USA 1955-1965 Civil Rights timline

Quick notes on some important peaceful protests and other key events between 1955 and 1963 :)

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Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955

  • Challenged segregation on buses
  • Planned by the NAACP, SCLC and the MIA
  • Boycotters used taxis, car pools and walked instead of using buses
  • They demanded the bus company to employ black people, equal treatment of black and white people on the buses and a desegregated seating plan
  • Lasted until the Supreme Court gave a ruling in the Browder vs Gayle case, in which they ruled in favour of desegregation
  • Gained attention from the media
  • Considered a mass movement
  • De Jure change (Browder vs Gayle)
  • MLK started to appear, with the MIA
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The Little Rock Nine 1957

  • Faubus used the National Gaurd to prevent 9 African American students from atending Little Rock High School
  • The Federal Court ordered them to leave, but Faubus didn't budge
  • An angry mob of white people then formed, and started attacking innocent African Americans on the streets
  • Eisenhower eventually sent in 1,100 paratroopers to establish law and order
  • Eisenhower was hesitant to enforce the ruling of Brown vs Board of Education, as he feared opposition from people in the South
  • Gained media and Federal attention
  • Minimal De Facto change
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Greensborough Sit-Ins 1960

  • 4 Students from a local agriculture college in North Carolina were refused service at a lunch counter in a Woolworths store
  • They staged a sit-in in which they just refused to move
  • The sit-in grew to over 80 people in 3 days
  • The store had to close because of the amount of people
  • These sit-ins were replicated in over 100 different cities, and a total of nearly 50,000 people took part
  • Gained media coverage as it was such a huge, national movement
  • No De jure change, but there was De facto change, as Woolworths and other stores desegregated their lunch counters
  • MLK joined forces with the SNCC
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Freedom Rides 1961

  • Organised by CORE, with help from the SNCC
  • Activists went on an interstate bus across 4 states to test the Boyton vs Virginia ruling
  • They were met with violence in Anniston, Montgomery and Birmingham and the local police forces did not do anything to help the activists
  • Becasue of such terrible violence, RFK ad to enforce desegregation in interstate bus travel
  • De jure (Boyton vs Virginia)
  • Shown Civil rights was near the top of the new Kennedy administrations agenda
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Albany Campaign 1961-62

  • MLK, the SNCC and the SCLC mobilized peaceful protests to fight segregation in Albany
  • Police chief Laurie Pritchett reponded with mass arrests, and refrained from using brutality which would attract negative publicity
  • In July 1962, King and three other protesters were standing trial for their involvement in previous demonstrations
  • They were found guilty and given the choice of spending a night in jail, or paying $178
  • They chose to spend the night in jail
  • Pritchett then informed King and one other protester their bail had been paid which led to their release
  • No de jure or de facto change
  • Little media and federal attention
  • Considered a mass movement
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James Meredith 1962

  • Meredith attempted to enrol in the University of Mississippi, but Ross Barnett refused his application of the grounds of his race
  • Barnett also refused to protect Meredith when an angry mob broke out, who killed two bystanders
  • The Supreme Court and RFK tried to put pressure on Barnett, but in the end had to send Federal troops to protect Meredith
  • Meredith graduated in 1964
  • No significant de jure or de facto change
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Birmingham Campaign 1963

  • MLK, the SCLC, the SNCCCORE and the NAACP all took part in the peaceful protests
  • 'Bull' Connor used vicious brutality against the young protesters, and set the police dogs on them
  • One particular image caught the eye of the goverment, the media and the rest of America which shocked everyone
  • The image sparked JFK to start writing up new civil rights legislation (The 1964 civil rights act, passed by Lydon Johnson after JFKs assasination)
  • MLK was jailed for a short time, but it's thought that JFK got him released
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March on Washington 1963

  • MLK, the SCLC, the SNCC, CORE, the NAACP and the Nation of Islam were all present
  • Consisted of 250,000 people marching up to the Lincoln memorial in Washington D.C., then speeches from the likes of MLK, James Farmer and other influential civil rights activists
  • The march was the start of the SNCCs new violent appeals, in which they questioned the usefulness of non-violent tactics
  • Mass media coverage broadcast it all over the country
  • The event is said to have led to the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act
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Kings assasination 1968


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