Civil Rights Movement

The subject of “civil rights” has been a topic that goes back thousands of years. From the days of the Egyptians, to the Romans, and even to the time of Jesus, the topic of civil rights has long been a point of contention between people.

This was never more evident than later in the 15th century when slave traders thought it best to expand their “business.” Unfortunately, people of color and those whose practices were underdogs, simply because they were different from those of European decent. The practice of slavery was carried over to the New World, America, and thus the battle for “civil rights” followed.

Before the American Civil War

1472 Portuguese explorers engage in trade for the first time with those in Africa, this include the trade of gold, ivory, and people, the first known practice of slave trade during that time.
1503 In their attempt to infuse more labor to work the gold mines of Central America and the Caribbean, the Portuguese and Spaniards use African slaves alongside the natives of those two countries.
1565 In the New World, the first African slaves are delivered in St. Augustine, Florida, a settlement by Europeans that would later become part of the United States.
1610 The Dutch merchant ship “The Half Moon” captained by Henry Hudson brings a batch of African slaves to the New World. The Dutch build an empire of wealth that includes the trade of ships, slaves, and sugar across the Atlantic.
1619 It’s official, African slavery arrives in Colonial America in Jamestown, Virginia.
1640 One of the earliest known civil rights cases involving indentured slaves based on race takes place. In this case, John Punch, a black indentured servant is required to serve for life, as opposed to another indentured servant (who happens to be white) is only required to serve only four years.
1654 In the colony of Virginia, John Casor is the first man of African descent labeled as legally bound to be a slave for life.
1662 Definition of the status of children born to slaves becomes law in Virginia. If the mother is a slave, the children were considered the same.
1672 England enters the slave trade by establishing the Royal African Company, this allows slaves to be brought directly from Africa to the colonies.
1676 African-Americans, slave and free fight in the Bacon’s Rebellion.
1705 Slave codes are established in the colony of Virginia.
1712 Apr 6. Slave Revolt takes place in New York.
1739 Sep 9. Slaves in South Carolina march in demand of freedom during the Stono Rebellion.
1759 One of the earliest books on anti-slavery is published in Germantown, Pennsylvania by Anthony Benezet.
1774 Two black congregations are organized in South Carolina and Petersburg, Virginia; namely the Silver Bluff Baptist Church and the First African Baptist church respectively.
1775 The Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery is formed. Among its prominent members include Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Benjamin Rush.
1776 From 1776-1783, the American Revolution takes place. Many African-American slaves from the south escape to the British side. More slaves from America “defect” to England, Canada, Jamaica, and even in the West Indies soon after the War was over.
1777 At a time when Vermont was “sovereign nation”, the republic of Vermont abolishes slavery. The first to do so.
1780 Following suit in what Vermont had done, Pennsylvania becomes the first state in the Union to abolish slavery.
1781 The Antebellum Period begins. This was the period in American history between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
1787 Jul 13. The Freedom Ordinance, or better known as the Northwest Ordinance is passed by Congress. The intent was to limit the expansion of slavery by banning slavery north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River.
1793 Feb 12. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 is passed.
1794 Mar 14. The cotton gin invented by Eli Whitney is granted a patent. This necessitates the influx of more workers in the South numbering one million.
Jul. The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas and the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church open in Philadelphia.
1800 Aug 30. A slave rebellion led by Gabriel Prosser is suppressed in Richmond, Virginia.
1807 Mar 2. The United States congress pass a law, Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, all this simply says no new slaves are allowed to enter the United States.
1816 Robert Finley begins what was known as the American Colonization Society, or The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America.
1820 Mar 6. By the signing of the Missouri Compromise, this also becomes the source on which the decision to choose which states slavery will be legal.
1839 Jul 2. The Amistad (La Amistad) is captured by the United States Revenue Cutter USS Washington off the coast of Long Island. The Amistad became a battle-cry for the movement in the need to abolish slavery.
1849 Escaping from the clutches of slavery, Harriet Tubman heads for Philadelphia. She later uses the Underground Railroad to help other slaves escape.
1850 Sep 18. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850, is passed by Congress.
1852 Mar 20. Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes her anti slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
1855 Mar 20. John Mercer Langston becomes one of the first African-Americans elected to public office in Ohio.
1857 Mar 20. The case of Dred Scott v. Sandford represents a pivotal turn in which the highest court of the land upholds slavery. Some say the decision was a cause for the Civil War.

