How Much Do You Know About the Civil Rights Movement?


By: Bri O.

7 Min Quiz

Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

American history has not always been a smooth ride, and one of the biggest reasons for this is that the country was founded on a set of ideals that have yet to be fully realized. Most important among them the principle that all men and women are created equal. 

The Founders understood that the reality and the ideal were not to be aligned in their lifetime; some of them were happy with this since they owned slaves, but others such as John Adams found it abhorrent. 

They foresaw that things would change in the future and perhaps bring about the perfect union they sought; thus they built into the nation's laws the capacity for change. However, reactionary forces have not always welcomed that change, especially when it threatens entrenched interests or asks people to challenge their own prejudices.

The Civil Rights movement was one of the most important movements to bring America's reality and its ideals into greater alignment, by asserting the now hopefully uncontroversial position that skin color is not a reason for denying a person's full participation in their own democracy and its economy.

The fact that this is seen as pretty darn obvious to our generation is owed to the work of heroic leaders like Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Dorothy Height, Rosa Parks, Gloria Richardson, and more. In remembering their deeds, we honor them and carry on their work. So let's get to it!

Which U.S. Supreme Court case ended segregation in public schools?

On May 17th, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision that segregation in the public school system was unconstitutional. While a hugely important ruling, it failed to address how or when schools should desegregate. So in 1955, the court issued additional guidance directing schools to desegregate "with all deliberate speed."


What is the 14th amendment?

The 14th amendment outlines a whole host of different rights and protections, including due process, equal protection, naturalization, state action, and privileges and immunities. Section 3 of the amendment prohibits those who rebel against or comfort the enemies of the U.S. from holding federal office.


Who was Emmett Till?

In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till traveled from his Chicago home to visit relatives in Money, Mississippi. While there, a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, accused Till of whistling at her. An accusation that provoked two grown white men to abduct, torture, and kill Till. The brutal case is considered one of the most notorious crimes in the nation's history, though, for the black community, it's one story of many just like it.


Which president signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 into law?

President Eisenhower signed the Act on September 9th of that year. As a result, the DOJ (Department of Justice) would include a Civil Rights Division. The Act also made it possible for federal officials to prosecute those who infringed on others' right to vote.


What does the acronym N.A.A.C.P. stand for?

Founded in 1909, the NAACP's mission is to eliminate race-based discrimination. It relies on grassroots organizing. The NAACP's official publication, "The Crisis" was founded by W. E. B. Du Bois, an influential abolitionist.


The bus boycott sparked by Rosa Parks' protest and arrest took place in what U.S. city?

Parks was arrested for refusing to vacate her seat for a white patron on December 1st, 1955. The boycott lasted 381 days from December 5th, 1955 to December 20th, 1956, ending with a Supreme Court ruling that outlawed segregation on buses. Martin Luther King Jr. led the boycott, which is considered one of the first large-scale civil rights protests.


Where did Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech take place?

Over 250,000 protesters and civil rights proponents were present for King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The speech took place as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August of 1963.


Who was Governor Orval Faubus?

Governor Faubus attempted to have the Arkansas National Guard help prevent the Little Rock Nine from attending Central High School after the school board ordered schools to desegregate. President Eisenhower stepped in by federalizing the National Guard and sending in the Army to oversee the transition. Eight of the nine students made it through the school year.


In what Alabama city did the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing take place?

On the day of the church's annual Youth Day celebration, a bomb exploded, killing 4 girls and injuring dozens more. The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church had been a central meeting place for civil rights movement organizers. Because of corruption in the FBI's investigation and the seething racism of the region, the bomber Robert Chambliss was acquitted of murder. It wasn't until 14 years later that he would see justice.


At what Mississippi University did riots erupt over integration in 1962?

Six years after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling made segregation in schools illegal, James Meredith, an Air Force vet, attempted to enroll at the all-white University of Mississippi Oxford and was denied. He filed suit, and two years later, was finally granted enrollment. Students, community members, and racists from around the nation gathered at the school to protest the integration. The protesting turned to rioting, and two civilians ended up fatally wounded.


In what U.S. state did the "Freedom Riders" encounter a violent racist mob?

The interracial group of student civil rights activists known as the "Freedom Riders" were on a mission to test the legitimacy and compliance of desegregation laws in transportation across the south in 1961. They made it through Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina without encountering any major resistance, but Alabama met the riders with incredible hostility and violence. One of the buses was firebombed. When the riders made it to Mississippi, they were arrested and jailed.


Which president signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 expanded earlier anti-discrimination protections by outlawing segregation in places of business, as well as discriminatory employment practices. It also made discrimination illegal in public spaces like public pools, libraries, and schools.


In what year was Martin Luther King, Jr. awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

Acting on behalf and as a leader of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled to Oslo, Norway, to accept the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10th of 1964. He was the second African American to ever win a Nobel Prize and was the youngest man to ever receive the prize at the time.


What does the acronym S.C.L.C. stand for?

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was originally called the Southern Leadership Conference on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration and was founded in January of 1957. The name was changed at the group's first convention in August of 1957.


In what city did nearly 1,000 African American sanitation workers go on strike in 1968?

The strike lasted for over 2 moths. Black Memphis sanitation workers went on strike to demand higher wages and recognition of their union, the local 1733 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.


How many days did the Selma march to Montgomery last?

500 nonviolent protesters marched through Selma undeterred until they reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where state troopers and city patrolmen were waiting. Unprovoked, they viciously attacked the demonstrators while nearby television reporters captured the footage. Two weeks later, Martin Luther King Jr. restarted the march from the bridge and finished the remaining 54 miles to Montgomery in 5 days.


