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Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive:

Pete Seeger and a Freedom School class in 1964

Mississippi events are in italics.


July 11-13, 1905 - Niagara Movement is formed (forerunner to the NAACP).

1909 - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is formed.

1918 - First chapter of the NAACP is formed in Mississippi in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

1919 - NAACP chapter established in Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

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1920s - NAACP chapters established in Jackson, Meridian, and Natchez (most NAACP chapters founded in Mississippi were not very active until after World War II).

August 1925 - the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was formed (the first all African American labor union in the United States).

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1941 - The March on Washington Movement is formed by A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters who organized the original March on Washington Movement, forerunner of the massive 1963 March on Washington.

August 1941 - The Negro Civic Welfare Association is organized in Hattiesburg (a group of African American business owners).

1942 - The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is formed in Chicago, made up of students from the University of Chicago dedicated to non-violent protest.

October 1942 - Lynching of 14-year old boys Charlie Lang and Ernest Green in Shubuta, MS, and Howard Walsh (45) in Laurel, Mississippi.

1943 - First CORE sit-in held at a Chicago restaurant.

October 1944 - Lynching of Rev. Isaac Simmons in Amite County, Mississippi.

Post-World War II - African Americans in Hattiesburg successfully protest the take-over of Robertson Place housing project to be used for whites.

1946 - Lynching of Rev. Isaac Simmons in Amite County, Mississippi.

2 July 1946 - Rev. Bender, an African American registered voter, attempts but is not allowed to vote in the November election in Madison County, Mississippi.

1948 - President Harry Truman ends segregation in the military.

April 1948 - Gladys Noel Bates, an African American teacher in the Jackson public school system, files suit for equal pay. The suit was lost, as was her job.

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1951 - Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) formed in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Led by Dr. T.R.M. Howard, the RCNL has been described as a grassroots NAACP movement, as it worked for voter registration and educational improvements for African Americans.

25 December 1951 - Civil rights activist Harry T. Moore and his wife are murdered. Moore was the first president of the Florida NAACP and fearless in his efforts for rights for African Americans in Florida. Both he and his wife, Harriette, lost their teaching jobs because of their civil rights work. On the night of December 25, 1951, dynamite exploded under their home, killing them both. Ku Klux Klan member Joseph Neville Cox was interviewed by FBI agents after the bombing. Cox committed suicide after a second FBI interview. No arrests were ever made in the murder case of Harry and Harriette Moore.

1953 - Bus boycott by African Americans in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

17 May 1954 - Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas, decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, opening the door for desegregation.

11 July 1954 - White Citizens' Council is formed by Robert Patterson, with fourteen original members. Patterson was a cotton and cattle farmer in Sunflower County, in the Mississippi Delta.

13 September 1954 - Medgar Evers denied admission to the University of Mississippi Law School.

December 1954 - Medgar Evers becomes Field Secretary for the NAACP in Jackson, Mississippi.

7 May 1955 - Rev. George Lee shot and killed. A businessman and minister in Belzoni, Mississippi, Rev. Lee was also one of the early proponents of voter registration for African Americans. He and a friend started the local chapter of the NAACP in Belzoni. While driving home one day, Lee was shot and killed. The Humphreys County sheriff did not investigate, but said that Lee's death was caused by a traffic accident, and the county coroner stated the death was from "unknown causes." These conclusions were made despite evidence to the contrary in the form of lead pellets taken from Rev. Lee's face and head. No arrests were ever made in this case.

August 1955 - Lamar Smith shot in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

28 August 1955 - 14-year old Emmett Till murdered near Money, Mississippi.

1 December 1955 - Rosa Parks, a member of the Montgomery, Alabama, NAACP refuses to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger and was arrested.

5 December 1955 - The Montgomery Bus Boycott begins, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in response to the arrest of Rosa Parks.

1956 - The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission is established by the state legislature for the purpose of maintaining segregation in the state.

December 1956 - The U.S. Supreme Court makes bus segregation illegal, and the Montgomery bus boycott ends in victory.

1957 - Clyde Kennard attempts to enroll at the Mississippi Southern College (now The University of Southern Mississippi), but was denied.

January-February 1957 - The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is formed by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Charles K. Steele, and Fred L. Shuttlesworth.

9 September 1957 - The Civil Rights Act of 1957 is passed, making it illegal to interfere with a citizen's voting rights. Lack of federal enforcement made this law ineffective in Mississippi.

