U.S. Civil Rights History

Historical Events

Historic Event

1866-03-27 US President Andrew Johnson vetoes civil rights bill; it later becomes 14th amendment

  • 1866-04-09 Civil Rights Bill passes over President Andrew Johnson's veto
  • 1866-06-13 US House of representatives passes 14th Amendment (Civil rights)
  • 1868-07-09 Louisiana and South Carolina are the last states to ratify the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing civil rights
  • 1872-05-22 Amnesty Act restores civil rights to Southerners (except for 500)
  • 1875-03-01 US Congress passes Civil Rights Act; invalidated by Supreme Ct, 1883
  • 1883-10-15 US Supreme Court declares Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional

Historic Event

1890-01-25 National Afro-American League founded in Chicago by Timothy Thomas Fortune, one of earliest civil rights organizations in America

Historic Event

1905-07-11 Black intellectuals and activists led by W.E.B. Du Bois organize the civil rights Niagara Movement

Historic Event

1946-12-05 US President Harry Truman creates Committee on Civil Rights by Exec Order #9808

  • 1948-02-02 President Harry Truman urges congress to adopt a civil rights program
  • 1950-01-15 4,000 attend National Emergency Civil Rights Conference in Washington, D.C.

Historic Event

1955-08-28 Chicago black teenager Emmett Till is kidnapped, beaten and shot dead by white men in Money, Mississippi. His killers are eventually acquitted, but the case helps ignite the US civil rights movement.

  • 1955-09-23 All white jury finds Roy Brant and John William Milam not guilty of the brutal murder of black teenager Emmett Till in Sumner, Mississippi, in landmark case that would help inspire civil rights movement in the US
  • 1957-05-17 Prayer Pilgrimage, biggest civil rights demonstration to date (DC)
  • 1957-08-07 Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1957
  • 1957-08-28 US Senator James Thurmond (Rep, SC) begins 24-hr filibuster against civil rights bill

Historic Event

1957-08-29 Strom Thurmond (Sen-D-SC) ends 24 hr filibuster against civil rights

Historic Event

1957-09-09 US President Eisenhower signs 1st civil rights bill since Reconstruction

  • 1960-02-01 4 students stage 1st civil rights sit-in, at Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina
  • 1960-04-08 US Senate passes Civil Rights Bill with measures against discriminatory voting practices
  • 1960-04-10 Senate passes landmark Civil Rights Bill
  • 1960-05-06 US President Eisenhower signs Civil Rights Act of 1960

Assassination

1963-06-12 American civil rights activist Medgar Evers is assassinated by white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith in Jackson, Mississippi

  • 1963-06-23 The Detroit March to Freedom occurs with 125,000 people participating, the largest civil rights demonstration in America up to that point

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

1963-08-28 Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I have a dream" speech addressing the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom civil rights march at Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

  • 1964-02-08 US Rep Martha Griffiths address gets civil rights protection for women being added to the 1964 Civil Rights Act
  • 1964-02-17 US House of Representatives accept Law on the civil rights
  • 1964-06-10 Southern filibuster on civil rights bill ends; cloture invoked

Murder of Interest

1964-06-21 Byron de la Beckwith arrested for the murder of civil rights activist Medger Evers, found guilty 30 yr later

  • 1964-06-21 Three civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney, disappear after being released from a Mississippi jail, later found murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan
  • 1964-06-29 Civil Rights Act of 1964 passes after an 83-day filibuster in the US Senate

Historic Event

1964-07-02 US President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act into law

  • 1964-08-04 Bodies of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James E. Chaney discovered in an earthen Mississippi dam

Historic Event

1964-08-22 Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer speaks at the US Democratic National Convention about her efforts to register to vote in Mississippi

Historic Event

1966-04-01 Loyalist led by Ian Paisley, a Protestant fundamentalist preacher, founded the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee to challenge the civil rights movement; it set up a paramilitary-style wing called the Ulster Protestant Volunteers

  • 1966-05-13 US Federal education funding is denied to 12 school districts in the South because of violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act
  • 1966-06-01 2,400 people attend White House Conference on Civil Rights

