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					                                                                               southern custom of the time. In response
                                                                               to her arrest the Montgomery black
          Ethnic Literature, Ms. Raupers
                                                                               community launches a bus boycott,
                   TB15, x3415
                                                                               which will last for more than a year,
                                                                               until the buses are desegregated Dec. 21,
                                                                               1956. As newly elected president of the
                                                                               Montgomery Improvement Association
               Civil Rights Timeline                                           (MIA), Reverend Martin Luther King,
   Milestones in the modern civil rights movement                              Jr., is instrumental in leading the
by Borgna Brunner and Elissa Haney
                          May 17                                            Martin Luther King, Charles K. Steele,
                          The Supreme Court rules on the                    and Fred L. Shuttlesworth establish the
                          landmark case Brown v. Board of                                          Southern Christian
                          Education of Topeka, Kans.,                                              Leadership
                          unanimously agreeing that                                                Conference, of
                          segregation in public schools is                                         which King is made
                 unconstitutional. The ruling paves the                                            the first president.
                 way for large-scale desegregation. The                                            The SCLC becomes
1954                                                                                               a major force in
                 decision overturns the 1896 Plessy v.
                 Ferguson ruling that sanctioned                            organizing the civil rights movement
                 "separate but equal" segregation of the                    and bases its principles on nonviolence
                 races, ruling that "separate educational                   and civil disobedience. According to
                 facilities are inherently unequal." It is a                King, it is essential that the civil rights
                 victory for NAACP attorney Thurgood                        movement not sink to the level of the
                 Marshall, who will later return to the                     racists and hatemongers who oppose
                 Supreme Court as the nation's first black                  them: "We must forever conduct our
                 justice.                                                   struggle on the high plane of dignity and
                                                                            discipline," he urges.
                 Fourteen-year-old Chicagoan Emmett
                 Till is visiting family in Mississippi               Sept.
                                       when he is                              (Little Rock, Ark.) Formerly all-white
                                       kidnapped, brutally                     Central High School learns that
                                       beaten, shot, and                       integration is easier said than done. Nine
                                       dumped in the                           black students are blocked from entering
                                       Tallahatchie River                      the school on the orders of Governor
                                       for allegedly                           Orval Faubus. President Eisenhower
                                       whistling at a white                    sends federal troops and the National
                                       woman. Two white                        Guard to intervene on behalf of the
1955             men, J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, are                          students, who become known as the
                 arrested for the murder and acquitted by                      "Little Rock Nine."
                 an all-white jury. They later boast about
                 committing the murder in a Look                      Feb. 1
                 magazine interview. The case becomes a                        (Greensboro, N.C.) Four black students
                 cause célèbre of the civil rights                             from North Carolina Agricultural and
                 movement.                                                     Technical College begin a sit-in at a
        Dec. 1                                                 1960            segregated Woolworth's lunch counter.
                 (Montgomery, Ala.) NAACP member                               Although they are refused service, they
                 Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at                     are allowed to stay at the counter. The
                 the front of the "colored section" of a                       event triggers many similar nonviolent
                 bus to a white passenger, defying a                           protests throughout the South. Six
               months later the original four protesters                 uses fire hoses and police dogs on black
               are served lunch at the same                              demonstrators. These images of
               Woolworth's counter. Student sit-ins                      brutality, which are televised and
               would be effective throughout the Deep                    published widely, are instrumental in
               South in integrating parks, swimming                      gaining sympathy for the civil rights
               pools, theaters, libraries, and other                     movement around the world.
               public facilities.                                  June 12
       April                                                             (Jackson, Miss.) Mississippi's NAACP
               (Raleigh, N.C.) The Student Nonviolent                    field secretary, 37-year-old Medgar
               Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is                          Evers, is murdered outside his home.
               founded at Shaw University, providing                     Byron De La Beckwith is tried twice in
               young blacks with a place in the civil                            1964, both trials resulting in hung
               rights movement. The SNCC later grows                             juries. Thirty years later he is
               into a more radical organization,                                 convicted for murdering Evers.
               especially under the leadership of
               Stokely Carmichael (1966–1967).
