The American Civil Rights movement that spanned from 1954 to 1968 was a series of social activities whose goal was to end racial segregation and racial discrimination against African Americans. Some of the key events in Civil Rights Movement were –
1. May 17, 1954- In the Spring of 1951, black students in Virginia protested their unequal status in the state’s segregated educational system. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously agreeing that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. The ruling paved the way for large-scale desegregation. The decision overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that the “separate but equal” standard in general was unconstitutional. It was a victory for NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall, who later returned to the Supreme Court as the nation’s first black justice.
2. August 1955-Fourteen-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till, an African-American boy was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois, visiting his relatives in Money, Mississippi. Two white men, J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, were arrested for the murder and acquitted by an all-white jury. They later boasted about committing the murder in a Look magazine interview. The case became a cause for the civil rights movement.
3. September 1957-(Little Rock, Ark.) Little Rock, Arkansas, was in a relatively progressive Southern state. A crisis erupted, however, when President Eisenhower called out the National Guard on September 4 to prevent entry to the nine African-American students who had sued for the right to attend an integrated school, Little Rock Central High School. The nine students had been chosen to attend Central High because of their excellent grades. These students were then known as Little Rock Nine.
4. August 28, 1963-A. Philip Randolph and Martin Luther King decided to have a march protest in Washington DC. The march was a collaborative effort of all of the major civil rights organizations, the more progressive wing of the labor movement, and other liberal organizations. The march was a success with an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 demonstrators where Martin Luther King delivered his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech.
5. July 2, 1964-President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Proposed initially by President Kennedy, the Civil Rights Act banned discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin in employment practices and public accommodations. The law also provided the federal government with the powers to enforce desegregation such as authority to file lawsuits to enforce the new law.