▪ Sixty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr., a little-known pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., emerged as a national civil rights leader weeks after the historic Montgomery bus boycott is launched.
Four black churches and the homes of King and fellow civil rights leader E.D. Nixon were bombed by segregationists in retaliation for the march’s success.
In November, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision made by the Alabama district court that ruled in favor of residents boycotting the Montgomery buses. The boycott ended in December, with the city’s bus services being fully integrated.
▪ By 1966, King and other civil rights leaders expanded their focus beyond the tangible barriers of racial discrimination and segregation in the South to the socioeconomic problems that plague African-Americans living in northern states.
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On Jan. 26, King moved into a Chicago slum apartment to draw attention to discrimination in housing, high unemployment and inadequate urban education.
His efforts were met with significant resistance from Mayor Richard J. Daley and other Chicago political leaders. King and other leaders later moved their protest out of the urban core and into the white suburbs.
Hoping to avoid possible rioting and unrest, city leaders signed an agreement to enforce open housing laws and desegregate public housing. Yet those skeptical of the agreement protested in a Chicago suburb and were confronted by angry white mobs who yelled racial slurs, hurled bricks and attacked them. King left Chicago with little success.
▪ The U.S. Supreme Court established the Miranda rights provision that protects criminal suspects and allows them to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination.
▪ Robert Weaver was appointed secretary of housing and urban development by President Lyndon Johnson, becoming the first African-American to hold a cabinet position.
▪ The National Organization for Women was launched to fight gender discrimination.
▪ On June 6, James Meredith, the first African-American admitted to the University of Mississippi, began a 220-mile march from Memphis, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss.
The March Against Fear sought to bring attention to racism and encourage blacks to vote a year following the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Meredith was shot during the early stages of his pilgrimage. King and hundreds of others continued the march.
They reached their destination on June 26. Tensions emerged between King and leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee led by Stokely Carmichael, who embraced the “black power” phrase, thus creating a critical turning point in the ongoing civil rights movement.
Edward W. Brooke, a former Massachusetts attorney general, became the first African-American elected to the United States Senate.