A major part of the timeline for civil rights advances starts in 1789, when the Constitution was officially adopted and slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person each. Another major blow against civil rights came with the Dred Scott decision, in which the Supreme Court upheld the inferiority of slaves based on race. However, after the Civil War began in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, effectively freeing all slaves in America.Continue Reading
In 1868, the 14th Amendment officially made African-Americans citizens free and prohibited states from denying these citizens equal protection or access to due process. In 1870, the 15th Amendment conferred the right to vote to African-American citizens. Unfortunately, the first segregation laws, known as "Jim Crow" laws, were passed in various states in 1870 to encourage "separate but equal" access to public accommodations, services and education. The separate but equal mentality was made law in the 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, which decided such measures were constitutional.
In 1910, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was created. In 1954, separate but equal education was made illegal in the Brown vs. the Board of Education Supreme Court decision, which effectively ended segregated schools. In 1955, boycotts of segregated bussing in Montgomery, Alabama were led by Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks became a civil rights icon for refusing to give up her seat. In 1963, over 250,000 individuals attended Dr. King's famous "I have a dream" speech, which called for racial unity and brotherhood as a way to overcome the hate and fear of racism.Learn more about US History