Historic Event

1966-06-06 Civil rights activist James Meredith wounded by white sniper in Mississippi

  • 1967-10-20 All white federal jury convicts 7 in murder of 3 civil rights workers in Meridan Mississippi

Martin Luther King Assassination Riots

1968-04-04 Riots break out in over 100 cities in the United States following the assassination of African-American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Shot Dead

1968-04-04 US civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated by James Earl Ray at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee

  • 1968-04-08 Major League Baseball decides to postpone Opening Day because of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr
  • 1968-04-11 US President Lyndon B. Johnson signs 1968 Civil Rights Act
  • 1979-10-14 1st Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. by over 100,000 people
  • 1983-09-14 Texan San Jacinto county sheriff James "Humpy" Parker convicted of violating inmates civil rights and of torture
  • 1985-06-25 Thurman v City of Torrington decides in favor of Tracey Thurman, 1st woman to sue a police department for violating her civil rights (not protecting against abusive husband)
  • 1985-08-14 Political violence by the youth begins after funeral of assassinated Victoria Mxenge, a civil rights lawyer, who was respected and liked by the Congress of South African Students
  • 1987-03-25 The US Supreme Court rules that gender-based workplace affirmative action plans do not constitute discrimination on the basis of sex under the Civil Rights Act 1964
  • 1987-10-11 200,000 march for gay and lesbian civil rights in Washington, D.C.

Historic Event

1988-03-22 US Congress overrides President Reagan's veto of sweeping civil rights bill

Historic Event

1989-09-02 Reverend Al Sharpton leads a civil rights march through Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Rodney King Riots

1992-08-05 4 officers of the Los Angeles Police Department, acquttied on charges of beating Rodney King, are indicted on civil rights charges

Historic Event

1993-02-03 Federal trial of 4 police officers charged with civil rights violations in videotaped beating of Rodney King begins in Los Angeles, California

  • 1993-04-17 Two Los Angeles police officers convicted in federal court of violating Rodney King's civil rights and sentenced to prison, while two others are acquitted,
  • 2000-08-18 A Federal jury finds the US Environmental Protection Agency guilty of discrimination against Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, later inspiring passage of the No FEAR Act.
  • 2002-05-22 American civil rights movement: a jury in Birmingham, Alabama, convicts former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry of the 1963 murders of four girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church
  • 2005-01-06 Mississippi Civil Rights Workers Murders: Edgar Ray Killen is arrested as a suspect for the 1964 murders of three Civil Rights workers.

Historic Event

2013-11-20 US President Barack Obama posthumously awards civil rights activist Bayard Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom

  • 2014-12-13 A civil rights protest march in Washington, D.C. takes place, against the police killing of unarmed black men

Historic Event

2019-03-13 Home of civil rights activists Medgar and Myrlie Evers established as a national monument in Jackson, Mississippi, by President Donald Trump

  • 2019-10-08 Montgomery, Alabama, home of the US civil rights movement, elects Steven Reed as its first black mayor in 200 years

Historic Event

2020-07-26 Body of civil rights activist John Lewis crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma for the last time (beaten there 55 years ago) with a military honor guard as part of a remembrance ceremony


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Famous Birthdays

Victoria Woodhull

1838-09-23 Victoria Woodhull, American civil rights activist (1872 presidential candidate, woman's suffrage movement), born in Homer, Ohio (d. 1927)

  • 1839-02-22 Octavius Catto, American educator (Institute for Colored Youth, 1859-71), civil rights activist, and baseball player (Philadelphia Pythians, 1865-71), born in Charleston, South Carolina (d. 1871)
  • 1862-07-16 Ida B. Wells (-Barnett), American journalist, civil rights activist, and co-founder of the NAACP, born in Holly Springs, Mississippi (d. 1931)
  • 1863-09-23 Mary Church Terrell, civil rights activist

W.E.B. Du Bois

1868-02-23 W. E. B. Du Bois, American civil rights activist, writer (Souls of Black Folk) and co-founder of the NAACP, born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts (d. 1963)

