National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1955-1969: We demand liberty and justice for all

Led by people such as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s fought discrimination with non-violent determination, at lunch counters and colleges, on buses and at businesses. The decisions of the Warren Court played a key role in that movement, but it took congressional will and such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to break down legally sanctioned racial discrimination. That success inspired women and other groups to demand equal opportunity. Growing awareness of inequality also led the Warren Court to dramatically alter the constitutional landscape in other areas. It imposed the rule of “one person, one vote” and greatly expanded the reach of the Bill of Rights. In the process, the Court stirred controversy. When it issued its famous Miranda ruling protecting the rights of criminal suspects, critics said it went too far, coddling criminals at the expense of law and order.

December 5, 1955
A single citizen can change constitutional history
  September 24, 1957
On this day Eisenhower enforces federal-court desegregation order, sending federal troops to Little Rock, AR, to escort 9 black children to school
August 21, 1959
Daniel K. Inouye elected to House of Representatives, becomes Hawaii’s first congressman
  January 20, 1961
On this day John F. Kennedy inaugurated as president
March 29, 1961
Ratification of 23rd Amendment extends voting rights in presidential elections to District of Columbia residents
June 19, 1961
Evidence from an illegal search can’t be used in state courts
  February 20, 1962
On this day Astronaut John Glenn becomes first American to orbit Earth
  March 26, 1962
On this day Supreme Court declares that federal courts can decide reapportionment cases in Baker v. Carr
June 26, 1962
The Supreme Court bans New York State school prayer
  February 19, 1963
On this day Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique
  March 18, 1963
On this day Supreme Court rules persons accused of felonies must be provided lawyers in Gideon v. Wainwright
  August 28, 1963
On this day March on Washington brings more than 200,000 demon- strators to capital; Martin Luther King, Jr., delivers “I have a dream” speech
November 22, 1963
President Kennedy is assassinated; Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson assumes the presidency
July 2, 1964
Years of struggle lead to a powerful new civil rights law
July 15, 1964
“One Person, one vote” redraws the map of America’s political landscape
January 23, 1964
States ratify 24th Amendment, prohibiting poll taxes in federal elections
  August 7, 1964
On this day Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, allowing the President to take “all necessary steps” to protect U.S. forces in Southeast Asia
  December 14, 1964
On this day Supreme Court sustains constitutionality of 1964 Civil Rights Act in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S.
January 20, 1965
Rev. Billy Graham participates in first of eight presidential inaugurations
  March 7, 1965
On this day Selma-Montgomery March increases pressure for national legislation to secure voting rights
August 6, 1965
A hero of the civil rights movement takes his place in Congress
March 25, 1965
Viola Liuzzo shot and killed after taking part in Selma march
  June 7, 1965
On this day Supreme Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut, declares for first time a constitutional right to marital privacy
August 6, 1965
A new law puts federal muscle behind black voting rights
  August 9, 1965
On this day Congress passes Voting Rights Act
Does the First Amendment protect obscenity?
March 24, 1966
We eliminate the “poll tax,” a last vestige of Jim Crow
March 31, 1966
Chief Justice Earl Warren puts his mark on the Court and the country
June 13, 1966
“You have the right to remain silent...”
February 10, 1967
States ratify Twenty-fifth Amendment, modifying presidential succession
  June 12, 1967
On this day Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, strikes down prohibitions against interracial marriage as a 14th Amendment violation
  October 2, 1967
On this day Thurgood Marshall becomes first African-American justice on Supreme Court
  March 24, 1968
On this day Cesar Chavez announces worldwide boycott of California grapes in support of farm workers
March 24, 1968
We’re a nation that speaks its mind - and always have been
  April 4, 1968
On this day Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinated, setting off wave of urban rioting
May 20, 1968
Now most of the Bill of Rights applies to the states, too
  January 20, 1969
On this day Richard M. Nixon inaugurated as president
  July 16, 1969
On this day Apollo 11 astronauts land on moon

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