Research Library

Find resources that will broaden your personal and global perspective on civil and human rights movements and eras.

From the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s to global human rights movements happening right now — peruse our recommended resources on a variety of related topics.

Our Global Defenders Mural

This installation lives in the atrium of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and presents a new set of cultural heroes for our time. This mural signifies a global movement of champions fighting side-by-side for human rights

Learn more about the Global Defenders mural and other campaigns by The People’s Portfolio here.


Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons

Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons

She has lived her entire life in a quest to foster justice and diminish inequity. Her journey has taken her from the African American freedom struggle in Mississippi and Georgia

Anette Jones White

Anette Jones White

She experienced racial violence and discrimination as a youth in her hometown of Albany, Georgia, and began to rebel against racial injustice. As a college student she became a leader

Reverend C.T. Vivian

Reverend C.T. Vivian

A veteran nonviolent protester since the 1940s, he was a quintessential civil rights warrior and a member of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s executive staff. Known for his courage and

Bernard Lafayette

Bernard Lafayette

In his youth he challenged segregated facilities through nonviolent direct action, was a Freedom Rider, and worked with SCLC in voter registration. He suffered violence, incarceration, and death threats for

African-American Firsts


  • Miami hires first Negro police
  • United Negro College Fund founded
  • Dizzy Gillespie pioneers bebop jazz
  • Smith v. Allwright – Supreme Court rules against Democratic Party of Texas on Negro voting rights issue


  • First issue of Ebony magazine
  • Todd Duncan, first Negro member of New York City Opera


  • Richmond hires first Negro police Paul Robeson founds
  • Crusade to End Lynching
    Morgan v. Virginia – Supreme Court rules against segregated seating on buses
  • King v. Chapman – U.S. Circuit Court rules that Negroes should be allowed to vote in Georgia Democratic Primary


  • Paschal’s restaurant opens in Atlanta
  • Jackie Robinson, first Negro Major League baseball player
  • Don Barksdale, first Negro All-American basketball player
  • All-Negro Comic, first comic book produced by Negroes


  • President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, ending segregation in the armed services
  • Alice Coachman, first Negro woman to win an Olympic gold medal
  • Sipuel v. Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma – Supreme Court rules University of Oklahoma Law School cannot deny admission based on race
  • Shelly v. Kraemer – Supreme Court rules that racially restrictive property agreements violate the 14th Amendment
  • Truman administration proposes legislation to make lynching a federal crime and end segregation on interstate transportation, but neither bill is brought to a vote in Senate


  • Edward R. Dudley, first Negro ambassador of the United States
  • Jackie Robinson, first Negro to win an MVP award
  • William Grant Still, first Negro composer to have his work performed by major U.S. opera company


  • Gwendolyn Brooks, first Negro to win Pulitzer  Prize
  • Ralph Bunche, first Negro to win Nobel Peace Prize
  • Ethel Waters, first Negro star of TV sitcom
  • Nat King Cole, first solo Negro singer to have #1 hit on Billboard Charts
  • Chuck Cooper, Nathaniel Clifton, and Earl Lloyd, first Negro NBA players McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents – Supreme Court rules against  discrimination
  • Sweatt v. Painter – Supreme Court rules against University of Texas Law School’s separate-but-equal policies
    Henderson v. United States – Supreme Court abolishes segregated railroad dining cars


  • Duke Slater, first Negro named to College Football Hall of Fame
  • Georgia state legislature votes to deny funds to schools that integrate


  • Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man published
  • In Michigan, Cora Brown becomes first Negro woman elected to a state senate
  • Supreme Court hears first arguments in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka


  • Willie Thrower, first Negro quarterback to play in the NFL
  • District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co., Inc. – Supreme Court rules against segregation in Washington, D.C. restaurants
  • Supreme Court orders re-argument in Brown v. Board of Education


  • Dorothy Dandridge is first Negro woman nominated for Best Actress Academy Award, and to appear on the cover of Life magazine
  • Charles V. Bush, first Negro page for the Supreme Court
  • Hernandez v. Texas – Supreme Court rules that Mexican Americans and other races are entitled to equal protection under the law
  • In response to the Brown v. Board ruling, Mississippi adds amendment to its state constitution, abolishing  public schools