The Civil Rights Movement in the United States was a long, primarily nonviolent series of events to bring full civil rights and equality under the law to all Americans. The movement has had a lasting impact on United States society, in its tactics, the increased social and legal acceptance of civil rights, and in its exposure of the prevalence and cost of racism.
The Civil Rights Movement refers to the political actions and reform movements between 1954 and 1968 to end legal racial segregation in the United States, especially in the US South.
This article focuses on an earlier phase of the movement. Two United States Supreme Court decisions—Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), which upheld "separate but equal" racial segregation as constitutional doctrine, and Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) which overturned Plessy—serve as milestones. This was an era of new beginnings, in which some movements, such as Marcus Garvey"s Universal Negro Improvement Association, were very successful but left little lasting legacy, while others, such as the NAACP"s painstaking legal assault on state-sponsored segregation, achieved modest results in its early years but made steady progress on voter rights and gradually built to a key victory in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
After the Civil War, the US expanded the legal rights of African Americans. Congress passed, and enough states ratified, an amendment ending slavery in 1865—the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment only outlawed slavery; it provided neither citizenship nor equal rights. In 1868, the 14th Amendment was ratified by the states, granting African Americans citizenship. All persons born in the US were extended equal protection under the laws of the Constitution. The 15th Amendment (ratified in 1870) stated that race could not be used as a condition to deprive men of the ability to vote. During Reconstruction (1865–1877), Northern troops occupied the South. Together with the Freedmen"s Bureau, they tried to