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SCLC

The very beginnings of the SCLC can be traced back to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Montgomery Bus Boycott began on December 5, 1955 after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on the bus. The boycott lasted for 381 days and ended on December 21, 1956, with the desegregation of the Montgomery bus system.

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Our Executive Team

Civil Rights Timeline

Milestones in the modern civil rights movement
Exit the Flintstones Enter The Jetson's

July 26, 1948

Executive Order 9981

President Truman signs 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."

May 17, 1954

Brown v. Board of Education

The Supreme Court rules on the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans., unanimously agreeing that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. The ruling paves the way for large-scale desegregation. The decision overturns the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that sanctioned "separate but equal" segregation of the races, ruling that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." It is a victory for NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall, who will later return to the Supreme Court as the nation's first black justice.

August 1955

Emmett Till

Fourteen-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till is visiting family in Mississippi when he is kidnapped, brutally beaten, shot, and dumped in the Tallahatchie River for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Two white men, J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, are arrested for the murder and acquitted by an all-white jury. They later boast about committing the murder in a Look magazine interview. The case becomes a cause célèbre of the civil rights movement.

Rosa Parks

Dec 1, 1955

(Montgomery, Ala.) NAACP member Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the "colored section" of a bus to a white passenger, defying a southern custom of the time. In response to her arrest the Montgomery black community launches a bus boycott, which will last for more than a year, until the buses are desegregated Dec. 21, 1956. As newly elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., is instrumental in leading the boycott.

Jan-Feb 1957

The SCLC becomes Major Force

Martin Luther King, Charles K. Steele, and Fred L. Shuttlesworth establish the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, of which King is made the first president. The SCLC becomes a major force in organizing the civil rights movement and bases its principles on nonviolence and civil disobedience. According to King, it is essential that the civil rights movement not sink to the level of the racists and hatemongers who oppose them: "We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline," he urges.

Little Rock Nine

Sept 1957

(Little Rock, Ark.) Formerly all-white Central High School learns that integration is easier said than done. Nine black students are blocked from entering the school on the orders of Governor Orval Faubus. President Eisenhower sends federal troops and the National Guard to intervene on behalf of the students, who become known as the "Little Rock Nine."

Feb 1, 1960

Woolworth's lunch counter.

(Raleigh, N.C.) The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is founded at Shaw University, providing young blacks with a place in the civil rights movement. The SNCC later grows into a more radical organization, especially under the leadership of Stokely Carmichael (1966–1967).

April 1960

Woolworth's lunch counter.

(Greensboro, N.C.) Four black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College begin a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter. Although they are refused service, they are allowed to stay at the counter. The event triggers many similar nonviolent protests throughout the South. Six months later the original four protesters are served lunch at the same Woolworth's counter. Student sit-ins would be effective throughout the Deep South in integrating parks, swimming pools, theaters, libraries, and other public facilities.

May 4, 1961

Freedom Riders

Over the spring and summer, student volunteers begin taking bus trips through the South to test out new laws that prohibit segregation in interstate travel facilities, which includes bus and railway stations. Several of the groups of "freedom riders," as they are called, are attacked by angry mobs along the way. The program, sponsored by The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), involves more than 1,000 volunteers, black and white.

Oct 1, 1962

James Meredith

James Meredith becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Violence and riots surrounding the incident cause President Kennedy to send 5,000 federal troops.

April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King is arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Ala.; he writes his seminal "Letter from Birmingham Jail," arguing that individuals have the moral duty to disobey unjust laws

May 1963

Martin Luther King

During civil rights protests in Birmingham, Ala., Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene "Bull" Connor uses fire hoses and police dogs on black demonstrators. These images of brutality, which are televised and published widely, are instrumental in gaining sympathy for the civil rights movement around the world.

June 12, 1963

Medgar Evers Murdered

(Jackson, Miss.) Mississippi's NAACP field secretary, 37-year-old Medgar Evers, is murdered outside his home. Byron De La Beckwith is tried twice in 1964, both trials resulting in hung juries. Thirty years later he is convicted for murdering Evers.

August 28, 1963

March on Washington.

