Timeline of the Civil Rights Movement

Project Introduction || 1619 − 1949 || 1950 − 2010

The Civil Rights Movement
1950 Social Security Amendments established a federal-state program to aid permanently and totally disabled persons.


1951 Pope Pius XII sanctions the rhythm method as a natural form of birth control.
Previously, the only birth control option approved by Rome was abstinence.
In December, Paul Robeson, an American bass-baritone concert singer, and William Patterson, a leader in the Communist Party USA, submit a petition titled, "We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government Against the Negro People" to the United Nations.
This book-length petition documents hundreds of lynching cases and a clear pattern of government inaction or actual complicity. It charges that in the 85 years since the end of slavery more than 10,000 Blacks are known to have been lynched.

With the "Red Scare" and the "Cold War" raging, the U.S. government was able to prevent any discussion of the petition by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

When one of the American delegates to the U.N. criticized Patterson for "attacking your government," Patterson replies, "It's your government. It's my country. I am fighting to save my country's democratic principles."
1952 President Eisenhower eagleDwight D. Eisenhower (Republican) wins the presidential election.
Eisenhower was the last U.S. President to be born in the 19th century.

One of Eisenhower's enduring achievements was championing and signing the bill that authorized the Interstate Highway System in 1956. He justified the project through the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 as essential to American security during the Cold War. It was believed that large cities would be targets in a possible future war, and the highways were designed to evacuate them and allow the military to move in.

The French asked Eisenhower for help in French Indochina against the Communists, supplied from China, who were fighting the First Indochina War. In 1953, Eisenhower sent Lt. General John W. "Iron Mike" O'Daniel to Vietnam to study and "assess" the French forces.

Chief of Staff Matthew Ridgway persuaded the President not to interfere by presenting a comprehensive estimate of the massive military deployment that would be necessary.

However, later in 1954, Eisenhower did offer military and economic aid to the new nation of South Vietnam. In the years that followed, Eisenhower increased the number of U.S. military advisors in South Vietnam to 900 men.

The Eisenhower administration declared racial discrimination a national security issue − meaning that Communists around the world were using racial discrimination in the U.S. as a point of propaganda attack.

scandal During World War II in Europe, Eisenhower allegedly began an affair with his driver, Kay Summersby. He supposedly planned to divorce his wife Mamie and marry Summersby. His superior, General George Marshall, stopped the plan by threatening to bust Eisenhower out of the army.

The rumor stayed mostly under wraps until 1975, when Summersby wrote a controversial book titled "Past Forgetting: My Love Affair with Dwight D. Eisenhower".


1953 Margaret Sanger realizes Katharine McCormick has the money to fund hormone birth control research and brings her to Shrewsbury to meet Gregory Pincus. McCormick writes Pincus a check for a huge sum − $40,000 − with assurances she will provide him with all the additional funding he will need. The "Pill Project" is started.


1954 The Supreme Court declares school segregation unconstitutional in its ruling on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. video
The day after the Court handed down its decision, President Eisenhower told District of Columbia officials to make Washington a model for the rest of the country in integrating Black and White public school children.
However, there would be massive resistance to school integration, especially in the South, for years to come.
School Segregation Banned McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents (1950)

The Florida murder trial of Ruby McCollum forced a public acknowledgement of the attitude of Paramour Rights.

1955 Rosa Parks is jailed for refusing to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
A boycott follows, and the bus segregation ordinance is declared unconstitutional. The Federal Interstate Commerce Commission bans segregation on interstate trains and buses.
A DBQ Lesson for "Riding the Bus".
video Rosa Parks on bus Rosa Parks fingerprinting newspaper headline
picketers In response to requests for relief from the hardships caused by the immediate task of desegregation, in "Brown II", the Supreme Court ruled that school integration should procede with "all deliberate speed".
This language allowed states and individual school districts to delay significant integration for years.

The federal government didn't begin to fully enforce public school desegregation until passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

1957 Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus uses the National Guard to block nine black students from attending Little Rock High School.
With Executive Order 10730, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to allow the black students to enter the school.

video The Little Rock Nine video

President Eisenhower proposed to Congress the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 and signed those acts into law.

