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American Civil Rights Movement Quiz

Question: Jim Crow laws, which enforced racial segregation in the South from the end of Reconstruction (1877) until the early civil rights era (1950s), were named after…
Answer: Developed about 1830, Jim Crow was among the first popularly known blackface characters. Appearing in minstrel shows, Jim Crow was a demeaning caricature of African Americans.
Question: Rosa Parks’s arrest in Montgomery, Alabama, led to a crippling boycott of the city’s…
Answer: In 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. The African American-led boycott of city buses lasted until the U.S. Supreme Court struck down segregated seating on buses in 1956.
Question: The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) overturned which discriminatory policy?
Answer: Prior to Brown v. Board of Education, states were allowed to racially segregate their schools as long as equal accommodations were given to whites and non-whites. However, many of the accommodations were far from equal. Though the U.S. Supreme Court overturned this policy, enforcing desegregation required action by the federal executive and legislative branches, which would take years to unfold.
Question: In 1963 which politician personally stood in a school doorway to prevent Black students from entering?
Answer: Alabama Governor George Wallace made a show of trying to prevent Vivian Malone and James Hood from entering the gymnasium of the University of Alabama for enrollment. Faced with Malone’s and Hood’s National Guard escort, Wallace stepped aside. Malone would become the school’s first African American graduate.
Question: On February 1, 1960, the Greensboro Four made history by taking which action?
Answer: In the dining area of a Woolworth department store in Greensboro, North Carolina, the sitting section was reserved for whites. Black patrons were expected to stand. Four Black college freshmen sat at the counter and refused to leave. News of the sit-in inspired more to join the next day.
Question: Which important function did the 1961 Freedom Rides serve?
Answer: In 1946 the U.S. Supreme Court had deemed segregation aboard interstate buses illegal, and in 1960 that ruling was extended to bus station facilities, such as restrooms. In 1961 a group of seven African Americans and six whites shared a bus on a trip through the South to put the extended ruling to the test. They were beaten, and their bus was firebombed.
Question: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered in which city?
Answer: On August 28, 1963, more than 200,000 demonstrators convened at the National Mall for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his historic speech. The “I have a dream” portion was not part of his prepared remarks but was added extemporaneously, borrowing from a speech he’d given two months earlier.
Question: Rather than adhere to nonviolence, which leader famously pursued civil rights “by any means necessary”?
Answer: Malcolm X used the phrase “by any means necessary” during a 1964 speech at the founding of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He did not encourage wanton violence but did urge his followers to defend themselves.
Question: The FBI declared which group a communist organization and an enemy of the U.S. government?
Answer: The Black Panther Party was founded to combat police brutality, but it also began more than 35 different community programs, such as one providing free breakfast for children. Such social services earned the group the ire of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, a staunch anti-communist.
Question: The U.S. Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia ushered in which advancement in civil rights?
Answer: In 1959 Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a Black and Native American woman, were convicted of having a mixed marriage and were told that they had to leave the state of Virginia. In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction, ending antimiscegenation laws in 16 states.
Question: Resulting in 34 deaths, more than 1,000 injuries, and more than $40 million in property damage, the 1965 Watts Riots occurred in which city?
Answer: When a young Black man was arrested by a white police officer on August 11, 1965, tensions in Watts and other predominantly African American neighbourhoods of South-Central Los Angeles exploded into six days of riots.
Question: A milestone for the American civil rights movement, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law by which U.S. president?
Answer: John F. Kennedy had proposed the Civil Rights Act in 1963, but the act was stymied by Congress. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, was able to push through a stronger version of the bill, which officially banned segregation on the basis of race, religion, or national origin in many areas of society and eliminated discriminatory obstacles to voting, such as literacy tests.
Question: Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, while there to support which cause?
Answer: In 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr., who had organized a Poor People’s Campaign to promote economic justice, went to Memphis, Tennessee, to support 1,300 Black sanitation workers who were striking for better pay and safer conditions.
Question: A 2022 federal act that defines lynching as a hate crime was named for which person?
Answer: In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched after allegedly speaking to a white woman in Mississippi. His assailants were found not guilty. Photos of his battered remains were published in newspapers and magazines, which made his murder a rallying point in the civil rights movement. In 2022 the Emmett Till Antilynching Act made lynching a federal hate crime.
Question: Finish this Martin Luther King, Jr., quotation: “Out of the mountain of despair…”
Answer: Delivered during Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, this line served as the inspiration for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.