U.S. Civil Rights: A Timeline

Martin Luther King Jr. left a lasting legacy

By Allen Smith, Julia Tylor and Andrew Peeling

Martin Luther King Jr. led the nonviolent civil rights movement to dramatic improvements in his lifetime and left a legacy of legal advances, noted in this timeline, well beyond his assassination 50 years ago.

In 1957, King was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, formed to mobilize the civil rights movement. He led massive nonviolent protests in the 1960s in Birmingham, Ala.; Albany, Ga.; Washington, D.C.; Selma, Ala.; and Chicago, among other places, opposing discriminatory hiring practices; segregated public places, restrooms and public housing; and denial of voting rights. Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, King also protested the Vietnam War in 1967.

But King's influence on civil rights did not end with his death. His legacy has been the enactment of numerous statutes prohibiting discrimination, the issuance of Supreme Court decisions furthering the civil rights cause and the advancement of people from a variety of backgrounds in public service. This timeline outlines some of the notable milestones for workplaces around the country in the long, ongoing struggle for equal rights.



Hire the best HR talent or advance your own career.


HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.