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History Of Civil Rights In Chicago

By Heather Sadusky

1910: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) founded by both black and white racial progressives.

1917: Race riots in Chicago.

1919: The Chicago Whip newspaper for African-Americans is started. It survives until 1939.

August, 1919: Chicago's most infamous race riot occurs after an African-American boy drowns on the "white side" of a beach, crossing that invisible race line. Over 500 people are injured.

1942: The Congress of Racial Equality formed, and over the years staged sit-ins and other peaceful protests against Chicago restaurants and recreation centers that discriminated.

Late 1940s: United packing house Workers union activists also targeted discriminatory eateries.

1957: Civil Rights Act of 1957 is responsible for enforcing the civil rights laws passed.

Early 1960s: Unequal learning opportunities lead parents in Chicago's South Side to protest public school policies.

January, 1962: Hundreds of African-American students are moved to a new "school," actually a South Side warehouse.

October, 1963: School boycott.

February, 1964: School boycott. 400,000 students missed school during these boycotts.

1964: Civil Rights Act is passed, ending discrimination in employment, restaurants, places of lodging, and private transportation.

1964: The Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO) is founded by several other groups in order to harness the energy of numerous separate protests. By 1965, the CCCO is made up of 40 affiliates, including groups that were largely white.

Summer, 1965: CCCO stages nearly daily marches and protests against school segregation and school superintendent Benjamin Willis.

September, 1965: CCCO joins Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference and launch the Chicago Freedom Movement

Summer, 1966: The Chicago Freedom Movement, who sought to end slums and create equal opportunity for all Chicagoans, hits a high point with a campaign to end housing discrimination

Martin Luther King
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to supporters of the "Movement for the Peace" in Paris on March 29, 1966. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

July 10, 1966: Martin Luther King leads a rally of 45,000 people at Chicago's Soldier Field

1967: Chicago Freedom Movement ends and CCCO disintegrates.

Fall, 1968: Black Panther Party of Chicago is established in the city's West Side, drawing power from a radical and militant perspective.

1968: Riots in the West Side after Martin Luther King's assassination.

1969: Black Panther Party combines forces with Latino and white Chicagoans to form the radical "Rainbow Coalition," which targeted the city's structural inequalities.

December 4, 1969: Third and final raid on the Chicago Black Panther Party by local authorities, which crippled the group. It fully disappeared in 1973.

1971: Operation Breadbasket becomes Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity), organized by Jesse Jackson, in Hyde Park.

1983: Harold Washington becomes the first African-American mayor of Chicago.

Mayor Harold Washington
Mayor Harold Washington (Credit: AP)

1987: Washington wins re-election as Chicago's mayor.

Mid 1990s: Operation PUSH merges with the national Rainbow coalition and launches "The Wall Street Project," a campaign that encourages Fortune 500 companies and other local businesses to hire minorities and invest in the inner city.

1991: Civil Rights Act of 1991: an amendment to the 1964 act, banning discrimination in the workplace.

November 3, 1992: Carol Moseley Braun, a Chicago native, becomes the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

November, 2008: Illinois Senator Barack Obama is elected the 44th President of the United States, and becomes the first African-American to hold the office.

July 2, 2014: Gov. Quinn signs law to strengthen African-American Family Commission, which will now monitor legislation and develop programs for IL African-Americans

Sources: Encyclopedia Of Chicago History; "Jim Crow Schools In Chicago," via

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