James Weldon Johnson

1871-06-17 James Weldon Johnson, American Harlem Renaissance poet, lyricist ("Lift Every Voice And Sing"), civil rights activist, and leader of the NAACP, born in Jacksonville, Florida (d. 1938)

  • 1872-04-07 William Monroe Trotter, American newspaper editor and activist for African-Americans civil rights, born near Chillicothe, Ohio (d. 1934)
  • 1875-07-10 Mary McLeod Bethune, American educator (Bethune-Cookman College) and civil rights leader, born in Maysville, South Carolina (d. 1955)
  • 1878-03-28 Arthur B. Spingarn, American lawyer and civil rights activist (NAACP cchairman, 1940-65), born in New York City (d. 1971)
  • 1879-05-02 Nannie Helen Burroughs, American educator and civil rights activist (founded National Training School for Women and Girls), born in Orange, Virginia (d. 1961)
  • 1891-09-03 Bessie [Annie Elizabeth] Delany, American dentist and civil rights pioneer, born in Raleigh, North Carolina (d. 1995)
  • 1892-04-22 Vernon Johns, American civil rights activist, born in Darlington Heights, Virginia (d. 1965)
  • 1893-07-01 Walter Francis White, American civil rights activist who led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), born in Atlanta, Georgia (d. 1955)
  • 1895-08-01 Benjamin Mays, African-American educator (Morehouse, Howard University) and civil rights leader, born in Ninety Six, South Carolina (d. 1984)
  • 1896-12-12 Eslanda Goode, American anthropology, civil rights activist and actor under Paul Robeson, born in Washington, D.C. (d. 1965)
  • 1898-04-09 Paul Robeson, American bass-baritone singer ("Old Man River"), actor and civil rights activist, born in Princeton, New Jersey (d. 1976)
  • 1898-05-03 Septima Poinsette Clark, American educator and civil rights activist, born in CHarleston, South Carolina (d. 1987)
  • 1898-07-27 Queen Mother Moore, African-American civil rights activist and humanitarian, born in New Iberia, Louisiana (d. 1997)
  • 1901-08-30 Roy Wilkins, American civil rights activist and longtime executive director of NAACP, born in St. Louis, Missouri (d. 1981)
  • 1902-02-09 Blanche Calloway, American jazz vocalist, band leader (Twelve Clouds of Joy), civil rights activist, and broadcaster, born in Rochester, New York (d. 1978)
  • 1905-07-09 Myles Horton, American educator and Civil Rights Movement teacher, born in Savannah, Tennessee (d. 1990)

Josephine Baker

1906-06-03 Josephine Baker, American-French song and dance revue artist (Folies-Bergere), actress, and civil rights activist, born in St. Louis, Missouri (d. 1975)

  • 1907-05-01 Oliver Hill, American civil rights attorney (Presidential Medal of Freedom 1999), born in Richmond, Virgnia (d. 2007)
  • 1908-10-03 Zenobia Powell Perry, American composer (Tawawa House), educator, and civil rights activist, born in Boley, Oklahoma (d. 2004)
  • 1910-03-04 Tancredo Neves, Brazilian politician (Prime Minister and elected President 1985), born in São João del-Rei, Brazil (d. 1985)

Bayard Rustin

1910-03-17 Bayard Rustin, American civil rights leader (March on Washington organizer, Social Democrats USA), born in West Chester, Pennsylvania (d. 1987)

  • 1910-11-20 Pauli Murray, African American poet and civil rights activist, born in Baltimore, Maryland (d. 1985)
  • 1911-08-14 Ethel Lois Payne, American civil rights journalist and "1st Lady of the Black Press", born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 1991)

Dorothy Height

1912-03-24 Dorothy Height, American civil rights and women's rights activist (National Council of Negro Women), born in Richmond, Virginia (d. 2010)

Rosa Parks

1913-02-04 Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger, born in Tuskegee, Alabama (d. 2005)

