Civil Liberties Calendar

Use this calendar to track important civil liberties dates including events that occurred in the U.S. and abroad; also focusing on the record of many “firsts” by women and people of color.

Click on the months below for an expanded view.


January ↕

1 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation
1892 Ellis Island immigrant station opens in New York harbor
1963 Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his famous “I have a dream” speech
15 Martin Luther King or Humanitarian Day
18 1966 Robert P. Weaver, first black cabinet member in U.S. history, is nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson
19 1830 Haynes-Webster debate in U.S. Senate on whether a state could nullify a Federal law
21 1884 Birthday of Roger Baldwin, founder of the ACLU
1908 Sullivan Ordinance passed in New York City, making it illegal for women to smoke in public. Infractions warranted a $5 to $25 fine and up to 10 days in jail.
22 1973 Roe v. Wade anniversary
23 1849 Elizabeth Blackwell becomes first woman to graduate from medical school in the U.S. (Geneva, New York)
24 1916 Federal income tax ruled constitutional by U.S. Supreme Court
30 1798 First brawl in U.S. House of Representatives between Matthew Lyon of Vermont and Roger Griswold of Connecticut
31 1865 Thirteenth amendment, abolishing slavery, proposed by Congress

February ↕

February is Black History Month
1 National Freedom Day, by Presidential proclamation of 1/25/1949, the anniversary of President Lincoln’s approval of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery
1956 Autherine Lucy becomes first black student admitted to University of Alabama
1960 Four black college students sit down at an all-white lunch counter in Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina. Soon similar sit-ins followed in other cities in 9 states.
7 1795 Adoption of 11th amendment, curbing powers of federal judiciary in relation to states. Reaffirmed sovereignty of states by prohibiting suits against them.
9 l950 U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy begins 4-year “witch hunt” by charging in a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia that the State Department is riddled with communists
12 1909 The NAACP, America’s oldest civil rights organization, founded in New York City
17 1964 “One man, one vote” decision of U.S. Supreme Court, ruling that congressional districts must be roughly equal in population
18 1972 California Supreme Court ends capital punishment, calling it “cruel and unusual punishment”
19 1942 FDR executive order #9066 places about 110,000 Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. 2/3 of them are American citizens
21 1860 Lucy B. Hobbs becomes first black woman to graduate from dental school at the Ohio College of Dental Surgery, Cincinnati
24 1803 U.S. Supreme Court rules in Marbury v. Madison that the Court is the final interpreter of constitutional issues
25 1870 Hiram R. Revels, first black senator, sworn in to fill out unexpired term of Mississippian Jefferson Davis
27 1951 Ratification of 22nd amendment limiting tenure of U.S. president to two terms

March ↕

11781Articles of Confederation become effective as a governing document

March is national Women’s History Month
1803 Ohio becomes 19th state
1961 John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps
Death Penalty Abolition Day
3 1991 Videotaped beating of Rodney G. King in Los Angeles by four white police officers
4 1789 U.S. Constitution goes into effect when Maryland becomes 13th state to sign
1933 Frances Perkins becomes first woman appointed to President’s Cabinet by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as Secretary of Labor
7 1965 Civil rights demonstrators in attempted march on Montgomery, Alabama confronted in Selma, AL by state troopers who use clubs and tear gas to break up demonstration
8 International Women’s Day
13 1925 Tennessee passes law against teaching evolution in schools
14 1743 First Town Meeting in America in Faneuil Hall, Boston
16 1827 Black Press Day: Anniversary of the founding of the Freedom Journal, the first black newspaper in the U.S.
17 1910 Birth of Bayard Rustin, African-American pacifist and civil rights leader. Died August 24, 1987.
20 1853 Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin published for first time in book form
21 1965 Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, AL civil rights march begins, led by Martin Luther King, Jr.
1972 U.S. Supreme Court rules that states cannot require one-year residency for voting eligibility
22 1893 First women’s collegiate basketball game at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts
1972 ERA (27th amendment) sent to states for ratification
25 1807 British Parliament abolishes slave trade
1965 Martin Luther King, Jr. completes civil rights march from Selma, Alabama to state capital, Montgomery, leading 25,000 marchers
28 1979 Huge nuclear power plant accident at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania
29 1973 Last American troops leave Vietnam
30 1870 15th amendment ratified, guaranteeing right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude
31 1870 Thomas Peterson-Mundy becomes first black man to vote in America, one day after ratification of 15th amendment

