Explore Significant Dates in the Movement

1951
Apr 23

Walkout at Robert Russa Moton High School

Walkout at Robert Russa Moton High School

Sixteen-year-old Barbara Johns leads a student walkout of Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia, in protest of the school’s poor conditions.

1954
May 14

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. begins his pastorate at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

May 17

Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brown v. Board of Education that American public schools should integrate.

1955
Aug 28

Emmett Till’s Murder

Emmett Till’s Murder

Emmett Till’s funeral and murder trial electrify the civil rights community.

Dec 01

Rosa Park’s Arrested

Rosa Park’s Arrested

Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus.

1956
Aug 27

First Day of Class at Newly Integrated Clinton High School

First Day of Class at Newly Integrated Clinton High School

A group of African-American students – the Clinton 12 – attended their first day of class at Clinton High School, marking the first integration of a public high school in the South.

Dec 20

Desegregation of Public Buses

Desegregation of Public Buses

Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. and the U.S. District Court in Alabama strike down the legality of segregated bus seating. The Montgomery Bus Boycott ends after 12 months.

Dec 25

Bethel Baptist Church

Bethel Baptist Church

The home of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, civil rights leader and pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, is bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.

1957
Feb 14

Formation of SCLC

Formation of SCLC

Dr. King is named president of the newly formed Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Sep 09

Civil Rights Act of 1957

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1957 into law.

Sep 25

Little Rock Central High School

Little Rock Central High School

Little Rock Nine are blocked from entering Central High School by the Arkansas National Guard, and then escorted in by the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

1960
Feb 01

Greensboro Sit-Ins

Greensboro Sit-Ins

Four black students stage the first sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Feb 13

Nashville Sit-Ins

Nashville Sit-Ins

Under the training of activist James Lawson, students begin nonviolent sit-ins in Nashville, Tennessee.

Apr 19

House Bombing Protest Ends at the Davidson County Courthouse

House Bombing Protest Ends at the Davidson County Courthouse

A bomb thrown at civil rights attorney Z. Alexander Looby’s house set off a protest in Nashville. The protest ended at the Davidson County Courthouse and in response to protestor questions, the mayor conceded that segregation was immoral and that the city’s lunch counters should be integrated.

Jul 25

Integration of Woolworth’s Lunch Counter

Integration of Woolworth’s Lunch Counter

Staff at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, serve their first black customers.

Nov 14

William Frantz Elementary

William Frantz Elementary

Six-year-old Ruby Bridges becomes the first black student to attend William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dec 05

Boynton v. Virginia

The United States Supreme Court holds that racial segregation of bus terminals is illegal in that it violates the Interstate Commerce Act.

1961
May 01

Freedom Rides

Freedom Rides

Freedom Riders are attacked by angry mobs across the South, including in the Alabama cities of Anniston, Birmingham and Montgomery.

1962
Sep 30

Desegregation of the University of Mississippi

Desegregation of the University of Mississippi

Desegregation sparks a violent riot on the University of Mississippi campus after Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black orders Ole Miss to admit James Meredith, a black student, to the university.

1963
Apr 03

The Birmingham Campaign

The Birmingham Campaign

Organized by the SCLC and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, the Birmingham Campaign protests segregation in the city with daily gatherings and demonstrations. Protesters are arrested and attacked with tear gas, fire hoses and police dogs.

Apr 16

“Letter From Birmingham Jail”

Dr. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” is issued to the public.

Jun 11

Stand in the Schoolhouse Door

Stand in the Schoolhouse Door

Alabama Gov. George Wallace stands in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama to prevent the registration and enrollment of African-American students.

Jun 12

Medgar Evers’ Murder

Medgar Evers’ Murder

NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers is shot in front of his Jackson, Mississippi, home. He dies in a hospital a short time later.

Aug 28

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Dr. King delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech before 200,000 civil rights supporters in Washington, D.C.

Sep 15

Bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church

Bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church

16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham is bombed, killing four young girls

Nov 22

President Kennedy’s Assassination

1964
May 01

Freedom Summer

Freedom Summer

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party forms in April, leading to a large-scale push for voter registration and education in Mississippi.

Jul 02

President Lyndon Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act of 1964 Into Law

Dec 10

Dr. King Receives Nobel Peace Prize

1965
Mar 07

Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday

Marchers for voting rights crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge are met with violence on “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama.

Mar 25

“How Long, Not Long”

“How Long, Not Long”

Marchers from across the country successfully complete the journey from Selma to Montgomery, where Dr. King delivers his famous “How Long, Not Long” speech at the state Capitol.

Aug 06

President Johnson Signs Voting Rights Act of 1965 Into Law, Guaranteeing Equal Voting Rights for African-Americans

1967
Oct 02

Thurgood Marshall Swearing In

Thurgood Marshall Swearing In

Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

1968
Feb 12

Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

Sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, go on strike to protest unfair working conditions for African-American employees.

Apr 04

Dr. King’s Assassination

Dr. King’s Assassination

Dr. King is assassinated in Memphis.

Apr 11

President Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act of 1968 Into Law, Prohibiting Discrimination in Housing

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