  • 1914-07-24 Kenneth Bancroft Clark, American civil rights activist (Dark Ghetto) and first black president of the American Psychological Association, born in Panama Canal Zone (d. 2005)
  • 1914-11-11 Daisy Bates, American civil rights activist and publisher, born in Huttig, Union County Arkansas (d. 1999)
  • 1915-01-06 Don Edwards, American politician and civil rights champion (Rep-D-CA, 1963-94), born in San Jose, California (d. 2015)
  • 1916-11-17 Winson Hudson, American civil rights activist (rural Mississippi), born in Harmony, Mississippi (d. 2004)
  • 1917-03-11 Robert L Carter, Caryville, Florida, American civil rights activist and judge (Brown v. Board of Education, NAACP v. Alabama) (d. 2012)

Fannie Lou Hamer

1917-10-06 Fannie Lou Hamer, American civil rights activist (Freedom Summer, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), born in Montgomery County, Mississippi (d. 1977)

  • 1917-12-18 Raiford "Ossie" Davis, American actor, director, author, and civil rights activist (Purlie Victorious, Do the Right Thing, Hot Stuff, Man Called Adam), born in Cogdell, Clinch County, Georgia (d. 2005)
  • 1918-04-23 Gordon Hirabayshi, American civil rights activist and WWII internment opponent (Hirabayshi v. United States), born in Seattle, Washington (d. 2012)
  • 1920-01-12 James Farmer, American civil rights leader, born in Marshall, Texas (d. 1999)
  • 1921-07-31 Whitney Young Jr, American civil rights leader, head of the Urban League, born in Shelby County, Kentucky (d. 1971)
  • 1922-09-11 Charles Evers, American civil rights leader (1st Black mayor in Mississippi since Reconstruction), born in Decatur, Mississippi (d. 2020)
  • 1923-06-08 Malcolm Boyd, American Episcopal Priest, author and civil rights activist, born in Buffalo, New York (d. 2015)
  • 1924-07-30 C. T. Vivian, American civil rights activist, worked with Martin Luther King, born in Boonville, Missouri (d. 2020)
  • 1925-01-31 Benjamin Hooks, American lawyer, Baptist minister, and civil rights leader (NAACP executive director, 1977-92), born in Memphis, Tennessee (d. 2010)

Medgar Evers

1925-07-02 Medgar Evers, American civil rights activist and NAACP official who was assassinated, born in Decatur, Mississippi (d. 1963)

  • 1925-11-21 Poncke Princen, Dutch anti-Nazi fighter, colonial soldier and human rights activist, born in The Hague, Netherlands (d. 2002)

Ralph Abernathy

1926-03-11 Ralph Abernathy, American civil rights leader (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), born in Linden, Alabama (d. 1990)

  • 1926-04-10 Johnnie Tillmon, civil rights activist (National Welfare Rights Association), born in Scott, Arkansas (d. 1995)
  • 1927-04-27 Coretta Scott King, American activist and wife of Martin Luther King Jr., born in Heiberger, Alabama (d. 2006)
  • 1928-07-28 Anne Braden, American civil rights activist, journalist, and educator, born in Louisville, Kentucky (d. 2006)

Martin Luther King Jr.

1929-01-15 Martin Luther King Jr., American clergyman and leader of the Civil Rights Movement (Nobel 1964), born in Atlanta, Georgia (d. 1968)

  • 1929-03-12 Lupe Anguiano, Mexican-American civil rights activist
  • 1929-08-16 Wyatt Tee Walker, African-American pastor, civil rights leader, chief of staff for Martin Luther King, Jr. and cultural historian, born in Brockton, Massachusetts (d. 2018)
  • 1929-11-13 Fred Phelps, American Baptist minister and civil rights attorney, born in Meridian, Mississippi (d. 2014)
  • 1930-04-10 Dolores Huerta, American civil rights activist (co-founded United Farm Workers), born in Dawson, New Mexico
  • 1930-08-06 Abbey Lincoln [Anna Wooldridge], American jazz vocalist, songwriter, actress (Nothing But a Man), and civil rights activist, born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 2010)
  • 1930-11-10 Clarence M. Pendleton Jr., African-American chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (1981-88), born in Louisville, Kentucky (d. 1988)
  • 1930-12-31 Odetta [Holmes], American folk singer (Sanctuary), actress and civil rights activist, born in Birmingham, Alabama (d. 2008)
  • 1931-04-06 Ivan Dixon, American actor, director and civil rights activist (Car Wash, Hogan's Heroes, The Final War of Olly Winter), born in NYC, New York (d. 2008)
  • 1932-10-12 Dick Gregory, American comedian, civil rights activist and dietician (Bahamian Diet), born in St. Louis, Missouri (d. 2017)