The 1957 Act for the first time established a permanent Civil Rights Division inside the Justice Department. Although both Acts were weaker than subsequent civil rights legislation, they constituted the first significant civil rights acts since the Civil Rights Act of 1875, signed by President Ulysses S. Grant.
1958 The Lost Year During the summer, the NAACP pursued integration through the courts while Governor Faubus signed a bill into law that allowed him to close any or all schools in any district of the state that was faced with integration, pending a public vote on the issue.
Two weeks later, the citizens of Little Rock voted against immediate integration of the district's schools. As a result, ALL of Little Rock's high schools were closed for the 1958-1959 school year.
This became known as the "Lost Year". Students either attended school in other communities, moved from the state to continue their education, or did not attend school at all.
In May of 1959, three of six Little Rock School Board members voted to terminate the contracts of 44 teachers and administrators who they felt had supported desegregation at Little Rock Central High School.
This prompted the city's leaders to begin a campaign to recall the three segregationist board members. The group that pushed for this was called by the acronym STOP - Stop This Outrageous Purge. In the fall of 1959, the newly-elected Little Rock School Board members and three original moderate ones re-opened desegregated high schools.
1960 President Kennedy eagleJohn F. Kennedy (Democrat) wins the presidential election.
Kennedy is the first and only Catholic president, the first Irish American president, and is the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize.

Events during his administration include the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Space Race, the African American Civil Rights Movement and early stages of the Vietnam War.

The turbulent end of state-sanctioned racial discrimination was one of the most pressing domestic issues of Kennedy's era.
The United States Supreme Court had ruled in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. However, many schools, especially in southern states, did not obey the Supreme Court's judgment.

Segregation on buses, in restaurants, movie theaters, bathrooms, and other public places continued - despite prohibition by the Court.

Kennedy verbally supported racial integration and civil rights. He even telephoned Coretta Scott King, wife of the then jailed Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., to express his support.

John and Robert Kennedy's intervention secured the early release of King from jail.
President Kennedy initially believed the grass roots movement for civil rights would only anger many Southern whites and make it more difficult to pass civil rights laws through Congress, which was dominated by conservative Southern Democrats, and he distanced himself from it.

He also was more concerned with other issues early in his presidency, e.g. the Bay of Pigs Fiasco and Southeast Asias issues.

As articulated by his brother Robert, the political priority was to keep the president out of "this civil rights mess".

As a result, many civil rights leaders viewed Kennedy as unsupportive of their efforts, especially as concerned the Freedom Riders who were repeatedly met with violence by whites, including some law enforcement - both federal and state.

Kennedy assigned federal marshals to protect the Freedom Riders as an alternative to using federal troops or uncooperative FBI agents.

Robert Kennedy, speaking for the president, urged the Freedom Riders to "get off the buses and leave the matter to peaceful settlement in the courts".

On February 1, four black college students begin sit-ins at the lunch counter of a Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth store where black patrons are not served. video
We Cater to White Trade ONLY Greensboro Lunch Counter sit-ins spread sit-ins spread
The Food and Drug Administration approves birth control pills.
Despite FDA approval, not all US states approve the availability of contraceptives to married women.

John Rock tells the national press that the Pill, since it simply extends a woman's "safe period," should be considered an extension of the Vatican-approved rhythm method.

The Pill video
scandal Always a ladies' man, JFK had many of girlfriends before marrying Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953.
After their marriage, he reportedly continued to see other women, supposedly even sneaking them into the White House. (Mafia moll Judith Exner and actress Marilyn Monroe are two of the wilder alleged partners.)

At first a great secret, such rumors have since gotten wide public airing, and even Kennedy's closest aides seem to have stopped denying many of the tales.

1961 The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C. on May 4, and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17.
Boynton v. Virginia had outlawed racial segregation in the restaurants and waiting rooms in terminals serving buses that crossed state lines. The Freedom Riders used various forms of public transportation to challenge local Jim Crow laws or customs that enforced segregation in the South.
The Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement and called national attention to the violent disregard for the law that was used to enforce segregation in the southern United States.
Freedom Riders burning bus

The public learns that Thalidomide causes horrible birth defects.

The drug has never received FDA approval, but the age of faith in "wonder drugs" appears to be over. In the wake of the Thalidomide tragedy, the FDA will enact stricter regulations for human drug tests.
1962 President Kennedy sends federal marshals to the University of Mississippi to end riots so that James Meredith, the school's first black student, can attend.
video James Meredith   (see Timeline 1966)
The Supreme Court rules that segregation is unconstitutional in all public transportation facilities.

The Department of Defense orders complete integration of military reserve units, excluding the National Guard (which are controlled by the States).


