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Women’s Rights from equal rights to human rights in every mountain valley and plain

November 15, 2015

Women’s Rights

‪#‎tdih‬ Nov 15, 1917 – About 20 women who had been arrested for peacefully picketing for universal suffrage in front of the White House a few days earlier, were subjected to beatings and torture at Occoquan workhouse in Virginia, in what became known as the “night of terror.” Pres. Woodrow Wilson had led the country into WWI to “make the world safe for democracy.” The demonstrators called attention to the need for complete democracy at home, where women [and in many states, African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos] lacked complete voting rights. Here is a lesson on the early suffrage movement called “Seneca Falls, 1848”: Almost 100 years later, while voting rights are being eroded by Koch Brothers funded politicians, the Koch Brothers are also extending their reach into public schools. Please read and share this Zinn Education Project exposé:
Photo: Library of Congress,

Zinn Education Project's photo.

This is a timeline of women’s suffrage in the United States.


1777: Women lose the right to vote in New York.[1]

1780: Women lose the right to vote in Massachusetts.[1]

1784: Women lose the right to vote in New Hampshire.[1]

1787: The U.S. Constitutional Convention places voting qualifications in the hands of the states. Women in all states except New Jersey lose the right to vote.[1]

1790: The state of New Jersey grants the vote to “all free inhabitants,” including women.[2]

1807: Women lose the right to vote in New Jersey, the last state to revoke the right.[1]

1848: The Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, is held in Seneca Falls, New York. Women’s suffrage is proposed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and agreed to after an impassioned argument from Frederick Douglass.[1]

1853: On the occasion of the World’s Fair in New York City, suffragists hold a meeting in the Broadway Tabernacle.[2]

1861-1865: The American Civil War. Most suffragists focused on the war effort and suffrage activity was minimal.[2]

1867: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone address a subcommittee of the New York State Constitutional Convention requesting that the revised constitution include woman suffrage. Their efforts fail.

1867: Kansas holds a state referendum on whether to enfranchise women and/or black males. Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton traverse the state speaking in favor of women suffrage. Both women and black male suffrage is voted down.[3]

1867: The American Equal Rights Association, working for suffrage for both women and African Americans, is formed at the initiative of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.[1]

1869: The territory of Wyoming is the first to grant unrestricted suffrage to women.[2]

1869: The suffrage movement splits into the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association. The NWSA is formed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony after their accusing abolitionist and Republican supporters of emphasizing black civil rights at the expense of women’s rights. The AWSA is formed by Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and it protests the confrontational tactics of the NWSA and tied itself closely to the Republican Party while concentrating solely on securing the vote for women state by state.[4] Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the first president of the National Woman Suffrage Association, a position she held until 1893.[5] Julia Ward Howe was the first president of the American Woman Suffrage Association.[6]

1870: The Utah Territory grants suffrage to women.[3]

1870: The 15th amendment to the U. S. Constitution is adopted. The amendment grants suffrage to former male African-American slaves, but not to women. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton oppose the amendment, which for the first time in the constitution uses the word “males” with regard to a counting device for Congressional representation. Many of their former allies in the abolitionist movement, including Lucy Stone, support the amendment.[3]

1870: Wyoming territory grants its first women suffrage since 1807.[1]

1871: Victoria Woodhull speaks to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, arguing that women have the right to vote under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but the committee does not agree.[3]

1871: The Anti-Suffrage Society is formed.[1]

1872: A suffrage proposal before the Dakota Territory legislature loses by one vote.[2]

1872: Susan B. Anthony registers and votes in Rochester, New York, arguing that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives her that right. However, she is arrested a few days later.[3]

1873: Susan B. Anthony is denied a trial by jury and loses her case.[1]

1873: There is a suffrage demonstration at the Centennial of the Boston Tea Party.[1]

1874: In the case of Minor v. Happersett, the Supreme Court rules that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not grant women the right to vote.[2]

1874: There is a referendum in Michigan on women’s suffrage, but women’s suffrage loses.[2]

1875: Women in Michigan and Minnesota win the right to vote in school elections.[2]

1878: A federal amendment to grant women the right to vote is introduced for the first time by Senator A.A. Sargeant of California.[2]

1880: New York state grants school suffrage to women.[3]

1882: The U.S. House and Senate both appoint committees on women’s suffrage, which both report favorably.[1]

1883: Women in the Washington territory are granted full voting rights.[2]

1884: The U.S. House of Representatives debates women’s suffrage.[1]

1886: The suffrage amendment is defeated two to one in the U.S. Senate.[1]

1887: Women in Utah lose the right to vote.[1]

1887: The Supreme Court strikes down the law that enfranchised women in the Washington territory.[2]

1887: In Kansas, women win the right to vote in municipal elections.[2]

1887: Rhode Island becomes the first eastern state to vote on a women’s suffrage referendum, but it does not pass.[2]

1890: The National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association merge to form theNational American Woman Suffrage Association. Its first president is Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The focus turns to working at the state level. Wyoming grants general women suffrage. [1][2][4]

1890: A suffrage campaign loses in South Dakota.[1]

1893: After a campaign led by Carrie Chapman Catt, Colorado men vote for women suffrage.[1]

1894: Despite 600,000 signatures, a petition for women suffrage is ignored in New York.[1]

1895: Women suffrage returns to Utah.[1]

1895: The New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage begins.[2]