                                                                                 Aug. 28
       May 4                                                                     (Washington, D.C.) About
               Over the spring and summer, student                               200,000 people join the March on
               volunteers begin taking bus trips through                  Washington. Congregating at the
               the South to test out new laws that                        Lincoln Memorial, participants listen as
               prohibit segregation in interstate travel                  Martin Luther King delivers his famous
               facilities, which includes bus and                         "I Have a Dream" speech.
               railway stations. Several of the groups of          Sept. 15
1961           "freedom riders," as they are called, are                  (Birmingham, Ala.) Four young girls
               attacked by angry mobs along the way.                      (Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley,
               The program, sponsored by The                              Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae
               Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)                         Collins) attending Sunday school are
               and the Student Nonviolent                                 killed when a bomb explodes at the
               Coordinating Committee (SNCC),                             Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a
               involves more than 1,000 volunteers,                       popular location for civil rights
               black and white.                                           meetings. Riots erupt in Birmingham,
                                                                          leading to the deaths of two more black
                      Oct. 1                                              youths.
                      James Meredith becomes the first
                      black student to enroll at the               Jan. 23
                      University of Mississippi.                          The 24th Amendment abolishes the poll
                      Violence and riots surrounding                      tax, which originally had been instituted
                      the incident cause President                        in 11 southern states after
                      Kennedy to send 5,000 federal                       Reconstruction to make it difficult for
                      troops.                                             poor blacks to vote.

       April 16                                                    Summer
              Martin Luther King is arrested and jailed                 The Council of Federated Organizations
              during anti-segregation protests in           1964
                                                                        (COFO), a network of civil rights groups
              Birmingham, Ala.; he writes his seminal                   that includes CORE and SNCC,
              "Letter from Birmingham Jail," arguing                    launches a massive effort to register
1963          that individuals have the moral duty to                   black voters during what becomes
              disobey unjust laws.                                      known as the Freedom Summer. It also
       May                                                              sends delegates to the Democratic
              During civil rights protests in                           National Convention to protest—and
              Birmingham, Ala., Commissioner of                         attempt to unseat—the official all-white
              Public Safety Eugene "Bull" Connor                        Mississippi contingent.
                       July 2                                            of 1965, making it easier for Southern
                       President Johnson signs the Civil                        blacks to register to vote.
                       Rights Act of 1964. The most                             Literacy tests, poll taxes, and
                       sweeping civil rights legislation                        other such requirements that were
                       since Reconstruction, the Civil                          used to restrict black voting are
                       Rights Act prohibits                                     made illegal.
                       discrimination of all kinds based                        Aug. 11–17, 1965
                       on race, color, religion, or                             (Watts, Calif.) Race riots erupt in
                       national origin. The law also                     a black section of Los Angeles.
                provides the federal government with
                the powers to enforce desegregation.
                                                                  Sept. 24, 1965
                                                                         Asserting that civil rights laws alone are
       Aug. 4                                                            not enough to remedy discrimination,
                (Neshoba Country, Miss.) The bodies of                   President Johnson issues Executive
                three civil-rights workers—two white,                    Order 11246, which enforces affirmative
                one black—are found in an earthen dam,                   action for the first time. It requires
                six weeks into a federal investigation                   government contractors to "take
                backed by President Johnson. James E.                    affirmative action" toward prospective
                Chaney, 21; Andrew Goodman, 21; and                      minority employees in all aspects of
                Michael Schwerner, 24, had been                          hiring and employment.
                working to register black voters in
                Mississippi, and, on June 21, had gone                                   Oct.
                to investigate the burning of a black                                    (Oakland, Calif.) The
                church. They were arrested by the police                                 militant Black Panthers
                on speeding charges, incarcerated for                                    are founded by Huey
                several hours, and then released after                                   Newton and Bobby
                dark into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan,   1966                          Seale.
                who murdered them.

