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Civil Rights

Timeline of African-American Civil Rights

1863 - The Emancipation Proclamation is issued by President Abraham Lincoln freeing the enslaved in the rebellious Confederate states.

1865 - The Thirteenth Amendment is passed abolishing slavery in the United States.

1868 - The Fourteenth Amendment is passed guaranteeing all African-Americans the rights of full U.S. citizens.

1870 - The Fifteenth Amendment is passed guaranteeing the right to vote for all citizens regardless of race.

1896 - The Supreme Court rules that segregation is legal in the Plessy v. Ferguson case using the "separate but equal" argument.

1890s - Jim Crow laws become common in many southern states segregating blacks from whites.

1909 - The NAACP is founded by African-American leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells.

1947 - Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American to play major league baseball.

1948 - President Harry S. Truman ends segregation in the U.S. armed forces.

1954 - The Supreme Court rules that segregation in the schools is unconstitutional in the Brown v. Board of Education case, overturning the earlier ruling in the Plessy v. Ferguson case.

1955 - Rosa Parks is arrested for not giving up her seat on the bus. This sparks the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasts for over a year. Eventually, segregation on the buses in Montgomery comes to an end.

1957 - Nine African-American students in Arkansas (nicknamed the Arkansas Nine) attend a previously all-white high school. Army troops are brought in to protect them.

1961 - The Freedom Riders protest by riding buses into the segregated southern states challenging their Jim Crow laws.

1963 - The Birmingham Campaign takes place in Birmingham, Alabama. Schoolchildren marching in non-violent protest are met with police dogs and fire hoses. Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested and writes his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

1963 - The March on Washington by over 200,000 protesters occurs. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his "I Have a Dream" speech.

1964 - The Civil Rights Act is signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. It outlaws discrimination based on race, national origin, and gender. It also outlaws segregation and the Jim Crow laws.

1964 - Martin Luther King, Jr. is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

1965 - Marchers in Selma, Alabama are met by police with tear gas. Several marchers are injured and the day is nicknamed "Bloody Sunday."

1965 - The Voting Rights Act is signed into law making it illegal to prevent any citizen from voting regardless of race.

1965 - Race riots erupt in Watts, California.

1965 - President Lyndon Johnson issues an order requiring "Affirmative Action" in hiring minorities for federal government work.

1967 - Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

1968 - Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

2000 - Colin Powell is appointed as the first African-American Secretary of State.

2008 - Barack Obama is the first African-American elected President of the United States.

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