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Civil Rights: Timeline of Events

1857

Dred Scott v. Sanford (Denial of Basic Rights to Blacks)

A major precursor to the Civil War, this controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision denied citizenship and basic rights to all blacks -- whether slave or free.     

1863

Emancipation Proclamation
President Abraham Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation," takes effect, proclaiming freedom from slavery for African-Americans.

1865

13th Amendment Passes
The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed, abolishing slavery in the United States.

1868

14th Amendment Passes
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed, guaranteeing due process and equal protection rights to all citizens.

1870

15th Amendment Passes
The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed, guaranteeing the right to vote for all U.S. citizens.

1893

Colorado Becomes First State to Grant Women the Right to Vote

1896

Plessy v. Ferguson (Approval of "Separate but Equal" Facilities)
The U.S. Supreme Court "separate but equal" decision in Plessy v. Ferguson approved laws requiring racial segregation, as long as those laws did not allow for separate accommodations and facilities for blacks that were inferior to those for whites.

1909

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Founded

1920

19th Amendment Passes
The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed, granting women the right to vote.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Founded

1942

Roosevelt Issues Order Relocating Japanese-Americans
On February 19, 1942 (shortly after the U.S. entered World War II) President F.D. Roosevelt issued an executive order designating much of the west coast a "military area", and requiring relocation of most Japanese-Americans from certain west coast states. Many of the more than 100,000 persons who were relocated were forced to live in "interment" or "relocation" camps.

1954

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (De-Segregation in Education)
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas ended legal racial segregation in public schools.

1955

Montgomery Bus Boycotts
African-American woman Rosa Parks's arrest after her refusal to move to the back of a bus (as required under city law in Montgomery, Alabama) triggers a citywide boycott of the bus system.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka II, Kansas (De-Segregation in Education)
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas II implements the anti-segregation provisions that had been mandated in Brown I, and orders that states comply with "all deliberate speed."

1960

Greensboro, NC Lunch Counter Sit-Ins
In protest of local restaurants that refuse to serve African-American customers, a series of sit-ins is staged at lunch counters in Greensboro, North Carolina.

1962

Bailey v. Patterson (De-Segregation in Transportation)
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bailey v. Patterson declares that segregation in transportation facilities is unconstitutional.

1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.: "I Have a Dream"
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers the historic "I Have a Dream" speech in front of hundreds of thousands of participants in the "March on Washington."

Equal Pay Act
Passing Congress in 1963, the Equal Pay Act is a federal law requiring that employers pay all employees equally for equal work, regardless of whether the employees are male or female.

1964

Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passes Congress, prohibiting discrimination in a number of settings: Title I prohibits discrimination in voting; Title II: public accommodations; Title III: Public Facilities; Title IV: Public Education; Title VI: Federally-Assisted Programs; Title VII: Employment. The Act also establishes the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

1965

Voting Rights Act of 1965
Signed into law in 1965, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits the denial or restriction of the right to vote, and forbids discriminatory voting practices nationwide.

Malcolm X Assassinated in New York City

Watts Riots in Los Angeles
Beginning as a community-wide reaction to the arrest of three African-Americans in central Los Angeles, the Watts Riots continue for six days, and are viewed by some as purposeless criminal behavior. Others viewed the riots as a necessary uprising by African-Americans as a reaction to oppression, and consider the Watts Riots a key precursor to the "Black Power" movement of the late 1960's.

1967

Loving v. Virginia (Inter-Racial Marriage)
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia declares that laws prohibiting inter-racial marriage are unconstitutional.

1968

Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassinated in Memphis

1971

Equal Rights Amendment Passes in Congress
The proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was intended to explicitly guarantee equality to all persons, regardless of gender. After passing in Congress, the amendment did not receive enough votes for ratification by the individual states, and was never signed into law.

1978

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (Affirmative Action)
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke holds that college admission standards giving preferential consideration to minority applicants are constitutional.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act Signed
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits employment discrimination against female workers who are (or intend to become) pregnant -- including discrimination in hiring, failure to promote, and wrongful termination.

1990

Americans with Disabilities Act
Signed into law in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects persons with disabilities from discrimination in many aspects of life, including employment, education, and access to public accommodations.

1993

Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), passed in 1993, gives employees the right to take time off from work in order to care for a newborn (or recently adopted) child, or to look after an ill family member.

2003

Lawrence v. Texas (Rights of Same-Sex Couples)
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas declares unconstitutional a Texas statute that criminalizes same-sex sexual activity.

Next Steps
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