Nina Simone

1933-02-21 Nina Simone [Eunice Waymon], American jazz pianist, singer, songwriter, arranger, and civil rights activist (“Mississippi Goddam”; “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black”, “Feeling Good”; “Wild Is The Wind”), born in Tyron, North Carolina (d. 2003)

  • 1933-03-17 Myrlie Evers-Williams, American civil rights activist (NAACP chair), born in Vicksburg, Mississippi

James Meredith

1933-06-25 James Meredith, American civil rights activist (1st African-American at the University of Mississippi), born in Kosciusko, Mississippi

  • 1935-01-23 Robert Parris "Bob" Moses, American civil rights activist (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)), and educator (The Algebra Project), born in Harlem, New York City (d. 2021)
  • 1935-04-26 James Cecil "Humpy" Parker, American disgraced ex-Sheriff convicted of violating inmates civil rights and of torture, born in San Jacinto County, Texas (d. 1994)
  • 1935-08-15 Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr, American civil rights activist (National Urban League), born in Atlanta, Georgia

James Bevel

1936-10-19 James Bevel, American civil rights activist (Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Direct Action), born in Itta Bena, Mississippi (d. 2008)

  • 1937-11-03 Paula Wayne [Watkins], American stage and Emmy Award-winning actress (Golden Boy; Everglade!), pop vocalist ("Everything's Great"), and civil rights activist, born in Mountain View, Oklahoma (d. 2018)
  • 1938-02-17 Mary Frances Berry, American lawyer and activist, head of US Commission on Civil Rights, born in Nashville, Tennessee

Jimmie Lee Jackson

1938-12-16 Jimmie Lee Jackson, American civil rights protester and church deacon, shot and killed by an Alabama State Trooper in 1965, born in Marion, Alabama (d. 1965)

  • 1939-11-06 Michael Schwerner, American civil rights activist, born in NYC, New York (d. 1964)
  • 1939-12-09 Patricia Stephens Due, African-American civil rights activist (FAMU jail-in), born in Quincy, Florida (d. 2012)
  • 1939-12-11 Tom Hayden, American civil rights and antiwar activist and politician (Rep-D-Ca), born in Royal Oak, Michigan (d. 2016)
  • 1940-01-14 Julian Bond, American civil rights leader & politician (D-Ga), born in Nashville Tennessee (d. 2015)

John Lewis

1940-02-21 John Lewis, American politician (Rep-D-Georgia) and prominent civil rights leader (Big Six), born in Troy, Alabama (d. 2020)

Betty Shabazz

1940-05-28 Betty Shabazz, American educator and civil rights activist who was the widow of Malcolm X, born in Pinehurst, Georgia (d. 1997)

  • 1941-07-03 Gloria Allred, American feminist and civil rights attorney, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 1943-05-10 James Earl Chaney, US civil rights activist
  • 1943-11-23 Andrew Goodman, American civil rights worker (murdered by the Klu Klux Klan), born in New York City (d. 1964)
  • 1948-06-23 Joaquin Avila, American lawyer and civil rights champion who advocated against voter discrimination, born in Compton, California (d. 2018)
  • 1954-09-08 Ruby Bridges, American civil rights activist (child who ended segregation of a Louisiana school), born in Tylertown, Mississippi

Al Sharpton

1954-10-03 Al Sharpton [Alfred Charles], American minister and civil rights activist (Keepin' It Real), born in Brooklyn, New York

  • 1959-10-05 Maya Lin, American designer (Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Civil Rights Memorial), born in Athens, Ohio
  • 1969-10-10 Ben Crump, American civil rights attorney (Breonna Taylor, George Floyd), born in Lumberton, North Carolina
  • 1981-01-04 Alicia Garza, American writer and civil rights activist (co-founded #BlackLivesMatter), born in Oakland, California
  • 1983-06-20 Patrisse Cullors, American artist and civil rights activist (co-founded #BlackLivesMatter), born in Los Angeles, California
  • 1984-08-15 Opal Tometi, Nigerian American civil rights activist (co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter)

Famous Weddings

James Weldon Johnson

1910-02-03 Author James Weldon Johnson (38) weds civil rights activist Grace Nail Johnson (24) at her family's home

Rosa Parks

1932-12-18 Civil rights activist Rosa McCauley (19) weds Raymond Parks (29) in Montgomery, Alabama

Martin Luther King Jr.