1895: The National American Woman Suffrage Association formally condemns Elizabeth Cady Stanton‘s Women’s Bible, a critique of Christianity.[2]

1896: The National American Woman Suffrage Association hires Ida Husted Harper to launch an expensive suffrage campaign in California, which ultimately fails.[2]

1896: Idaho grants women suffrage.[1]

1897: The National American Woman Suffrage Association begins publishing the National Suffrage Bulletin, edited byCarrie Chapman Catt.[2]

1900: Carrie Chapman Catt becomes the new leader of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.[1]

1902: Women from 10 nations meet in Washington, D.C. to plan an international effort for suffrage. Clara Barton is among the speakers.[2]

1902: The men of New Hampshire vote down a women’s suffrage referendum.[2]

1904: The National American Woman Suffrage Association adopts a Declaration of Principles.[1]

1904: Because Carrie Chapman Catt must attend to her dying husband, Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw takes over as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.[2]

1906: Elizabeth Cady Stanton‘s daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch, returns from England and disapproves of theNational American Woman Suffrage Association‘s conservatism. She responds by forming the Equality League of Self Supporting Women, to reach out to the working class.[2]

1910: Emma Smith DeVoe organizes a grassroots campaign in Washington State, where women win suffrage.[2]

1910: Harriet Stanton Blatch‘s Equality League changes its name to the Women’s Political Union.[2]

1910: Emulating the grassroots tactics of labor activists, the Women’s Political Union organizes America’s first large-scale suffrage parade, which is held in New York City.[2]

1910: Washington grants women the right to vote.[7]

1911: California grants women suffrage.[1]

1911: In New York City, 3,000 people march for women suffrage.[1]

1912: Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party includes women suffrage in its platform.[1]

1912: Abigail Scott Duniway dissuades members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from involving themselves in Oregon’s grassroots suffrage campaign; Oregon women win the vote.[2]

1912: Arizona grants women suffrage.[1]

1912: Kansas grants women suffrage.[1]

1912: Alaska’s territorial legislature grants women suffrage.[2]

1913: Alice Paul becomes the leader of the Congressional Union (CU), a militant branch of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.[2]

1913: Alice Paul organizes the women’s suffrage parade on the eve of Wilson’s inauguration. It is the largest suffrage parade to date and consists of 10,000 people marching down Fifth Avenue in New York City on May 10th. The parade is attacked by a mob. Hundreds of women are injured, but no arrests are made.[1][2][8]

1913: The Alaskan Territory grants women suffrage.[1]

1913: Illinois grants municipal and presidential but not state suffrage to women.[1]

1913: Kate Gordon organizes the Southern States Woman Suffrage Conference, where suffragists plan to lobby state legislatures for laws that will enfranchise white women only.[2]

1913: The Senate votes on a women suffrage amendment, but it does not pass.[2]

1914: Nevada grants women suffrage.[2]

1914: Montana grants women suffrage.[2]

1914: The Congressional Union alienates leaders of the National American Woman Suffrage Association by campaigning against pro-suffrage Democrats in the congressional elections.[2]

1915: Anna Howard Shaw‘s tactical conservatism culminates in a loss of support from the National American Woman Suffrage Association members. She resigns and Carrie Chapman Catt replaces her as president.[2]

1916: Alice Paul and others break away from the National American Woman Suffrage Association and form theNational Women’s Party.[1]

1916: Woodrow Wilson promises that the Democratic Party Platform will endorse women suffrage.[2]

1916: Montana elects suffragist Jeannette Rankin to the House of Representatives.[2] She is the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress.[9]

1917: Beginning in January, the National Women’s Party posts silent “Sentinels of Liberty,” also known as the Silent Sentinels, at the White House. The National Women’s Party is the first group to picket the White House. In June, the arrests begin. Nearly 500 women are arrested, and 168 women serve jail time.[1][10][11]

November 14th, 1917: The “Night of Terror” occurs at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia, in which suffragist prisoners are beaten and abused.[12]

1917: The U.S. enters W.W.I. Under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, the National American Woman Suffrage Association aligns itself with the war effort in order to gain support for women’s suffrage.[2]

1917: Arkansas grants women the right to vote in primary, but not general elections.[2]

1917: Indiana grants women presidential suffrage.[1]

1917: Nebraska grants women presidential suffrage.[1]

1917: North Dakota grants women presidential suffrage.[1]

1917: Michigan grants women presidential suffrage.[1]

1917: Rhode Island grants women presidential suffrage.[1]

1917: The New York state constitution grants women suffrage.[1] New York is the first Eastern state to fully enfranchise women.[2]

1917: The Oklahoma state constitution grants women suffrage.[1]

1917: The South Dakota state constitution grants women suffrage.[1]

1918: The jailed suffragists are released from prison. An appellate court rules all the arrests were illegal.[1]

1918: The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which eventually granted women suffrage, passes the U.S. House with exactly a two-thirds vote but loses by two votes in the Senate. Jeannette Rankin opened debate on it in the House, and President Wilson addressed the Senate in support of it.[1][2]

1918: President Wilson declares his support for women suffrage.[1]

1919: Michigan grants women full suffrage.[2]

1919: Oklahoma grants women full suffrage.[2]

1919: South Dakota grants women full suffrage.[2]

1919: The National American Woman Suffrage Association holds its convention in St. Louis, where Carrie Chapman Catt rallies to transform the association into the League of Women Voters.[2]

1919: In January, the National Women’s Party lights and guards a “Watchfire for Freedom.” It is maintained until the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passes the U.S. Senate on June 4th.[1]

1920: The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, stating, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. [1][13]

1920: In the case of Hawke v. Smith, anti-suffragists file suit against the Ohio legislature, but the Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of Ohio’s ratification process.[2]

Despite great strides made by the international women’s rights movement over many years, women and girls around the world are still married as children or trafficked into forced labor and sex slavery. They are refused access to education and political participation, and some are trapped in conflicts where rape is perpetrated as a weapon of war. Around the world, deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth are needlessly high, and women are prevented from making deeply personal choices in their private lives. Human Rights Watch is working toward the realization of women’s empowerment and gender equality—protecting the rights and improving the lives of women and girls on the ground.

