The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Many southern leaders responded with defiance, legal challenges, or delays. As a result, school desegregation proceeded very slowly. Because southerners still felt supremacy, there were still acts of injustice held against blacks.
In 1955, because racial desegregation had not been fully enforced in the South, the tensions of slavery was still prominent in everyone's minds. Many people in the U.S, specifically the South, believed that whites and blacks are unequal. This lead to the racial tensions that still lingered when blacks and whites intermixed in public places.
Because of the Brown vs. Board ruling, and local pressure from the NAACP, the Little Rock, Arkansas school board adopted a plan to slowly integrate blacks into schools. High schools were set to be integrated beginning in September 1957. Through the hard work and dedication of the National Guardsmen, police, and President Eisenhower, the Little Rock Nine helped the movement toward the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In December 1955, Rosa Parks had refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. By not giving up her seat, it has been thought to be a catalyst in the Civil Rights movements. Her fellow activist, Reverend Jesse Jackson told Vanity Fair that when he asked Parks she said, “she said she thought about going to the back of the bus. But then she thought about Emmett Till and she couldn’t do it.”
Because of the Little Rock Nine Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It is thought to be one of the biggest legislative achievements of the civil rights movement. Because of the Little Rock Nine, it opened up the eyes of President Eisenhower of the injustices, who later became President Kennedy.
In 1965, in an effort to ensure black voters in the South, protesters walked 54 miles from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. But, as they arrived, they were met with forces of deadly violence from local white authorities and white supremacist groups. Under the protection of National Guard troops, they achieved their goal. The march raised awareness of the difficulties faced by black voters, and the need for a national Voting Rights Act.
Because of the Selma Marches, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The act banned literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting, which led to a increase of voter turnouts from 6% to 59%. Since the passage, the act has changed to accommodate protections of non-English speaking American citizens.
In New York City, Malcolm X, an African American nationalist, and religious leader was assassinated by rival Black Muslims while addressing his Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights. In June 1964, Malcolm founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which advocated black identity and held that racism, not the white race, was the greatest foe of the African American.
Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. The Baptist minister and founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King had led the civil rights movement since the mid-1950s, using a combination of impassioned speeches and nonviolent protests to fight segregation and achieve significant civil-rights advances for African Americans. His assassination led to an outpouring of anger among black Americans, as well as a period of national mourning.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex. It was intended to be a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the bill was passed quickly by the House of Representatives in the days after the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.