Civil Rights Movement Facts
The 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution addressing Civil Rights and Black suffrage were the basis of the Civil Rights movement to ensure the rights of African Americans were equal to those of whites.
The legal case of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka banned the practice of school segregation, overturning the 1896 "separate but equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson.
Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The protests and demonstrations that followed effectively began the Civil Rights Movement from the mid-1950's to the late 1960's
The actions of Rosa Parks led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted for eighteen months between 1955 - 1957. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was run by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to end segregation on the Montgomery buses.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was formed in 1957 and Dr Martin Luther King became president of the SCLC which aimed at eliminating the practice of segregation and to encourage African Americans to exercise their Civil Rights and register to vote. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was passed into law to ensure that all African Americans could exercise their right to vote.
The 1957 Little Rock Nine crisis occured when nine black students were refused admission to the racially segregated Little Rock Central High school. President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in the National Guard to enforce integration in the face of violent white opposition to the de-segregation of schools.
Elijah Muhammad became the leader of the Nation of Islam that advocated black nationalism, black separatism and the creation of a separate black nation in America. The most famous follower of Elijah Muhammad was Malcolm X and its members were referred to as Black Muslims. Cassius Clay became a minister of the Nation of Islam in 1964 and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed 1960 by Civil Rights activist Ella Baker. The purpose of the SNCC was to assist student activists and organize 'Sit-ins' throughout the southern states. Ella Baker later became a leader of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) and her name became synonymous with the Black Freedom Movement.
The 1960 Greensboro sit-ins by students in North Carolina resulted in a massive boycott of stores with segregated lunch counters.
The black and white Freedom Riders began their bus rides in May 1961 to test whether transport was integrated or segregated. The first Freedom Riders were violently attacked but the media coverage it attracted encouraged hundreds more Freedom Riders to follow their example.
In 1962 Civil Rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, was evicted from her home because she had registered to vote.. She went on to become one of the leaders of the 1964 Freedom Summer Campaign that aimed to get as many African-American voters as possible to register to vote in Mississippi
The failed attempt by James Meredith to register at the segregated University of Mississippi led to Mississippi race riots on the "Ole Miss" campus and the nearby town of Oxford resulting in two deaths and 75 injuries.
Dr. Martin Luther King led a massive peace protest in 1963, called the Birmingham Campaign, which ended in violence when demonstrators were attacked by white supremacists. MLK was arrested and wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 attracted over 250,000 people protesting for civil rights legislation and the elimination of racial segregation in jobs and public schools. Martin Luther King made the famous "I have a dream" speech to the crowds who had gathered.
Martin Luther King met with President John Kennedy who gave his full support to the civil rights movement. JFK sent a comprehensive civil rights bill to Congress on June 19, 1963 banning segregation and discrimination based on race, nationality, or gender but was assassinated on November 22, 1963 before it was signed into law.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The 1964 Civil Rights Act banned discrimination, ended racial segregation, and protected the voting rights of minority groups.
Malcolm X had been excluded from the Nation of Islam by Elijah Muhammad. In 1964 Malcolm X founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which advocated black identity but held that racism, not the white race, was the greatest enemy of African Americans. Malcolm X was assassinated by Nation of Islam members on February 21, 1965.
The first Selma March, organized by SNCC leader John Lewis, was held on March 7, 1965 to highlight the voting issue. The march was met with extreme violence at the hands of state troopers and the incident became known as "Bloody Sunday". The first Selma Freedom March was followed by widespread demonstrations across the U.S. and on 25 March 1965 Martin Luther King continued the protest by leading another march from Selma.
Following the Selma Freedom March, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law on August 6, 1965. The purpose of the the Voting Rights Act was to safeguard the right to vote of Black Americans and banned the use of literacy tests in the voting process.
The Watts Riots erupted in Los Angeles on Wednesday, August 11, 1965 and resulted in 34 deaths, over 1,000 injuries, nearly 4,000 arrests, and the destruction of property valued at $40 million. Other race riots followed in 1967 including the Newark Riots and the Detroit Riots.
Stokely Carmichael coined the black nationalism rallying slogan, "Black Power" at a 1966 rally in Greenwood, Mississippi. The Black Power fist salute was made by the African-American athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
The Black Panther Party which was founded in 1966 by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton who were impatient with the progress made by the peaceful reformers in the Civil Rights Movement. The Black Panther Party maintained that that violent revolution would be the only means to achieve success in the liberation of African Americans.
The peace loving preacher Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated by white supremacist James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968. News of the MLK Assassination shocked the world and in the U.S. it fueled the growth of the Black Power movement and the Black Panther Party. Violent riots broke out in major cities across the United States terrifying the nation.
The End of the Civil Rights Movement began with the death of Dr. Martin Luther King. This, together with the destruction and violence of the race riots and the actions of Black revolutionaries such as the Black Panthers, effectively ended the Civil Rights Movement.
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