially disfranchised.
- June 21 - Mississippi Civil Rights Workers Murders, three civil rights workers disappear, later to be found murdered.
- June 28 - Organization of Afro-American Unity is founded by Malcolm X, lasts until his death.
- July 2 - Civil Rights Act of 1964 signed.
- August - Congress passes the Economic Opportunity Act which, among other things, provides federal funds for legal representation of Native Americans in both civil and criminal suits. This allows the ACLU and the American Bar Association to represent Native Americans in cases that later win them additional civil rights.
- August - The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegates challenge the seating of all-white Mississippi representatives at the Democratic national convention.
- December 10 - Dr. Martin Luther King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest person so honored.
- December 14 - In Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, the Supreme Court upholds the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- February 18 - A peaceful protest march in Selma leads to Jimmie Lee Jackson being shot to death by Alabama state trooper James Bonard Fowler, who in 2007 is indicted for his murder.
- February 21 - Malcolm X is shot to death in Manhattan, New York, probably by three members of the Nation of Islam.
- March 7 - Bloody Sunday: Civil rights workers in Selma, Alabama begin a march to Montgomery but are stopped by a massive police blockade as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Many marchers are severely injured and one killed. This action, initiated and organized by James Bevel, becomes the visual symbol of the Selma Voting Rights Movement.
- March 15 - President Lyndon Johnson uses the phrase "We shall overcome" in a speech before Congress on the voting rights bill.
- March 25 - White volunteer Viola Liuzzo is shot and killed by Ku Klux Klan members in Mississippi – one of whom was an FBI informant.
- June 2 - Black deputy sheriff Oneal Moore is murdered in Varnado, Louisiana.
- July 2 - Equal Employment Opportunity Commission opens.
- August 6 - Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed by President Johnson.
- August 11 - Watts riots erupt in south Los Angeles.
- September - Raylawni Young Branch and Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong become the first African-American students to attend the University of Southern Mississippi.
- September 15 - Bill Cosby co-stars in I Spy, a first for a black person on American television.
- September 24 - President Johnson signs Executive Order 11246 requiring Equal Employment Opportunity by federal contractors.
- January 10 - NAACP local chapter president Vernon Dahmer is injured by a bomb in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He dies the next day.
- June 5 - James Meredith begins a solitary March Against Fear from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. Shortly after starting, he is shot with birdshot and injured. Civil rights leaders and organizations rally and continue the march leading to, on June 16, Stokely Carmichael first using the slogan Black power in a speech.
- October - Black Panthers founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.
- November - Edward Brooke is elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts. He is the first Black senator since 1881.
- January 9 - Julian Bond is seated in the Georgia House of Representatives by order of the Supreme Court after his election.
- June 12 - In Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court rules that prohibiting interracial marriage is unconstitutional.
- June 13 - Thurgood Marshall is the first African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- August 2 - The movie In the Heat of the Night is released, starring Sidney Poitier.
- December 11 - The movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is released, also with Sidney Poitier.
- unknown - In the trial of accused killers in the Mississippi civil rights worker murders, the jury convicts 7 of 18 accused men. Conspirator Edgar Ray Killen is later convicted in 2005.
- unknown - The movie The Great White Hope starring James Earl Jones released; it is based on the experience of heavyweight Jack Johnson.
- unknown - The book Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools is published.
- February 8 - The Orangeburg Massacre occurs during university protest in South Carolina.
- March - While filming a prime time television special, Petula Clark touches Harry Belafonte's arm during a duet. Chrysler Corporation, the show's sponsor, had insisted the moment be deleted, but Clark stood firm, destroyed all other takes of the song, and delivered the completed program to NBC with the touch intact. The show was broadcast on April 8, 1968.
- April 4 - Dr. Martin Luther King is shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee by James Earl Ray.
- April 11 - Civil Rights Act of 1968 is signed. The Fair Housing Act is Title VIII of this Civil Rights Act - it bans discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing, and completes the 1966 Chicago Open Housing Movement.
- May 12- Poor People's Campaign marches on Washington, DC.
- June 6 - Robert F. Kennedy, a Civil Rights advocate, was assassinated after winning the California presidential primary. His appeal to minorities helped him secure the victory.
- September 17 - Diahann Carroll starred in the title role in Julia, as the first African American actress to star in her own television series where she did not play a domestic worker.