                     Feb. 21
                     (Harlem, N.Y.) Malcolm X,
                     black nationalist and founder of
                     the Organization of Afro-                    April 19
                     American Unity, is shot to death.                   Stokely Carmichael, a leader of the
                     It is believed the assailants are                   Student Nonviolent Coordinating
                     members of the Black Muslim                         Committee (SNCC), coins the phrase
             faith, which Malcolm had recently                           "black power" in a speech in Seattle. He
             abandoned in favor of orthodox Islam.                       defines it as an assertion of black pride
                                                                         and "the coming together of black
       March 7
             (Selma, Ala.) Blacks begin a march to                       people to fight for their liberation by any
             Montgomery in support of voting rights                      means necessary." The term's radicalism
             but are stopped at the Pettus Bridge by a     1967          alarms many who believe the civil rights
             police blockade. Fifty marchers are                         movement's effectiveness and moral
             hospitalized after police use tear gas,                     authority crucially depend on nonviolent
             whips, and clubs against them. The                          civil disobedience.
             incident is dubbed "Bloody Sunday" by                June 12
             the media. The march is considered the                      In Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme
             catalyst for pushing through the voting                     Court rules that prohibiting interracial
             rights act five months later.                               marriage is unconstitutional. Sixteen
                                                                         states that still banned interracial
       Aug. 10
             Congress passes the Voting Rights Act                       marriage at the time are forced to revise
              their laws.                                                in decades erupt in south-central Los
       July                                                              Angeles after a jury acquits four white
              Major race riots take place in Newark                      police officers for the videotaped
              (July 12–16) and Detroit (July 23–30).                     beating of African American Rodney
                            April 4
                            (Memphis, Tenn.) Martin               June 23
                            Luther King, at age 39, is                  In the most important affirmative action
                            shot as he stands on the                    decision since the 1978 Bakke case, the
                            balcony outside his hotel                   Supreme Court (5–4) upholds the
                            room. Escaped convict                       University of Michigan Law School's
                            and committed racist                        policy, ruling that race can be one of
              James Earl Ray is convicted of the           2003         many factors considered by colleges
              crime.                                                    when selecting their students because it
                                                                        furthers "a compelling interest in
                                                                        obtaining the educational benefits that
       April 11                                                         flow from a diverse student body."
              President Johnson signs the Civil Rights
              Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination                    (See also: Affirmative Action Timeline.)
              in the sale, rental, and financing of
              housing.                                            June 21
                                                                        The ringleader of the Mississippi civil
       April 20                                                         rights murders (see Aug. 4, 1964), Edgar
              The Supreme Court, in Swann v.               2005         Ray Killen, is convicted of manslaughter
              Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of                            on the 41st anniversary of the crimes.
              Education, upholds busing as a                      October 24
              legitimate means for achieving                            Rosa Parks dies at age 92.
1971          integration of public schools. Although
              largely unwelcome (and sometimes                    January 30
              violently opposed) in local school           2006         Coretta Scott King dies of a stroke at age
              districts, court-ordered busing plans in                  78.
              cities such as Charlotte, Boston, and
              Denver continue until the late 1990s.               February
                                                                        Emmett Till's 1955 murder case,
       March 22                                                         reopened by the Department of Justice in
            Overriding President Reagan's veto,                         2004, is officially closed. The two
            Congress passes the Civil Rights                            confessed murderers, J. W. Milam and
1988        Restoration Act, which expands the                          Roy Bryant, were dead of cancer by
            reach of non-discrimination laws within                     1994, and prosecutors lacked sufficient
            private institutions receiving federal         2007         evidence to pursue further convictions.
            funds.                                                May 10
                                                                        James Bonard Fowler, a former state
       Nov. 22                                                          trooper, is indicted for the murder of
              After two years of debates, vetoes, and                   Jimmie Lee Jackson 40 years after
              threatened vetoes, President Bush                         Jackson's death. The 1965 killing lead to
              reverses himself and signs the Civil                      a series of historic civil rights protests in
              Rights Act of 1991, strengthening                         Selma, Ala.
              existing civil rights laws and providing
              for damages in cases of intentional
              employment discrimination.

       April 29
              (Los Angeles, Calif.) The first race riots

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