Events During & After the Civil War

1861 Apr 12. Civil War in America unfolds. Many enslaved African Americans escape to Union lines in hopes for freedom.
1863 Jan 1. The much awaited Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect.
From 1863-1877, The United States goes through the first Reconstruction Period.
1865 Mar 3. The Freedman Bureau is formed through a bill passed by the US Congress.
Dec 18. The constitution of the United States abolishes slavery by the addition of the Thirteenth Amendment.
The birth of the Ku Klux Klan, a paramilitary group composed of insurgents, try to continue the idea of white supremacy, a belief many perpetuate to this day.
1866 Apr 9. Another act of Congress establishes that all persons who are born within the Untied States are citizens, this is one of the effects of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
Sep 21. A regiment of African American soldiers is formed by the US Army, they are known as the Buffalo Soldiers.
1868 Jul 9. Due process and equal protection becomes a reality through the passage of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
1870 Feb 3. The right of all male citizens born in the US to vote is guaranteed by the 15th Amendment, regardless of race or color.
1875 Mar 1. Civil Rights Act of 1875 is passed, this coincides with the Reconstruction Era changes that provide equal treatment for African Americans in accommodations, transportation, and participation in the justice system.
1895 Sep 18. The Atlanta Compromise, a speech delivered by Booker T. Washington, is instrumental in bringing a compromise between Southern white leaders and African Americans.
1906 Wrongly accused, 167 members of the Buffalo Soldiers stationed in Texas are embroiled in the Brownsville Affair which included the inaction of President Theodore Roosevelt.
1909 Feb 12.The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is founded. This inter-racial organization’s goal is to ensure civil rights are observed.
1914 Woodrow Wilson reinstitute segregation in the workplaces both in the federal and private level.
1916 Nearly 1.5 million African Americans move from the southern United States to parts North and the Midwest, it was seen at that time as the Great Migration.
1925 In the spring, the American Negro Labor congress is founded.
1936 Aug. During the Summer Olympics in Berlin, Jesse Owens win four gold medals, in the presence of Adolf Hitler.
1940 From 1940-1970, more than 5 million African Americans, move from the south to go west, north, and the mid-west, this is seen as the Second Great Migration.
1941 The Tuskegee Airmen, a combat unit composed of African American’s is formed by the US Army.
1944 Apr 25. In the hope that deserving black students are able to attend colleges or universities, the United Negro College Fund was established.
1945 From 1945-1975, the Second Reconstruction period in the United States of America takes place. This includes the growth of the American Civil Rights Movement.
1946 Harry Truman, president of the United States at the time signs executive order 9808 wherein a Presidential Committee on Civil Rights is created to protect and strengthen civil rights across the country.
1948 Jul 26. Executive Order 9981 is signed and passed, the intent was to abolish racial discrimination in the armed forces.
1948 Jul 26. Executive Order 9981 is signed and passed, the intent was to abolish racial discrimination in the armed forces.
1950 Dr. Ralph Bunche, an academic, diplomat and Political Scientist, receives the Nobel Peace prize for his role in the Palestine conflict in the late 1940’s.
The 1950’s saw a series of lawsuits filed in behalf of complainants who were being discriminated against because of their race or skin color. It was also a time where organizations were formed to raise the awareness regarding civil rights.
1951 Jul 11. A black family attempts to move into an all-white neighborhood in Cicero, Illinois, a riot ensues and the National Guard had to be called in.
Jul 26. After much debate, the US Army brass finally desegregates the army.
1953 Jun 8. Segregation ceases in Washington DC when the US Supreme Court rules against it.
Aug 13. Dwight D Eisenhower issues executive order 10479 to create an anti-discrimination Committee on Government Contracts.
1955 Dec 1. As the civil rights movement gains steam in the United States, the Montgomery Bus Boycott draws the nation’s attention to the growing movement. Rosa Parks’ role remained prominent when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger.
1957 Feb 14. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. becomes chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
May 17. One of the largest non-violent demonstrations of the civil rights movement takes place, the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom.
Sep 24. Another Civil Rights Act (1957) is passed by Dwight Eisenhower.
1959 Jan 12. Berry Gordy founds one of the most successful business enterprises in America, Motown Records.
1960 May 6. A federal law is passed to enforce local voter registration rights, this is provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1960.
1963 Jan 18. Just elected governor of Alabama George Wallace expresses his favor for segregation by saying during his inaugural address, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”.
Apr 12. Martin Luther King Jr. is put in jail and arrested for “parading without a permit.”
Aug 28. Thousands march to Washington for Jobs & Freedom, Martin Luther King Jr. gives one of the most memorable speeches that continued to provide a spark in the civil rights movement through his, “I have a dream speech.”
Nov 22. President John F. Kennedy dies by assassination in Dallas, Texas.
1964 Jul 2. Banning discrimination based color, national origin, race, religion, or sex in “employment practices and public accommodations” is one of the lasting effects of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Dec 10. Martin Luther King Jr. becomes the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
1965 Jul 2. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission acts as a government watchdog to ensure discrimination in the workplace does not take place.
Aug 6. An important piece of legislation that resulted from the civil rights movement is the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed by President Lyndon B Johnson. This reinforced what the 15th Amendment has been saying.
Aug 11-15. One of the deadliest riots connected to the civil rights movement is the Watts Riots. The Los Angeles Police department is accused of police brutality and mistreatment. Thirty-four people died, 1032 injured, and more than 3438 people were arrested.
Sep 15. Bill Cosby becomes the first black actor to appear on American television, I Spy.
1966 Oct. A militant group that tried to be part of the civil rights movement, the Black Panthers is founded in Oakland, California.
1968 Apr 4. While visiting Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is shot and killed by an assassin.
Apr 11. The Fair Housing Act is signed into law via the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Jun 6. Civil rights advocate and brother of slain president John F Kennedy, Robert F Kennedy is assassinated at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, he had just won the presidential primary in California in his bid for the presidency.
1976 Alex Haley publishes his novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The novel brings the reader into the life of an African slave brought to America and chronicle the trials and hardships of one family. It later became a television special.
1978 Andrew Young becomes the first African-American to serve as an Ambassador to the UN.
1983 Nov 2. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. receives a day in his honor by President Ronald Reagan.

The Civil Rights movement continue to this day. As long as people continue to try to lord over his fellow man, the movement serves as a grim reminder of what those before us had to endure. Were it not for their efforts, we may be living in a different world today. Some say it is a divine calling on these men and women, some say it is common sense, but whatever the reason, to stand up against tyrants who would reduce the state of a man, or woman, based on the color of his or her skin, it is a legacy we dare not forget.