- October 3 - The play The Great White Hope opens; it runs for 546 performances and later becomes a movie.
- October - Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists to symbolize black power and unity after winning the gold and bronze medals, respectively, at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games.
- November 22 - First interracial kiss on American television, between Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner on Star Trek
- unknown - In Powe v. Miles, a federal court holds that the portions of private colleges that are funded by public money are subject to the Civil Rights Act.
- unknown - Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to Congress.
- June - The second of two US federal appeals court decisions not only confirms members of the public hold legal standing to participate in broadcast station license hearings, but under the Fairness Doctrine finds the record of segregationist TV station WLBT beyond repair. The FCC is ordered to open proceedings for a new licensee.
- December - Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party is shot and killed while asleep in bed during a police raid on his home.
- unknown - United Citizens Party is formed in South Carolina when Democratic Party refuse to nominate African-American candidates.
- unknown - W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research founded at Harvard University.
- unknown - The Revised Philadelphia Plan is instituted by the Department of Labor.
- unknown - The Congressional Black Caucus is formed.
1970 – 2000
- January 19 - G. Harrold Carswell's nomination to the Supreme Court rejected.
- May 27 - The film Watermelon Man released, directed by Melvin Van Peebles and starring Godfrey Cambridge.
- unknown - First blaxploitation films released.
- April 20 - The Supreme Court, in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, upholds desegregation busing of students to achieve integration.
- June - Control of segregationist TV station WLBT given to a bi-racial foundation.
- December - Jesse Jackson organizes Operation PUSH.
- unknown - Ernest J. Gaines's Reconstructionist-era novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman published.
- January 25 - Shirley Chisholm became the first major-party African-American candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
- November 16 - In Baton Rouge, two Southern University students are killed by white Sheriff deputies during a school protest over lack of funding from the state. Today, the university’s Smith-Brown Memorial Union is named in their honor.
- February 27 - Start of 71-day standoff at Wounded Knee between federal authorities and members of the American Indian Movement.
- unknown - Combahee River Collective, a Black feminist group, is established in Boston, out of New York's National Black Feminist Organization.
- July 25 - In Milliken v. Bradley, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision holds that outlying districts could only be forced into a desegregation busing plan if there was a pattern of violation on their part. This decision reinforces the trend of white flight.
- Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc Collective, the first "out" organization for lesbians, womanists and women of color formed in New York City
- April 30 - In the pilot episode of Starsky and Hutch, Richard Ward played an African-American boss of White Americans for the first time on TV.
- February - Black History Month is founded by Professor Carter Woodson's Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History.
- unknown - The novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley is published.
- unknown - Combahee River Collective, a Black feminist group, publishes the Combahee River Collective Statement.
- unknown - President Jimmy Carter appointed Andrew Young to serve as Ambassador to the UN, the first African-American to serve in the position.
- June 28 - Regents of the University of California v. Bakke bars racial quota systems in college admissions but affirms the constitutionality of affirmative action programs giving equal access to minorities.
- unknown - United Steelworkers of America v. Weber is a case regarding affirmative action in which the United States Supreme Court held that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not bar employers from favoring women and minorities.
- unknown - Charles Fuller writes A Soldier's Play, which is later made into the film A Soldier's Story.
- November 30 - Michael Jackson releases Thriller, which has become the best-selling album of all time.
- May 24 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Bob Jones University did not qualify as either a tax-exempt or a charitable organization due to its racially discriminatory practices.
- August 30 - Guion Bluford becomes the first African-American to go into space.
- November 2 -President Ronald Reagan signs a bill creating a federal holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King.
- September 13 - The film A Soldier's Story is released, dealing with racism in the U.S. military.
- unknown - The Cosby Show begins, and is regarded as one of the defining television shows of the decade.
- January 20 - Established by legislation in 1983, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is first celebrated as a national holiday.
- unknown - The Public Broadcasting Service's six-part documentary Eyes on the Prize is first shown, covering the years 1954-1965. In 1990 it is added to by the eight-part Eyes on the Prize II covering the years 1965-1985.
- unknown - Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988.
- December 9 - The movie Mississippi Burning is released, regarding the 1964 Mississippi civil rights worker murders.
- February 10 - Ron Brown is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, becoming the first African American to lead a major United States political party.