Women Have Limited Property Rights National Labor Union Backs Equal Pay for Equal Work First Women’s Rights Convention Held About 300 activists gather in Seneca Falls, N.Y., to strategize on how to achieve women’s suffrage nationwide. Participants, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, sign the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, modeled on the Declaration of Independence, which calls for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women. The National Labor Union, one of the nation’s first organized labor advocacy groups, pushes for equal pay for equal work, the concept that a woman must be paid the same as a man for doing the same or equivalent job with the same qualifications. Women’s Rights TIMELINE 1872 Postage stamp featuring Elizabeth Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucretia Mott Photo: WikiMedia Commons “The age of brass. or the triumphs of Woman’s rights,” a satirical print published in 1869 Photo: WikiMedia Commons Photo: WikiMedia Commons The Supreme Court decides in Minor v. Happersett that a Missouri law limiting the right to vote to male citizens is constitutional. The Court rejects the claim by Virginia Minor that the state law deprives her of one of the “privileges or immunities” of citizenship in violation of the 14th Amendment. While women are “persons” under the 14th Amendment, the Court says, they are a special category of “non-voting” citizens, and states may grant or deny them the right to vote. The 19th Amendment Is Ratified Dollar Coin Honoring Susan B. Anthony Photo: WikiMedia Commons Nominated by the Equal Rights Party, Victoria Chaflin Woodhull is the first woman to run for president of the United States. But neither she nor any other woman is allowed to vote. 1872 1872 1874 1896 1903 National Association of Colored Women Organized Women’s Trade Union League Is Established Leaders of more than 100 African American women’s clubs unite to form an organization to promote equality for women, raise funds for projects that benefit women and children and oppose segregation and racial violence. In 1935, Mary McLeod Bethune will organize the National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of black women’s groups that lobbies against job discrimination, racism and sexism. This national labor group is created to unionize working women and advocate for improved wages and working conditions for women. Its leaders will go on to form the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. Seventy-two years after the Seneca Falls Convention, the 19th Amendment, which gives women the right to vote, is ratified. Only one person who had signed the convention’s Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, Charlotte Woodward, is alive and able to exercise her right to vote. The amendment reads: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” First Woman Nominated for President Supreme Court Denies Voting Right to Women Susan B. Anthony Arrested for Attempting to Vote Susan B. Anthony casts her first vote to test whether the 14th Amendment would be interpreted broadly to guarantee women the right to vote. She was arrested and tried on June 17-18, 1873, in Canandaigua, N.Y., and convicted of “unlawful voting.” 1920 Victoria Chaflin Woodhull Photo: WikiMedia Commons The Nineteenth Amendment Photo: WikiMedia Commons Sculptor Adelaide Johnson (left) in front of her memorial to women’s suffrage at its unveiling in Washington, D.C., 1921 Photo: WikiMedia Commons After ratification of the 19th Amendment, the League of Women Voters is founded to educate women about their right to vote and encourage them to exercise it. Today, the league promotes greater participation in the democratic process and advocates on a wide range of public policy issues. 1920 1923 1961 1963 1964 Equal Pay Act Becomes Federal Law Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Passed Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling on Contraceptives First proposed 20 years earlier, the law says employers must give equal pay for men and women performing the same job duties regardless of the race, color, religion, national origin or sex of the worker. Title VII bars employment discrimination by private employers, employment agencies and unions based on race, sex, and other grounds. To enforce the law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is created. In 1980, the commission will issue guidelines that define sexual harassment as illegal sex-based discrimination under Title VII. In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court legalizes the use of contraceptives by married couples — five years after oral contraceptives became available to American women. The ruling will be extended to single women in Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972). Margaret Sanger, a feminist and family planning activist, advocated legalization of contraceptives in 1914. League of Women Voters Created Eleanor Roosevelt Leads Commission on the Status of Women First Equal Rights Amendment Introduced Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party succeed in having a constitutional amendment introduced in Congress that says: “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.” In 1943, it is revised to what is known today as the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA was sent to the states for ratification in 1972 with a seven-year deadline and quickly won 22 of the necessary 38 ratifications. But the pace slowed as opposition began to organize. Although Congress granted an extension until June 30, 1982, the ERA fell short. It was reintroduced in Congress on July 14, 1982, and has been introduced before every session of Congress since. President John F. Kennedy establishes the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and appoints Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman. Although she dies in 1962, a report is issued in 1963 documenting substantial discrimination against women in the workplace. It makes recommendations for improvement, including fair hiring practices, paid maternity leave, and affordable child care. 1965 Eleanor Roosevelt and President John F. Kennedy Photo: WikiMedia Commons Margaret Sanger Photo: WikiMedia Commons The passage of the Pregnancy Discrinimation Act in 1978 made it illegal for employers to discriminate against women based on their plans to have children. Photo: istockphoto/kirza President Lyndon B. Johnson issues Executive Order 11375, which expands affirmative action policies of 1965 to cover discrimination based on sex. As a result, federal agencies and contractors must take active measures to ensure that women, as well as minorities, have the same employment and educational opportunities as men. 1967 1972 1973 1973 1978 Women-Only Branches in U.S. Military Eliminated Employment Discrimination Against Pregnant Women Banned Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Signed Into Law The male-only draft during the Vietnam War ends, and women are integrated into all branches of the U.S. military as they become all-volunteer forces. In 1976, U.S. military academies will be required to admit women. Over the years, military policy that prevented women from combat assignments will ease. In the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, women will become more fully involved on the battlefield. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act ensures that employment discrimination on account of pregnancy is treated as unlawful sex-based discrimination. As a result, employers cannot question potential hires about their plans to have children and have to extend benefits equally. The federal law expands workers’ right to sue for pay discrimination and relaxes the statute of limitations on such suits. Ledbetter had sued her employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., when she neared retirement and learned that she was paid much less than her male colleagues. But the Supreme Court threw out her case, saying she should have filed her suit within 180 days of the date that Goodyear first paid her less than her peers. Courts repeatedly had cited the decision as a reason for rejecting lawsuits claiming discrimination based on race, sex, age and disability. The new law changes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which said discrimination complaints must be brought within 180 days of the discriminatory act.