April ↕

1 1977 Senate follows House in adopting stringent code of ethics requiring full disclosure and limits on outside income
3 1944 U.S. Supreme court rules African-Americans eligible to vote in primaries in Texas
1961 23rd amendment gives residents of Washington, D.C. the right to vote in Presidential elections
4 1968 Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., at age 39. Commemorated as Victims of Violence Holy Day
5 1792 George Washington casts first Presidential veto, rejecting a Congressional measure for apportioning representatives among the states
1856 Birth of Booker T. (Taliaferro) Washington, U.S. African-American writer and educator (died 1915)
6 1789 U.S. Senate is formally organized, after achieving a quorum
8 1887 Susanna M. Salter becomes first woman elected mayor in the U.S. in Argonia, Kansas
1913 Seventeenth amendment proposed, requiring direct popular election of senators
9 1865 Confederate surrender at Appomattox ends the Civil War
11 1947 Jackie Robinson becomes first African-American major league baseball player
1968 Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968 protecting civil rights workers, expanding rights of Native Americans, and instituting anti-discrimination measures in housing
12 1861 Beginning of Civil War prompted by the firing on Fort Sumter by Confederate forces
1983 Harold Washington elected Chicago’s first African-American mayor
14 1865 Abraham Lincoln shot in Ford’s Theatre; he died the next day
15 1984 Six Ku Klux Klan and three Nazi party members acquitted of civil rights violations in killing of 5 Communists Workers’ Party members in Greensboro, South Carolina
20 1971 U.S. Supreme Court upholds use of busing to achieve racial desegregation in public schools
21 1649 Assembly of the Maryland colony passes Maryland Toleration Act providing freedom of worship for all Christians
1992 Convicted murderer Robert Alton Harris becomes first person executed by state of California in 25 years
22 1970 Earth Day: “Give Earth a Chance” established
29 1992 Beginning of Los Angeles, California riots after failure to convict four white police officers in videotaped beating of Rodney G. King

May ↕

2 National Law Day
4 1970 Kent State Ohio National Guardsmen open fire on 1000 Kent State students, killing four and wounding eight others
1925 John Scopes arrested in Tennessee for teaching evolution
1930 Yorkshire woman Amy Johnson begins first successful solo flight by a woman from England to Australia
6 1882 Congress passes, over veto of President Chester Arthur, the Chinese Exclusion Act which bars Chinese immigrants from the U.S. for ten years
12 1970 U.S. Senate votes unanimously to confirm Harry A. Blackmun as a Supreme Court justice
1978 U.S. Commerce Dept. announces that hurricanes will no longer be named only with names of women
16 1868 U.S. Senate fails to impeach President Andrew Johnson
1975 Japanese climber, Junko Tabei, becomes the first woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest
1988 The U.S. Supreme Court rules that police can search discarded garbage without a warrant
17 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decides that segregated school facilities are inherently unequal in Brown v. Board of Education (Topeka, Kansas)
19 1921 Congress passes Emergency Quota Act, establishing national quotas for immigrants
1925 Birth of Malcolm X, black nationalist and civil rights activist. Fatally shot February 21, 1965, in New York City
1992 Twenty-seventh Amendment, prohibiting Congress from giving itself mid-term pay raises, goes into effect
20 1932 Amelia Earhart becomes first woman to fly the Atlantic solo (Newfoundland to Ireland)
1961 White mob attacks busload of Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Alabama
23 1900 William H. Carney is the first black man awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for service with 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry
27 1818 Birth of Amelia Bloomer, American social reformer and civil rights advocate. Died 12/30/1894.
1935 U.S. Supreme Court rules National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional
28 1863 First black regiment from North leaves Boston to fight in Civil War
31 1913 17th amendment ratified, providing for direct election of Senators