(Washington, D.C.) About 200,000 people join the March on Washington. Congregating at the Lincoln Memorial, participants listen as Martin Luther King delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

September 15, 1663

Baptist Church Bombing

(Birmingham, Ala.) Four young girls (Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins) attending Sunday school are killed when a bomb explodes at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a popular location for civil rights meetings. Riots erupt in Birmingham, leading to the deaths of two more black youths.

Jan. 23, 1964

Freedom Summer

The 24th Amendment abolishes the poll tax, which originally had been instituted in 11 southern states after Reconstruction to make it difficult for poor blacks to vote. Summer The Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), a network of civil rights groups that includes CORE and SNCC, launches a massive effort to register black voters during what becomes known as the Freedom Summer. It also sends delegates to the Democratic National Convention to protest and attempt to unseat the official all-white Mississippi contingent.

July 2, 1964

Civil Rights Act of 1964

President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin. The law also provides the federal government with the powers to enforce desegregation.

August 4, 1964

Three Civil Rights Workers Murdered by KKK

Neshoba Country, Miss.) The bodies of three civil-rights workers two white, one black,are found in an earthen dam, six weeks into a federal investigation backed by President Johnson. James E. Chaney, 21; Andrew Goodman, 21; and Michael Schwerner, 24, had been working to register black voters in Mississippi, and, on June 21, had gone to investigate the burning of a black church. They were arrested by the police on speeding charges, incarcerated for several hours, and then released after dark into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, who murdered them.

Feb 21, 1965

Malcolm X - Murdered

Malcolm X (Harlem, N.Y.) Malcolm X, black nationalist and founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, is shot to death. It is believed the assailants are members of the Black Muslim faith, which Malcolm had recently abandoned in favor of orthodox Islam.

March 7, 1965

Bloody Sunday

(Selma, Ala.) Blacks begin a march to Montgomery in support of voting rights but are stopped at the Pettus Bridge by a police blockade. Fifty marchers are hospitalized after police use tear gas, whips, and clubs against them. The incident is dubbed "Bloody Sunday" by the media. The march is considered the catalyst for pushing through the voting rights act five months late

August 10 , 1965

Voting Rights Act of 1965

Congress passes the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for Southern blacks to register to vote. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and other such requirements that were used to restrict black voting are made illegal.

Aug 11, 1965

Watts Race riots

Watts, residential section of south central Los Angeles. Named after C. H. Watts, a Pasadena realtor, the section became part of Los Angeles in 1926. Artist Simon Rodia's celebrated Watts Towers are there. Historically an impoverished black ghetto, Watts was the site of six days of race riots in 1965 that claimed 34 lives and caused over $200 million in property damage. Race riots again erupted in 1992 after the acquittal of white police officers who beat a black motorist; 58 people died and approximately $1 billion in property was destroyed.

Sept. 24, 1965

Executive Order 11246

Asserting that civil rights laws alone are not enough to remedy discrimination, President Johnson issues Executive Order 11246, which enforces affirmative action for the first time. It requires government contractors to "take affirmative action" toward prospective minority employees in all aspects of hiring and employment.

Oct 1966

Black Panthers are founded

Black Panthers, U.S. African-American militant party, founded (1966) in Oakland, Calif., by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Originally aimed at armed self-defense against the local police, the party grew to espouse violent revolution as the only means of achieving black liberation.

April 19, 1967

Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Carmichael, a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), coins the phrase "black power" in a speech in Seattle. He defines it as an assertion of black pride and "the coming together of black people to fight for their liberation by any means necessary." The term's radicalism alarms many who believe the civil rights movement's effectiveness and moral authority crucially depend on nonviolent civil disobedience.

June 12, 1967

Loving -VS- Virginia

In Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court rules that prohibiting interracial marriage is unconstitutional. Sixteen states that still banned interracial marriage at the time are forced to revise their laws.

July 1967

Major race riots

Major race riots take place in Newark (July 12 -16) and in Detroit (July 23 -30)

April 4, 1968

Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated

(Memphis, Tenn.) Martin Luther King, at age 39, is shot as he stands on the balcony outside his hotel room. Escaped convict and committed racist James Earl Ray is convicted of the crime.

April 11, 1968

Civil Rights Act of 1968

President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.

