Recently, we’ve been discussing examples of black excellence and resilience in Advisory during Black History Month. The Black Civil Rights movement is an issue that is still debated even today. We still don’t have equal rights in America. There are still violent hate crimes and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) still exists. There are still police shootings. These things need to be eradicated.
The best way to do that is to understand the past history of this tumultuous fight. I will go through most of the major events that shaped this historic matter, starting...now!
MLK Begins Pastorate (May 14)
A modest African-American man named Martin Luther King, Jr., “begins his pastorate at Dexter Avenue Baptists Church in Montgomery, AL” (Civil Rights Trail).
Brown v. Board of Education (May 17)
This Supreme Court case ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. However, most schools remained segregated for some time. This verdict overturned the 1896 case “Plessy v. Ferguson,” which created the infamous term “separate but equal.”
Emmett Till’s Murder (August 28)
Fourteen-year-old African American boy Emmett Till allegedly whistled and “made a flirtatious remark” to a woman behind the counter of the local grocery (history.com). Three days later, the woman’s husband and his friend dragged Till from his great-uncle’s house, beat him up, and drowned him in the Tallahatchie River. The men confessed to his kidnapping and murder, yet they were acquitted by an “all-white, all-male jury” after a short deliberation.
Rosa Parks Arrested (December 1)
Alabama native Rosa Parks was arrested for “refusing to surrender her seat” to a white person on a public Montgomery bus. Her arrest prompted a yearlong bus boycott, which began on December 5th. Led by “young local pastor” Martin Luther King Jr., the protests were so successful that they were “extended indefinitely” (Britannica).
Formation of the SCLC (February 14)
Martin Luther King Jr. is named president of the “newly-formed” Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a “leading engine of the Civil Rights Movement.”
The Little Rock Nine (September 25)
Nine African-American students are “blocked from entering” Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas by a white mob consisting of civilians and soldiers sent by Arkansas governor Orval Eugene Faubus. For 18 days, President Eisenhower, Governor Faubus, and Little Rock Mayor Mann “discussed the situation.” The students returned to school grounds on September 25 and were escorted inside by the 101st Airborne Division. The “Little Rock Nine,” as they came to be known, were subsequently harassed throughout the school year but 8 of the 9 students finished the year.
The Woolsworth Sit-Ins (February 1)
Four freshmen from North Carolina A&T stage a sit-in at a Greensboro, North Carolina F.W. Woolsworth store after being refused service. They stayed until the store closed, and they came back the next day with 20 fellow students and friends. This first sit-in sparked others all over the country as young African-Americans protested equal rights peacefully on public benches and establishments. The Greensboro Four--Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil were inspired by Ghandi’s movement to act.
Integration of New Orleans Elementary Schools (November 14)
Six-year-old Ruby Bridges is escorted by armed federal marshals into William Frantz Elementary School, becoming the first student to integrate schools in New Orleans. She was met by mobs and parents shouting disapproval (some of whom later removed their children from the school).
The Freedom Riders (May 1)
The Freedom Riders began when a “group of seven African Americans and six whites” boarded a pair of buses bound for New Orleans. The group was beaten, the buses firebombed and tires slashed, but more groups of Freedom Riders took their place to mark the event. They were met with horrific violence, and US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (brother of John F. Kennedy) called for stricter segregation bans.
Desegregation of Ole Miss (September 30)
Black student James Meredith arrived at the University of Missisippi (more commonly known as Ole Miss) under the protection of federal soldiers and were met by an angry mob of 2,000. Only after the federal government sent “some 31,000 troops” to restore order was the mob quelled.
The Birmingham Campaign (April 3)
The Birmingham Campaign, organized by the SCLC and other civil rights groups, began. These protests and peaceful demonstations were led in the city of Birmingham, Alabama to speak out against segregation. The activists were met with “tear geas, fire hoses, and police dogs” and arrested.
March on Washington (August 28)
Famous civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech in front of hundreds of thousands of civil rights supporters in the National Mall in Washington, DC.
The Civil Rights Act (July 2)
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting “discrimination of all kinds,” including by “race, sex, color, religion, or national origin.” The controversial bill was a win for civil rights supprters everywhere.
Malcom X’s Assassination (February 21)
Black “religious leader” Malcom X is shot during a speech in the Audubon Ballroom in New York. He was shot “some 15 times” at close range and was pronounced dead a few hours later.
Selma-Montgomery March (March 7)
MLK organizes a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery of the same state (about 50 miles) to “call for a federal voting rights law that would provide legal support for disenfranchised African Americans in the South.” The marchers encounter state troopers and are pushed back, which is recorded by camera. Two days later, King tries again to cross the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge while police block the group and beat them. This event is known as Bloody Sunday.
The demonstrators finally reach Montgomery on March 25 after President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act.
Martin Luther King’s Assassination (April 4)
Historic civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. is shot by a sniper on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. James Earl Ray was convicted in the murder and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.
Fair Housing Act (April 11)
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Fair Housing Act, which guarantees equal housing oppurtunity for all people regardless of race, religion, or color.
Barack Obama Elected President (November 4)
The first African-American man, Barack Obama, is elected president of the United States.
Countless authors, activists, politicians, judges, and other famous Black and African-American people have made an impact on their country and world on many ways. Here’s a chance for you to do the same.
Story by Caroline Barton
Source 1) https://www.history.com/topics/civil-rights-movement/civil-rights-movement-timeline