Cuban Missile Crisis Prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis video more than 200,000 of Cuba's wealthiest and most affluent professionals fled to the U.S. fearing reprisals from Fidel Castro's communist regime.

Many believed Castro would be overthrown and they would soon be able to return to Cuba.
(see Timeline 1966)

The U.S. embargo against Cuba is STILL in place.


1963 January 4 − Robert F. Kennedy marks the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation
Civil rights leader Medgar Evers is killed by a sniper's bullet on June 12.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech to hundreds of thousands at the March on Washington on August 28. video

A church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, leaves four young black girls dead on September 15. (pictures)

Medgar Evers vspace= I have a dream march on washington
four girls killed in Birmingham
stand in the schoolhouse door To stop desegregation of the University of Alabama by the enrollment of black students Vivian Malone and James Hood, Governor George Wallace read this proclamation in front of Foster Auditorium on June 11.video

This came to be called the "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door". After being confronted by federal marshals and the Alabama National Guard, he stood aside.

Congress passes the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man would receive for the same job.
Women and Work in Oklahoma.

Business and Professional Women's Clubs in Oklahoma.

rip-off pay

street people President Kennedy called for a reduction "over a number of years and by hundreds of thousands, (in the number) of persons confined" to residential institutions and asked that methods be found "to retain in and return to the community the mentally ill and mentally retarded, and thereto restore and revitalize their lives through better health programs and strengthened educational and rehabilitation services."

This resulted in deinstitutionalization and increased community services.

While other factors were involved, this lead to an increase in the number of street people.

black ribbonPresident Kennedy is assassinated on November 22.   (CHS U.S. History Class)

President Kennedy in Dallas Oswald and Ruby
November 24 − Chief Justice Earl Warren eulogizes President Kennedy
1964 President Johnson eagleLyndon B. Johnson (Democrat) wins the presidential election.
Johnson succeeded to the presidency following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, completed Kennedy's term and was elected President in his own right.

As President, was responsible for designing the "Great Society" legislation that included laws that upheld civil rights, Public Broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, aid to education, and his "War on Poverty".

voting rights Congress passes the Civil Rights Act, declaring discrimination based on race illegal. video
The 24th Amendment was ratified on January 23 - abolishing the poll tax, which had been established in the South after Reconstruction to make it difficult for poor blacks to vote.

Three civil rights workers, two white and one black man, disappear in Mississippi. They were found buried six weeks later. (see 2005 below)

murdered civil rights workers

George Wallace George Wallace gives a 4th of July speech in which he announces he will run for President of the United States and calls the Civil Rights Movement a "fraud sham, and hoax".

This would mark the beginning of the Long Hot Summers video ending with the Kerner Commission Report in 1968.

Cassius Clay, winner of the boxing gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, joins the Nation of Islam and becomes Muhammad Ali.

His father, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. was a painter and musician − named after "The Lion of White Hall", an emancipationist from Madison County, Kentucky.

Cassius Clay at the 1960 Olympics Ali standing over Liston

In 1967, Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. military based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. He was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges, stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He was not imprisoned, but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was successful.

1965 Malcolm X is assassinated at Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom on February 21.
Three gunmen rushed the stage and shot him 15 times at close range. video

The assassins, Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson were convicted of first-degree murder in March 1966. All three were members of the Nation of Islam.

Malcom X photo Malcolm X, a longtime minister of the Nation of Islam, had rejected Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s policies of non-violence.

He preached black pride and economic self-reliance for blacks. video

He eventually became a Muslim and broke with Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.

the shooting
Selma march A march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, is organized to demand protection for voting rights. video

March pictures from Alabama Archives Bloody Sunday - March 7

How Bloody Sunday Changed America

A DBQ Lesson for the Selma to Montgomery March

A new Voting Rights Act, which made it illegal to force would-be voters to pass literacy tests in order to vote, is signed - August 6 video

Watts riot The Watts Riots began on August 11. video video

Tensions in LA began to rise with the arrest of Marquette Frye, an African-American, by Lee Minikus, a white officer of the California Highway patrol. Accused of driving while intoxicated, Marquette (and his brother and mother) were eventually arrested. As a crowd on onlookers gathered at the scene of Frye's arrest, strained tensions between police officers and the crowd erupted in a violent exchange.

This was the tipping point for already strained racial relations and it kicked off 6 days of deadly riots, largely in the Watts neighborhood of southern LA.

