The Supreme Court rules on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas, unanimously agreeing that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional, paving the way for large-scale desegregation.
Fourteen-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till, visiting family in Mississippi, is kidnapped, brutally beaten, shot, and dumped in the Tallahatchie River for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The two white men acquitted by an all-white jury later brag about committing the murder in Look magazine.
NAACP member Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the “colored section” bus to a white passenger. In response to her arrest, the Montgomery, Alabama, black community launches a successful bus boycott, which will last for more than a year.
Federal troops are sent in to facilitate the integration of formerly all-white Little Rock, Arkansas, Central High School by “the Little Rock Nine.”
James Meredith becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Violence and riots surrounding his enrollment cause President John F. Kennedy to send five thousand federal troops to restore and maintain order.
Byron De La Beckwith shoots Medgar Evers. He is tried twice in 1964 for murder. Both trials result in hung juries. Beckwith goes free.
Four young girls (Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins) are killed when a bomb explodes at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
President John F. Kennedy assassinated. Warren Commission concludes Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, committed the crime.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin.
The bodies of three civil rights workers (James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, & Michael Schwerner)–two white, one black-are found in an earthen dam six weeks after being murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.
Malcolm X is assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.
Blacks begin a march to Montgomery from Selma, Alabama, but are stopped by police at the Pettus Bridge. Fifty marchers are hospitalized after police use tear gas, whips, and clubs against them, earning the incident the name “Bloody Sunday.”
Voting Rights Act of 1965 makes it easier for southern blacks to register to vote by outlawing literacy tests, poll taxes, and other such requirements that were instituted to restrict blacks from voting.
Routine traffic stop ignites six-day race riot in Los Angeles, California.
Martin Luther King, Jr., is shot in Memphis, Tennessee, sparking riots in over sixty cities. James Earl Ray is convicted of his murder.
Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles, California, by Sirhan Sirhan.
Black Panther Party deputy chairman, Fred Hampton, is assassinated as he lies in bed by Chicago Police, FBI, and a tactical unit of the Illinois state attorney’s office.
Race riots erupt in south-central Los Angeles after a jury acquits four police officers for the videotaped beating of Rodney King.
Thirty years after assassinating Medgar Evers, Byron De La Beckwith is convicted for murder at a third trial.
James Byrd, Jr., is murdered by three white supremacists in Jasper, Texas, who drag him behind a pickup truck.
Racial tensions ignited by fifteenth shooting death of a young black man by police in six years results in riots in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Edgar Ray Killen is convicted of manslaughter forty-one years after the deaths of civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.
Six black students at Jena High School in Central Louisiana are arrested and charged with attempted murder after the beating of a white classmate.
Barack Obama becomes first African American elected as president of the United States.
White teenagers brutally beat, run over, and kill James Anderson in Jackson, Mississippi.
Neighborhood watch volunteer shoots and kills unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.