21-25 September 1957 - Federal troops and the Arkansas National Guard is called in to protect African American students in the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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1960 - Civil Rights Act of 1960 - federal supervision of local voting registrars.

February 1960 - Four students from North Carolina A & T led sit-ins to integrate the Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Their actions started the sit-in movement that quickly spread to 9 other states.

April 1960 - The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is formed in North Carolina as a result of the sit-in movement.

January 1961 - James Meredith applies for admission to Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi).

27 March 1961 - Arrest of the Tougaloo Nine - Students from Tougaloo College were arrested for attempting to integrate the public library in nearby Jackson, MS.

4 May 1961 - Freedom Rides - A group of CORE activists, both white and African American, attempted to ride Trailways and Greyhound buses from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans, Louisiana. The "Freedom Riders," as they were called in Mississippi, encountered harassment and incidents of violence.

25 September 1961 - Herbert Lee, a farmer, was murdered by E.H. Hurst near Liberty, Mississippi, for participation in voter registration campaigns. Hurst, a member of the Mississippi State Legislature, was never charged or tried for the crime.

4 October 1961 - One-hundred-sixteen high school students from McComb, Mississippi, were arrested and put in jail for participating in a protest march. During the march, Bob Zellner, a white SNCC worker, was severely beaten by members of a white mob.

30 September 1962 - Riots erupt on the campus of the University of Mississippi as James Meredith attempts to attend classes at Ole Miss. The violence spread throughout the town of Oxford, involving 3,000 students, local citizens, and members of the Ku Klux Klan. Over 20,000 Unites States Army soldiers were sent by President Kennedy to restore order in Oxford. The riots resulted in the death of two people and the injury of sixty U.S. marshals.

12 April 1963 - Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ralph Abernathy are arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, for demonstrating without a permit. King spent eleven days in jail, during which time he wrote the famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

28 August 1963 - March on Washington - Martin Luther King, Jr., leads 250,000 people in a march in the nation's capitol for equal rights. King delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

11 June 1963 - Medgar Evers, director of the Mississippi NAACP, is assassinated in the driveway of his home in Jackson, Mississippi. Byron de la Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens Council, was convicted for Evers' murder in 1994.

15 September 1963 - A bomb thrown in to the basement of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, an African American congregation in Birmingham, Alabama, kills four young girls attending Sunday school there.

22 November 1963 - President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

1964 - The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed.

22 January 1964 - Freedom Day in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Summer 1964 - Freedom Summer - Hundreds of African American civil rights activists from Mississippi and white college student from northern states joined together to work for equality in Mississippi. The primary focus of Freedom Summer was voter registration for African Americans and other social inequalities. Freedom schools and community centers in African American communities, and the establishment of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) were highlights of the summer of 1964.

21 June 1964 - Neshoba County murders - Three civil rights workers are murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi. After several weeks of searching for the missing civil rights workers, authorities found the bodies of James Chaney, an African American Mississippi native, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman in an earthen dam.

25 August 1964 - Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey. A delegation of Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) members attempts to be seated at the convention in place of members of the Mississippi Democratic Party. Two MFDP delegates were invited to join the convention as at-large representatives, while the rest of MFDP delegates would be seated as guests. The Freedom Democrats refused the offer, as it did not include removing the delegates of the Democratic Party, seen as illegally elected by members of the MFDP.

21 February 1965 - Malcolm X, militant civil rights leader, is assassinated.

7 March 1965 - Selma to Montgomery March, Bloody Sunday - 600 civil activists started a march from Selma to Montgomery. They made it only six blocks before they were attacked by local police and sheriffs with billy clubs and tear gas. They were forced back into Selma, and the incident became known as "Bloody Sunday."

6 August 1965 - The Voting Rights Act is signed by President Johnson. This piece of legislation provided for federal examiners to be appointed to conduct voter registration as well as the temporary suspension of literacy tests.

11 August 1965 - A traffic stop and arrest of a drunk driver in the south central neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, known as Watts, sparked a series of major race riots. After six days, 34 people were dead, over 1000 injured, thousands were arrested, and hundreds of buildings were destroyed or damaged.

11 January 1966 - Vernon Dahmer, a local African American civil rights activist, dies in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, as a result of burns sustained when his home was fire bombed the night before. A successful businessman and land-owner in Forrest County, Dahmer was a leader in the local NAACP and well-respected by the majority of the white community. Sam Bowers, the leader of the local Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s, was convicted of Dahmer's murder in 1998.