The outbreak of violence that followed Frye's arrest immediately touched off a large-scale riot centered in the commercial section of Watts, a deeply impoverished African American neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles.

For several days, rioters overturned and burned automobiles and looted and damaged grocery stores, liquor stores, department stores, and pawnshops.

Watts riot Watts riot' align=

Many of the targets were white shop owners, businesses, and police officers, who had been perceived as taking advantage of the non-white residents of the area.

Meetings held with community leaders the next day failed to ease tensions, and rioting crowds increased their violence.

By the fourth day of unrest, fires had been set all over the city and over 100 fire brigades were working on the blazes. By midnight on the fourth day, over 13,000 national guardsmen were in the city.

During the riots over 1000 building had been burned, looted, damaged, or destroyed, and 400 arrests had been made.

Over 1000 people were injured and 34 died.

Watts riot watts riot


Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta found the United Farm Workers association, in Delano, Calif. - September 8.
The UFW becomes the largest and most important farm worker union in the nation. Huerta becomes the first woman to lead such a union.
Under their leadership, the UFW joins a strike started by Filipino grape pickers in Delano. The Grape Boycott becomes one of the most significant social justice movements for farm workers in the United States.
Cesar Chavez United Farm Workers Union

Medicare and Medicaid were established through passage of the Social Security Amendments of 1965, providing federally subsidized health care to disabled and elderly Americans covered by the Social Security program.

These amendments changed the definition of disability under Social Security Disability Insurance program from "of long continued and indefinite duration" to "expected to last for not less than 12 months."
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down one of the remaining contraception Comstock laws.
On June 7th, Estelle Griswold and Lee Buxton take their Connecticut case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. By a vote of 7-2 in Griswold v. Connecticut, the Court strikes down the Connecticut law prohibiting the use of birth control as a violation of a couple's right to privacy.
1966 The Black Panther Party For Self Defense founded by Robert George "Bobby" Seale and Huey P. Newton.
On June 6, James Meredith (see Timeline 1962) was shot by a sniper shortly after beginning a lone civil rights march from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi − Known as the "March Against Fear". After hospital treatment Meredith rejoined the march on June 25.
Stokely Carmichael Black Panther Party James Meredity shot
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded by a group of feminists including Betty Friedan.
The largest women's rights group in the U.S., NOW seeks to end sexual discrimination, especially in the workplace, by means of legislative lobbying, litigation, and public demonstrations.
National Organization for Women logo
Congress passed the Cuban American Adjustment Act allowing Cubans who lived in the U.S. for at least one year to become permanent residents.
No other immigrant group has been offered this privilege before, or since.
Thurgood Marshall became the first Black to be appointed to the Supreme Court on October 2.
Justice Marshall's Biography and Timeline
Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924 was declaired unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia.
This ruling overturned Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.
Thurgood Marshall
Detroit race riot The Detroit race riot began in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 23, when the Detroit police raided of an unlicensed, after-hours bar on the city's Near West Side (a predominantly black neighborhood).

Police confrontations with patrons and observers on the street evolved into five days of chaos that surpassed the violence and property destruction of Detroit's 1943 riot.

The unrest behind the riot.

Massachusetts liberalizes its birth control laws, but still prohibits the sale of birth control to unmarried women.
The NAACP charges that Planned Parenthood clinics, which provide the Pill and other forms of birth control in low income and minority neighborhoods, are devoted to keeping the Black birth rate as low as possible, using birth control as an instrument of racial genocide.
1968 President Nixon eagleRichard Nixon (Republican) wins the presidential election.
His most immediate task was a resolution of the Vietnam War. He initially escalated the conflict, overseeing incursions into neighboring countries, though American military personnel were gradually withdrawn and he successfully negotiated a ceasefire with North Vietnam in 1973, effectively ending American involvement in the war.

He implemented the concept of New Federalism, transferring power from the federal government to the states, new economic policies which called for wage and price control and the abolition of the gold standard, sweeping environmental reforms - including the Clean Air Act and creation of the EPA, the launch of the War on Drugs, reforms empowering women - including Title IX; and the desegregation of schools in the deep South.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee - April 4.
James Earl Ray pleaded guilty of the crime in March 1969 and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.
Robert F. Kennedy announces the assassination of Dr. King in Memphis TN


MLK assassination MLK assassination

April 11, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.

Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated on June 5. video

Gold and Bronze medalists sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos display a black-gloved, clenched-fist Black Power protest during their medal awards ceremony in the 1968 Olympics.

