The Civil Rights Movement was a long and difficult road for many. Men and women of all colors devoted their lives to equality and changing the way America viewed itself. Throughout the struggle, there were key moments that helped to shape equality for all.
July 26, 1948
On this day President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which states “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” This Executive Order came a little over a year after Jackie Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, which ended the Color Barrier in baseball.
May 17, 1954
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on the famous Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The ruling: Segregation in all public schools is unconstitutional. This was a huge victory for the Civil Rights Movement as desegregated schools affected the common person and the next generation.
Dec. 1, 1955
In Montgomery, Alabama a female member of the NAACP was asked to give up her seat on the bus for a white passenger. This woman was of course Rosa Parks, one of the most famous names associated with civil rights. Parks was arrested for her defiance. In response, the black community boycotted the bus system. It took a little over a year until finally the buses became desegregated.
The same year Martin Luther King, Jr. helped established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas blocked nine black students from entering, an order that came down from Governor Orval Faubus. An even higher power, President Dwight Eisenhower intervened. Eisenhower sent federal troops to help what would later become known as the “Little Rock Nine” get into the school.
Aug. 28, 1963
Months after being arrested for his involvement in a nonviolent anti-segregation rally, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood in Washington, D.C., where he delivered one of the most famous speeches in history. Approximately 200,000 people joined Dr. King for the March on Washington, which culminated in the “I Have A Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
Throughout the rest of the decade, the United States government continued to make legislative changes. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Executive Order 11246 all took place before Dr. King’s death on April 4, 1968. A week after his death, progress continued as the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was passed.
Civil Rights Timeline