1953-06-18 Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. (24) marries fellow activist and singer Coretta Scott (26)

Alice Walker

1967-03-17 "The Color Purple" novelist Alice Walker (23) weds civil rights lawyer Melvyn Leventhal (23) in New York City; divorce in 1976


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Famous Deaths

  • 1817-09-09 Paul Cuffe, African American civil rights activist (helped settle Sierre Leone), dies at 58
  • 1871-10-10 Octavius Catto, American educator (Institute for Colored Youth, 1859-71), civil rights activist, and baseball player (Philadelphia Pythians, 1865-71), killed in election day race riot in Philadelphia at 32
  • 1874-03-11 Charles Sumner, American politician, Senator Massachusetts (1851-74) and anti-slavery advocate, dies at 63

Victoria Woodhull

1927-06-09 Victoria Woodhull, American civil rights activist (1872 presidential candidate, woman's suffrage movement), dies at 88

  • 1931-03-25 Ida B. Wells (-Barnett), American journalist, civil rights activist, and co-founder of the NAACP, dies at 68
  • 1934-04-07 William Monroe Trotter, American newspaper editor and activist for African-Americans civil rights, dies in a fall from his roof on his 62nd birthday

James Weldon Johnson

1938-06-26 James Weldon Johnson, American Harlem Renaissance poet, lyricist ("Lift Every Voice And Sing"), civil rights activist, and leader of the NAACP, dies in a car crash at 67

  • 1939-03-19 Lloyd L. Gaines, American civil rights activist
  • 1954-07-24 Mary Church Terrell, educator/civil rights leader, dies at 90
  • 1955-03-21 Walter Francis White, American civil rights activist who led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), dies at 61
  • 1955-05-18 Mary McLeod Bethune, American educator (Bethune-Cookman College) and civil rights leader, dies at 79
  • 1955-09-07 Ernst Rabel, Austrian-American lawyer, human rights activist, and author (The Conflict of Laws: A Comparative Study), dies at 81
  • 1961-05-20 Nannie Helen Burroughs, American educator and civil rights activist (founded National Training School for Women and Girls), dies at 82

Medgar Evers

1963-06-12 Medgar Evers, American civil rights activist, NAACP official, shot in Jackson, Mississippi at 37

W.E.B. Du Bois

1963-08-27 W. E. B. Du Bois, American civil rights activist, writer (Souls of Black Folk) and co-founder of the NAACP, dies in Accra, Ghana, at 95

  • 1964-06-21 Andrew Goodman, US civil rights activist, murdered at 20
  • 1964-06-21 James Chaney, US civil rights activist, murdered at 21
  • 1964-06-21 Michael Schwerner, American civil rights activist, murdered at 21
  • 1965-03-11 James Reeb, American minister and civil rights activist, dies from head injuries after being beaten in Selma, Alabama at 38
  • 1965-03-25 Viola Gregg Liuzzo, American civil rights activist, murdered by Ku KLux Klan members in Selma, Alabama at 39
  • 1965-06-11 Vernon Johns, American civil rights activist, dies at 73

AssassinationMartin Luther King Jr.