Professor Harry Edwards of San Jose State, lead a movement for Black athletes to boycott the Games completely because of the readmission of South Africa to the Olympics Games.

Black-Power at the 1968 Olympics

March 3 - More than 1000 students peacefully walk out of Abraham Lincoln High School in L.A. with Lincoln High Teacher, Sal Castro, joining the group of students, in protest of school conditions.
The student strike known as the East L.A. Blowouts would grow to over 10,000 high school students in several states by the end of the week.
To this day, the event remains the largest student strike at the high school level in the history of the United States.
High School Walkout

The Architectural Barriers Act prohibited architectural barriers in all federally owned or leased buildings. handicap accessible

The first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Chicago. Special Olympics
Pope Paul VI reveals his decision on the Pill in an encyclical titled Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life).
To the dismay of Catholics around the world − and ignoring the recommendations of the Papal Commission on Birth Control − the Pope states unequivocally that the Church remains opposed to all forms of birth control except the rhythm method.
Libertarian Party logo The formation of the Libertarian Party was prompted by price controls and the end of the Gold Standard, implemented by President Richard Nixon. The Libertarian Party viewed the dominant Republican and Democratic parties as having diverged from what they viewed as the libertarian principles of the American Founding Fathers.
On May 15, Alabama Govenor George Wallace was shot four times by Arthur Bremer.
Although he survived the shooting, Wallace was paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life.
George Wallace in wheelchair

Title IX of the Education Amendments bans sex discrimination in schools.
It states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

As a result of Title IX, the scholarships for women in athletics programs and professional schools increased dramatically.

This lead to an increased opportunities for women in professional sports.

The Women's Tennis Association, formed in 1973 by Billie Jean King (known for the "Battle of the Sexes" - a match against Bobby Riggs), is the principal organizing body of women's professional tennis.

The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), founded in 1996, began league play in 1997.

scholarship equality for women

Billy Jean and Bobby

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Eisenstadt v. Baird that a state cannot stand in the way of distribution of birth control to a single person, striking down Massachusetts law prohibiting the sale of contraceptives to unmarried women.

Paralyzed Veterans of America, National Paraplegia Foundation and Richard Heddinger file suit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to incorporate accessibility into their design for a new, multibillion-dollar subway system in Washington, D.C.

Their victory was a landmark in the struggle for accessible public mass transit.
1973 The Wounded Knee Incident began on February 27, when the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota was seized by members of the American Indian Movement (AIM). audio
The occupiers controlled the town for 71 days audio - demanding hearings on the Treaty of Fort Laramie and the removal of corrupt BIA officials - while the US Marshals Service and other law enforcement agencies cordoned off the town. Supporters protest in the streets of many U.S cities and public attention keeps the Pentagon from launching a full-scale military offensive.
occupation of Wounded Knee
AIM Incident at Oglala
Free Leonard Peltier
Occupation of Wounded Knee

As a result of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court establishes a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion, overriding the anti-abortion laws of many states.

Newspaper Headline Row v. Wade Pro-Choice


The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was passed − prohibiting discrimination in federal programs and services and all other programs or services receiving federal funds.

Key language in the Rehabilitation Act, found in Section 504, states "No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States, shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
1974 English Language Learners In Lau v. Nichols, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirms a 1970 memorandum, ruling students' access to, or participation in, an educational program cannot be denied because of their inability to speak or understand English.
The lawsuit began as a class action by Chinese-speaking students against the school district in San Francisco, although the decision benefited other immigrant groups, as well.

Congress passes the Equal Educational Opportunity Act to make bilingual education more widely available in public schools.

scandal No political scandal in U.S. history has had more public impact than the Watergate scandal during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon.
I am not a crook Beginning with a break-in at the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. by five members of Nixon's re-election campaign. Although not initially involved, when Nixon found out about the break-in he did everything he could to cover up the scandal. When he was ultimately found out the news shocked the nation and led to a disillusionment with the American political system.
Nixon secretely taped every conversation that took place in the Oval Office. When these recordings was exposed, those related to the break-in and cover-up came to be called the "Watergate tapes". audio
The fact that significant portions of the tapes had been erased before they were confiscated by law enforcement officers only made things worse for Nixon.

President Ford Facing impeachment for his role in the scandal, Nixon resigned his office on August 9.

He was later pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford, for any federal crimes he may have committed.