June ↕

June is Gay and Lesbian History Month and Gay and Lesbian Book Month
2 1924 Congress grants U.S. citizenship to all American Indians
3 1972 Ordination of Sally Priesand, first woman rabbi in the U.S. (Cincinnati, Ohio)
4 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre (Beijing, China)
8 1953 U.S. Supreme Court rules that restaurants in Washington, D.C. cannot refuse to serve blacks
1994 Beginning of first National African-American Leadership Summit, convened by NAACP
11 1880 Birth of Jeanette Rankin, first woman elected to Congress
13 1966 Miranda v. Arizona decision by U.S. Supreme Court, ruling that criminal suspects must be informed of their constitutional rights before they are questioned by police
14 1943 U.S. Supreme Court, after admitting error in earlier Jehovah’s Witness case, rules that school children cannot be compelled to salute the U.S. flag if it conflicts with their religious beliefs (WV v. Barnette)
1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson nominates Thurgood Marshall as first African-American Supreme Court justice
18 1873 Susan B. Anthony, American suffragette, fined $100 for trying to vote in the 1872 presidential election
20 1895 Caroline Baldwin becomes the first woman to earn a Doctor of Science degree at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
1983 Dr. Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space
1964 Murder of Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney, volunteers who had gone to Mississippi to help enfranchise blacks in the South
22 1633 Galileo forced to recant Copernican theory
25 1962 U.S. Supreme Court declares prayer in the public schools unconstitutional (Engel v. Vitale)
28 1969 Stonewall Rebellion in Greenwich Village, New York City, launches modern lesbian and gay liberation movement
1978 U.S. Supreme Court rules University of California Medical School must admit Allan P. Bakke, a white man who had charged “reverse discrimination” in admissions policy
29 1972 Supreme Court rules that capital punishment, as it was being applied, could violate the 8th amendment
1992 Supreme Court rules unanimously that hate-crime laws banning cross burning, etc. violate free speech rights
1992 Supreme Court decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey imposes new restrictions on abortion
30 1971 Ratification of 26th amendment making 18 the minimum age for voting

July ↕

2 1908 Birth of Thurgood Marshall, first African-American Supreme Supreme Court justice. Died 1/24/93.
1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Voting Rights Act of 1964
6 1961 Cecil F. Poole, first African-American attorney, sworn in for Northern District of California
10 1925 Scopes trial begins in Dayton, Tennessee, with John Scopes accused of teaching evolution in a public school. Opposing lawyers were Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan. (See July 21, 1925)
12 1984 Geraldine Ferraro is chosen by presidential candidate Walter Mondale as first woman ever to run for vice president on a major party ticket
19 1848 First Women’s’ Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, New York. Now site of Women’s Hall of Fame, dedicated July 21, 1979
20 1969 First moon landing by Ohioan Neil Armstrong
21 1925 Scopes trial ends; John Scopes found guilty and fined $100
25 1960 Woolworth’s lunch counters are opened to all (See February 1, 1960)
1963 U.S., Russia, and Great Britain sign test-ban treaty prohibiting nuclear testing in the atmosphere, space or under water
26 1948 President Harry S. Truman signs order officially integrating U.S. Armed Forces
28 1868 Ratification of Fourteenth Amendment extending citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in U.S. and promising due process of the law and equal protection of the laws to all citizens
30 1916 Birth of Anita Faye Hill, law professor, University of Oklahoma. Catapulted to national fame in October 1991 during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

August ↕

2 1936 Jesse Owens, great African-American athlete, sets new world record for 100 meter run at the Olympic Games held in Berlin
1939 Hatch Act passed by Congress forbidding federal Civil Service employees from taking an active part in political campaigns
1983 U.S. House of Representatives votes to make Martin Luther King’s birthday (1/15) a national holiday
4 1735 John Peter Zenger wins acquittal on libel charges intended to censor his attacks on the Crown. This case established freedom of the press in America.
1861 Congress abolishes flogging in the U.S. Army
6 1890 New York becomes first state to execute a criminal as William Kemmler is electrocuted for murder in the city of Auburn
1945 Detonation of first atomic bomb by U.S. over Hiroshima, Japan
7 1904 Birth of Ralph Bunche, African-American diplomat and recipient of Nobel Peace Prize. Died 12/9/71.
9 1974 Richard Nixon becomes first president ever to resign
14 1935 Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs Social Security Act into law
16 1923 Carnegie Steel Corp. becomes first to establish eight hour workday for its employees
1947 Birth of Carol Mosley-Braun, attorney and first African-American female elected to the U.S. Senate (D-IL)
18 1963 James Meredith becomes first African-American graduate of Ole Miss
21 1835 Nat Turner’s Rebellion, largest slave revolt in American history
22 1762 Ann Franklin becomes America’s first newspaper editor (of the Newport, RI Mercury)
23 1838 The first college for women, Mt. Holyoke Female Seminary in S. Hadley, Massachusetts, graduates its first class
24 1759 Birth of William Wilberforce, a leader in the fight to abolish slavery in the British Empire
1932 Amelia Earhart set the record for the fastest women’s non-stop transcontinental flight, 19 hours, 5 minutes — flying from Los Angeles to Newark
26 1920 Nineteenth amendment is ratified giving women the right to vote
28 1963 “Freedom March” on Washington, D.C. by 200,000 demonstrators as part of demand for civil rights. Now celebrated as “I Have a Dream” Day
1968 Police and anti-war demonstrators clash in Chicago as Democratic National Convention nominates Hubert H. Humphrey
30 1901 Birth of Roy Wilkins, American civil rights advocate and Executive Director of the NAACP, 1965-1977
1967 Senate confirms Thurgood Marshall as first African-American Supreme Court Justice
1983 Guion S. Buford, Jr., first African-American astronaut, blasts off into space from Cape Canaveral as part of team of 5 on the space shuttle Challenger