How long did the Watts Riot last?

The rioting inflicted more than 40 million dollars worth of damage and was the largest revolt of the era. More than 14,000 National Guard soldiers were deployed to the Watts neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles.


Which U.S. Supreme Court Case made it illegal to prohibit interracial marriage?

In 1967, 16 U.S. states still prohibited the marriage of two people of different racial backgrounds. Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving legally married in Washington D.C. only to return to their Virginia home to face state charges for violating the anti-miscegenation statute banning interracial marriage. The couple was charged, convicted, and handed down suspended sentences of 1 year as long as they left Virginia and didn't come back for 25 years. The couple turned to the ACLU, who filed suit against the state.


President Kennedy Signed Executive Order 10925 in 1960, establishing what major federal agency?

EEOC stands for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This was a major triumph for Black Americans, as Kennedy ordered the department to immediately begin analyzing the hiring and employment practices within the government.


Which amendment abolished the poll tax?

The 24th amendment expressly prohibits denying citizens the right to vote because they cannot afford an associated tax or fee. Prior to the ratification of this amendment, at least 11 states used poll taxes to deter African American voters.


In what year was Malcolm X assassinated?

Malcolm X grew up learning about Black nationalism from his father, Earl, and the philosophies of Marcus Garvey. Earl's activism surrounding civil rights provoked death threats from local White supremacists, causing the family to move multiple times.


Which president created affirmative action in government hiring practices?

On September 24th, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 as a way to further reconcile omnipresent discriminatory prejudices. He didn't think civil rights laws went far enough and left African Americans vulnerable to the effects of racism. So, he mandated that all government agencies and contractors take affirmative action in regards to hiring and employing minority citizens.


Who was the first African American to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court?

The man behind the 1954 Brown V. Board of Education case, Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He served as a Justice for 24 years and died at the age of 84 in 1993.


Which president signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 into law?

On April 11th, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 into law, which made it illegal to discriminate in housing matters. The law is more commonly known as the Fair Housing Act.


Which president vetoed the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987?

President Reagan believed it was unfair for the federal government to impose anti-discrimination laws onto private businesses receiving federal funds, but the House and Senate disagreed. The Senate voted 73-24 and the House voted 292-133 to override Reagan's veto.


Why was the 1941 March on Washington cancelled?

After President Franklin refused to take action in regards to desegregating the military, the March on Washington Movement (MOWM) was formed to push for change. A. Philip Randolph called for a Black-led march that would force America to see the reality for Black Americans and demand change. One week before the march was set to take place, President Franklin issued an executive order to desegregate the military.


In what year did the U.S. Supreme Court rule that busing is a legitimate means for integrating formerly all-white public schools?

In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that "busing," where students are bused to schools outside their neighborhoods, is a legitimate way to achieve racial integration. Unfortunately, busing had largely been a failed effort and many schools throughout the nation remained segregated.


Which U.S. Supreme Court case made it illegal to segregate vehicles (i.e. buses) traveling between states?

Because the traveling of interstate buses directly relates to interstate commerce, the U.S. Supreme Court was able to apply the Interstate Commerce Act to privatized buses. This allowed the court to rule it unconstitutional to segregate or otherwise engage in race-based discrimination on vehicles traveling between states.


The Albany Movement took place in which U.S. state?

Martin Luther King, Jr. spent 9 months in Albany, Georgia attempting to help organize the civil rights movement there. The movement's goal was to desegregate the entire community of Albany, rather than just portions and certain areas of life.


In what Alabama city was Martin Luther King, Jr. arrested and consequently jailed for protesting without a permit?

On April 12th of 1963, the Birmingham policed arrested King for leading demonstrations without permits. Four days later, he wrote the famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," in which he called out other leaders of faith who stood by and did nothing as others suffered under the oppression of white supremacy. The letter was in response to the pleads of eight white ministers from Alabama who wanted MLK Jr. and civil rights protesters to wait for the legal system to come around to enforce desegregation matters. African Americans were tired of waiting to be treated like human beings, so they protested and boycotted in their communities to enact change.


Which president signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law?

President Lyndon B. Johnson took over for President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963. Lyndon was able to strategically and tactfully leverage the shocked nation's momentum to push through civil rights reform, like the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which made illegal any and all discriminatory voting requirements. This includes infringements like poll taxes and literacy tests.


On what holiday did domestic terrorists murder NAACP Florida Secretary Harry T. Moore and Harriette, his wife?

On December 25, 1951, Harry and Harriette spent the night celebrating both Christmas and their 25th wedding anniversary. One of their two daughters was also home when a bomb exploded under their home, placed there by KKK terrorists. Harry was killed instantly, while Harriette spent nine days struggling in the hospital before succumbing to her injuries. Their daughter was uninjured.


What was "Women Strike for Peace" about in 1961?

Across the wold, women protested for peace on November 1st of 1961. Afterwards, key organizers got together and formed the group Women Strike for Peace (WSP). Around 50,000 women participated in the marches.


Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in what year?

Some of MLK Jr.'s more famous quotes include: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." And, "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta Georgia and died on April 4th, 1968.


Who wrote "The Feminine Mystique?"

"The Feminine Mystique" is often credited with sparking the 2nd wave of feminism in the United States; it was published in 1963. Three years later, she would go on to co-found and become the president of the National Organization for Women (NOW).


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