1975 After non-English speakers testify about the discrimination they face at the polls, Congress votes to expand the U.S. Voting Rights Act to require language assistance at polling stations. bilingual voting
Native Americans, Asian Americans, Alaska Natives and Latinos benefit most from this provision.

The original Act, passed in 1965, applied only to blacks and Puerto Ricans. The Voting Rights Act leads to the increasing political representation of Latinos in U.S. politics.

The Education of All Handicapped Children Act required free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive setting.
This Act was later renamed the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
No Smokiing The state of Minnesota enacted the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, making it the first state to ban smoking in most public spaces.
At first, restaurants were required to have No Smoking sections, and bars were exempt from the Act.

By October 1, 2007, Minnesota had banned smoking in all restaurants and bars statewide with the Freedom to Breathe Act.

In 1990, the city of San Luis Obispo, California, became the first city in the World to ban indoor smoking at all public places, including bars and restaurants.

The success of the ban enacted by the state of California in 1998 encouraged other states, such as New York to implement bans.

A 2007 Gallup poll found that 54% of Americans favored a complete ban inside of restaurants, 34% favored a ban in all hotel rooms, and 29% favored a ban inside of bars.

As of April 2009:

  • California and New York have the strictest public smoking bans in the country.
  • More than 20 cities in California enacted outside smoking bans in parks and beaches.
  • 37 states had some type of public smoking ban.
  • In California, entire cities were smoke-free, which would include every place except residential homes.
  • There was a punitive federal tax on all tobacco products, essentially doubling their cost.
The rationale for smoke-free laws is based on the fact that smoking is optional and breathing is not. Therefore, smoking bans exist to protect breathing people from the effects of second-hand smoke, which include an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, emphysema, and other diseases.

Medical and scientific evidence, without question, proves that smoking is a health hazard. But the same is true for alcohol. Will a backlash develop against anti-smoking legislation, as it did against anti-alcohol legislation? Is this type of legislation a "freedoms" issue? Is it a tolerance issue? Is it a courtesy issue?

Has the success of the anti-smoking movement encouraged the movement against soft drinks because they contribute to obesity? If this ban is successful, what will be banned next?


1976 President Carter eagleJimmy Carter (Democrat) wins the presidential election.
Throughout his career, Carter strongly emphasized human rights.

He took office during a period of international stagflation, which persisted throughout his term. The final year of his presidency was marked by the 1979 Iran hostage crisis video an unsuccessful rescue attempt to free the hostages, and the 1979 energy crisis.

During the Iran hostage crisis, the yellow ribbon was used a symbol of support for the hostages held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. This symbolism began in December 1979, when Penelope Laingen, wife of the most senior foreign service officer being held hostage, tied a yellow ribbon around a tree on the lawn of her Maryland home. (inspired by this 1973 song)
The ribbon primarily symbolized the resolve of the American people to win the hostages' safe release, and it featured prominently in the celebrations of their return home in January 1981.
The popularity of these yellow ribbons marked the beginning of using ribbons (like those in the logo of this Project) to symbolize a cause.
yellow ribbon
Negro History Week becomes Black History Month. video
Black History Month Black History Month

The Supreme Court rules, in a well-known reverse discrimination case (University of California v. Bakke), that medical school admission programs that allow for positions based on race are unconstitutional.
college admissions
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act bans employment discrimination against pregnant women.
Under the Act, a woman cannot be fired or denied a job or a promotion because she is or may become pregnant, nor can she be forced to take a pregnancy leave if she is willing and able to work.
woman and child
1980 President Reagan eagleRonald Reagan (Republican) wins the presidential election.
Reagan began a career as an actor, first in films and later television, appearing in over fifty movie productions.

As president, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics", advocated controlling the money supply to reduce inflation, and spurring economic growth by reducing tax rates and government regulation of the economy.

During his first term, he survived an assassination attempt, took a hard line against labor unions, and ordered military actions in Grenada.

His second term was primarily marked by foreign matters, such as the ending of the Cold War and the revelation of the Iran-Contra affair. Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", he supported anti-Communist movements worldwide and spent his first term forgoing the strategy of detente by ordering a massive military buildup in an arms race with the USSR.

Reagan reshaped the Republican party, led the modern conservative movement, and altered the political dynamic of the United States. More men voted Republican under Reagan, and Reagan tapped into religious voters. The so-called "Reagan Democrats" were a result of his presidency.

