- Since the first slaves arrived from Africa in 1619, there was a tremendous need for the protection and enforcement of a person’s civil rights.
- In 1808, Congress bans the importation of slaves from Africa.
- In 1863, President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the Confederate states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
- On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, declares that racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional.
- On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat at the front of the “colored section” of a bus to a white passenger. In response to her arrest Montgomery’s black community launched a successful year-long bus boycott. Montgomery’s buses were desegregated on Dec. 21, 1956.
- In early 1957, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights group, is established by Martin Luther King, Charles K. Steele, and Fred L. Shuttlesworth.
- Martin Luther King is arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Ala. He writes “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which advocated nonviolent civil disobedience.
- On August 28, 1963, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is attended by about 250,000 people, the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation’s capital. Martin Luther King delivers his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The march builds momentum for civil rights legislation.
- On July 2, 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. This Act was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since reconstruction. It prohibited any kind of discrimination based on race, religion, color, or national origin.
- In November 2009, Barack Obama, an African-American Senator from Illinois, is voted in as the 44th President of the United States. On February 2, 2009, Eric Holder is elected in a vote of 75 to 21 as the first American Attorney General of the United States.
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