Civil Rights Chronology

A year before the Mayflower, the first 20 African slaves are sold to settlers in Virginia as “indentured servants.”
The first African American child, William Tucker is born in the colony.
Abolitionist Thomas Paine’s African Slavery in America published in the Pennsylvania Journal and the Weekly Advertiser.
Constitution adopted; slaves counted as three-fifths of a person for means of representation.
Nat Turner leads slave revolt in Virginia.
Some 18,000 Cherokees forcibly removed from their land and forced to resettle west of the Mississippi in a trek that becomes known as the “Trail of Tears.”
First Women’s Rights Convention meeting in Seneca Falls, N.Y., hears Elizabeth Cady Stanton proposes a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.
Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo cedes Arizona, Texas, California, New Mexico, Colorado and parts of Utah and Nevada to the United States for $15 million. Article IX guarantees people of Mexican origin “the enjoyment of all the rights of the citizens of the United States according to the principles of the constitution.”
In early instance of gerrymandering, Democratic party bosses in Los Angeles call special convention to consider splitting country in two to increase Anglo political influence.
In the Dred Scott decision, Scott, a slave who had lived in a free territory, sues for his freedom on the grounds his residence on free soil liberates him. The Supreme Court, citing historical and conventional view of African Americans, rules against him, saying African American people are regarded as “so far inferior…that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The court also declares that slaves were not citizens and had no rights to sue, and that slave owners could take their slaves anywhere on the territory and retain title to them.
The Civil War begins.
January 1, Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Civil War ends. Lincoln assassinated (April 15). Freedman’s Bureau, to help former slaves, established. Ku Klux Klan organized in Pulaski, Tenn. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified stating that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude….shall exist” in the United States.
Some 2,000 Chinese working on the Central Pacific Railroad strike for better pay. “Mary” is burned to death for her gold by whites in Helena, Mont.
Fourteenth Amendment, making African Americans full citizens of the United States and prohibiting states from denying them equal protection or due process of law, is ratified. Congress reports that 373 freed slaves have been killed by whites.
Knights of Labor formed “to uphold the dignity of labor.”
The Fifteenth Amendment enacted, guaranteeing the right to vote will not be denied or abridged on account of race. At the same time, however, the first “Jim Crow” or segregation law is passed in Tennessee mandating the separation of African Americans from whites on trains, in depots and wharves. In short order, the rest of the South falls into step. By the end of the century, African Americans are banned from white hotels, barber shops, restaurants, theaters and other public accommodations. By 1885, most southern states also have laws requiring separate schools.

In Wyoming Mrs. Louisa Swain becomes first woman to cast a legal ballot in the nation. The Rev. Hiram R. Revels (R-MISS) and Joseph H. Rainey (R-S.C.) become first African Americans to sit in Congress. Union Pacific announces it will hire Chinese laborers at $32.50 a month rather than pay whites $52.