- October 1 - Colin Powell becomes Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
- December 15 - The film Glory is released: it features African-American Civil War soldiers.
- January 13 - Douglas Wilder becomes the first elected African American governor as he takes office in Richmond, Virginia.
- March 3 - four white police officers are videotaped beating African-American Rodney King in Los Angeles.
- October 15 - Senate confirms the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.
- November 21 - Civil Rights Act of 1991 enacted.
- unknown - Henry Louis Gates, Jr. becomes Harvard University's Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.
- April 29 - 1992 Los Angeles riots erupt after officers accused of beating Rodney King are acquitted.
- September 12 - Mae Carol Jemison became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
- November 3 - Carol Moseley Braun became the first African American woman to be elected to the United States Senate.
- November 18 - Director Spike Lee's film X on Malcolm X is released. 
- June 30 - In Miller v. Johnson the Supreme Court ruled that gerrymandering based on race was unconstitutional.
- October 16 - Million Man March in Washington, D.C., co-initiated by Louis Farrakhan and James Bevel.
- July 9 - Director Spike Lee releases his documentary 4 Little Girls about the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.
- October 25 - Million Woman March in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- June 7 - James Byrd, Jr. was brutally murdered by white supremacists in Jasper, Texas. The scene was reminiscent of earlier lynchings. In response, Byrd's family created the James Byrd Foundation for Racial Healing.
- October 23 - The film American History X is released, powerfully highlighting the problems of urban racism
- May 3 - The Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist South Carolina private institution, ended its ban on interracial dating.
- June 23 - Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger upholds the University of Michigan Law School's admission policy. However, in the simultaneously-heard Gratz v. Bollinger the University is required to change a policy.
- June 21 - Edgar Ray Killen is convicted of participating in the Mississippi civil rights worker murders.
- October 15 - the Millions More Movement holds a march in Washington D.C.
- October 25 - Rosa Parks dies at the age of 92. She was famous for starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. Her body lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. before her funeral.
- May 10 - Alabama state trooper James Bonard Fowler indicted for the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson on February 18, 1965.
- June 28 - Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 decided along with Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education prohibits assigning students to public schools solely for the purpose of achieving racial integration and declines to recognize racial balancing as a compelling state interest.
- June 3 - Barack Obama receives enough delegates by the end of state primaries to be the presumptive Democratic Party of the United States nominee.
- August 28 - At the 2008 Democratic National Convention, in a stadium filled with supporters, Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
- November 4 - Barack Obama elected 44th President of the United States of America, opening his victory speech with, "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."
- January 20 - Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, the first African-American ever to hold that office.
- January 30 - Former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael S. Steele becomes Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
- unknown - The U.S. Postal Service issues a commemorative six-stamp set portraying twelve civil rights pioneers.
- October 9 - Barack Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- American Civil Rights Movement (1896-1954)
- American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)
- African American history
- Baseball color line
- Big Six (civil rights)
- Birmingham Civil Rights District
- Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
- Black Panther Party
- Black pride
- Black school
- California Proposition 209 (1996)
- Capital punishment in the United States
- Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights
- Civil Rights anthem
- Civil Rights Memorial
- Civil rights movement, an intenational view
- Civil Rights Movement in Omaha, Nebraska
- Civil rights movement veterans, an on-line organization
- Equal Protection Clause
- Free Soil Party
- Freedom Schools
- Hate crime laws in the United States
- History of slavery in the United States
- Human rights in the United States
- Institutional racism
- International Civil Rights Center and Museum
- Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
- Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
- Nation of Islam
- National Civil Rights Museum
- Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America
- Racial profiling, see also Driving While Black
- Racial segregation in the United States
- Racism in the United States
- Voting rights in the United States
- Wednesdays in Mississippi
- African American literature section on Civil Rights Movement Literature
- Harlem Renaissance
- Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution
- Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights
- The Fire Next Time, 1963, by James Baldwin
- The Nigger Bible, 1967, foreword by Dick Gregory
- The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South (1972)
- Soul on Ice, 1968, by Eldridge Cleaver
- White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era
- African Americans in the United States Congress
- Interstate Commerce Commission
- List of landmark African-American legislation
- Office for Civil Rights
- Office of Civil Rights
- President's Committee on Civil Rights
- United States Commission on Civil Rights
- United States House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
- United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution
- List of civil rights leaders
- List of 19th-century African-American civil rights activists
- List of opponents of slavery
- List of segregationists during the American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)
- Reverend Ralph Abernathy, 1950's-1960's activist and organizer
- Benjamin Banneker, author and surveyor
- Marion Barry, mayor
- Daisy Bates, activist
- James Bevel, 1960's activist and organizer
- Tom Bradley, mayor
- H. Rap Brown, Black Panther
- Shirley Chisholm, politician
- Bull Connor, infamous police official in Birmingham, Alabama during the 1950s and 1960s
- Curtis Cooper, president of the NAACP's Savannah Branch
- Angela Davis, activist
- David Dinkins, politician
- Bernice Fisher, union organizer
- James Forman, activist
- A. G. Gaston, businessperson
- Wilton Daniel Gregory, Roman Catholic bishop and prelate
- Richard G. Hatcher, mayor
- Benjamin Hooks, civil rights leader
- Reverend Jesse Jackson, politician and activist, candidate for President
- Maynard Jackson, mayor
- Martin Luther King, Jr., 1950's-1960's activist and organizer
- Bernard Lafayette, 1960's activist and organizer
- Reverend James Lawson, advocate of non-violent protest
- Floyd McKissick, 1960's activist
- Amzie Moore, civil rights leader
- Robert Parris Moses, educator
- Reverend Otis Moss III, minister to inner-city youth
- Diane Nash, 1960's activist and organizer
- James Orange, 1960's activist and organizer
- P. B. S. Pinchback, military officer and politician
- Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state
- Bayard Rustin, 1960's activist
- Cleveland Sellers, 1960's activist
- Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, minister and 1960's activist
- Robert Smalls, escaped slave and politician
- Charles Kenzie Steele, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
- Charles Kenzie Steele, Jr.
- Carl Stokes, mayor
- Harold Washington, politician
- Walter Francis White, essayist and long-time executive secretary of the NAACP
- Roy Wilkins, NAACP organizer
- Robert F. Williams, NAACP organizer
- York of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Other authors and artists
- Maya Angelou, author
- Gwendolyn Brooks, poet
- Alice Childress, playwright and author
- Paul Laurence Dunbar, poet
- Frances Harper, poet
- Harriet Ann Jacobs, author
- Jacob Lawrence, painter
- Walter Mosley, author
- Suzan-Lori Parks, playwright
- Henry Ossawa Tanner, painter
- Lucy Terry first known African American author.
- James Van Der Zee, photographer
- Phillis Wheatley, first published African American
- August Wilson, playwright
- Alvin Ailey
- Louis Armstrong, musician
- Josephine Baker
- Count Basie
- Angela Bassett
- Chuck Berry, essentially invented rock and roll
- Halle Berry
- Buddy Bolden, musician who contributed to jazz
- Godfrey Cambridge
- Ray Charles
- John Coltrane
- Miles Davis
- Ossie Davis
- Sammy Davis, Jr.
- Fats Domino
- Duke Ellington
- Laurence Fishburne
- Ella Fitzgerald
- George Foreman
- Redd Foxx
- Aretha Franklin
- Morgan Freeman
- Danny Glover
- Dickling Gregory
- Jimi Hendrix
- Mahalia Jackson, singer
- Robert Johnson (musician), blues singer and guitarist
- B. B. King
- Eartha Kitt
- Gladys Knight & the Pips
- Little Richard
- Cleavon Little
- Don Mitchell of Ironside (TV series)
- Jelly Roll Morton, pianist and composer, says invented jazz in 1902
- Eddie Murphy, screenwrite, comedian, actor
- Leontyne Price, opera diva
- Diana Ross and The Supremes
- Nipsey Russell
- Bessie Smith
- Cicely Tyson
- Denzel Washington
- Muddy Waters
- Clarence Williams III of The Mod Squad
- Demond Wilson
- Oprah Winfrey
- Stevie Wonder
- Hank Aaron
- Muhammad Ali
- Arthur Ashe
- Ernie Banks
- Bob Beamon
- Barry Bonds
- James "Cool Papa" Bell
- Lou Brock
- Jim Brown
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Julius Erving
- Joe Frazier
- Althea Gibson
- Kareem Abdul Jabbar
- Jack Johnson, heavyweight boxer
- Magic Johnson
- Michael Jordan
- Florence Griffith Joyner
- Jackie Joyner Kersee
- Carl Lewis
- Joe Louis
- Willie Mays
- Donovan McNabb
- Willie O'Ree
- Satchel Paige
- Sugar Ray Robinson
- Wilma Rudolph
- Bill Russell
- Mike Tyson
- Venus Williams
- John Woodruff
- Tiger Woods
- ^ "The American Revolution and Slavery", Digital Historyaccessed 5 Mar 2008
- ^ Peter Kolchin, American Slavery: 1619-1877, New York: Hill and Wang, pp.78 and 81
- ^ PBS documentary
- ^ John C. Willis, Forgotten Time: The Yazoo-Mississippi Delta after the Civil War, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2000
- ^ James D.Anderson, Black Education in the South, 1860-1935, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1988, pp.244-245
- ^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. p. 41. ISBN 0465041957.
