The Civil Rights Movement in Florida

Civil War

1863: On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.

1863-1865: Black troops fight for the Union Army during the Civil War. Major battles in Florida involving black troops include Olustee and Natural Bridge.

April 1865: The Civil War ends and full emancipation goes into effect. The Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees and Abandoned Lands established by Congress to help African-Americans in the transition to freedom.

Reconstruction Era (1865–1877)

1865: The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution outlaws slavery.

1868: The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution grants citizenship and equal protection under the law to African-Americans.

1870: The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees male citizens the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It does not extend voting rights to women.

Late 1860s-1880s: Freedmen help elect several prominent black leaders to political positions in state and local government, including Josiah T. Walls, Charles H. Pearce, and Robert Meacham in Florida.

1877: Federal troops are withdrawn from the South as a result of the Compromise of 1876.

Jim Crow Era

1880s to 1960s: State and local laws mandated the separation of blacks and whites in public areas. Schools, railroad stations, buses, and beaches were segregated. Restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains had separate facilities for whites and blacks. Whites use violence and intimidation to prevent African-Americans from demanding equal rights.

Civil Rights Movement

1947: A. Philip Randolph and Grant Reynolds form the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training.

1948: President Harry S. Truman issues an executive order abolishing racial discrimination in the armed forces.

1954: Brown v. Topeka, Kansas Board of Education ended legal segregation in public schools.

1956: On May 26, Florida A&M University students Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson are arrested because they refused to give up their seats next to a white passenger on a segregated city bus. In response, civil rights activists organize the Tallahassee Bus Boycott.

1956-1957: Reverend C.K. Steele organizes the Inter-Civic Council. After a year of protests and boycotts, segregated seating on Tallahassee buses ends.

1950s-1970s: Organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) hold rallies, marches, sit-ins, and demonstrations pressing local and national governments to give equal rights to all Americans.

February and March 1963: Civil rights activists hold sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in downtown Tallahassee.

1964: The Civil Rights Act outlaws racial segregation in schools and public places, and bans the unequal application of voter registration requirements. It does not eliminate literacy tests used to exclude voters.

1965: The Voting Rights Act prohibits states from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure … to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.”