Activism and the Civil Rights Era 1940–1969

1941
United States enters World War II; President Roosevelt prohibits racial discrimination within the defense industry

1944

African American pastor and statesman Adam Clayton Powell begins an 11-term career in the U.S. House of Representatives

Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie begins a stint at the Onyx Club in New York City, where he pioneers the style of bebop jazz

1945

Ebony magazine is founded

1947

Jackie Robinson signs with the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first Africa American to play for a major league baseball team

1950

African American diplomat Ralph Bunche wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a U.N. mediator during the Arab-Israeli crisis in the Middle East

1952
First year since colonial times in which no lynchings are reported in the United States

1954

U. S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education verdict bans racial segregation in public schools and other public facilities

1955

Under the direction of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., black citizens of Montgomery, Alabama, stage a bus boycott when commuter Rosa Parks is jailed for refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a crowded bus

1957

President Dwight D. Eisenhower orders 1,000 federal troops to enforce public school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas

1958

CBS airs Mike Wallace and Louis Lomax’s five-part documentary The Hate That Hate Produced, which gives the Nation of Islam and its spokesperson, Malcolm X, national exposure

1960

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is founded to coordinate youth-directed civil rights efforts in the South

1961

President Kennedy calls for an affirmative action program to establish equity in awarding government-backed contracts

1963
Police forces in Birmingham, Alabama, use high-powered hoses and dogs on peaceful civil rights marchers led by Martin Luther King Jr.; the event draws sympathy and support in the North for the civil rights cause

Black civil rights activist and NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers is murdered at his home in Mississippi

Martin Luther King Jr. gives his famous “I have a dream” speech before a crowd of more than 200,000 civil-rights protesters in the nonviolent March on Washington

White supremacists bomb the Sixteenth Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls

1964

Congress passes the Civil Rights Act, which establishes the Equal EmploymentOpportunity Commission and ratifies the Economic Opportunity Act, enabling blacks to benefit from Head Start and Upward Bound programs

Martin Luther King Jr. receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his civil rights efforts

1965

Clashes between African American residents and police in south-central Los Angeles ignite the catastrophic Watts Riots, the largest race-related disturbance in U.S. history

Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X is assassinated while delivering a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York

1966

Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale found the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California; the organization offers numerous community aid programs and services to African Americans

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) espouse the concept of Black Power, which is articulated by Stokely Carmichael and other leaders

African American studies professor Maulana Karenga creates the holiday Kwanzaa, modeled after a traditional African harvest festival, to celebrate traditional African values in the United States; celebration of the holiday has since spread to other countries

1967
Senate confirms Thurgood Marshall as the first black justice ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court

1968
Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated while standing on the terrace of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee

1969
James Earl Ray is convicted of the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. and receives a 99-year prison sentence

Credit: sparknotes

Activism and the Civil Rights Era 1940–1969
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