June 1966 - Meredith March Against Fear - Nearly four years after he became the first African American admitted to the University of Mississippi, James Meredith began his march against fear on June 5, 1966, in Memphis, Tennessee. Meredith was shot in the leg by a sniper on June 6 near Hernando, Mississippi. After he was released from the hospital, Meredith joined the conclusion of the March in Jackson on June 25. Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., and Stokley Carmichael, among others, joined the march after Meredith was shot.

June 1966 - Black Power Movement - Led by Malcolm X, Robert Williams, Stokley Carmichael, and the Black Panther Party, the Black Power Movement encouraged pride in African American culture and racial heritage. In an approach different from the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement advocated improvement in African American communities and militant protest, as opposed to integration and non-violent protest.

15 October 1966 - The Black Panther Party, an out-growth of the Black Power Movement, is formed by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The official name of the party was the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. It advocated militant protest and active self-defense by African Americans, initially recruiting members from African American communities in Oakland and San Francisco, California.

1967 - Robert G. Clark is elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives, the first African American to be elected to the Mississippi House since Reconstruction. Clark resides in Holmes County, Mississippi, and serves as Speaker Pro Tempore of the Mississippi House of Representatives, Chairman of the Management Committee, and as member of the Constitution, Education, Game and Fish, and Public Health and Welfare Committees.

1967 - Longtime civil rights activist Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American Supreme Court Justice - Marshall served as legal director of the NAACP from 1940-1961, before he was appointed the United States Court of Appeals by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, and succeeded Justice Tom Clark on the Supreme Court in 1967. He served on the Supreme Court until June 1991, just a year and a half before he died in January 1993.

4 April 1968 - Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. The most recognized leader of the Civil Rights Movement, King advocated social change through non-violent protest and direct action. King was a founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), minister, and leader of many protest marches. He was assassinated while while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis. King had gone to Memphis to support the sanitation workers' strike there.

111 April 1968 - President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Title VIII, the Fair Housing Act, made discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of housing illegal.

1969 - Meridian church bombings - According to an oral history with Obie Clark recorded in March 1999, twelve black churches in Meridian, Mississippi, were bombed in 1969. Most of those churches did not have insurance, and pastors of white churches who tried to help were dismissed from their own congregations.

20 July 1969 - Civil rights activists and NAACP members Obie Clark, his son Cedric, and Rev. J.C. Killingworth integrate the Highland Park Pool in Meridian, Mississippi.

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1970 - Public schools in Mississippi are desegregated. Sixteen years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision which ruled segregation in public education unconstitutional, Mississippi public schools were forced to integrate. Many white Mississippians responded by establishing private, all-white academies to educate their children. As a result of the ruling of Alexander v. Holmes, Mississippi public schools were required to complete integration by 1970.

20 April 1971 - Swann v. Charoltte-Mecklenburg Board of Education - The Supreme Court ruled in favor of continuation of busing students as a way to desegregate public schools and improve educational opportunities for African American children.

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22 March 1988 - The Civil Rights Restoration Act is passed by Congress. This piece of legislation, in reference to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, expanded the scope of anti-discrimination laws. Private institutions that receive federal funds are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, nationality, sex, religion, age, or disability.

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22 November 1991 - The Civil Rights Act of 1991 is passed. In an effort to strengthen the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1991. This act emphasized anti-discrimination policies in the workplace as well as protected and increased the rights of the plaintiff in discrimination cases.

29 April 1992 - Los Angeles Rodney King riots - After four Los Angeles police officers were acquitted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon for the March 3, 1991, beating of Rodney King, a series of riots broke out in the city that lasted for several days and left 53 people dead and 2,300 injured. The officers were caught on home video beating King, an African American, after he had been stopped for speeding. Property damage in the South Central area of Los Angeles was high - more than 1,000 buildings were destroyed by fire, the finally total in damages to the city of Los Angeles coming to about $1 billion. Hundreds of jobs were lost, as businesses were destroyed, and the rioting spread to other U.S. cities, such as San Francisco, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. The Los Angeles race riots marked the largest such incident in modern American history.

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23 June 1003 - Affirmative Action in Higher Education - The Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling allowing universities to consider race in their admissions policies.


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