February 3: The Fifteenth Amendment is ratified, prohibiting states from disenfranchising voters "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
February 25: Hiram Revels (R-MS) becomes first African American to serve in Senate.
February 14: Blanche K. Bruce (R-MS) becomes first African American to preside over Senate.
March 1: The Civil Rights Act of 1875 is signed into law (later overturned).
January 25: A. Philip Randolph proposes a march on Washington.
June 25: President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Executive Order 8802 forbidding discriminatory hiring practices by federal contractors.
July 12: Senate candidate Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) calls for civil rights plank at Democratic National Convention.
July 26: President Harry Truman signs Executive Order 9981, de-segregating the armed services.
January 15: President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in Executive Order 10590, establishes the President’s Committee on Government Policy to enforce nondiscrimination in federal employment.
December 1: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a Montgomery, AL, bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
February 1: North Carolina college students stage a sit-in at a department store in Greensboro, NC, that refuses to serve them because of their race.
May 6: Civil Rights Act of 1960 is signed into law.
June 19: President Kennedy sends to Congress his proposed civil rights bill. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-MT) introduces the bill and it is assigned to the Judiciary Committee. Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-IL) introduces another bill, co-sponsored with Mansfield, which is similar to the administration's bill but lacks a public accommodations section. Mansfield and Warren Magnuson (D-WA) introduce a separate public accomodations bill which is assigned to the Commerce Committee.
August 28: Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., leads the March on Washington and delivers his speech, “I Have a Dream,” in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
September 15: A bomb at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, in Birmingham, AL, kills four girls and wounds 20 more children.
November 22: President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn-in as president.
November 27: President Johnson delivers a speech to joint congressional session, calling for passage of Kennedy's civil rights bill.
January 23: The Twenty-fourth Amendment, abolishing the poll tax is ratified.
February 10: House passes H.R. 7152, the Civil Rights Act, sending the bill to the Senate.
February 26: Majority Leader Mike Mansfield places H.R. 7152 directly on the calendar, bypassing the Judiciary Committee.
March 9: Mansfield introduces motion to make the Civil Rights Act the Senate's pending business and debate begins.
March 26: Senate votes to make H.R. 7152 pending business, 67-17.
May 26: Mansfield and Dirksen submit a "clean bill" as substitute for H.R. 7152.
June 8: Mansfield and Dirksen file cloture motion.
June 9-10: Senator Robert Byrd delivers the longest speech against the civil rights bill, speaking for 14 hours and 13 minutes.
June 10: For the first time since Rule XXII was established in 1917, the Senate approves cloture on a civil rights bill, with a vote of 71-29. Everett Dirksen offers a memorable speech in support of the bill. Quoting Victor Hugo, he declares, “Stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come.”
June 17: Senate adopts the Mansfield-Dirksen substitute bill with a roll call vote of 76-18.
June 19: Senate approves the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
July 2: House approves Senate bill, avoiding conference committee, and President Johnson signs Civil Rights Act into law.