September ↕

The last week in September is Banned Books Week
1 1878 First woman telephone operator, Miss Emma Nutt, hired by Telegraph Dispatch Co. of Boston, Massachusetts
3 1783 Treaty of Paris recognizes independence of 13 American colonies
4 1886 Apache chief Geronimo surrenders to U.S. General Nelson Miles in Skeleton City, Arizona
6 1860 Birth of Jane Addams, American social worker and humanitarian, founder of Hull House in Chicago and recipient of shared Nobel Peace Prize, 1931
8 1968 Saundra Nilliams chosen first Miss Black America
12 1960 Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy tells Houston Ministerial Association, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”
14 1883 Birth of Margaret Sanger, American nurse who led the birth control movement and founded Planned Parenthood Federation of America
1940 Congress passes Selective Service Act, providing for first peacetime military draft in U.S.
15 1963 Four children die when a bomb explodes in a black Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL
17 Constitution Day, observed by public schools through educational activities designed around the history of our Constitution (subject to change if date falls on a weekend)
18 1850 Congress passes a Fugitive Slave Law imposing heavy fines on persons who aid a slave’s escape or interfere with his/her recovery
20 1906 Upton Sinclair publishes his novel The Jungle, which exposed the meat packing industry and led to the first pure food laws in the U.S.
22 1981 Sandra Day O’Connor confirmed as first female Supreme Court Justice by U.S. Senate
24 1755 Birth of John Marshall, the “great chief justice”
1789 Congress passes First Judiciary Act, providing for an Attorney General and a Supreme Court
1963 U.S. ratifies treaty with Great Britain and Soviet Union limiting nuclear testing
25 1789 U.S. Congress proposes 12 amendments to Constitution. Ten ratified by states become Bill of Rights in 1791
1957 Nine African-American students who had been forced to withdraw from Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, are escorted to classes by U.S. Army troops
27 1954 U.S. Senate Select Committee recommends vote of censure against Senator Joseph R. McCarthy for “contemptuous conduct and abuse of the committee.”
28 1850 Flogging of sailors in U.S. Navy abolished
1904 Police arrest a woman in New York City for smoking a cigarette
30 1630 First execution in U.S.; John Billington hanged in Plymouth, MA, for killing John Newcomen
1953 Earl Warren named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by President Dwight D. Eisenhower

October ↕

2 1800 Birth of Nat Turner, black slave preacher, who led largest slave revolt in American history in 1831
1967 Thurgood Marshall sworn in as first African-American justice on the Supreme Court
3 1974 Frank Robinson, first African-American manager of a major league baseball team, named manager of Cleveland Indians
5 1953 Earl Warren sworn in as 14th Chief Justice of Supreme Court
7 1897 Birth of Elijah Muhammad, spiritual leader of Black Muslim movement
1941 Birth of Jesse Jackson, American civil rights leader
10 1973 Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns, only 2nd American vice president ever to do so
11 1884 Birth of Eleanor Roosevelt, United Nations diplomat, humanitarian and wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
National Coming Out Day
16 1859 John Brown, noted abolitionist, makes his famous raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia
1916 Margaret Sanger opens world’s first birth control clinic in New York City
19 1781 Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, ending Revolutionary War
20 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre” Nixon fires special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, setting off nationwide storm of protest
23 1915 25,000 women march in New York City, demanding the right to vote
24 1940 40-hour work week goes into effect under Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938
26 1919 Birth of Edward Brooke, first African-American Senator since the Reconstruction representing Massachusetts (1967-1979)
27 1787 Federalist Papers begin appearing under signature “Publius” in New York Index Journal
28 1886 Statue of Liberty dedicated in New York Harbor by President Grover Cleveland
1983 U.S. invades island of Grenada for stated purpose of rescuing American students there from Marxist government
29 1940 Beginning of first peacetime military draft in American history