Mariel boatlift Fidel Castro, reacting to negative worldwide press, announces that anyone who wants to leave Cuba should go to the Peruvian embassy there.
Ten thousand Cubans descend upon the embassy and receive exit visas.

Cuban Americans in Florida organize a fleet of boats to pick up the Cuban exiles at Mariel Harbor. The Mariel Boatlift continues from April through September.

By year end, more than 125,000 "Marielitos" migrate to the United States.


The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act authorized the U.S. Justice Department to file civil suits on behalf of residents of institutions whose rights were being violated. mental institution



1981 An attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan occured on March 30 - just 69 days into his presidency.
Reagan suffered a punctured lung, but prompt medical attention allowed him to recover quickly.
1983 The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday is established - January 21 (Dr. King's birthday).
Dr. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement.
The campaign for a federal holiday in his honor began soon after his assassination.

President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed in 1986.

NOTE: At first, some states resisted recognizing the holiday, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was not officially observed in all 50 states until 2000. Color prejudice in this country has been slowly reduced during those intervening 17 years.
video Life Magazine MLK Day MLK Day Life Magazine video
1986 On November 6, Congress approves the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), providing legalization for certain undocumented workers, including agricultural workers.
The Act also sets employer sanctions in place, making it illegal for employers to hire undocumented workers.
social security card migrant workers
scandal The Iran-Contra affair came to light in November 1986.
President Ronald Reagan and other senior officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, even though Iran was under a U.S. arms embargo. At least some members of the administration also hoped that the arms sales would secure the release of hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras.

The affair began as an operation to improve US-Iranian relations. It was planned that Israel would ship weapons to a relatively moderate, politically influential group of Iranians, and then the U.S. would resupply Israel and receive the Israeli payment. The Iranian recipients promised to do everything in their power to achieve the release of six U.S. hostages, who were being held by the Lebanese Shia Islamist group Hezbollah, who in turn were unknowingly connected to the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution.

The plan deteriorated into an arms-for-hostages scheme, in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of the American hostages.

Large modifications to the plan were devised by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council in late 1985, in which a portion of the proceeds from the weapon sales was diverted to fund anti-Sandinista rebels, or Contras, in Nicaragua.

While President Ronald Reagan was a supporter of the Contra cause, no conclusive evidence has been found showing that he authorized the diversion of the money raised by the Iranian arms sales to the Contras.

Evidence also indicated the Contras were involved in cocaine trafficking in the U.S.

The political result of the scandal was felt at home and abroad.

1988 President Bush 41 eagleGeorge H. W. Bush (Republican) wins the presidential election.
Foreign policy drove the Bush presidency; military operations were conducted in Panama and the Persian Gulf at a time of world change; the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union dissolved two years later.
The Democratically controlled Congress overrides a presidential veto to pass the Civil Rights Restoration Act.
President Ronald Reagan vetoed the law saying it gave the federal government overreaching powers.

Traveling is a right for all The Air Carrier Access Act was passed prohibiting airlines from refusing to serve people simply because they are disabled, and from charging people with disabilities more for airfare than non-disabled travelers.

In Honig v. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the "stay-put" rule established under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975.

School authorities cannot expel or suspend or otherwise remove disabled children from the setting agreed upon in the child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) without a due process hearing.
1990 President George H.W. Bush vetoes a civil rights bill that he says would impose quotas for employers.
A civil rights bill without racial quotas was passed in 1991.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed by George W. Bush.

wheelchair ramp logo The Act provided comprehensive civil rights protection for people with disabilities. Closely modeled after the Civil Rights Act and Section 504, the law was the most sweeping disability rights legislation in history.
It mandated that local, state and federal governments and programs be accessible, that businesses with more than 15 employees make "reasonable accommodations" for disabled workers and that public accommodations such as restaurants and stores make "reasonable modifications" to ensure access for disabled members of the public. The act also mandated access in public transportation, communication, and in other areas of public life.
1991 Rodney Glen King, a black motorest, was brutally beaten by the Los Angeles Police Department on March 3
Footage of the arrest was aired by news agencies around the world, causing public outrage that raised tensions between the Black community and the LAPD and increased anger over police brutality and social inequalities in Los Angeles.