April 20, 1971

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

The Supreme Court, in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, upholds busing as a legitimate means for achieving integration of public schools. Although largely unwelcome (and sometimes violently opposed) in local school districts, court-ordered busing plans in cities such as Charlotte, Boston, and Denver continue until the late 1990s.

March 22, 1988

President Reagan

Overriding President Reagan's veto, Congress passes the Civil Rights Restoration Act, which expands the reach of non-discrimination laws within private institutions receiving federal funds.

Nov. 22, 1991

President Bush

After two years of debates, vetoes, and threatened vetoes, President Bush reverses himself and signs the Civil Rights Act of 1991, strengthening existing civil rights laws and providing for damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination.

April 29, 1992

Rodney King

(Los Angeles, Calif.) The first race riots in decades erupt in south-central Los Angeles after a jury acquits four white police officers for the videotaped beating of African American Rodney King.

June 23, 2003

Creating the party’s brand

In the most important affirmative action decision since the 1978 Bakke case, the Supreme Court (5–4) upholds the University of Michigan Law School's policy, ruling that race can be one of many factors considered by colleges when selecting their students because it furthers "a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body."

june 21, 2005

Mississippi civil rights murders

The ringleader of the Mississippi civil rights murders . Edgar Ray Killen, is convicted of manslaughter on the 41st anniversary of the crimes.

October 24, 2005

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks dies at age 92.

January 30, 2006

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King dies of a stroke at age 78.

February 2007

Emmett Till's Case Closed

Emmett Till's 1955 murder case, reopened by the Department of Justice in 2004, is officially closed. The two confessed murderers, J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, were dead of cancer by 1994, and prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence to pursue further convictions.

May 10 2007

State Trooper Indicted

James Bonard Fowler, a former state trooper, is indicted for the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson 40 years after Jackson's death. The 1965 killing lead to a series of historic civil rights protests in Selma, Ala.

January 2008

Civil Rights Act of 2008

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduces the Civil Rights Act of 2008. Some of the proposed provisions include ensuring that federal funds are not used to subsidize discrimination, holding employers accountable for age discrimination, and improving accountability for other violations of civil rights and workers' rights.

January 2009

Ricci v. DeStefano

In the Supreme Court case Ricci v. DeStefano, a lawsuit brought against the city of New Haven, 18 plaintiffs 17 white people and one Hispanic argued that results of the 2003 lieutenant and captain exams were thrown out when it was determined that few minority firefighters qualified for advancement. The city claimed they threw out the results because they feared liability under a disparate-impact statute for issuing tests that discriminated against minority firefighters. The plaintiffs claimed that they were victims of reverse discrimination under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court ruled (5&4) in

February 26, 2012

Trayvon Martin

In a widely reported trial, Zimmerman was charged with murder for Martin's death, but acquitted at trial after claiming self-defense. The incident was reviewed by the Department of Justice for potential civil rights violations, but no additional charges were filed, citing insufficient evidence. Trayvon Martin is viewed as the New Emmett Till. Trayvon Martin's father Tracy Martin and his mother Sybrina Fulton begins to revitalize the Civil Rights movement with Sybrina Fulton viewed as the 20th century Rosa Parks

June 2013

Shelby County v. Holder

In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which established a formula for Congress to use when determining if a state or voting jurisdiction requires prior approval before changing its voting laws. Currently under Section 5 of the act nine mostly Southern states with a history of discrimination must get clearance from Congress before changing voting rules to make sure racial minorities are not negatively affected. While the 5 & 4 decision did not invalidate Section 5, it made it toothless. Chief Justice John Roberts said the formula Congress now uses,

June 2014

ATL New Civil Rights Museum

A new museum, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, opens in Atlanta.

September 2014

Michael Brown - Ferguson, Mo

The Justice Department opens a civil rights investigation into police practices in Ferguson, Mo., where a Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9. The Justice Department investigation is in addition to the FBI's civil rights inquiry.

December 2015

Justice Department, avoiding a civil rights lawsuit

After the release of a Justice Department report in March documenting civil rights violations by the Ferguson Police Department, Ferguson officials reach a deal with the Justice Department, avoiding a civil rights lawsuit. The agreement will necessitate the levying of new taxes to pay for the planned improvements and require local vote.

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