Reading Comprehension - Timeline of Civil Rights Movement

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This is a timeline of the most important dates and events of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA

The Timeline


The colony of St. Augustine in Florida became the first permanent European settlement in what would become the US, and included an unknown number of African slaves.


The first record of African slavery in English Colonial America.


John Casor, a black man, became the first legally-recognized slave-for-life in the Virginia colony.


Virginia law defined that children of enslaved mothers followed the status of their mothers and were considered slaves, regardless of their father's status.


The Virginia Slave codes defines as slaves all those servants brought into the colony who were not Christian in their original countries, as well as those Indians sold to colonists by other Indians.


Pennsylvania becomes the first then-U.S.-state to abolish slavery.


Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves.


January 1 The importation of slaves into the United States is banned; this is also the earliest day under the United States Constitution that an amendment could be made restricting slavery.


April 12 The American Civil War begins (secessions began in December, 1860), and lasts until April 9, 1865. Tens of thousands of enslaved African Americans of all ages escaped to Union lines for freedom. Contraband camps were set up in some areas, where blacks started learning to read and write. Others traveled with the Union Army. By the end of the war, more than 180,000 African Americans, mostly from the South, fought with the Union Army and Navy as members of the US Colored Troops and sailors.


The Civil Rights Act of 1866 is passed by Congress over Johnson's presidential veto. All persons born in the United States are now citizens.

The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Pulaski, Tennessee, made up of white Confederate veterans; it becomes a paramilitary insurgent group to enforce white supremacy.

New Orleans white citizens riot against blacks. September 21 The U.S. Army regiment of Buffalo Soldiers (African Americans) is formed.


Newly elected president Woodrow Wilson orders physical re-segregation of federal workplaces and employment after nearly 50 years of integrated facilities


The Harlem Renaissance is named after the anthology The New Negro, edited by Alain Locke (also known as the New Negro Movement).


Wallace D. Fard, leader of the Nation of Islam, mysteriously disappears. He is succeeded by Elijah Muhammad.

1940s to 1970

Second Great Migration In multiple acts of resistance, more than 5 million African Americans leave the violence and segregation of the South for jobs, education, and the chance to vote in northern, mid western and California cities.


Rosa Parks is imprisoned because she refused to leave her seat for a white passenger and move to the back of a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. A boycott follows, and the bus segregation ordinance is declared unconstitutional.

The Federal Interstate Commerce Commission bans segregation on interstate trains and buses.


President Kennedy sends federal troops to the University of Mississippi to end riots so that James Meredith, the school's first black student, can attend.

The Supreme Court rules that segregation is unconstitutional in all transportation facilities.

The Department of Defense orders complete integration of military reserve units, excluding the National Guard.


March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is held. Dr. Martin Luther King gives his I Have a Dream speech


Congress passes Civil Rights Act declaring discrimination based on race illegal after 75-day long filibuster.


A march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, is organized to demand protection for voting rights.

Malcolm X is shot to death in Manhattan, New York, probably by three members of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X. was a longtime minister of the Nation of Islam. He had rejected Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s policies of non-violence and preached black pride and economic self-reliance for blacks. He eventually became a Muslim and broke with Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad

Signature of Voting Rights Act by President Johnson, which made it illegal to force would-be voters to pass literacy tests in order to vote.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. James Earl Ray pleaded guilty of the crime in March 1969 and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.


The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday is established.

Source: Wikipedia

Related materials

I have a dream speech
Rosa Parks
Martin Luther King Jr.
Malcolm X
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights Movement Timeline