The Civil Rights Movement

Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896

The Supreme Court case that upheld a Louisiana segregation law on the theory that as long as the accommodations between the racially segregated facilities were equal, the equal protection clause was not violated. The Court's ruling effectively established

Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, KS, 1954

Supreme Court ruling reversing the policy of segregation from Plessy v Ferguson, declaring that seperate can never be equal and a year later ordered the integration of all public schools with all deliberate speed

Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955

In 1955, after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus, Dr. MLK led a boycott of city buses. Over a year later the Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public transportation was illegal.

U.S. troops sent to Little Rock, 1957

To protect the Little Nine black schoolchildren who decided to attend a previously all-white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas; because riots were expected and occurring, Eisenhower sent federal protection for these Little Nine. They remained in the sc

Civil Rights Act of 1957

primarily a voting rights bill, was the first civil rights legislation passed by Congress in the United States since Reconstruction following the American Civil War.
The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was also Congress's show of support for the Supreme Court's

Greensboro sit-ins, 1960

Civil Rights tactic of blacks sitting in segregated restaurants until being served or removed. Kicks off in Greensboro, NC at Woolworth's lunch counter (white restaurant). Each day they came back with more and more protesters until they were finally serve

Freedom Riders, 1961

Group of civil rights workers who took bus trips through southern states in 1961 to protest illegal bus segregation; leaders Jim Farmer and Jim Peck

Letter from a Birmingham Jail," 1963

A letter written by Martin Luther King Jr. after he had been arrested when he took part in a nonviolent march against segregation. He was disappointed more Christians didn't speak out against racism. Advocated nonviolence protest methods

March on Washington, 1963

August - 200,000 demonstrators converged on the Lincoln Memorial to hear Dr. King's speech and to celebrate Kennedy's support for the civil rights movement. (putting pressure on the federal government to pass civil rights legislation)

Mississippi Summer Project, 1964

A campaign in the United States launched in June 1964 to attempt to register as many African American voters as possible in Mississippi, which up to that time had almost totally excluded black voters.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

A federal law that authorized federal action against segregation in public accommodations, public facilities, and employment. The law was passed during a period of great strength for the civil rights movement, and President Lyndon Johnson persuaded many r

March from Selma to Montgomery, 1965

A march that was attempted three times to protest voting rights, with many peaceful demonstrators injured and killed. Lead by MLK

Voting Rights Act of 1965

A law designed to help end formal and informal barriers to African American suffrage. Under the law, hundreds of thousands of African Americans were registered and the number of African American elected officials increased dramatically. Encouraged greater

Civil Rights Act of 1968

provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin and made it a federal crime to "by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone ... by reason of their race, color, religion, or national o

Jackie Robinson

The first African American player in the major league of baseball. His actions helped to bring about other opportunities for African Americans.

Rosa Parks

Refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. After she was jailed, the Montgomery bus boycott was organized.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nonviolent leader of the civil rights movement and founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, assassinated, 1968

James Meredith

He was a civil rights advocate who spurred a riot at the University of Mississippi. The riot was caused by angry whites who did not want Meredith to register at the university. The result was forced government action (Kennedy), showing that segregation wa

Thurgood Marshall

American civil rights lawyer, first black justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. Marshall was a tireless advocate for the rights of minorities and the poor. Argued the case of Brown v Board of Education

Jim Crow Laws

southern state laws designed to enforce segregation of blacks from whites (grandfather clause, poll tax, literacy tests, separate but equal, etc)

separate but equal

Principle upheld in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public facilities was legal.


Separation of people based on racial, ethnic, or other differences


Congress of Racial Equality" an organization founded by James Leonard Farmer in 1942 to work for racial equality, connected with the Freedom Riders


(Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee)-a group established in 1960 to promote and use non-violent means to protest racial discrimination; they were the ones responsible for creating the sit-in movement


peaceful protests by black college students, 1960-1961, who took seats at "whites only" lunch counters and refused to leave until served; in 1960 over 50,000 participated in sit-ins across the South. Their success prompted the formation of the Student Non


In the context of civil rights, the transportation of public school students from areas where they live to schools in other areas to eliminate school segregation based on residential patterns.

affirmative action

A policy in educational admissions or job hiring that gives special attention or compensatory treatment to traditionally disadvantaged groups in an effort to overcome present effects of past discrimination. Improving economic and educational opportunities

Executive Order 10730: Desegregation of Central High School (1957)

The president issued Executive Order 10730, sending in federal troops to maintain order and enforce the integration of the school.(Little Rock Nine's school) - later extended to other American schools


To bring together


A negative attitude toward an entire category of people, often an ethnic or racial minority.

Civil Rights Movement

The national effort made by black people and their supporters in the 1950s and 1960s to eliminate segregation and gain equal rights.

Poll Tax

Tax on voting. Used to discourage African Americans from voting during the Jim Crow era. Also used to exclude poor whites. Declared unconstitutional by 24th Amendment.

White Supremacy

the belief that the white race is superior to any other race


Stands for Ku Klux Klan and started right after the Civil War in 1866. The Southern establishment took charge by passing discriminatory laws known as the black codes. Gives whites almost unlimited power. They masked themselves and burned black churches, s