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Chasing the Dream Exploring Black History

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Author Myrlie Evers-Williams is a trailblazer as an activist for civil rights

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Timeline of the Civil Rights Movement, 1850-1970

February 1, 2001
Web posted at: 10:03 PM EST (0303 GMT)

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Dred Scott: Supreme Court ruled that African-Americans, free or enslaved, were not citizens of the United States and could not sue in Federal Courts.


Union forces defeat Confederates in the Battle of New Orleans.


13th Amendment: Abolition of Slavery.


14th Amendment: Citizenship and Civil Rights for African-Americans.


15th Amendment: Suffrage (Voting Rights) for African-American men.


Battle of Liberty Place: White League takes City Hall; later dislodged by federal troops.


Tennessee segregates railroad cars, followed by Florida (1887); Mississippi (1888); Texas (1889); Louisiana (1890); Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Georgia (1891); South Carolina (1898); North Carolina (1899); Virginia (1900); Maryland (1904); and Oklahoma (1907).


Booker T. Washington delivered his famous "Atlanta Compromise" address: Says the "Negro problem" would be solved by a policy of gradualism and accommodation.


Plessy vs. Ferguson: Supreme Court decides that "separate but equal" facilities satisfy 14th Amendment guarantees, thus giving legal sanction to "Jim Crow" segregation laws.


New Louisiana state constitution prohibits most African-Americans from voting.


Streetcars segregated.


W. E. B. Du Bois publishes The Souls of Black Folk: calls for agitation on behalf of African-American rights.


Jack Johnson becomes the first African-American heavyweight champion.


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is formed to promote use of the courts to restore the legal rights of African-Americans.


Federal segregation. Wilson administration begins government-wide segregation of work places, rest-rooms and lunch rooms.


Corpus Christi established: first segregated Catholic church in downtown New Orleans.


City ordinance passed mandating racial segregation in New Orleans' housing.


African-American Jesse Owens rebuffs Hitler's claims of White supremacy by capturing four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.


Brown vs. Board of Education: Supreme Court bans school segregation. First "White Citizens" council forms in Mississippi in response to Supreme Court's Brown decision.


Montgomery Bus Boycott starts when Rosa Parks refuses to give seat up to a White passenger. Boycott brings 26-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., to national prominence. Emmett Till, a Chicago youth visiting relatives in the South, is murdered by Whites, who are then acquitted by an all-White jury.


President Eisenhower sends in the National Guard to enforce integration of Little Rock's Central High School in the face of violent White opposition. Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) forms, with Martin Luther King, Jr., as president.


Nashville students stage the biggest, most effective sit-in demonstrations to date and succeed in integrating lunch counters in downtown. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) forms.


In New Orleans, school integration is enforced by the federal government after the legislature closes the public school system. Black students of the Consumer League of Greater New Orleans lead a picket of White-owned businesses that refuse to hire Black employees.

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) members are arrested during a sit-in at Woolworth's lunch counter in downtown New Orleans.


Wilma Rudolph wins three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics, first American woman to do so.


"Freedom Rides" to desegregate southern bus terminals.


James Meredith becomes the first African-American to enroll at the University of Mississippi. White protesters riot. Federal troops sent in to quash riots.


The initial phase of integration takes place in public and private schools in New Orleans. New Orleans merchants integrate lunch counters and remove racial signs from toilets and drinking fountains. Tulane University admits its first Black students.


SCLC, led by King, attacks Birmingham's discriminatory practices. Thousands of young students are arrested and brutalized by Birmingham police dogs and water cannons. Medgar Evers, Mississippi NAACP leader, is assassinated.

President Kennedy gives first presidential address in support of Civil Rights. March on Washington. MLK delivers "I Have A Dream Speech."


Freedom Summer Project brings hundreds of volunteers to Mississippi to aid in voter registration. Three Civil Rights volunteers - James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner - participating in Freedom Summer are murdered by Whites.

President Johnson signs Civil Rights Act of 1964.

King is awarded Nobel Peace Prize.


In Bogalusa, LA, protest marchers are subjected to police brutality and gunfire attacks from segregationists. The U.S. Department of Justice intervenes to set up peace negotiations.


Over a three month period, Civil Rights activities intensify in Selma, Alabama. White police authorities beat and arrest demonstrators, causing national outcry. King, under federal protection, leads triumphant march from Selma to state capitol in Montgomery.

Voting Rights Act signed into law by President Johnson. President announces on national television: "We shall overcome."

Malcolm X assassinated at Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, NY. The most devastating racial uprising to date explodes in Watts area of Los Angeles, CA.


Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinated in Memphis, TN.

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