May 1954 The U.S. Supreme Court outlaws public school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education.
August 1955 Emmett Till, 14, is lynched in Money, Miss., for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
December 1955 NAACP member Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus.
September 1957 Nine black students, escorted by the National Guard, desegregate Central High School in Little Rock.
February 1960 Four black college students hold a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C.
April 1960 The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee is founded.
May 1961 The Congress of Racial Equality sends young "freedom riders" on missions to challenge Jim Crow laws in the South.
June 1963 NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers, 37, is murdered in Jackson, Miss. (Byron De La Beckwith would be convicted in 1994).
August 1963 March on Washington, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech.
September 1963 Four girls are killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, a site of civil rights meetings. Riots follow.
June 1964 "Freedom Summer," a program to register black Southern voters, begins. Activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were killed in Philadelphia, Miss.
July 1964: Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination, is signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
February 1965 Malcolm X is slain.
March 1965 "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, Ala.: 50 people marching for voting rights are injured by police.
August 1965 Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed.
October 1966 Black Panthers founded.
April 1968 King is assassinated.
April 1968 The Civil Rights Act of 1968 is signed by Johnson.
November 1983 President Ronald Reagan signs legislation establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (First federal observance was in January 1986.)
March 1988 Congress overrides Reagan's veto to pass the Civil Rights Restoration Act.