1963: Birmingham, Alabama, Riots
The city's violent response to the spring demonstrations against white supremacy forced the federal government to intervene on behalf of race reform. City Commissioner T. Eugene "Bull" Connor's use of police dogs and fire hoses against nonviolent Black activists, led by Fred L. Shuttlesworth, Ralph Abernathy, and Martin Luther King Jr., enraged the nation. The public outcry provoked President John F. Kennedy to propose civil rights legislation that became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act opened America's social, economic, and political system to African Americans and other minorities, including women, the disabled, and gays and lesbians. The legislation addressed the principal goal of the movement of gaining access to the system as consumers but also set in motion strategies to gain equality through affirmative action policies. [Source: https://alethealin.weebly.com/birmingham-riots-1963.html]
1963: Assassination of President John Kennedy
Shortly after noon on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas. As his car was passing the Texas School Book Depository, gunfire suddenly reverberated in the plaza. Bullets struck the president's neck and head and he slumped over toward Mrs. Kennedy. The governor was shot in his back.
The police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, a recently hired employee at the Texas School Book Depository. He was being held for the assassination of President Kennedy and the fatal shooting, shortly afterward, of Patrolman J. D. Tippit on a Dallas street.
On Sunday morning, November 24, Oswald was scheduled to be transferred from police headquarters to the county jail. Viewers across America watching the live television coverage suddenly saw a man aim a pistol and fire at point blank range. The assailant was identified as Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner. Oswald died two hours later at Parkland Hospital. [Source: https://www.jfk.org/the-assassination/jfk-assassination-timeline]
1963: First Black Player on the U.S. Davis Cup Team
In 1963, Arthur Ashe became the first Black player ever selected for the United States Davis Cup team. In 1965, ranked as the number 3 player in the U.S., he won both the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA] singles title and the doubles title (with Ian Crookenden of New Zealand], helping UCLA win the team NCAA tennis championship. He is the only Black man ever to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open. He retired in 1980. He was ranked World No. by Harry Hopman in 1968 and by Lance Tingay, World Tennis Magazine in 1975. In the ATP computer rankings, he peaked at No. 2 in May 1976. [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Ashe]
1963: March on Washington
On August 28, 1963, about 250,000 people participated in the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom gathering near the Lincoln Memorial. More than 3,000 members of the press covered this historic march, in which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the exalted “I Have a Dream” speech. [Source: https://www.naacp.org/marchonwashington]
1963: Executive Order 11114
This Order, issued on June 22 by President John Kennedy, extended guarantees against employment discrimination to federally assisted contracts in the construction industry. [Source: https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/1963-kennedy.html]
1964: Twenty-fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
This Amendment forbids Congress and states from requiring poll taxes in order to vote in federal elections. Poll taxes were enacted in many southern states to keep Blacks from voting. At the time the amendment was ratified, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia still had poll taxes. On January 23, it was ratified by the states. [Source: https://history.house.gov/HistoricalHighlight/Detail/37045]
1964: Civil Rights Act (Public Law 88-352 78 Stat. 241)
This act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964, prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Provisions of this civil rights act forbade discrimination based on sex, as well as, race in hiring, promoting, and firing. The Act prohibited discrimination in public accommodations and federally funded programs. It also strengthened the enforcement of voting rights and the desegregation of schools. This document was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. [Source:
1965: March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama
On March 25, 1965, Martin Luther King led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators to the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, after a 5-day, 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, where local African Americans, the SNCC, and the SCLC had been campaigning for voting rights. The marchers made their way through Selma across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where they faced a blockade of state troopers and local lawmen commanded by Sheriff Jim Clark and Major John Cloud, who ordered the marchers to disperse. When they did not, Cloud ordered his men to advance. Cheered on by white onlookers, the troopers attacked the crowd with clubs and tear gas. Mounted police chased retreating marchers and continued to beat them. Television coverage of “Bloody Sunday,” as the event became known, triggered national outrage. [Source: https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/selma-montgomery-march]
1965: Voting Rights Act
This Act was passed to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment and provided for substantial supervision of voting and election procedures to eliminate racial discrimination and protect the right to vote. The combination of public revulsion to the violence in Montgomery and President Lyndon B. Johnson's political skills stimulated Congress to pass the voting rights bill on August 5, 1965. Johnson signed it into law on August 6, 1965. [Source: https://www.justice.gov/crt/history-federal-voting-rights-laws]
1965: Watts Riots
With the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, race relations seemed to be headed in the right direction. However, states acted to circumvent the new federal law, including California that created Proposition 14, which moved to block the fair housing section of the Act. This created anger and a feeling of injustice within the inner cities. The Watts riots to took place in the Watts neighborhood and its surrounding areas of Los Angeles, California, from August 11 to 16, 1965.
On August 11, 1965, Marquette Frye, an African-American motorist on parole for robbery, was pulled over for reckless driving. A minor roadside argument broke out, which then escalated into a fight with police. Community members reported that the police had hurt Frye's mother and a pregnant woman, and six days of civil unrest followed. Nearly 14,000 members of the California Army National Guard helped suppress the disturbance, which resulted in 34 deaths and more than $40 million in property damage. It was the city's worst unrest until the Rodney King riot of 1992. [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watts_riots]