Civil Rights Movement

To live freely and participate in society is a right many take for granted. Acquiring and maintaining civil rights have been a struggle for different groups throughout U.S. history. Civil rights are personal rights guaranteed and protected by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws enacted by Congress. These personal rights and laws include protection from unlawful discrimination.

In the 1883 landmark civil rights cases, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress did not have the power to prohibit discrimination in the private sector. This ruling stripped the Civil Rights Act of 1875 of much of its ability to protect civil rights. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the legal justification for voiding the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was part of a larger trend by members of the Supreme Court to invalidate most government regulations of the private sector. An exception was made for laws and regulations designed to protect public morality. 

In the 1930s, during the New Deal, most of the Supreme Court justices shifted their legal theory to allow for greater government regulation of the private sector under the commerce clause. This change paved the way for the federal government to enact civil rights laws prohibiting both public and private sector discrimination based on the commerce clause. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the nation’s premier civil rights legislation. It outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; required equal access to employment and public places; and enforced school desegregation and the right to vote. The law did not end discrimination, but it did open the door to further progress.

Although the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments outlawed slavery, provided for equal protection under the law, guaranteed citizenship and protected the right to vote, individual states continued to allow unfair treatment of minorities and passed Jim Crow laws allowing segregation of public facilities. These were upheld by the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson (1895), which found state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities that were “separate but equal” to be constitutional. This finding helped continue legalized discrimination well into the 20th century.

Following World War II, pressures to recognize, challenge and change inequalities for minorities grew. One of the most notable challenges to the status quo was the 1954 landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which questioned the notion of “separate but equal” in public education. The Supreme Court found that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” and they violate the 14th Amendment. This decision polarized Americans, fostered debate and served as a catalyst to encourage federal action to protect civil rights. [Sources: nps.gov, en.wikipedia.org, and hhs.gov.]

Legacy Stories from the Americans All Heritage Honor Roll

We are pleased to host and share these legacy stories created by honorees’ family, friends and associates. They, like us, appreciate that heritage and culture are an integral part of our nation's social fabric and want to help students participate effectively in our nation's economy, workforce and democracy.

Language
State
Last Name of Individual
First Name of Individual
Group name

Post-Civil War: Birth of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) Tennessee (May 1866 - ?) African American, Blacks, Carpetbaggers, Catholic, Civil Rights Communists, Confederate, Fraternity, Jewish, Neo-Nazi, Racism, Radical Reconstruction, Republican, Scalawags, Secrecy, Slaves, Terrorists, White Supremacy

Originally the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was established innocuously enough as a social organization by six ex-Confederate officers in the small Southern town of Pulaski, Tennessee in the early summer of 1866. Prior to 1868, the KKK essentially assumed a defensive posture aimed at protecting the white community from the perceived threats represented by Union Leaguers and the state militia. It quickly became one of the nation's most deadly domestic terrorist organizations. 

Jim Crow Laws: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona and Arkansas (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: California, Colorado, Connecticut and Delaware (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: Florida and Georgia (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: Kansas and Kentucky (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: Louisiana, Maine and Maryland (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and Mississippi (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada and New Hampshire (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and North Carolina (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: Oregon and Pennsylvania (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: Rhode Island, South Carolina and South Dakota (c.1887 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Jim Crow Laws: Texas, Utah and Vermont (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Timeline of the Civil Rights Movement: Background and Major Events Maryland (c.1600 - December 31, 2014) American History, Assassination, Boycott, Constitutional Amendments, Desegregation, Discrimination, Education, Equality, Freedom Marches, Jim Crow, Lunch Counter Protests, Plessy, Public Laws, Riots, Segregation, Slavery, Voting Rights, Women's Rights

To live freely and participate in society is a right many take for granted. Throughout U.S. history, acquiring and maintaining civil rights has been a struggle for different groups—especially Native Americans and African Americans. The Europeans who set up trade and settlements in the Americas, beginning with Columbus’ 1492voyage, saw slaves as an indispensable source of labor. African slavery was already part of the social construct and economy of Spain and Portugal and spreading to other parts of Europe.

Jim Crow Laws: Tennessee (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Timeline of the Civil Rights Movement: 1789 to 1920 Maryland (January 1, 1789 - December 31, 1920) American History, Assassination, Boycott, Constitutional Amendments, Desegregation, Discrimination, Education, Equality, Freedom Marches, Jim Crow, Lunch Counter Protests, Plessy, Public Laws, Riots, Segregation, Slavery, Voting Rights, Women's Rights

To live freely and participate in society is a right many take for granted. Throughout U.S. history, acquiring and maintaining civil rights has been a difficult struggle for many groups. We have created timelines that highlight their struggles. Each group of entries cannot exceed 2,000 words, so the timeline dates are structured accordingly.

Jim Crow Laws: Virginia (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Timeline of the Civil Rights Movement: 1925 to 1962 Maryland (January 1, 1925 - December 31, 1962) American History, Assassination, Boycott, Constitutional Amendments, Desegregation, Discrimination, Education, Equality, Freedom Marches, Jim Crow, Lunch Counter Protests, Plessy, Public Laws, Riots, Segregation, Slavery, Voting Rights, Women's Rights

To live freely and participate in society is a right many take for granted. Throughout U.S. history, acquiring and maintaining civil rights has been a difficult struggle for many groups. We have created timelines that highlight their struggles. Each group of entries cannot exceed 2,000 words, so the timeline dates are structured accordingly.

Jim Crow Laws: Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

From the 1880s into the 1960s, most American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.