Essay: 13 key events of the civil rights movement

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  • 13 key events of the civil rights movement
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We are going to explore the events of the civil rights movement that will provide an insight about the movement. The civil rights movement in the United States was a social movement particularly on the south that was also referred to as a The 1960s Civil Rights Movement. The objective of the movement was to stop the racial discrimination and segregation of black Americans. These are some of the facts you should probably know about this movement.

1. The 1954 Trial of Brown vs. Board of Education

This is among America’s most important historical trials that brought an end to the segregation of Black and white children in the classroom.

2. The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955

This was another significant event in the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama when Rosa Parks, a seamstress from Montgomery, on the evening of December 1st, 1955 declined to vacate her seat on the bus for a white man. This lead to her arrest which launched the bus boycott which would last 381 days ending on 20th December 1963 after a Supreme Court ruled in their favor to end segregation in buses.

3. The 1957 – Desegregation at Little Rock

The civil rights movement would witness another key event in 1957 when 9 black students tested the landmark ruling of 1954, which allowed for integration in public schools, by enrolling at a previously all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.  The Governor of Arkansas back then Orval Faubus, on the first day of school on September 4, 1957, barred the students from entering the school by calling in the National Guard. It took the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower to send in federal troops to provide the “Little Rock Nine” escort to begin their initial full day of classes on 25th September.

4. The 1960 Sit-in Campaign

The sit campaign was a non-violent campaign where African American students sit at whites only lunch counters up to the time they would be noticed and served meals. They would not leave until the police would arrest them and other African Americans would replace them at the counters. This would see restaurants slowly give up their segregation.

5. The 1961 Freedom Rides

The Freedom Rides were launched on 4th May 1961 by a group consisting of 13 members who were both African American and white civil activists. They were a series of bus trips across the American South as a resistance to the interstate bus terminals segregation. They would encounter serious violence from white protestors, however, they managed to draw a lot of international attention to their mission. There hundreds of Freedom Riders over the next couple of months. The Interstate Commerce Commission would later pass regulations to stop segregation in bus and train terminals nationally.

6. The 1962 Mississippi Riot

James Meredith, an African-American tried to enroll at the University of Mississippi in 1962 following a legal battle. The Kennedy administration called in about 31,000 National Guardsmen including other federal troops for the enforcement of the order. Chaos would erupt at the Ole Miss campus leading to riots that saw two people get killed and hundreds wounded and apprehended.

7. The 1963 Birmingham campaign

The Birmingham Campaign one of the most prolific campaigns of the Civil Rights movement began in the spring of 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. It involved sit-ins, marches, and boycotts in protest of the city’s segregation laws. The peaceful demonstrations would later encounter violent attacks on children, women and men using dogs and high-pressure hoses. The images from the events in Birmingham would become some of the most iconic in the civil rights movement.

8. The 1963 – March on Washington

One of the remarkable landmark events for the Civil rights movement was the March on Washington. It was attended by over 250,000 people both black and white. It was here that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would give his famous speech “I have a Dream”

9. 1964 Freedom Summer

The Freedom Summer project of 1964 was a voter registration project also referred to as the Mississippi Project meant to significantly increase the Mississippi voter registration. It included both black Mississippians and over a thousand white volunteers from other states. They encountered violence abuse and harassment from white supremacy groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, local authorities, and police with at least 3 activists being killed.

10. The 1965 Selma Marches

The Selma marches were meant to increase the registration of black voters in the south. They were organized by Martin Luther King Jr.’s organization the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). It was supposed to be a peaceful march from Selma to the Montgomery the state capital, however, the protesters encountered violent resistance from the state and local authorities. They reached Montgomery after walking for 3 days with protection from the federalized National Guard troops highlighting the plight of black voters in the South.

11. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King was the Civil Rights Movement’s most prolific leader and founder of the SCLC. He is renowned for his non-violent approach to ending segregation and discrimination. He read his famous speech “I have a Dream” in front of over 250,000 people in 11963 during the Washington March. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. King would be assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. The third Monday in January has been set aside as a national holiday in the U.S to celebrate King’s birthday.

12. Malcolm X:

Malcolm X originally called Malcolm little, was famous his stance on civil rights “by any means necessary”. His Organization of Afro-American Unity was more peaceful. In 1965, while delivering a speech X was assassinated.

13. Rosa Parks:

Ms. Parks was credited with the launch of the Bus Boycotts protest in Montgomery, Alabama by the black community after she refused to give up her seat for a white man violating a city ordinance.

The unrelenting efforts by the Civil Rights Movement would bring to an end an era of segregation both legally and publicly completely restructuring America’s social system. It involved people from all races fighting against the discrimination of African Americans,


The Civil Rights Coalition for the 21st Century Web site at,

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