10 significant developments in the Black Freedom Struggle between 1905 and 1970

The Black Freedom Struggle in the United States saw numerous significant developments between 1905 and 1970. This period encompasses a wide range of events, from early organizational efforts to challenge racial segregation to major legislative achievements in civil rights.

Here are ten noteworthy developments during this time:

Founding of the Niagara Movement (1905)

This was among the first significant black civil rights organizations in the 20th century. Led by W.E.B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter, the Niagara Movement called for full civil liberties, an end to racial discrimination, and recognition of human brotherhood. It laid the groundwork for the NAACP.

Image: A 1907 photo of a meeting of the delegates of the Niagara Movement.

Establishment of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (1909)

The NAACP was founded in response to the ongoing violence against Blacks and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, Illinois. It aimed to secure the rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, which promised an end to slavery, equal protection under the law, and universal adult male suffrage, respectively.

The Harlem Renaissance (1920s)

This cultural, social, and artistic explosion centered in Harlem, New York, was a rebirth of African American arts. While not a political movement, the Harlem Renaissance allowed Black intellectuals, artists, and writers to showcase their talents and express their experiences of the African American spirit.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

This landmark Supreme Court decision declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional, overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine established by Plessy v. Ferguson. It was a pivotal moment in the struggle for civil rights, demonstrating the legal system’s potential to advance racial equality.

Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-1956)

Sparked by Rosa Parks‘ arrest for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, this successful boycott against the Montgomery public bus system challenged racial segregation and propelled Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement into the national spotlight.

Image: A picture of Rosa Parks during mid-1950s.

Formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (1957)

Founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and other civil rights leaders, the SCLC aimed to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct nonviolent protests in the service of civil rights reform.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

This landmark piece of civil rights legislation outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace, and by facilities that served the general public.

Voting Rights Act of 1965

This Act aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It significantly widened the franchise in the American South.

Black Power Movement (Late 1960s)

This movement emphasized racial pride, economic empowerment, and the creation of political and cultural institutions for black people in the United States. Figures like Stokely Carmichael and organizations like the Black Panther Party were central to this movement, which also influenced other civil rights movements.

The Fair Housing Act (1968)

Also known as the Civil Rights Act of 1968, this law provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, religion, or national origin and made it a federal crime to “by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone… by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin.”


These events represent key moments in the ongoing struggle for civil rights and social justice for African Americans, marking significant steps toward equality and the dismantling of institutional racism in the United States.

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