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Civil Rights Timeline: Jan. 15, 1929 - Dec. 21, 1956

Jan. 15, 1929 - Dr. King is born - Born on Jan. 15, 1929, in

Atlanta, Ga., he was the

second of three children of the Rev. Michael (later Martin) and


Williams King.

Sept. 1, 1954 - Dr. King becomes pastor - In 1954, King accepted his

first pastorate--the

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala. He and his wife,

Coretta Scott King, whom he had met and married (June 1953) while at

Boston University.

Dec. 1, 1955 - Rosa Parks defies city segregation - Often called

"the mother of the civil

rights movement," Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, b. Tuskegee, Ala., Feb.


1913, sparked the 381-day Montgomery bus boycott that led to a 1956

Supreme Court order outlawing discriminatory practices on Montgomery

buses. In December 1955, returning home from her assistant tailor job


Montgomery, Parks refused a bus driver's order to surrender her seat

to a

white man. She was jailed and fined $14.

Dec. 5, 1955 - Montgomery bus boycott- Although precipitated by the

arrest of Rosa

Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56 was actually a


response to decades of intimidation, harassment and discrimination


Alabama's African American population. By 1955, judicial decisions


still the principal means of struggle for civil rights, even though


marches and boycotts sometimes punctuated the litigation. The boycott,

which lasted for more than a year, was almost 100 percent effective.

Dec. 21, 1956 - Bus segregation declared illegal - The boycott's

succeeded in

desegregating public facilities in the South and also in obtaining

civil rights

legislation from Congress.

Civil Rights Timeline

Sept. 24, 1957 - May 2, 1963

Sept. 24, 1957 - School integration - In September 1957 the state

received national

attention when Gov. Orval E. Faubus (in office 1955-67) tried to


the integration of Little Rock Central High School. President Dwight


Eisenhower quickly intervened, in part by sending federal troops to


Rock, and several black students were enrolled at Central High School.

Aug. 19, 1958 - Student sit-ins - In spite of the events in Little

Rock or Montgomery, or

Supreme Court decisions, segregation still pervaded American society


1960. While protests and boycotts achieved moderate successes in

desegregating aspects of education and transportation, other

facilities such

as restaurants, theaters, libraries, amusement parks and churches


barred or limited access to African Americans, or maintained separate,

invariably inferior, facilities for black patrons. Nowhere was the

contradiction of accepting money with one hand while withholding


with the other so glaring as the lunch counters of five-and-ten cent


and department stores.

This situation coincided with a growing dissatisfaction among the


black population. Although many of them enjoyed political, education


economic rights undreamed of by their elders, the remaining barriers

seemed as high as ever. Often violence, threats and political


such as token integration maintained the status quo. This exhibit

features a

restored dime store lunch counter, populated with student protesters,


includes audio visual segments of the events.

May 3, 1961 - "Freedom Riders" - The Congress of Racial Equality

organizes the

"Freedom Riders."

Sept. 30, 1962 - University Riot - During the 1960s, Mississippi was

a center of the Civil

Rights movement. Despite the 1954 Supreme Court decision making

segregated schools illegal, the state did not quickly institute


integration. In 1962 a black student, James Meredith, attempted to


the University of Mississippi law school. His admission was blocked,


during the subsequent violence, federal troops were sent to restore

order to

a 15 hour riot. Violent incidents against blacks took place as the


for integration continued.

May 2, 1963 - Youth Marches - Youth Marches occur at City Hall.

Civil Rights Timeline

Aug. 28, 1963 - May 7, 1965

Aug. 28, 1963 - King delivers his "I have a dream" speech - King

organized the massive

March on Washington (Aug. 28, 1963) where, in his brilliant "I Have


Dream" speech, he "subpoenaed the conscience of the nation before


judgment seat of morality."

Jan. 23, 1964 - 24th Amendment ratified - The 24th Amendment to the U.