- ^ Wolgemuth, Kathleen L. (April 1959). "Woodrow Wilson and Federal Segregation". The Journal of Negro History (Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, Inc.) 44 (2): 158. doi:10.2307/2716036. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2716036?seq=1.
- ^ Blumenthal, Henry (January 1963). "Woodrow Wilson and the Race Question". The Journal of Negro History (Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, Inc.) 48 (1): 1. doi:10.2307/2716642. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2716642?seq=1.
- ^ Angela Y. Davis,Women, Race & Class. New York: Vintage Books, 1983, pp.194-195
- ^ "America's First Sit-Down Strike: The 1939 Alexandria Library Sit-In". City of Alexandria. http://oha.alexandriava.gov/bhrc/lessons/bh-lesson2_reading2.html. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- ^ Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944)
- ^ Morgan v. Virginia, 1946
- ^ The Virginia Center for Digital History
- ^ a b c d The King Center, The Chronology of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. "1961". http://www.thekingcenter.org/mlk/chronology.html. Retrieved 2007-10-20.
- ^ Arsenault, Raymond (2006). Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. Oxford Univ. Press. p. 439. ISBN 0195136748.
- ^ a b c d Branch, Taylor (1988). Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. pp. 527–530. ISBN 978-0-671-68742-7.
- ^ Branch, Taylor (1988). Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. pp. 533–535. ISBN 978-0-671-68742-7.
- ^ Branch, Taylor (1988). Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. pp. 555–556. ISBN 978-0-671-68742-7.
- ^ Branch, Taylor (1988). Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. pp. 756–765. ISBN 978-0-671-68742-7.
- ^ Branch, Taylor (1988). Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. pp. 786–791. ISBN 978-0-671-68742-7.
- ^ UNITED STATES of America and Interstate Commerce Commission v. The CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, Allen Thompson, Douglas L. Lucky and Thomas B. Marshall, Commissioners of the City of Jackson, and W.D. Rayfield, Chief of Police of the City of Jackson, United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit, May 13, 1963.
- ^ Medgar Evers.
- ^ Proposed Civil Rights Act.
- ^ March on Washington.
- ^ a b Loevy, Robert. "A Brief History of the Civil Rights Act of 1964". http://faculty1.coloradocollege.edu/~bloevy/CivilRightsActOf1964. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
- ^ a b Civil Rights Act of 1964
- ^ Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.
- ^ a b c Gavin, Philip. "The History PlaceTM, Great Speeches Collection, Lyndon B. Johnson, “We Shall Overcome”". http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/johnson.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
- ^ When Harry Met Petula
- ^ http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2004/fall/channels-2.html
- ^ Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983)
- ^ CNN: Bob Jones University ends ban on interracial dating
- ^ CNN: Obama: I will be the Democratic nominee
- ^ Newsweek
To the reader : If you arrived at a footnote by clicking on a superscript [b] (or [c]) then click on the superscript b (or c), to return.
- Tullos, Allen. "Selma Bridge: Always Under Construction," Southern Spaces July 28, 2008.
- Detailed year-by-year timeline 1951-1968[dead link]
- University of Southern Mississippi's Civil Rights Documentation Project, includes an extensive Timeline
- Freedom Riders website chronology, extremely detailed
- Civil Rights Timeline, sections on Martin Luther King, Jr.
- 41 Lives for Freedom
- Black baseball firsts
- African-American Pioneers of Texas
- Memphis Civil Rights Digital Archive
- Civil Rights: Pivotal Events - slideshow by Life magazine