African Americans - Key Events

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Reconstruction 1865 - 1877

The period that saw the Federal Government, mainly through congress, try to rebuild the South and impose civil rights.

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The Civil Rights Act 1866

Guaranteed citizenship to former slaves. It was superseded by the 14th Ammendement as Congress were worried that it would be declared unconstituional as it infringed states' rights.  

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Military Reconstruction Act 1867

The South were divided into 5 military districts and US generals would decide who was eligable to vote. States had to accept all the changes in Reconstruction.

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The 14th Ammendment 1868

Guaranteed citizenship and equal protection under the law to those born in the U.S.

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The Fifteenth Amendment 1870

Forbade the denial of the vote to any man on the basis of colour, race or 'previous condition or servitude'. 

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The Slaughterhouse Case 1873

A victory for state rights as the Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Ammendment didn't override the rights granted (or not) by the individual state legislatures. 

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Civil Rights Act 1875

A response to growing cases of segregation in the south. It made it clear that equal rights applied to all public areas. It was declared unconstituional in 1883.

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US v. Cruickshank 1876

Ruled the Enforcement Act unconstituional. It declared that Federal authorities could not act against individuals to uphold reconstruction. 

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Compromise of 1877

A deal that gave the Republicans the presidency in return for the removal of troops from the south and an end to reconstruction.  

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Plessy v. Ferguson 1896

Set a precedent for segregation when the court ruled that 'separate but equal' was constituional. In reality there was no equality, just separation. 

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Mississippi v. Williams 1898

Essentially ruled that poll taxes were constiutional. This undermined black voting rights for a generation. 

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Cumming v. Board of Education 1899

Extended the separate but equal policy to schools, even though more money was spent on white schools than blacks. 

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Guin v. US 1915

NAACP successfully lobbied for the grandfather clauses in Maryland and Oklahoma to be outlawed.

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Riots in Elaine, Arkansas 1919

The NAACP successfully lobbied the Supreme Court for the aquittal of African Americans who were caught up in the riots. 

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Buchanan v. Warley 1917

City regulations in Louisville, Kentucky concerning residential segregation were found to be unconstituional. But this was only based on property rights, something that didn't bode well for segregation in public places.

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Moore v. Dempsey 1923

Failed to uphold the death sentences of twelve black men as the trials were 'dominated by mobs'. 

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Trudeau v. Barnes 1933

The court ruled that all state court avenues must be exhausted first. This highlighted the slowness of the NAACP's legal approach tactics. 

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Gaines v. Canada 1938

The court ruled that separate but equal facilities must be equal in a case about the white-only law school of the University of Mississippi. 

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Smith v. Allwright 1944

All white primaries were outlawed in Texas. The court declared this against the 15th Amendment and as a result black voter registration increased from 2% in 1940 to 12% in 1947.

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Henderson v. US 1950

Ruled that segregation on interstate dining cars was illegal.

Mclaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents ruled black students could not be physically separated at the U of O. 

Sweatt v. Painter ruled that a separate black Texas law school was not equal. 

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Brown v. Board of Education Act 1954

The Supreme Court ruled that a black girl, Linda Brown should be allowed to attend her nearest school (all white) and to ban her from attending would be unconstitutional. Chief Justice Earl Warren accepted the arguments of the black lawyer Thurgood Marshall. 

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Civil Rights Acts 1957 and 1960

They were weak legislation which suggested setting up commissons to invegstigate civil rights and introduced federal punishments for mob actions. 

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Boynton v. Virginia 1960

Ruled all segregation on inter-state travel facilities unconstituional. 

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The Civil Rights Act 1964

Made universal what was already happening in many areas of the US but not in the deep south. Was a major achievement and southern resistance had been largely defeated. 

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The Voting Rights Act 1965

Blacks could now register to vote on equal terms to whites. 

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Fair Housing Act 1968

No racial discrimination allowed in the sale, rent and mortgaging of properties. 

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Green v. Connally 1970

Federal funds were to be withheld from education establishments that had a policy of segregation. 

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Griggs v. Duke Power Company 1971

The court ruled that the requirement of a high school diploma was unfair against blacks because of previous educational discrimination. 

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Equal Opportunity Act 1972

Congress backed Nixon's policy of affirmative action giving more power to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. 

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Milliken v. Bradley 1974

Stopped court ordered bussing. Making it clear it was only acceptable when there was deliberate segregation.

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Regents of the University of California v. Baake 1

A white student won a ruling saying he had been discriminated against because of his race. Signalling a withdrawal from affirmative action. 

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Grove City v. Bell 1984

Organisations only had to comply to the civil rights legislation in the area for which they recieved funding. 

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Civil Rights Restoration Act 1988

Overturned the Grove City v. Bell decision to say all legislation had to be followed. This demonstrated the more liberal attitude of Congress over the Court.

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Appointment of Clarence Thomas 1991

Appointed to the Supreme Court by George W.H Bush as a conservative black republican. 

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