20 Iconic Milestones in the Fight for Civil Rights

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  • Harriet Tubman
  • Emancipation Proclamation
  • Dred Scott Decision
  • NAACP
  • Jackie Robinson Breaks Racial Barriers in Baseball
  • Integration of the U.S. Military
  • Brown v. Board of Education
  • Emmett Till
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
  • “Little Rock Nine”
  • Woolworth Lunch Counter
  • The March on Washington
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Selma-to-Montgomery March
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • Million Man March
  • James Byrd Jr.
  • President Obama
  • Trayvon Martin
  • March on Washington

Dred Scott Decision

In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, also known as the "Dred Scott Decision," that all people of African descent — whether they were slaves or free — were not  citizens of the United States and therefore could not sue for their freedom in federal court. While Scott, a slave and plaintiff in the case, was unsuccessful, less than 10 years later the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution officially abolished slavery and the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship rights to former slaves in 1868. (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)