A Timeline of Violence During the Civil Rights Movement

Let’s talk violence. America, and to be fair the world in general, has a very violent history. Civil rights, woman’s rights, gay rights, labor rights, political rights, etc. have all face extreme and ugly forms of violence.

I wanted to make a timeline of some of the most appalling and violent acts that Americans inflicted on the black community during the Civil Rights movement. I hope this gives you a different and better perspective of just how much blacks were hated by white Americans.

It’s only proper that we start with rape:


September 3 – Recy Taylor is kidnapped while leaving church and gang-raped by six white men in Abbeville, Alabama.


May 17 – In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans. and in Bolling v. Sharpe, the U.S. Supreme Court rules against the “separate but equal” doctrine, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson and saying that segregation of public schools is unconstitutional.

September 2 – In Montgomery, Alabama, 23 black children are prevented from attending all-white elementary schools, defying the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

September 15 – Protests by white parents in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia force schools to postpone desegregation another year.

September 16 – Mississippi abolishes all public schools with an amendment to its State Constitution; private segregation academies are founded for white students.


May 7 – NAACP and Regional Council of Negro Leadership activist Reverend George W. Lee is killed in Belzoni, Mississippi.

July 11 – Georgia Board of Education orders that any teacher supporting integration be fired.

August 1 – Georgia Board of Education fires all black teachers who are members of the NAACP.

August 13 – Regional Council of Negro Leadership registration activist Lamar Smith is murdered in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

August 28 – Teenager Emmett Till is killed for whistling at a white woman in Money, Mississippi.


January 24 – Governors of Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia agree to block integration of schools.

February 3 – Autherine Lucy is admitted to the University of Alabama. Whites riot for days, and she is suspended. Later, she is expelled for her part in filing legal action against the university.

February 24 – The policy of Massive Resistance is declared by U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. from Virginia.

February/March – The Southern Manifesto, opposing integration of schools, is drafted and signed by members of the Congressional delegations of Southern states, including 19 senators and 81 members of the House of Representatives, notably the entire delegations of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia. On March 12, it is released to the press.

March 1 – Alabama legislature votes to ask for federal funds to deport blacks to northern states.

September 2–11 – Teargas and National Guard used to quell segregationists rioting in Clinton, Tennessee; 12 black students enter high school under Guard protection. Smaller disturbances occur in Mansfield, Texas and Sturgis, Kentucky.

September 12 – Four black children enter an elementary school in Clay, Kentucky under National Guard protection; white students boycott. The school board bars the four again on September 17.

December 25 – The parsonage in Birmingham, Alabama occupied by Fred Shuttlesworth, movement leader, is bombed.


January 10 – In retaliation for the Montgomery Bus Boycott,  bombs were used to destroy five black churches and the home of Reverend Robert S. Graetz.

January 22 – Klan men kidnap and murder Willie Edwards in Montgomery, Alabama on the pretext that he was dating a white woman.

February 8 – Georgia Senate votes to declare the 14th and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution null and void in that state.

September 2 – Orval Faubus, governor of Arkansas, calls out the National Guard to block integration of Little Rock Central High School.

September 15 – New York Times reports that in three years since the decision, there has been minimal progress toward integration in four southern states, and no progress at all in seven.

September 24 – President Dwight Eisenhower federalizes the National Guard and also orders US Army troops to ensure Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas is integrated. Federal and National Guard troops escort the Little Rock Nine.

October 9 – Florida legislature votes to close any school if federal troops are sent to enforce integration.

November 26 – Texas legislature votes to close any school where federal troops might be sent.


June 29 – Bethel Baptist Church (Birmingham, Alabama) is bombed by Ku Klux Klan members, killing four girls.


May 2 – Betty Jean Owens is kidnapped and gang-raped by four white men in Tallahassee Florida.


April 19 – Z. Alexander Looby’s home is bombed, with no injuries. Looby, a Nashville civil rights lawyer, was active in the city’s ongoing Nashville sit-in for integration of public facilities.


May 14 – The Freedom Riders’ bus is attacked and burned outside of Anniston, Alabama. A mob beats the Freedom Riders upon their arrival in Birmingham. The Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, and spend 40 to 60 days in Parchman Penitentiary.

May 20 – Freedom Riders are assaulted in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Greyhound Bus Station.

May 21 – MLK, the Freedom Riders, and congregation of 1,500 at Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s First Baptist Church in Montgomery are besieged by mob of segregationists; RFK as Attorney General sends federal marshals to protect them.

September 25 – Voter registration activist and NAACP member Herbert Lee is shot and killed by a white state legislator in McComb, Mississippi.


September 9 – Two black churches used by SNCC for voter registration meetings are burned in Sasser, Georgia.


January 14 – Incoming Alabama governor George Wallace calls for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” in his inaugural address.

May 2–4 – Birmingham’s juvenile court is inundated with African-American children and teenagers arrested after James Bevel, SCLC’s Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education, launches his “D-Day” youth march. The actions spans three days to become the Birmingham Children’s Crusade where over a thousand children and students are arrested. The images of fire hoses and police dogs turned on the protesters are televised around the world.

May 11–12 – A double bombing in Birmingham, organized by the KKK with help from local police, precipitates rioting, police retaliation, intervention of state troopers, and finally mobilization of federal troops.

June 9 – Fannie Lou Hamer is among several SNCC workers badly beaten by police in the Winona, Mississippi, jail after their bus stops there.

June 12 – NAACP worker Medgar Evers is murdered in Jackson, Mississippi.

September 15 – 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham kills four young girls.


June 9 – Bloody Tuesday – peaceful marchers beaten, arrested and tear gassed by Tuscaloosa, Alabama police on a peaceful march to the County Courthouse to protest whites-only restroom signs and drinking fountains.

June 21 – Murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, three civil rights workers disappear from Philadelphia, Mississippi, later to be found murdered and buried in an earthen dam.

July 2 – Civil Rights Act of 1964 signed, banning discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin” in employment practices and public accommodations.


February 18 – After a peaceful protest march in Marion, Alabama, state troopers break it up and one shoots Jimmie Lee Jackson. Jackson dies on February 26.

March 7 – Bloody Sunday: Civil rights workers in Selma, Alabama, begin the Selma to Montgomery march but are attacked and stopped by a massive Alabama State trooper and police blockade as they cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge into the county. Many marchers are injured. This march, initiated and organized by James Bevel, becomes the visual symbol of the Selma Voting Rights Movement.

June 2 – Black deputy sheriff Oneal Moore is murdered in Varnado, Louisiana.

August 6 – Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed by President Johnson. It provided for federal oversight and enforcement of voter registration in states and individual voting districts with a history of discriminatory tests and underrepresented populations. It prohibited discriminatory practices preventing African Americans and other minorities from registering and voting, and electoral systems diluting their vote.

January 10 – NAACP local chapter president Vernon Dahmer is injured by a bomb in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He dies the next day.


June 5 – James Meredith begins a solitary March Against Fear from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. Shortly after starting, he is shot with birdshot and injured.


February 8 – The Orangeburg Massacre occurs South Carolina State University to protest segregation at Orangeburg’s only bowling alley. Three students died and 28 were wounded. None of the officers were charged.

April 4 – Martin Luther King, Jr. is shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee.

And so on….

These are just events that have been recorded into history. We have to assume that there are many more which we will never know about.

Thanks for reading,




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