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Timeline 1942-1973
The 1940's The 1950's
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1950 1955 1956 1954

Supreme Court rules 9–0 on May 31 that school cases should be remanded to lower federal courts and instructs them to issue desegregation orders "with all deliberate speed" though does not set a deadline.

Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy visiting from Chicago, is beaten and shot to death in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, on August 28 after he allegedly whistles at a white woman; his murder and the acquittal on September 23 of the two white men charged with the crime attract widespread public attention. (Read Murray Kempton in The New York Post, January 22, 1956, reporting on the trial.)

January: In "A Negro Reporter at the Till Trial" (NIEMAN REPORTS, January 1956), Simeon Booker writes:

For the group of twelve Negro newsmen who covered the trial, it was a bitter, at times frustrating experience. As soon as we arrived in Sumner, Sheriff H.C. Strider laid down the law—there was to be no mixing with white reporters—and any violation meant ejection from the courtroom and town.

Booker praises three white Southern reporters—Clark Porteous of the Memphis Press-Scimitar, and W.C. Shoemaker and Jim Featherstone of the Jackson Daily News—for their willingness to collaborate in the hunt to find key missing witnesses, and cites Jimmy Hicks of the Afro-American, Cloyte Murdock and David Jackson of Ebony-Jet, and L. Alex Wilson of the Chicago Defender as noteworthy members of the black press corps covering the trial.

Interstate Commerce Commission rules on November 7 that segregated seating on interstate buses and trains is a violation of the Interstate Commerce Act.

Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1 for violating the municipal bus segregation ordinance. Montgomery Improvement Association is organized at mass meeting held on December 5 to conduct boycott of city buses, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is elected as its president.