The first community welfare organizations, or “mutualistas” spring up In the Southwest. Primarily social organizations, they also provide decent burials for poor Chicanos and address dealing with abusive police or politicians.
Congress passes the first Civil Rights Act, guaranteeing African Americans equal rights in transportation, restaurant/inns, theaters and on juries. The law is struck down in 1883 with the Court majority arguing the Constitution allows Congress to act only on discrimination by government and not that by private citizens.
Sioux and Cheyenne Indians win Battle of Little Big Horn, killing Gen. George Custer. The battle is an outgrowth of continued U.S. violation of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty as white settlers flock to the sacred Black Hills seeking gold.
With the election of Rutherford B. Hayes as President, Reconstruction is brought to an end and most federal troops are withdrawn from the South while those remaining do nothing to protect the rights of African Americans. The return of “home rule” to the former secessionist states also means the restoration of white supremacy and the beginning of the disenfranchisement and segregation of African Americans.
First national strike occurs, aimed at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and is marked by violence; 19 workers are killed by police and troops in Chicago, nine in Baltimore. Chief Joseph, the revered leader of the Nez Perce tribe surrenders to federal troops and makes famous comment, “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”
Over the veto of President Chester Arthur, Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act restricting the immigration of all Chinese laborers for 10 years and requiring Chinese to carry identification cards. In 1892, the act is extended for another 10 years.
Congress passes the Scott Act prohibiting resident Chinese laborers who leave the United States from returning unless they have family in the country.
In the Battle of Wounded Knee, U.S. troops kill 200 Dakota Indian men, women, and children in the last conflict of the so-called “Indian Wars.”
In Mississippi, a state constitutional convention meets to write a suffrage amendment, including a poll tax and a literacy test designed -successfully- to exclude African Americans from voting. South Carolina follows suit in 1895, Louisiana in 1898. By 1910, African Americans are effectively barred from voting by constitutional provisions in North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, and Oklahoma as well.
The Woman Suffrage Amendment is introduced in Congress for the first time but defeated.
Treaty with China allows unrestricted immigration of Chinese into the country, primarily as laborers on railroads in the West
Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act prohibiting further Chinese immigration into the United States for ten years.
The Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, rules that state laws requiring separation of the races are within the bounds of the Constitution as long as equal accommodations are made for African Americans, thus establishing the “separate but equal” doctrine that justifies legal segregation in the South. Justice John Harlan, in lone dissent, says Constitution is “colorblind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”
Lynching has become virtually a fact of life as a means for intimidating African Americans. Between 1886 and 1900, there are more than 2,500 lynchings in the nation, the vast majority in the Deep South. In the first year of the new century, more than 100 African Americans are lynched, and by World War I, more than 1100.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded by W.E.B Du Bois, Jane Addams, John Dewey and others.
The Mexican Revolution brings an influx of immigrants to the United States looking for work.
The Mexican ambassador formally protests the mistreatment of Mexicans in the United States, citing a number of brutal lynchings and murders.
Rep. Jeannette Rankin (R-Mont.) Becomes first woman elected to Congress.
The Jones Act grants full citizenship to Puerto Ricans and gives them the right to travel freely to the continental United States. However, because Puerto Rico is not a state, like citizens in the District of Columbia, Puerto Ricans are represented in Congress by a delegate with only limited powers and are unrepresented in the Senate.
The Nineteenth Amendment gives women the right to vote and is ratified by the required 36 states.
In Ozawa v. United States, the Supreme Court denies Japanese residents the right to naturalization because they are “ineligible for citizenship,” as are foreign-born Chinese. In Congress, the Cable Act declares that “any woman citizen who marries an alien ineligible to citizenship, shall cease to be a citizen.”
After 10,000 Native American soldiers in World War I, Congress passes the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, granting American citizenship to Native Americans. Several Indian nations, including the Hopi and the Iroquois, decline citizenship in favor of retaining sovereign nationhood.
The Immigration Act bars any “aliens ineligible to citizenship” from entering the United States.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is founded to fight discrimination, help educate Chicanos and protest segregation, killings and other abuses.
Continuing discrimination against Japanese in the United States leads to formation of the Japanese American Citizenship League.
Mass deportation occurs of Mexican workers during the 1930’s large numbers of whom are U.S. citizens. Over 400,000 are deported to Mexico; the deportees are accused of usurping “Americans” from jobs during the Depression.
African American contralto, Marian Anderson, barred by the Daughters of the American Revolution from singing in Washington D.C.’s Constitution Hall, sings instead to a crowd of 75,000 people at Lincoln Memorial.
The Legal Defense Fund established as the legislative arm of the NAACP. A year later the two become separate organizations.
President Roosevelt issues executive order banning discrimination against minorities in defense contracts.
U.S. government places in barbed wire encircled “relocation camps” some 110,000 Japanese Americans. Guards are ordered to shoot anyone seeking to leave.
The Bracero Program, created under a joint U.S.-Mexico agreement, permits Mexican nationals to work in U.S. agricultural areas on a temporary basis and at wages lower than domestic workers.
Congress, seeking to reward China for becoming an ally in the war against Germany and Japan, repeals all previous Asian Exclusion Acts and establishes an annual quota of 105 Chinese emigrants to the United States each year.
Jackie Robinson becomes first African American to play major league baseball.
Supreme Court, in Shelly v. Kramer, declares illegal the government support enforcement of restrictive covenants under which private parties could exclude minorities from buying homes in white neighborhoods.
Democratic party endorses civil rights platform, prompting Southern walkout and formation of States Rights Democratic Party (better known as the Dixiecrats) and nomination of Strom Thurmond as presidential candidate.
Tuskegee Institute reports that, for the first time in the 71 years it has been keeping records, there were no lynchings of African Americans during the year.
