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A Virtual Tour of the National Civil Rights Movement

The United States of America has undergone a number of changes in the 200+ years the country has been in existence. For a country that once believed that slavery was acceptable, the movement to have all people be treated equally has been one of the biggest changes.

The Civil Rights movement has had a number of milestones in the 20th century that bolstered equal rights for all people regardless of race.

Here is a timeline of major events in civil rights history:

  • 1948: President Truman signs Executive Order 9981 which gives equal rights and treatment of all people in the military without regards to race, national origin and other factors.
  • 1954: Brown vs the Topeka Board of Education decision was reached by the Supreme Court. The ruling was that segregation in schools was unconstitutional. This landmark decision led to integrating previously all white schools throughout the country.
  • 1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat and go to the back of the bus in Montgomery Alabama. She was subsequently arrested which led to a bus boycott in Montgomery for more than one year, until desegregation of the buses occurs.
  • 1957: Nine black students are barred from entering a previously all-white school in Little Rock Arkansas. The government becomes involved and demands that the "Little Rock Nine" be allowed to attend school.
  • 1960: Four black students are refused service at a segregated North Carolina Woolworth's counter. This leads to non-violent protests throughout the south that raises awareness and alleviates further segregation at Woolworth's.
  • 1961: Freedom riders who were primarily college students, begin taking bus trips through the South to test out the new laws that prohibit segregation in interstate travel facilities, which included bus and railway stations. Several attacks occurred on the riders along the route.
  • 1962: Riots and violence accompanies the first black student to be enrolled at the University of Mississippi, prompting the government to send troops to maintain order.
  • 1963: Martin Luther King is arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Alabama. Fire hoses and police dogs are used on black protesters in Birmingham, and images are displayed on television prompting outrage around the country. Mississippi's NAACP field secretary, 37-year-old Medgar Evers, is murdered outside his home. Martin Luther King gives his "I Have A Dream" speech at the March on Washington.
  • 1964: Civil rights groups launch a massive effort to register black voters during what becomes known as the Freedom Summer. President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin.
  • 1965: Malcolm X, a black nationalist and the founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, is shot to death. Blacks begin a march to Montgomery in support of voting rights but are stopped at the Pettus Bridge in Selma Alabama by a police blockade where 50 marchers are hospitalized after an attack by the police. The attack is known as Bloody Sunday and is an event that will be studied in criminal justice schools for years to come. Congress passes the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for Southern blacks to register to vote. Race riots break out in the Watts section of Los Angeles. President Johnson issues Executive Order 11246, which enforces affirmative action for the first time.
  • 1966: The Black Panthers are founded.
  • 1967: Stokely Carmichael, a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), coins the phrase "black power" in a speech in Seattle. The Supreme Court rules that prohibiting interracial marriage is unconstitutional.
  • 1968: April 4th, Martin Luther King is shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee. President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.
  • 1971: The Supreme Court upholds busing as a way to achieve integrated schools.
  • 1988: Congress passes the Civil Rights Restoration Act, which expands the reach of non-discrimination laws within private institutions receiving federal funds.
  • 1991: President Bush signs the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which strengthens existing civil rights laws.

Over the course of the past 50 years, the United States of America has made great strides in providing equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, color, religion or national origin. Today, the barriers that blacks faced generations ago have been removed - never to return.