November ↕

2 1954 Strom Thurmond becomes only write-in candidate ever elected to the U.S. Senate
5 1733 John Peter Zenger begins publishing the New York Weekly Journal
1872 Susan B. Anthony, suffragette, arrested for trying to vote in a Presidential election
7 1867 Birth of Marie Curie, physicist and co-discoverer of elements radium and plutonium
1878 Birth of Lisa Meitner, Austrian physicist and one of a team of three who first split the uranium atom in 1938
1916 Jeanette Rankin becomes first woman elected to U.S. House of Representatives
9 1918 Birth of Florence Chadwick, the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions in 1950 and 1951
1944 First “blue baby” operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, using a technique pioneered in part by nurse Helen B. Taussig
11 1831 Nat Turner hanged for his leadership in largest slave revolt in American history
12 1815 Birth of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, pioneer in American women’s rights movement
1954 Closing of Ellis Island immigration station after processing more than 20 million immigrants since 1892
13 1856 Birth of Louis Brandeis, U.S. Supreme Court justice (1916-39) and early advocate of conservation
1956 U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Alabama’s laws calling for racial segregation on public buses
15 1777 Articles of Confederation adopted by Continental Congress in York, Pennsylvania
1881 Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions organized by Samuel Gompers. Forerunner of American Federation of Labor (AFL)
1920 First meeting of League of Nations held in Geneva, Switzerland
1969 Peaceful demonstration against the Vietnam War staged in Washington, D.C. by 225,000 protesters
17 1734 John Peter Zenger arrested in New York and charged with libel for defaming George III. His acquittal gained the first victory for freedom of the press in the American colonies
19 1863 President Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address
21 1922 Rebecca L. Felton of Georgia sworn in as first U.S. female Senator to fill an unexpired term. Her term ended the next day.
23 1644 John Milton, the English poet, published his great prose work, Areopagitica, a defense of freedom of the press
24 1947 Screenwriters and officials known as “The Hollywood 10” cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to say if they were Communists. They were later blacklisted and imprisoned.

December ↕

1 1824 Electoral College vote results in no Presidential candidate majority. U.S. House of Representatives selects John Quincy Adams.
1955 Rosa Parks sits in the front of the bus, kicking off modern civil rights movement
2 1954 U.S. Senate votes to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin for “contemptuous” conduct and abuse of Senate members
1970 Last state law against teaching evolution in schools is voided by the courts (Mississippi)
5 1933 Prohibition repealed by 21st Amendment
1955 The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merge to form the AFL-CIO. George Meany is first president.
6 1847 Abraham Lincoln is seated as Representative in 30th U.S. Congress
1864 Salmon P.Chase appointed Chief Justice of Supreme Court by President Abraham Lincoln
8 1953 President Dwight Eisenhower proposes his “atoms for peace” program, providing for nations to pool their atomic data and materials for peaceful purposes
9 1958 Robert Welch founds the ultraconservative anticommunist John Birch Society
10 1805 Birth of William Lloyd Garrison, American journalist, reformer, and abolitionist
1869 Territory of Wyoming becomes first state or territory to authorize women to vote and hold office
1931 Jane Addams, American reformer, becomes first American woman to win Nobel Peace Prize
1980 Ralph Bunche, American statesman, becomes first African-American to win Nobel Peace Prize
11 1872 Pinckney B. S. Pinchback becomes first black governor in U.S. history, taking office as acting governor of Louisiana
12 1870 Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina becomes first black U.S. congressman
15 Annual U.S. Bill of Rights Day, anniversary of ratification by the States
18 1865 Ratification of 13th amendment, completely outlawing slavery in the U.S.
20 1860 South Carolina becomes the first state to vote to secede from the Union
24 1866 Founding of the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee as a veteran’s group
26 1908 Jack Johnson, first black heavyweight boxing champ, defeats Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia
29 1890 Sioux Massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota
30 1847 Birth of John Peter Altgeld, Illinois reformer and governor (1893-97)

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