1968-04-04 Martin Luther King Jr., American clergyman and leader of the Civil Rights Movement (Nobel 1964), assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee at 39

  • 1971-12-01 Arthur B. Spingarn, American lawyer and civil rights activist (NAACP chairman, 1940-65), dies at 93

Josephine Baker

1975-04-12 Josephine Baker, American-French song and dance revue artist (Folies-Bergere), actress, and civil rights activist, dies of a cerebral hemorrhage at 68

  • 1976-01-23 Paul Robeson, American stage and screen bass-baritone singer ("Old Man River"), actor, and civil rights activist, dies of stroke complications in Philadelphia at 77
  • 1976-05-01 T.R.M. Howard, civil rights leader, entrepreneur, surgeon (b. 1908)
  • 1977-03-13 Fanie Lou Hamer, American women's and civil rights activist (Freedom Democratic Party), dies at 59

Fannie Lou Hamer

1977-03-14 Fannie Lou Hamer, American civil rights activist (Freedom Summer, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), dies of breast cancer at 59

  • 1978-12-16 Blanche Calloway, American jazz vocalist, band leader (Twelve Clouds of Joy), civil rights activist, and broadcaster, dies of breast cancer at 76
  • 1981-09-08 Roy Wilkins, American civil rights activist and longtime executive director of NAACP, dies at 80
  • 1984-03-28 Benjamin Mays, African-American educator (Morehouse, Howard University) and civil rights leader, dies at 89
  • 1985-07-01 Pauli Murray, African American poet and civil rights activist, dies at 74

Bayard Rustin

1987-08-24 Bayard Rustin, American civil rights leader (March on Washington organizer, Social Democrats USA), dies of a perforated appendix at 75

  • 1987-12-15 Septima Poinsette Clark, American educator and civil rights activist, dies at 89
  • 1988-06-05 Clarence M. Pendleton Jr., African-American chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (1981-88), dies at 57
  • 1990-01-19 Myles Horton, American educator and Civil Rights Movement teacher, dies at 84
  • 1990-04-17 Ralph David Abernathy, US civil rights leader, dies

Ralph Abernathy

1990-10-17 Ralph Abernathy, American civil rights leader (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), dies of a blood clot at 64

  • 1991-04-28 Floyd McKissick, American lawyer & civil rights activist, dies at 69
  • 1991-05-28 Ethel Lois Payne, American civil rights journalist and "1st Lady of the Black Press", dies at 79
  • 1994-03-13 James Cecil "Humpy" Parker, American disgraced ex-Sheriff convicted of violating inmates civil rights and of torture, dies at 58
  • 1995-09-25 Bessie [Annie Elizabeth] Delany, American dentist and civil rights pioneer, dies at 104
  • 1995-11-22 Johnnie Tillmon, civil rights activist (National Welfare Rights Association), dies at 69
  • 1996-03-10 Lucius E. Burch Jr, US civil rights leader, dies at 84
  • 1997-05-02 Queen Mother Moore, African-American civil rights activist and humanitarian, dies at 98

Betty Shabazz

1997-06-23 Betty Shabazz, American educator and civil rights activist who was the widow of Malcolm X, dies from burns suffered in a fire started by her young grandson at 63

  • 1998-11-15 Stokely Carmichael, American civil rights activist (b. 1941)
  • 1998-12-14 Aloyisus Leon Higginbotham, Jr., American civil rights activist & author, dies at 70
  • 1999-11-04 Daisy Bates, American civil rights activist and publisher, dies at 84
  • 2001-04-24 Leon Sullivan, African-American civil rights leader and pastor (b. 1922)

Nina Simone

2003-04-21 Nina Simone [Eunice Waymon], American jazz pianist, singer, songwriter, arranger, and civil rights activist (“Mississippi Goddam”; “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black”, “Feeling Good”; “Wild Is The Wind”), dies of breast cancer at 70

  • 2004-01-17 Zenobia Powell Perry, American composer (Tawawa House), educator, and civil rights activist, dies at 94
  • 2004-04-24 Winson Hudson, American civil rights activist (rural Mississippi), dies at 87
  • 2004-09-19 Ellis Marsalis, Sr., American businessman, hotel operator, and civil rights activist, dies at 96
  • 2005-01-10 James Forman, American civil rights leader (b. 1928)
  • 2005-02-04 Raiford "Ossie" Davis, American actor, director, author, and civil rights activist (Purlie Victorious, Do the Right Thing, Hot Stuff, Man Called Adam), dies from heart problems at 87
  • 2005-03-30 Fred Korematsu, American civil rights activist (b. 1919)
  • 2005-05-02 Kenneth Bancroft Clark, American civil rights activist (Dark Ghetto) and first black president of the American Psychological Association, dies at 90
  • 2005-10-12 C. Delores Tucker, American politician and civil rights activist (b. 1927)
  • 2005-10-13 Vivian Malone Jones, American civil rights activist (b. 1942)