In Brown v. Board of Education, the decision widely regarded as having sparked the modern civil rights era, the Supreme Court rules deliberate public school segregation illegal, effectively overturning “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson. Chief Justice Earl Warren, writing for a unanimous Court, notes that to segregate children by race “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” Thurgood Marshall heads the NAACP/Legal Defense Fund team winning the ruling. Hernandez v. Texas becomes the first Mexican American discrimination case to reach the Supreme Court. The case involves a murder conviction by a jury that includes no Latinos. Chief Justice Earl Warren holds persons of Mexican descent are “persons of a distinct class” entitled to the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment.
On August 28, 14 year old Emmett Till is beaten, shot and lynched by whites after allegedly saying “bye, baby” to a white woman in a store in Mississippi.
In Alabama, on December 1 Rosa Parks refuses to up her bus seat to a white man, precipitating the Montgomery bus boycott, led byMartin Luther King, Jr.
Montgomery bus boycott ends in victory, December 21, after the city announces it will comply with a November Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation on buses illegal. Earlier in the year, King’s home was bombed. Autherine Lucy is first African American admitted to the University of Alabama.
Efforts to integrate Little Rock, Ark., Central High School meet with legal resistance and violence; Gov. Orval Faubus predicts “blood will run in the streets” if African Americans push effort to integrate. On Sept. 24, federal troops mobilize to protect the nine African American students at the high school from white mobs trying to block the school’s integration.
Alaska and Hawaii are admitted as states. Hawaii, the 50th state, elects Hiram Fong (of Chinese ancestry) and Daniel Inouye (of Japanese ancestry) to represent them in Congress, the first two Asian Americans to serve in that body.
February 1, Lunch counter sit-in by four college students in Greensboro, N.C. begins and spreads through the South. On April 17, theStudent Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is founded.
John F. Kennedy elected president.
Following Sudan (1956) and Ghana (1957), 11 African nations achieve independence.
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) organizes Freedom Rides into the South to test new Interstate Commerce Commission regulations and court orders barring segregation in interstate transportation. Riders are beaten by mobs in several places, including Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala.
The United Farm Workers Union , under the leadership of Cesar Chavez, organizes to win bargaining power for Mexican Americans.
James Meredith becomes first African American student admitted to the University of Mississippi.
June 20, President John F. Kennedy meets with civil rights leaders at the White House in an attempt to call off the March on Washingtonscheduled for August.
Over a quarter of a million people participate in the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, and hear Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Medger Evers, NAACP field secretary in Jackson, Miss., murdered on June 12, 1963. A Birmingham church is bombed on Sept. 15, killing four African American girls attending Sunday school: Denise McNair, age 11, and Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Adie Mae Collins, all 14 years old.
In and event that traumatizes the nation, President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Two days later, his alleged assailant, Lee Harvey Oswald, is also shot and killed. Vice President Lyndon Johnson becomes president.
Martin Luther King Jr., receives the Nobel Peace Prize. The Twenty-fourth Amendment, ending the poll tax, is ratified and becomes part of the Constitution.
Mississippi Freedom Summer, a voter education and registration project, begins. White northern college students volunteer to run practice elections in preparation for the Presidential election of 1964. Two white students, Andrew Goodman and Michael Scherner, and an African American civil rights worker, James Chaney, are murdered.
The Bracero Program is terminated.
Selma, Ala. voting rights campaign. Jimmie Lee Jackson, 26, participating in a march led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is killed by Alabama state troopers as he attempts to prevent the troopers from beating his mother and grandfather.
Selma to Montgomery march. The Voting Rights Act passes and is signed into law on August 6, effectively ending literacy tests and a host of other obstacles used to disenfranchise African American and other minority citizens.
Malcolm X, the fiery orator and Muslim leader, is assassinated. For some, Malcolm X’s militant rhetoric is a rival and alternative to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of Christian non-violence.
The Watt’s section of Los Angeles erupts in five days of rioting after an African American woman is killed by a fire truck driven by white men.
National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded to fight politically for full equality between the sexes.
Stokely Carmichael, head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, first uses the phrase “black power” during a voter registration drive in Mississippi. The phrase – and its many different interpretations by African Americans and whites – divides the civil rights movement.
Sparked by a police raid on a black power hangout, Detroit erupts into the worst race riots ever in the nation, with 43 people dead, including 33 African Americans and 10 whites. During the nine months of the year, 164 other racial disturbances are reported across the country, including major riots in Tampa, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Newark, Plainfield and Brunswick, New Jersey, which kill at least 83 people.
Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American justice of the Supreme Court.
Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, is stripped of his heavyweight boxing title for resisting military draft as a Muslim minister in the Nation of Islam.
Jose Angel Gutierrez founds the Mexican American Youth Organization in San Antonio, Texas. The group would become over time La Rasa Unida Party, the first Chicano political party.
Articles of incorporation are filed in San Antonio for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the first national Chicano civil rights legal organization.
Congress enacts the Age Discrimination Act of 1967 prohibiting employment discrimination against older Americans. The act is amended 12 years later to prohibit discrimination against older Americans by any housing provider who receives federal funds.
March 1,The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, popularly known as the Kerner Commission after chairman Otto Kerner, Governor of Illinois, issues its report warning that the nation is moving toward two separate societies-one black and poor, the other affluent and white. The commission, appointed by President Johnson following the 1967 disorders in Detroit and other communities, calls for major anti-poverty efforts and strengthened civil rights enforcement to eliminate the causes of the disorders. 
April 4, Martin Luther King, Jr. is murdered. The assassination sparks unrest and civil disorders in 124 cities across the country, including the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. On April 11, as disorders continue, President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, aimed at curbing discrimination in housing.
June 6, Sen. Robert Kennedy, campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president, is shot and killed in a Los Angeles hotel.
Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.) is the first African American woman elected to Congress.
American Indian Movement (AIM) founded in Minneapolis.
The Supreme Court, in Green v. County School Board of New Kent County (Virginia), rules that “actual desegregation” of schools in the South is required, effectively ruling out so-called school “freedom of choice” plans and requiring affirmative action to achieve integrated schools.
A June 27 police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village bar catering to homosexuals, results in two nights of rioting and is the symbolic beginning of the gay rights movement. The event is commemorated each year by Gay Pride demonstrations across the nation.
The Supreme Court, in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, upholds busing as a legitimate and sometimes necessary tool to achieve desegregation and integration. But the Court does not rule on segregation in public schools in northern states where it is not imposed by statute.
Congress passes Section 504 of the Vocation Rehabilitation Act barring discrimination against disabled people with the use of federal funds.
Jan. 22, The Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, strikes down most states’ restrictive abortion laws, greatly expanding the right to legal abortion.
May 9, a 71-day siege by a force of more than 1,000 FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) police and U.S. military advisers is ended at the symbolically important hamlet of Wounded Knee at Oglala Sioux reservation in South Dakota. The village was occupied by the American Indian Movement (AIM) in an effort to spur talks with the U.S. government on violated treaty rights, BIA abuses on the reservation and civil rights concerns of Native Americans. Federal agents surrounded the town claiming that the Indians were holding “hostages” from the white trading post in the hamlet and demanded the surrender of all those occupying the village. During the siege, two AIM supporters are killed in firefights.
June 21, in Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver, Colorado, the Supreme Court, for the first time, addresses the issue of school desegregation in northern public schools, finding segregation intentionally imposed (de jure) unconstitutional even when not accompanied by statute. The Court concludes that the Denver public school system is an unlawful “dual system” that a system wide remedy is required, and that assigning African American students to Latino schools is not an adequate desegregation plan because both groups had been subject to historic segregation.
Dec.15, the Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association votes unanimously to strike from its manuals the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness.
The Supreme Court rules that public schools must teach English to foreign language -speaking students (Lau v. Nichols). The case involves the San Francisco school system, which does not provide any instruction in English to some 1,800 Chinese-speaking pupils. The court holds that, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, districts receiving federal funds must provide either a bilingual or English as a second language program whenever students of a non-English speaking minority are enrolled in significant numbers.
The American Medical Association calls for the repeal of all state laws barring homosexual acts between consenting adults.
First National Women’s Conference, held in Houston, Texas calls for a host of reforms aimed at empowering women and providing them with equal opportunity.
The Supreme Court, in the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case, upholds the principle of affirmative action but rejects fixed racial quotas as unconstitutional. The case involves Alan Bakke, denied a slot at the University of California medical school at Davis. Bakke claims he is a victim of reverse discrimination because a minority student, with lower test scores, is admitted instead on affirmative action grounds.
The first Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights March on Washington draws more than 100,000 people on October 14.
The first news reports of what will become the AIDS epidemic are published.
The Equal Rights Amendment, which would have written into the constitution a ban on sexual bias, equal pay for equal work, and a guarantee of equal opportunity, falls three states short of ratification.
Supreme Court rules in Plyer v. Doe that children of illegal immigrants have a right to free public schooling. Poverty reached its highest level – 14% – since 1967. African American poverty rate is 34.2 percent; Latino rate is 26.2 percent.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is extended and strengthened by Congress, barring laws that dilute the voting power of minorities, whether or not that is the law’s intention. The amendment overturns a Supreme case, Bolden v. City of Mobile (Ala.), that required proof of intentional discrimination against minority voters in order to establish a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
Wisconsin becomes the first state to adopt a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination against gay people.
In Bob Jones University v. The United States, the Supreme Court, over the Reagan administration’s objections, upholds the Internal Revenue Service rule denying tax exemption to private schools that practice racial discrimination.
In a report, “Personal Justice Denied,” the Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians concludes that the internment of people of Japanese ancestry during World War II was not justified by military necessity and that grave injustice had been done.
The Supreme Court rules that states do have the right to outlaw homosexual acts between consenting adults.
In a political struggle turning largely on the nominee’s judicial and philosophical views of race, gender and privacy, the Senate rejects President Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.
The AIDS quilt commemorating AIDS victims is displayed for the first time during the second march on Washington for gay and lesbian rights, a demonstration drawing 200,000.
President Reagan vetoes the Civil Rights Restoration Act, passed by Congress to overturn the 1984 Supreme Court ruling, Grove City College v. Bell. The act sharply limits the remedies available to the federal government in applying anti-bias rules to private organizations receiving federal subsidies. Congress enacts the measure by overriding the President Reagan’s veto.
The Supreme Court, in a series of rulings, severely restricts the reach of federal anti-discrimination employment laws and remedies available to fight bias. The move prompts congressional effort to craft new law overturning the Court decision.
Congress passes -and President Bush signs- the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, banning job discrimination against people with disabilities and requiring buildings, businesses and public transportation to be accessible. Most provisions take effect in 11992-93.
Thurgood Marshall, first African American appointed to Supreme Court, resigns for health reasons. President Bush names Clarence Thomas, a conservative African American with little background in constitutional issues, to the post. The Thomas nomination brings to the fore the issue of sexual harassment, as one of Thomas’ former co-workers, law professor Anita Hill, charges Thomas sexually harassed her. Thomas denies accusations and after bitter, televise hearings that rivet the nation, he is confirmed, 52-48.
