Civil Rights History
The exact dates of the Civil Rights Movement, even whether its goals have been completely accomplished, have been debated amongst historians and researchers. Regardless of that debate, the Civil Rights Movement was a long, arduous struggle for equality.

Separate but equal
The infamous epithet of separate
but equal evolved from Plessy v. Ferguson – the case in which Homer Plessy, a Louisiana octoroon, challenged the established Jim Crow laws when he refused to sit in the train car for blacks. His refusal subsequently landed him in jail and resulted in the case in which Jim Crow laws were upheld. The case went to the Supreme Court, and the court upheld the lower court's ruling.

Constitutional Amendments
The first pieces of legislation that dealt with the civil rights of blacks were the Thirteenth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment and the Fifteenth Amendment. For the first time in history, blacks were promised fundamental citizenship rights under these amendments. The realization was that the amendments, particularly the Fifteenth Amendment, which outlawed voting discrimination, had little effect as methods were used to “discourage” blacks from voting.

Civil Rights Act of 1964
Not until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would change finally be seen. Little had been done since Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed segregation in public schools, to integrate schools, especially in the South. But now, the act made it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, or national origin in public or state-funded places or institutions.

Brown V. Board of Education

In November of 1960, Ruby Bridges became the center of attention as she was the first black to enter an all-white school when the New Orleans public school system was ordered to desegregate. Her first walk to school inspired
the familiar painting by Norman Rockwell.


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Copyright 2003 Nyree Doucette