Constitution, proposed by Congress on Aug. 27, 1962, and ratified


23, 1964, bans the use of poll taxes in federal elections (a device


by some states to circumvent the 15th Amendment's guarantee of equal

voting rights). Intended to alleviate the burdens of black and poor


it states that in any presidential or congressional election, no

citizen can be

denied, by the state or federal government, the right to vote because


failure to pay either a poll tax or any other tax.

Jul. 2, 1964 - Civil Rights Act - Congress enacted new legislation in

an attempt to

overcome local and state obstruction to the exercise of citizenship

rights by

blacks. These efforts culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964,


prohibited discrimination in employment and established the Equal

Employment Opportunity Commission. This major piece of legislation


banned discrimination in public accommodations connected with


commerce, including restaurants, hotels, and theaters.

Dec. 10, 1964 - Nobel Peace Prize - In January 1964, Time magazine

chose King Man

of the Year, the first black American so honored. Later that year


became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mar. 7, 1965 - Montgomery March - After supporting desegregation

efforts in Saint

Augustine, Fla., in 1964, King concentrated his efforts on the voter-

registration drive in Selma, Ala., leading a harrowing march from

Selma to

Montgomery in March 1965. Soon after, a tour of the northern cities


him to assail the conditions of economic as well as social


This marked a shift in SCLC strategy, one intended to "bring the

Negro into

the mainstream of American life as quickly as possible."

Civil Rights Timeline

Aug. 6, 1965 - Jun. 12, 1966

Aug. 6, 1965 - Voting Rights Act - The Voting Rights Act authorized

the U.S. attorney

general to send federal examiners to register black voters under


circumstances. It also suspended all literacy tests in states in

which less than

50% of the voting-age population had been registered or had voted in


1964 election. The law had an immediate impact. By the end of 1965


quarter of a million new black voters had been registered, one third


federal examiners. The Voting Rights Act was readopted and


in 1970, 1975, and 1982.

Aug. 11, 1965 - Rioting in Watts - As desegregation progressed in the

South, attention

began to shift northward. Targets in the North, however, were more

elusive. Segregation in the northern cities did not rest on laws so

much as

on attitudes, customs, and economic relationships. These were more

difficult to confront with the tactics of nonviolent protest.

Frustration and

resentment grew in the black ghettos. In 1965 the Watts area of Los

Angeles erupted into a riot that lasted for several days and left 34

dead. For

three successive summers, outbursts of rebellion occurred in cities


the country.

Jan. 7, 1966 - "Open City" - King announces the "Open City" campaign

to fight problems

in the North.

June 6, 1966 - Meredith Shot - James Meredith is shot shortly after

he begins a voting

rights march.

June 12, 1966 - Chicago Riot - Rioting breaks out in Chicago.

Civil Rights Timeline

Jun. 23, 1967- Apr. 9, 1968

Jun. 23, 1967 - Detroit Riot - The most massive was the Detroit riot

of 1967, which

lasted nearly a week, claimed 40 lives, and destroyed property worth


million. The passions and upheavals of the 1960s gave way to at least


appearance of calm in the 1970s and '80s. Protests became less


and widespread as blacks and whites alike took stock of the gains of

one of

the most tumultuous periods in U.S. history.

Mar. 2 1968, - Separate and Unequal - A report is released that the

Nation is divided into

groups of Blacks and whites.

Apr. 4, 1968 - Dr. King is assassinated - On Apr. 4, 1968, King was

felled by an

assassin's bullet. The violent death of this man of peace brought


immediate reaction of rioting in black ghettos around the country.


one man, James Earl Ray, was convicted of King's murder, the question


whether he was the paid agent of conspirators has not been


resolved. It is clear only that the United States was deprived of a


symbol of moral and social progress. King's birthday was declared a


holiday in 1983.

Apr. 8, 1968 - City Hall March - Coretta King leads a march of 42,000

to city hall to

mourn her husbands death.

Apr. 9, 1968 - Dr. King is buried - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is

buried at south View

Cemetery. A crowd of 50,000 to 100,000 is present as they mourn the

death of a towering symbol of moral and social progress for Black Americans.

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