Rosa Parks

2005-10-24 Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger, dies of natural causes at 92

  • 2006-03-06 Anne Braden, American civil rights activist, journalist, and educator, dies at 81
  • 2006-10-24 Enolia McMillan, American civil rights activist (b. 1904)
  • 2007-08-05 Oliver Hill, American civil rights attorney (Presidential Medal of Freedom 1999), dies at 100
  • 2007-08-10 Henry Cabot Lodge Bohler, American member of Tuskegee Airmen and civil rights activist (b. 1925)
  • 2008-03-16 Ivan Dixon, American actor, director and civil rights activist (Car Wash, Hogan's Heroes, The Final War of Olly Winter), dies of renal failure at 76
  • 2008-12-02 Odetta [Odetta Holmes], American folk singer (Sanctuary), actress and civil rights activist, dies of heart disease at 77

James Bevel

2008-12-19 James Bevel, American civil rights activist (Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Direct Action), dies of cancer at 72

  • 2010-01-05 Murray Saltzman, Reform Jewish rabbi and civil rights leader (b. 1929)

Dorothy Height

2010-04-20 Dorothy Height, American civil rights and women's rights activist (National Council of Negro Women), dies at 98

  • 2010-05-24 Raymond V. Haysbert, African-American business executive and civil rights leader (b. 1920)
  • 2010-08-14 Abbey Lincoln [Anna Wooldridge], African-American jazz vocalist, songwriter, actress (Nothing But a Man), and civil rights activist, dies at 80
  • 2011-10-05 Derrick Bell, American legal scholar and civil rights advocate (b. 1930)
  • 2012-01-02 Gordon Hirabayashi, American sociologist & opponent to Japanese-American internment, dies after Alzheimer's disease at 93
  • 2012-01-03 Robert L Carter, American civil rights activist & judge, dies after complications from a stroke at 94
  • 2012-02-07 Patricia Stephens Due, African-American civil rights activist (FAMU jail-in), dies from Alzheimer's disease at 72
  • 2015-02-27 Malcolm Boyd, American Episcopal Priest, author and civil rights activist, dies at 91
  • 2015-08-15 Julian Bond, American civil rights leader and politician (D-Ga), dies at 75
  • 2015-10-01 Don Edwards, American politician and civil rights champion (Rep-D-CA, 1963-94), dies at 100
  • 2016-10-23 Tom Hayden, American civil rights and antiwar activist and politician (Rep-D-Ca), dies at 76
  • 2017-08-19 Dick Gregory, American comedian, civil rights activist and dietician (Bahamian Diet), dies of heart failure at 84
  • 2018-01-23 Wyatt Tee Walker, African-American pastor, civil rights leader, chief of staff for Martin Luther King, Jr. and cultural historian, dies at 88
  • 2018-03-09 Joaquin Avila, American lawyer and civil rights champion who advocated against voter discrimination, dies from complications of colon and liver cancer at 69
  • 2018-11-09 Paula Wayne [Watkins], American stage and Emmy Award-winning actress (Golden Boy; Everglade!), pop vocalist ("Everything's Great"), and civil rights activist, dies of cancer at 84
  • 2020-07-17 C. T. Vivian, American civil rights activist who worked with Martin Luther King, dies at 95

John Lewis

2020-07-17 John Lewis, American politician (Rep-D-Georgia) and prominent civil rights leader (Big Six), stops causing "good trouble" due to pancreatic cancer at 80

  • 2020-07-22 Charles Evers, American civil rights leader (1st Black mayor in Mississippi since Reconstruction), dies at 97
  • 2021-07-25 Robert Parris "Bob" Moses, American civil rights activist (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)), and educator (The Algebra Project), dies at 86