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Civil Rights Legislation, Court Cases & Activities

During the 1950s and 1960s, a number of important civil rights" activities occurred that helped position the Civil Rights movement for greater recognition. They also led either directly or indirectly the passage of key legislation. Following is an overview of the major legislation, Supreme Court cases, and activities that occurred in the Civil Rights movement at the time.

was the most prominent civil rights leader of the 50s and 60s. He was the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Through his leadership and example, he led peaceful demonstrations and marches to protest discrimination. Many of his ideas on nonviolence were fashioned on the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi in India. In 1968, King was assassinated by James Earl Ray. Ray was against racial integration, but the exact motivation for the murder has never been determined.

Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955) - This began with Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of the bus. The boycott"s goal was to protest segregation in public buses. It lasted more than a year. It also led to the rise of King as the foremost leader in the civil rights movement.

March on Washington (1963) - On August 28, 1963, 250,000 individuals both black and white gathered together at the Lincoln Memorial to protest segregation. It was here that King delivered his famous and stirring "I have a dream..." speech.

Freedom Summer (1964) - This was a combination of drives to help get blacks registered to vote. Many areas of the South were denying African-Americans the basic right to vote by not allowing them to register. They used various means including literacy tests and more overt means like intimidation through groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Three volunteers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, were murdered and seven KKK members were convicted of their murder.

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