After two years of debate, vetoes and threatened vetoes, Bush reverses himself and says proposed civil rights bill is not a “quota bill.” On Nov. 22, he signs the legislation at a White House ceremony. But ceremony is overshadowed by reports that the president has proposed issuing a presidential order that would end all government affirmative action programs and hiring guidelines that benefit women and minorities. After sharply negative reactions from civil rights leaders and others, the administration backs down.
Voting Rights Act bilingual provisions are extended to 2007.
Shortly after being sworn in, President Clinton affirms his campaign pledge to lift the ban that prohibits gays from serving in the military. On April 25, at least 300,000 (the figure is hotly debated) march on Washington supporting federal civil rights legislation protecting gay men and lesbians from discrimination and opposing the military ban. Several months later on July 19, President Clinton, faced with congressional opposition to removing the ban, announces a “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” policy regarding homosexuals in the military that falls short of lifting the ban. Congress moves to codify a restrictive interpretation of Clinton’s executive order.
The Supreme Court, in two rulings affecting civil rights, roils the waters for determining proper remedies for discrimination. In St. Mary’s Honor Center v. Hicks the Court holds that even when a plaintiff shows that an employer gives a dishonest reason for alleged discriminatory actions, the worker is still required to present direct evidence of the employers discriminatory intent.
In Shaw v. Reno , a sharply divided High Court rules that legislative districts drawn in a “bizarre” fashion in order to create black representation can violate the constitutional rights of white voters to equal protection of the law. The ruling, which invalidates North Carolina’s majority African American 12th congressional district, is seen as opening the door to challenges of other states’ reapportionment plans that are aimed at equalizing the distribution of power.
June 14, in a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court upheld a court-drawn redistricting plan that reduced the number of majority-minority Georgia congressional districts from three to one. The cases of Abrams v. Johnson and the U.S. v. Johnson marked the second time the Court had been asked to rule on the constitutionality of Georgia’s congressional redistricting plan drawn pursuant to the 1990 Census. A deciding factor for the justices was the fact that Reps. Sanford Bishop Jr. and Cynthia McKinney, both Black Democrats, were re-elected despite the fact that they were running in districts where whites comprised the majority.
In Adarand, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote for the first time that all federal laws creating racial classifications, regardless of an intention to burden or benefit minorities, when challenged, must be tested by the same stringent standard. Federal set-aside and affirmative action programs benefitting minorities then are subject to strict scrutiny and must be narrowly tailored.
Supporters of gay workers rights forced a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the 104th Congress. ENDA, if passed, would make it illegal to fire, or fail to hire or promote an individual on the singular factor of their sexual orientation. The bill enjoyed wide bi- partisan support, failing in the Republican dominated Senate by only one vote. A formal hearing for ENDA was held in the 105th Congress on October 23, 1997.
November 5, in California, the controversial Proposition 209, also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative, was passed by a narrow voter margin or 55-45. The legislation of Prop. 209 effectively abolished California’s affirmative action programs in hiring, contracting, and educational admissions. Other initiatives have spread to numerous cities and states across the United States. Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate with the similar agenda of wiping out all federal affirmative action programs.
Bragdon v. Abbott is the first ADA case to make its way to the Court, which holds, among other things, that HIV-positive individuals are protected under the ADA.
In Faragher v. City of Boca Raton and Burlington Industries v. Ellerth, the Court clarifies its earlier rulings on sexual harassment, reaffirming that Title VII requires employers to ensure a workplace free from sexual and other forms of discriminatory harassment.
Brutal hate crimes capture the nation’s attention, including the dragging death of African American James Byrd, Jr. in Texas, and the murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man in Wyoming.
1998 and 1999:
In Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District and Davis v. Monroe County School District, the Supreme Court makes clear thatTitle IX requires schools to take action to prevent and stop the harassment of students by teachers or other students. Those decisions, however, also severely limit the circumstances under which victims of such harassment may receive money damages for their injuries.
The Court reaffirms in Olmstead v. L.C. that the ADA bars the unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities in state institutions. As the Court noted, such segregation is often motivated by irrational fears, stereotypes, and patronizing attitudes, and unfairly relegates individuals with disabilities to second-class status.
The Court significantly limits the ADA’s reach in a trio of cases (Sutton v. United Airlines, Murphy v. United Parcel Service, and Albertsons v. Kirkingberg). The Court holds that any determination of whether an individual has a disability triggering the ADA’s protections must consider any mitigating measures taken to control the effects of the individual’s impairment, such as medication or therapy. Under this decision, for example, an individual who controls the effects of depression through medication may be unable to claim the ADA’s protections when he or she suffers discrimination because of that depression.
Heinous hate crimes continue throughout the summer, including a series of shootings targeted at African Americans, Asian Americans, and Jew in the Midwest, and the shooting of children at a Jewish child care center in Los Angeles, followed by the murder of Filipino American postal worker Joseph Ileto.
The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is enacted. Providing important new protections for religious freedom without the potential for undermining state and local civil rights laws, RLUIPA focuses on land use for churches, synagogues, and other religious groups, and religious freedom of those in government-run institutions such as hospitals, prisons, and group homes.
The November 2000 elections raise yet a new set of concerns about minority voting rights as voters across America — especially minority voters — report that they had been effectively denied the franchise in a variety of ways. These included allegations that minority voters faced a significantly greater risk that their votes would not be counted accurately, due to disproportionate use of outdated and inaccurate equipment in minority neighborhoods. Asian American, Haitian American, Latino, and other language minority voters report that they were denied language assistance to which they were entitled. These and other irregularities trigger calls for federal election reform legislation to address both procedural and technological barriers to voting participation.
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