Rodney King video
Four LAPD officers were tried in a state court for the beating, but were acquitted, even though a video of the incident was introduced in court.
Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley said, "the jury's verdict will not blind us to what we saw on that videotape. The men who beat Rodney King do not deserve to wear the uniform of the LAPD.
scandal Toward the end of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, allegations by Anita Hill, a law school professor who had previously worked with Thomas, were leaked to the media from a confidential FBI report.
The allegations led to a media frenzy and further investigations. Televised hearings were re-opened and held by the Senate Judiciary Committee before the nomination was moved to the full Senate for a vote. Through all the testimony and debate, this turned into a classic case of "She said, He said".

The controversy increased national awareness about sexual harrassment in the workplace.

1992 President Clinton eagleBill Clinton (Democrat) wins the presidential election.
Clinton has been described as a New Democrat. Some of his policies, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and welfare reform, have been attributed to a centrist philosophy of governance, while on other issues his stance was left of center.

Clinton presided over the continuation of the longest period of peace-time economic expansion in American history. The Congressional Budget Office reported a budget surplus in 2000, the last full year of Clinton's presidency.

An assassination attempt was foiled on a Clinton trip to Manila, when secret service officers intercepted a message suggesting that an attack was imminent. Hiw motorcade was re-routed and the US agents later discovered a bomb planted under a bridge on the motorcade's original route. The report said the subsequent U.S. investigation into the plot "revealed that it was masterminded by a Saudi terrorist living in Afghanistan named Osama bin Laden".

scandal President Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the Paula Jones lawsuit. This made him only the second U.S. president to be impeached − the first was Andrew Johnson. Clinton was subsequently acquitted by the U.S. Senate.
Throughout his career, Clinton has been subject to various allegations of sexual misconduct, though only his extramarital sexual relationships with Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers have been admitted by him.
In 2000 the Arkansas Supreme Court's Committee on Professional Conduct called for Clinton's disbarment, saying he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
In January 2001 Clinton reached an agreement under which he was ordered to pay $25,000 in fines to Arkansas state's bar officials and his Arkansas law license was suspended for five years. The agreement came on the condition that Whitewater prosecutors would not pursue federal perjury charges against him. Clinton was suspended by the Supreme Court in October 2001, and, facing disbarment, Clinton resigned from the Arkansas Supreme Court bar in November.

The announcement of the acquittals in the Rodney King Case sparked the April 29 Los Angeles riots.
58 people died and thousands were injured during the hours of chaos. Because his attack was seen live on TV, Reginald Denny became the most widely known victim.
LA riot Reginald Denny
A 1993 federal trial for violations of Rodney King's civil rights ended with two of the officers found guilty and sent to prison and the other two officers acquitted.
Constitution Party logo The Constitution Party's goal as stated in its own words is "to restore our government to its Constitutional limits and our law to its Biblical foundations."

1995 We The People The Supreme Court rules that federal programs using race as a category for hiring must have "compelling government interest" to do so.
The Supreme Court ruled that the consideration of race in creating congressional districts is unconstitutional.
2000 President Bush 43 eagleGeorge W. Bush (Republican) wins the presidential election.
Bush promoted policies on the economy, health care, education, and social security reform. He signed into law broad tax cuts, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors. His tenure saw national debates on immigration and Social Security.
2001 911 attacks
Eight months after President Bush took office, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred.
In response, Bush announced a global War on Terrorism, ordered the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Green Party logo The Green Party is a voluntary association of state parties. The party emphasizes environmentalism, non-hierarchical, participatory democracy, social justice, respect for diversity, peace and nonviolence.
2005 Edgar Ray Killen, the leader of the Mississippi murders (1964), is convicted of manslaughter on the 41st anniversary of the crimes.
Edgar Ray Killen bodies discovered burned car
2008 President Obama eagleBarack Obama (Democrat) wins the presidential election.
The 2008 Democratic Party presidential primary saw the first Black man and the first Woman trying to win the nomination.

President Obama is the first African American to hold the office.

As president, Obama signed economic stimulus legislation in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009.

Other domestic policy initiatives include the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a major piece of health care reform legislation which he signed into law in March 2010, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, forming part of his financial regulatory reform efforts, which he signed in July 2010.

Tea Party logo The Tea Party Movement is a populist political movement that emerged through a series of locally and nationally-coordinated protests. The protests were in response to several Federal laws: the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and a series of health care reform bills.
On October 8, President Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
2010 U.S. Border Patrol Arizona passed the nation's toughest bill on illegal immigration.
Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.
The law would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.

Arizona's controversial law gives local authorities the power to enforce federal immigration laws.

Arizona poster political opinions fix our broken immigration system now